What is PLA?
PLA plastic is the most common material that is used for FDM 3D printing. Unlike petrochemical-based plastics, PLA filament is ECO friendly and degrades over time so this means that it is often seen as a more sustainable and responsible material for use with a 3D printer. Why do so many people opt for PLA when embarking on 3D printing projects?
PLA 3D printing is a common way for people to get started with desktop or home 3D printing.
What does PLA stand for in 3D printing?
Technically, it is an abbreviation of “Polylactic Acid” and if you are using an extrusion 3D printer this sort of material can be really popular due to the fact that it doesn’t need any sort of a heated bed.
PLA is also an environmentally-friendly filament for use with 3D printers. While some of the materials commonly used for this sort of printing are not friendly to the environment, this is derived from a lot of crops like sugarcane or even corn. This means that it is renewable and biodegradable so that it does not cause so many issues regarding degrading over time, as some other plastics do. PLA plastic 3D printing is also popular because of the fact that it doesn’t give off any harmful chemicals during printing.
PLA actually dates back almost 100 years when it was invented by an American chemist. It got more popular in the ’80s when it was used by Cargill, the American manufacturing company.
PLA filament: Technical Specifications
- Melting temperature: 145-160. °C.
- Specific gravity 1.24 g/cm3
- Flexural elastic modulus 3600 MPa ISO 178
- Flexural Strength 108 MPa ISO 178
How PLA is Used in 3D printing?
The PLA 3D printing material is one of the most common. Whether you are looking at 3D printing online or want to try your own desktop 3D printing this is likely to be one of the options to consider.
There are some common issues that occur in PLA 3D printing; stringing, oozing, or under-extrusion can all be a problem if you don’t get things right. Different brands of PLA do tend to have slightly different properties, which means that the extrusion can be a little different. They are often stringy, especially if you don’t get the correct PLA 3d printing temperature (which is normally between 190-220C).
PLA is not as durable as a number of other options for filament, so its uses can be seen as a little limited when compared to some of the other materials, but it is ideal for disposable items or things that don’t need to be overly durable, especially when you consider the fact that it is environmentally friendly and doesn’t have such a damaging impact.
PLA 3D Printing: What Does it Cost?
What are the costs related to PLA plastic 3D printing? The PLA filament material can cost between $30 and around $80 depending on the brand, colors, and a few other factors. It is impossible to give an exact price without looking into other factors such as the volume in which you plan to order the PLA filament.
Generally speaking, though, one of the reasons why PLA has become so popular is because it is available at a relatively good price and doesn’t cost a lot to make simple items out of. There’s even a pleasant smell while you are printing if it is derived from sugar cane.
3D Printing with PLA: The Main Advantages
Each and every type of material used in 3D printing has its own pros and cons, so what are the main advantages of PLA?
- The environmentally-friendly nature of the material. This is a sustainable way to print.
- The printing takes place at lower temperatures compared to ABS, which means that it is far less likely to warp.
- PLA is a relatively inexpensive material for using or ordering 3D printing services online.
- PLA is available from a lot of different manufacturers and it comes in different sizes and specifications.
- The PLA material offers a relatively good shelf life.
- It also provides a lot of strength, meaning it is suitable for more applications that might require a bit more in the way of robust rigidity.