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Sorting through the best 3D printers while selecting the best printer for your needs is no small task. Choosing the right filament is crucial, and there are many options, so let’s sort through the differences between PLA vs PLA+ filament below. These are two filaments used in FDM printers, PLA is the most widely used and cost-effective, but it isn’t ideal from a durability standpoint. PLA+ comes with chemical additives that increase the resolution and durability.
For more unbiased, no-nonsense guides on 3D printing, check out more of our stuff. In addition, we have additional guides on specific materials, like PLA vs ABS or SLA vs PLA.
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First, let’s get the similarities out of the way. PLA and PLA+ (Polylactic Acid) are both 3D printing materials used in FDM printing; this means they are fed through an extruder, melted onto a build plate, and layered to form an object. In addition, they both are made from natural, biodegradable resources like corn starch and sugar cane.
These two differ because PLA+ has chemical additives, like fillers and pigments, to enhance a print’s overall object strength, heat resistance, and flexibility.
If you finish this and want to learn more, we have a helpful article listing the different types of 3D printers. And if you want to compare 3D print technology to other manufacturing equipment, we have a piece comparing 3D printers vs injection molding.
The additives in PLA+ provide a higher resolution, meaning the resulting object will have a smoother finish and better detail than traditional PLA. Therefore, for those trying to get the highest possible quality, PLA+ will be the way to go.
Along with added print quality, the chemicals in PLA+ give it greater strength and resistance to heat. While other filaments are more durable than PLA+, compared to standard PLA, it has a far greater ability to perform a function under stress rather than act simply as a model or prototype.
PLA can be beneficial in specific contexts, but its ability to withstand elements and stress is far less than PLA+.
PLA+ is a bit finicky, especially when compared to PLA. And the reason for this comes down to how the substance breaks down.
PLA has a far lower printing temperature, which means it’s easier to get layer adhesion and is less likely to clog in the nozzle. Ultimately, PLA is straightforward to work with, as PLA+ takes a bit more patience and fine-tuning.
Although PLA is marketed as biodegradable and non-toxic, inhaling the fumes can cause nausea.
Regarding affordability, there’s a clear cost difference between the two filaments. PLA costs around $20-$30 per kilogram, whereas PLA+ sells between $30-$40.
STAT: It’s essential to store PLA filament in an area with below 15% humidity. (source)