Polylactic acid or PLA is one of the most popular filament types, primarily because of its ease of use. It doesn’t require particularly high temperatures or needs a heated bed and results in great dimensional accuracy. Particularly favored by beginners, PLA is inexpensive and results in parts that you can use in a wide variety of applications.
PLA is also environmentally friendly as it’s produced from crops such as sugarcane and corn. This means that PLA is both renewable and biodegradable; it also makes it one of the few filament types that actually smells nice during printing, with a sweet aroma. However, it’s still not recommended for you to breathe it in too much.
- Bed Temperature: 45-60 °C
- Heated Bed Optional
- Build Surface: Painter’s tape, PEI, Glass plate, Glue stick
- Extruder: Temperature 190-220 °C
- Cooling: Fan required
Best Practices and Tips
Oozing is the most common issue with PLA. Unfortunately, the downside of it flowing easily is that it can sometimes continue to flow when it shouldn’t. To deal with the oozing issue, it’s best to configure the retraction settings.
Cooling is a must for PLA. A dedicated art cooling fan can make a huge difference in the quality of your prints. You need to cool the printed plastic below the glass transition temperature as quickly as possible. It’s best to set the fan to 100% except for the first or two layers for optimal print bed adhesion.
Different brands of PLA melt at different temperatures, so it’s important to ensure you’re within the manufacturer’s recommended temperature settings.
- Strong and stiff
- Dimensionally accurate
- Low heat resistance
- Not suitable for sunlight exposure
- Can ooze during printing
This information should give you a great starting point for PLA printing. Have you got any specific projects you’re planning to use PLA for? Let us know down below.