PLA filaments are affordable, readily available and very easy to use. These 3D printing supplies are user-friendly and perfect for beginners and hobbyists.
Are you new to 3D printing and are looking for the best filament to use? Have you heard about PLA filaments? If you wish to know more about this material, then this article is for you.
So, without further ado, let’s begin!
What is PLA Filament?
Are you wondering what PLA means? What does PLA stand for?
Most of the thermoplastics come from petroleum which is a non-renewable resource. PLA filaments are a much environmentally-friendly choice compared to other 3D printing materials. They are also available in a variety of colors. Furthermore, most 3D printers can process PLA.
Apart from that, because clear PLA filament is made from natural materials, it is biodegradable and food safe. This means that you can easily dispose of it and it will break down naturally in around 3 to 6 months. In comparison to other plastics, those petroleum-based materials will take a thousand years to decompose.
It is one of the most popular and favorite materials for 3D printing hobbyists. You can often find this alongside ABS filament. In fact, a number search for PLA vs ABS strength to compare which among the two is more flexible and stronger.
If you want to know the difference between these two materials, you can check this PLA vs ABS.
To know more about PLA filaments, you can easily do a search on the web. Just type “pla filament wiki” and you’ll be directed to the Wikipedia page dedicated to this 3D printing material.
PLA Filament Melting Temperatures
Generally speaking, the settings for PLA filaments range from about 185°C to 205°C. If ever you are using the 1.75 mm filament and not the thicker variety at 2.85mm/3.00mm, then the best temperature will be somewhere at the lower end of the temperature range. If you are using the thicker filament, set the temperature at the higher range.
Regardless of the temperature setting that you start with, adjust accordingly be it higher or lower depending on the initial results of your first prints as well as the environment of the area where you are printing.
If you are having some problems with PLA materials, adjust the temperature accordingly. You can go higher or lower at 5°C increments until such time that you get to the right temperature setting.
If you begin to notice that there is some stringing happening when the printer moves between the various parts of the project, this is because the material loses a lot of its viscosity because of too much heat. What happens is that the filament PLA leaks from the print nozzle while it moves. When this happens, adjust the temperature to a lower setting.
You should also take note that the melting point of PLA filaments is low at around 170°C and up. It may not be recommended for objects that you will be used at higher temperatures. But objects that have been printed using PLA filaments will do just fine if placed in a normal setting at room temperature.
Using 3D PLA Filament – Storage and Adhesion
Now that we have covered the basics of what PLA material is, we hope that you have gained a general understanding of the material’s strengths and weaknesses. On this part, let’s take a look at some of the important points to take note of as these may affect the success of your 3D printing project. These are material storage and adhesion.
This is because the resin is pure and there are little to no contaminants. Compared to other materials like ABS and PETG, working with PLA is very convenient because you don’t have to worry about shrinkage or warping.
PLA heat resistance is low. To make this more heat resistant, you just have to add more time and heat.
A successful print is when the material properly adheres to the print surface. One of the reasons that make 3D PLA filament one of the easiest materials to use for 3D printing is that it adheres easily to many different kinds of surfaces without much trouble.
You can print using PLA filaments even without a heated print bed. However, we still recommend that for the first layers to adhere, have the bed heated to around 40°C to 50°C.
PLA filaments are hygroscopic, just like other thermoplastics. What this means is that over a certain period, it will begin absorbing water from the air surrounding it.
When this happens, the PLA breaks down, or the molecular chains that are holding it together become altered. Printing with PLA filaments that have absorbed water will make it difficult for the layers to bind with each other.
Those parts that do bind will have the tendency to be distorted. That is why you have to be mindful of how you will store your PLA filaments when you are not using it for printing.
Why Use PLA Filament? Benefits and Things To Consider
This type of 3D printing material offers a number of advantages over the other 3D printing materials. Here are some of the reasons why this is one of the favorite filaments in the market.
- Easy to print
- A good quality PLA filament will have a nice flow, and it will not warp.
- The details of the final products are neat.
- You don’t have to worry about it blabbing or stringing.
- The final product is smooth to cut, drill, or sand.
- It produces strong prints.
- PLA filaments are easily pigmented, so the colors are vivid.
- Compared to other filaments, this one doesn’t smell bad.
- It is biodegradable and non-toxic.
- The print temperature that you will be using is much lower compared to other filaments.
- You can use it without a heated bed
- Not as heat tolerant as ABS filaments.
- Prints will start to deform at 60°C
- Not water-resistant
- Not chemical-resistant
- Can be brittle
- Prints may shatter under stress
- Not safe for food
How To Spot the Right PLA Filament: Where To Buy?
The great thing about PLA is that it is very versatile. This material is a good choice if you are just starting out with 3D printing.
However, you should be careful when it comes to buying PLA filaments. This type of material is common and easy to print. Unfortunately, there are a lot of them in the market and a number are not of great quality.
A poor quality PLA is brittle and weak and this will affect the quality of your output. But don’t worry, we will help you in finding the right one.
The best thing to do is to look for high-quality PLA filament. Here are the things that you need to look out for to know if you have quality material.
PLA Filament Properties
If you are using the right PLA, then you should observe the following:
- It does not emit a lot of ultra fines particles
- Extrusion temperature may vary between 160 and 220 °C.
- Parts printed with PLA have a slightly glossy finish
- It is prone to warping
- It is malleable at around 60 °C.
- It requires a bit more force to be extruded due to the higher coefficient of friction
If you ever get your hands on those bad quality ones, don’t assume all kinds of PLA filaments are the same. PLA filaments are great for experimenting with 3D printing.
You don’t immediately have to shift to other filaments such as the PETG or ABS. You can do that if you feel that your prints are becoming more and more advanced.
I suggest that you stick and use PLA filaments until such time that you feel that you are ready to dive into experimenting with other types of filaments. PLA is flexible and versatile. It can do the job well.
If you got the wrong one, try to look for another. There are a lot of these on the market. You can search for “pla filaments amazon” to find some of them online.
The good thing about buying this material on Amazon is that you can read reviews. You can use it to determine if the product is worth buying or not.
To help you find the best PLA in the market, we listed the top three brands in the next section. Check it out and decide for yourself what to purchase.
3 Best PLA Filament Brands
Now that you have more information about PLA filaments, we’ll share with you the best 3D printing filament brands that you can choose from so you will have an easier time shopping for your PLA filaments.
1. SunLu PLA Filament
This brand may not be very popular yet, but this brand is among the best materials in the market now. SunLu filament is excellent and is very strong.
Not only that, but it is also more durable compared to the more popular brands. This is because it has a unique ingredient called Polyhydroxyalkanoates.
No need to memorize that, you can just remember PHAs. This ingredient is polyester that is created by living bacteria when sugars undergo the fermentation process.
Apart from the added strength, this brand is easy to use in 3D printing. You don’t have to worry about it getting clogged or jammed in your printer.
SunLu may not be the cheapest material there is, but you sure will get great value for your money with this brand.
2. Ultimaker PLA Filaments
This one is a Dutch product. It is also a great material that you ought to consider when you are shopping for PLA filaments because it has a consistent filament diameter. As a result, you won’t have trouble with it jamming in your 3D printer.
3. MakerBot PLA Filaments
If you already have a 3D printer of the same brand, then consider getting the same brand of PLA. MakerBot PLA filament is a US product that has been tested for quality.
If you have a printer with a different brand, the PLA from MakerBot will still work excellently with it.
|Brand||Star Rating||Colors||Nozzle Temp.||Price
(depending on color)
|ColorFabb||3.5||White, Silver, Red, Dark Blue, Black||195°C-220°C||$30.88-$78.99|
|Ultimaker||4||Blue, Magenta, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Pearl White, White, Silver Metallic, Black, Transparent||260°C -275 °C||$59.99-$74.95|
|MakerBot||4.3||Red, Brown, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, White, Warm Gray, Cool Gray, Black, Natural, Glow in the Dark, Ocean Blue, Army Green, Khaki
Translucent: Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, Purple, Neon Green, Neon Orange
PLA remains one of the most preferred materials among 3D printer artists because it is user-friendly, flexible, and versatile. In addition, you don’t have to worry about creating waste because it is biodegradable, which is one of its many great advantages.
What do you think of the top three brands we have included here? If you’ve had experiences using these brands, let us know about it in the comment section below.
Also, if you have found other brands that provide great quality materials, share that, too. We’d be very happy to hear from you.
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