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If you’ve ever looked into the best 3D printers the market offers, you understand that many styles and methods exist. And once you select the best printer for your needs, you need to learn how to use it properly and what material to use. There are a lot of techniques and best practices for printing with each specific material. Below, we’ll explore some tips on how to print with PLA.
If you’re still selecting a 3D printer, you can check out any of our resources, guides, and how-tos. We have articles covering everything from how to get the broken filament out of a 3D printer to a comparison guide outlining the differences between the Anycubic Chiron vs Ender 5 plus.
PLA (Polylactic Acid) is a specific type of printer filament used in FDM 3D printing. The material is made from a biodegradable, renewable resource, like sugarcane or cornstarch. First, the PLA filament is fed into the extruder. Then, it’s passed through a heated tip, where it’s melted and layered into an object.
If your filament absorbs moisture, you can save it by dehydrating it. To do this, place the filament in the oven at about 60 Celsius for about 12 hours.
PLA is one of the most popular print materials today because it’s affordable, the least toxic of mainstream print materials, and great for making essential printer parts. It works with a wide variety of units.
However, to print successfully, owners should be aware of a few helpful practices to ensure no globbing or warping, which can be a common issue with PLA. Following the below methods will help provide a better outcome and an easier overall experience.
For more helpful guides, visit our resource explaining how thin a 3D printer can print. Additionally, we have some articles on how to fix stringing in a 3D printer and how to print with polycarbonate.
One of the most significant drawbacks to PLA is its limitations when it comes to heat. PLA is a substance that will begin to soften at around 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit.) Therefore, if you’re going to make a part that you plan on subjected to heat equal to or higher than 50 Celsius, you should consider another material.
For more tips on using certain filaments and techniques, check out articles on how to print with PVA and how thin a 3D printer can print.
Many factors will determine the PLA’s preferred print temperature. For example, even the color might mean you’ll get a better print by adjusting the temperature even a few degrees. Doing so may decrease the likelihood of globbing or stringing. So, when you first begin printing, test out various temperatures.
It’s recommended to start at 200 Celsius and then adjust 5-20 degrees in either direction to achieve the best possible flow.
PLA is easy to work with, and many say a heating bed isn’t necessary. However, if you use a heating bed, it is recommended to keep it at around 50- 60 Celsius. Again, the temperature may require adjustment in either direction for the best results. The adjustments will depend on the type of PLA and the material of the printer bed.
The properties of PLA make it so that the quicker it cools, the better the object will turn out. Therefore, keep the cooling fan at full speed throughout the print process.
Although PLA fumes are less toxic than other filament types, users still should practice proper ventilation techniques because inhaling too many PLA fumes can cause nausea.
A common problem among any 3D print material is getting the abject to adhere to the build plate. If you need help getting your PLA object to stick, you can implement a brim. A brim is when you print a thin outline of your object before beginning the initial layers. This outline helps provide structure to the object during its initial stages.
Likewise, a raft is a more intense version of a brim and acts as a platform for the object to adhere to. However, this significantly increases the total print time.
Printer filament, especially PLA, always needs to keep in a dry environment. If the filament is exposed to too much moisture, it can absorb and become unusable.
STAT: On average, a spool of PLA costs $20-$27. (source)