PLA

Updated 1 month ago ​by Martin Lexa

PLA or Polylactic acid is the most commonly used filament. It is famously easy to print while being strong enough for most purposes. It represents the perfect choice for printing large objects, thanks to its low thermal expansion (little to no warping) and for printing tiny parts because of its low melting temperature. On top of it all, it is biodegradable, as it is made from the starch of plants such as corn, sugar cane, and sugar beet.

PLA has a relatively low melting temperature at about 175 degrees Celsius. Unlike other materials, PLA can be heated past its melting point multiple times with minimal degradation. It’s also very hard material, but that also means it’s somewhat brittle. It has a lower layer cohesiveness compared to other commonly used materials.

The best use of PLA is for printing concept models, prototypes, or low-wear toys.

However, PLA is not a perfect material and, just like every other plastic, has some disadvantages. The low melting temperature also means low temperature resistance. Parts made from PLA start losing their mechanical strength at temperatures over 60°C. This is also the reason why it has to be sanded wet during eventual post-processing.

The combination of being both biodegradable and having low-temperature resistance means that it’s not ideal for outdoor use, not to mention low UV-resistance. Also, PLA is only soluble in chemicals like chloroform or hot benzene. In order to connect two parts, you can use acetone or superglue.

Recommended nozzle temperature: 215°C for the first layer, 210°C for other layers
Recommended bed temperature: 60°C

Easy to print

Brittle

Can print tiny parts

Low temperature resistance

Can print huge objects

Not good for outside use

Hard and stiff

Difficult post-processing

Eco-friendly

Even though PLA is biodegradable and thus not toxic, we do not suggest to use it to make kitchenware that would be used repeatedly. As every 3D print consists of layers, bacteria can grow in between them over time. You can prevent this by applying a food-safe (epoxy) coating.
Only this material is recommended for 50-microns layer height (Ultradetail setting).


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