I’ve had an Afinia H-series 3d printer for some time now and have to say it’s been a pleasure using it to print.
It’s the closest thing I’ve experienced to a plug and play printer. Though the Afinia comes ready to go with a roll of ABS filament but it can also work perfectly fine with PLA.
During my experience I’ve noticed that both materials can fit some needs better than others.
ABS is the work horse of materials, it’s highly durable and is basically the foundation to one of my favorite things of all time LEGO. So as I used it to build things as an infant I still use this material today. The beauty of ABS is also it’s shortcoming. ABS cools down much faster than PLA when getting printed what this means is that it can create really defined objects with great detail.
However this quick cooling causes another big problem , large printed objects will warp massively even if your heated bed heated to it’s maximum temp. Thus you need to be careful to do your prints in a warm environment especially if they are large ones.
PLA on the other hand is gaining popularity due to it’s resistance to warping and also eco friendly nature.( PLA is produced actually out of corn starch or sugar cane )(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polylactic_acid)
The problem I face with PLA is the afinia is not able to cool it quickly enough even with the external fan on full blast. The resulting prints have sticky edges where the material extends with the nozzle making the details rough on the edges. The this problem is only there if you’re printing very detailed surfaces. If you’re printing larger objects PLA works amazingly well. I’ve included some pictures below that display the difference in the materials on printed objects.
My results only apply to Afinia H-series and thus are likely to be different for other printers.