PLA 101 Everything you need to know

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PLA 101 Everything you need to know
May142018

PLA 101 Everything you need to know

The PLA filament is the most consumed material for 3D printing . This should not be surprising since the PLA is one of the easiest filaments to work with a 3D printer.

In the catalog of 3Dfils could not miss a material so used so that from today you can buy PLA in our online store. The filament PLA of 3Dfils is manufactured with PLA of high quality and following the rigorous process of quality control that we use for all our filaments.

It is very likely that most users of 3D printing are already familiar with this material, but in this blog post we will talk in detail about the PLA and how to get the best quality in your prints.

What is the PLA?

The first thing is to know the material with which we are working.

The acronym PLA comes from Poly-Lactic Acid or in Spanish polylactic acid and is a thermoplastic polymer. This thermoplastic is obtained mainly from the starch of either corn, sugar cane or other sources; unlike other thermoplastics that come from other non- biodegradable sources such as petroleum. This is a great environmental advantage of this material that could decompose naturally with the right conditions and not like other thermoplastics that can take up to a thousand years to biodegrade.

PLA wikipedia
Structural unit of the PLA polymer

Main applications of the PLA in 3D printing

The PLA is a very versatile material and it is very likely that you will end up using it in most of the 3D prints you make. It is common to think that it is a very fragile material and that it will not be useful for a large number of applications. This is due to the number of manufacturers that have emerged in the fight to offer the cheapest PLA , where they often introduce loads to lower costs and this ends up affecting the material.

lamp moon thingiverse
3D printing using PLA

Many of the problems that we usually encounter when printing PLA are caused by using a low quality material, so from 3DFils we recommend that you always use high quality materials .

Pack more flexible filament efil

Advantages of 3D printing with PLA

  • It is very easy to print
  • The finishing of the pieces is very good obtaining pieces without defects
  • It is easy to postprocess and can be sanded, drilled, cut and painted
  • Does not produce odors when printing.
  • The printing temperature is lower than that of most filaments.

How to print with PLA?

There are three essential areas that we must know when printing any filament and they are: printing temperature, adhesion and storage form.

Printing temperature:

If you want to get a perfect 3D printing it is very important to find the ideal temperature for the material. This is a parameter that not only depends on the material, there are other factors such as the 3D printer that we use or the environment in which it is located.

Normally the PLA of good quality prints at lower temperatures because it does not contain charges. Therefore we recommend printing the PLA of 3Dfils at a temperature of 195 ° C.

Depending on the 3D printer this value can vary around 10%. To begin with, you should use a printing temperature of 190ºC and see how much material is extruded, as well as the quality of the layers produced. If you see flaws in the piece, you should adjust the printing temperature up or down in steps of no more than 5ºC until an optimum result is obtained.

PLA printing temperature
Variation in quality as a function of the printing temperature

If you notice that the piece is filling with threads, it is likely that the printing temperature is too high. The fact that yarns appear is due to the fact that with a very high temperature the thermoplastic increases its fluidity which causes material to drip from the extrusion head.

If on the contrary what we see is that the PLA is having problems of adhesion to the 3D printing surface or to the previous layers, the printing temperature is too low.

Other imperfections such as unprinted holes or layers can also be caused by temperature. If you are having print quality problems with the PLA, it is most likely a temperature problem.

Adhesion to the printing surface

Getting a good first layer is key when it comes to our 3D printing is satisfactory.

The PLA can be printed without using a hot bed. However, if we have this it is worthwhile to use it with a temperature of about 45ºC.

For a good adhesion of the PLA the best thing is to use some type of adhesive. Our recommendation is always to use spray lacquer. But be careful to spend in the amount that will then cost a lot to take off the piece.

Store the PLA

The PLA is less hygroscopic than other plastics, this means that moisture absorption is lower. However, this does not mean that it does not affect you and in the long term the humidity can be our worst enemy when it comes to printing it.

If you want to know more about how moisture affects 3D printing materials, look at this article .

The humidity in the PLA can cause that the layers do not stick correctly or that our piece presents superficial defects.

When the PLA becomes brittle it is usually a sign that it has absorbed moisture. The PLA of 3Dfils comes vacuum packed and our recommendation is that when you are not printing with it it will be reintroduced into the bag with the silica gel that comes with the product.

PLA printing parameters

As a starting point we offer you a basic configuration for any 3D printer

Printing temperature

195ºC

Print speed

60mm/s

Hot bed temperature

Off / 45ºC

Retraction

6,5mm

Retraction speed

30mm/s

filament pla 3d printing

Greetings and see you printing

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