PLA filament is by far the most commonly used 3D printer filament. But why is PLA so popular? What exactly is it and how is it made? How do you achieve the best print results with PLA filament? We explain all this in this article.
What is PLA filament?
PLA filament is the preferred material for FDM/FFF 3D printers worldwide. This filament is easy to print with and available in a wide range of colors. Moreover, PLA is produced from biodegradable raw materials.
Properties of parts printed with PLA filament:
- Strength: fairly strong.
- Heat resistance: reasonable.
- Appearance: glossy and available in many different colours, or natural.
- Flexibility: Slightly flexible.
- Special features: biodegradable.
PLA filament is easy to use and therefore a very popular choice among 3D printer users. PLA can also be printed well without a heated print bed. Because this filament runs smoothly through the extruder, you can print tighter lines with it than, for example, with ABS. In addition, relatively high print speeds can also be achieved.
With the right (temperature) settings, you can achieve an amazing result in all dimensions with PLA. The optimum temperature is usually between 180°C and 230°C.
PLA is an abbreviation for PolyLactic Acid and is a sustainable alternative to traditional plastic. It is made from biodegradable, renewable raw materials. PLA filament naturally has a transparent appearance. Yet PLA is available in many different colors because it can be colored with added dyes.
Advantages of PLA filament.
- No annoying air. Because corn is used as a ground stove, it also smells a bit like popcorn.
- Easy to model.
- Virtually no problems with warping.
- A heated bed is not necessary per se.
- Flows easily through the extruder.
- Adheres to various surfaces.
Disadvantages of PLA filament.
- It attracts moisture from the air causing it to break down.
- It is a hard material and therefore brittle.
- Less suitable for use near heat sources. (Tough PLA may be more suitable for this.)
As mentioned before, PLA filament is the most commonly used 3D printing material.
Are you 3D printing for the first time? Then we always advise to start with PLA filament. Because it is easy to print and contains no harmful substances. In addition, it is also fairly widely applicable and ideal for gaining 3D printing experience. A nice extra is that it is available in many different colors. From army green to bright pink and everything in between.
3D printers are being used more and more. From factory halls to living rooms and from schools to design offices. You find them everywhere. Due to the growing demand for 3D printers, the demand for filaments is also increasing. As a result, manufacturers are increasingly involved in the development of new materials for various applications.
One material type has meanwhile entered the market as the most common filament for FFF/FDM 3D printing. Partly thanks to the relatively low print temperature and environmental friendliness, PLA filament is extremely popular.
What is PLA filament?
PLA is a thermoplastic made from starchy plants. You can think of, for example, corn and sugar cane or sugar beet. PLA is biodegradable because it is manufactured from these biological sources. As a result, PLA is less of a burden on the environment than filaments produced from fossil fuels, such as the ABS filament. In addition, PLA is also quite strong and very user-friendly.
Properties of PLA filament.
- Versatile .
- Relatively quick to print.
- Cheap .
- No heated print bed required.
- Available in all colors of the rainbow.
- Low printing temperature.
- Easy to print.
- Medium heat resistance (from 55°C it starts to get soft.)
- Average impact strength.
How is PLA made?
PLA is made from transparent granulate grains. These granules are mixed with color pigments for the color of the filament and additives to optimize the mechanical properties. This mix is then dried. Usually at a temperature between 60°C and 80°C. This ensures that you run less risk of a blockage in the nozzle of your 3D printer later on. This material then goes into an extruder. In principle, this can be compared with the extruder on your 3D printer, but many times larger. This heats, mixes and extrudes the raw materials into a filament. The filament is then cooled (often with water) and wound on a spool.
Biodegradable PLA filament.
PLA is made from renewable raw materials. It is made from starchy plants such as corn, sugar beet and sugar cane.
PLA is therefore also very interesting with a view to making the world more sustainable. This material is much more sustainable than traditional plastic made from fossil fuels.