Poly-lactic acid (PLA) is a thermoplastic polymer. This material is a derivative of natural sources, including corn and at times sugarcane. It is hence a biodegradable product, which ultimately breaks down in 3–6 months and is sometimes called a bioplastic.
Apart from its other uses, PLA is the material of choice for 3D printing. This is because the high-quality PLA 3D printing material is easy to pigment, has a neat finish detail and does not warp.
Even though it is the most versatile and easy-to-work-with 3D printing material, villageplastics.com notes that there are several determinants of a successful print job when using PLA. Here are some of them.
PLA printing materials have a printing temperature range of approximately 185–205C. The thickness of your filament, however, affects your optimal temperature.
Materials thicker than 2.85mm will need higher temperatures, while those less than this will mostly print better at lower temperatures. Your printing room's temperature will also influence your ideal temperature setting.
Another critical determinant of your print’s success is the ability to adhere your PLA filament to the print surface. High-quality PLA materials adhere to a broad range of surfaces without much of a fuss.
Experts, however, recommend using a heated bed with temperatures between 40C and 50C to enhance the adhesion of your first print layer.
3. Filament Storage
PLA material is hygroscopic, which means that it absorbs moisture from the air around it over time. This moisture buildup alters or breaks down the material’s molecular chains.
Printing on PLA material that has been affected by moisture often results in hard-to-bind print layers and distortion of the layers that bind. To prevent this, store your filament in metallic, sealable bags lined with desiccants, which most suppliers provide, in a dry place.
Low-cost PLA filament sounds like an excellent cost-cutting option. This is, however, not the case since your designs will be ruined due to imperfections in your printing material. Always go for quality, regardless of the cost to ensure your final designs are a success.