PLA filament is affordable, readily available and very easy to use. This 3D printing material is user-friendly, which makes it 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.
Here, we will cover one of the most commonly used materials in 3D printing, the PLA filament. Without further ado, let’s begin!
- 1 What is PLA Filament?
- 2 PLA Filament Temperature and Melting Point
- 3 Using 3D PLA Filament – Storage and Adhesion
- 4 Why Use PLA Filament? Benefits and Things To Consider
- 5 How To Spot the Right PLA Filament: Where To Buy?
- 6 Top 3 Best PLA Filament Brands
- 7 Conclusion
What is PLA Filament?
Let’s begin our exploration with PLA filament definition. Why is this material called this way? What does PLA stand for?
PLA stands for Poly-Lactic Acid. This material is a thermoplastic polymer. PLA filament is made from natural material such as corn and sugarcane that’s why it is also called bioplastic.
Most of the thermoplastics come from petroleum which is a non-renewable resource. PLA filament is a much environmentally-friendly choice when it comes to 3D printing.
Apart from that, because clear PLA filament is made from natural materials, it is biodegradable. This means that you can easily dispose it and it will break down naturally in around 3 to 6 months. In comparison to other filament types, those petroleum-based materials will take a thousand years to decompose.
If you want to know the difference between these two materials, you can check this pla vs abs page.
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 PLA filaments.
PLA Filament Temperature and Melting Point
Generally speaking, the settings for PLA filaments range from about 185°C to 205°C. If ever you are using the 1.75 mm PLA 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.
As for PLA filament temperature, you can start printing at a temperature setting of 180°C and then observe how the PLA is being extruded. Also check the print’s quality, especially the layers that are being produced.
If you are having some problems with your material, 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.
If you observe that the material is beginning to have some problems adhering to the first layers or to the print surface, then the temperature may have been set a little too low. This might cause missing layers, holes, and gaps.
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 using 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.
When it comes to 3D printing, it is vital that you print at the correct temperature if you want to ensure that the printing goes smoothly. One thing you will observe with high-quality PLA filaments is that they print at temperatures that are lower than the usual.
This is because the resin is pure and there is little to no contaminants. You can compare PLA vs. ABS vs. PETG and you will find that PLA is very easy to use and produces great parts compared to the two. With PLA filaments, you don’t have to worry about shrinkage or warping.
A successful print is when your print material properly adheres to the print surface. One of the reasons that make 3D PLA filament as 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 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 filament 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.
How To Spot the Right PLA Filament: Where To Buy?
The great thing about PLA filament 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 find. Unfortunately, there are a lot of them in the market and a number are not of great quality.
A poor quality PLA filament is brittle and weak and this will affect the quality of your output. But don’t worry. We’ll 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 a quality material.
PLA Filament Properties
If you are using the right PLA filament, 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 higher coefficient of friction
If you ever get your hands on those bad quality ones, don’t assume all kinds of PLA filament 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 filament in the market, we listed the top three brands in the next section. Check it out and decide for yourself what to purchase.
Top 3 Best PLA Filament Brands
Now that you have more information about PLA filaments, we’ll share with you some of the top brands that you can choose from so you will have an easier time shopping for your PLA filaments.
This brand may not be very popular yet, but this PLA filament brand is among the best materials in the market now. This Dutch brand 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 with it a unique ingredient called the 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.
ColorFabb 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 another Dutch product. It is also a great material that you ought to consider when you are shopping for PLA filaments. You can expect this filament to have a consistent diameter. As a result, you won’t have trouble with it jamming in your 3D printer.
In addition, this brand is very strong, and the details of the final product are superb. It is versatile, reliable, and very safe to use.
If you already have a 3D printer of the same brand, then consider getting the same brand of PLA filament. MakerBot PLA filament is a US product that has been tested for quality.
The high quality of this brand’s products makes it among the best 3D printing materials and machines to have. You won’t have to worry about warping with this material.
If you have a printer with a different brand, the PLA filament 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 filament 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.