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Last updated 7 months ago
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CSDEESFRITJAPL

Basic info

PLA is one of the easiest materials to print. It is inexpensive and suitable (not only) for beginners. It’s usually used for printing detailed models, figures, and quick prototypes that don’t require high mechanical, chemical, or temperature resistance.
 
Recommended nozzle temperature: 215 °C for the first layer, 210 °C for other layers
 
Recommended bed temperature: 60 °C
 
Heatbed: Smooth PEI sheet will provide the best adhesion.

Description

PLA (Polylactic acid) is a plant-based polyester. PLA does not require a heated bed, can be printed fast and with low temperatures (melting point is somewhere around 175 °C). With PLA you can print both small, detailed models and large objects filling almost the entire print volume. Unlike some other filaments, PLA is not prone to significant warping. It is good for quick prototyping and creation of nice, low-cost models: concepts, prototypes, simple toys, jewelry, statues, etc. It is not suitable for technical and outdoor use. It doesn’t resist high temperatures (it gets soft and deform at temperatures over 60 °C), degrades under UV light and its mechanical resistance is also inferior - it breaks by the layers or into shards upon impact. Layer adhesion is weaker compared to other materials. Sanding PLA is possible with sandpaper but needs water cooling (wet sanding).

Various sources claim that PLA is biologically degradable. The material is made from corn, sugar cane, or sugar beet and indeed can be decomposed, but only in specialized composting facilities where temperatures exceed 80 °C. It is definitely not a good idea to throw the PLA waste into your garden compost - the material will not disintegrate, plus you will contaminate the soil with plastic microparticles.

Although the PLA material itself is food-safe, we do not recommend it (or any other filament material) for printing dishes or other stuff that comes into direct contact with food. The main reason is tiny print layers/grooves that can support bacterial growth. If you still want 3D printed dishes or food containers, we suggest applying a special layer that seals the surface (food-safe coating) and printing with a stainless steel nozzle.

To compare supported material properties, see our material table.

Pros

Cons

✔ Low price

✖ Brittle and inflexible

✔ Easy to print, suitable for beginners

✖ Low UV and temperature resistance

✔ Good detail and low warping

✖ Difficult post-processing

✔ Suitable for large models

 

Best use

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

Tips for successful printing

Consider using a smooth PEI sheet

If you print with PLA on our Original Prusa i3 printers, you can print on either a smooth, powder-coated TXT or powder-coated satin sheet. However, the smooth sheet works better for printing parts that have a small contact area with the print surface. With a powder-coated sheet, you should move your live-Z lower: Filament must fill in the sheet texture. However, you need to be careful and not move the nozzle too low or you will damage your sheet! Info for different printer users: PLA is printable not only on PEI surface, but also on glass, Kapton tape, or using a glue stick.

Try to adjust retractions for better results

PLA is sometimes prone to stringing and oozing - this can be reduced with proper retraction settings.

Chemical smoothing

Chemical smoothing of PLA is possible only in laboratory conditions - PLA can be dissolved in chloroform, hot benzene, or tetrahydrofuran. These are dangerous organic solvents that should be handled only by skilled lab technicians. Some of the PLA filaments can be also partially dissolved and glued with acetone (or you can simply glue it with superglue).

Sample prints

MasksStatic models
Vases, cups, and other tabletop modelsAudio volume knob and other electronic parts
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