What To Look For in PLA Filament Options
Polylactic acid (PLA) is a popular 3D printing filament made from renewable resources, such as cassava, cornstarch, and sugarcane. It has a biodegradable composition and low melting point, making it ideal for 3D printing beginners. It also comes in a range of colors, finishes, and diameters, providing a wide variety of options for creative projects.
PLA is a widely available filament that can generate quality prints with minimal warping and shrinkage. It is also odorless and does not require a heated bed, which is why it is popular among 3D printing enthusiasts. However, not all filaments are created equal. The following are some of the most important considerations to look for in PLA filaments to ensure optimal performance and print quality:
The filament’s diameter can affect the thickness of each layer of the print, and inconsistencies in diameter can cause uneven layers or gaps. PLA filaments typically come in two standard sizes: 1.75 mm and 3 mm. Choosing the incorrect diameter can lead to several issues, including under-extrusion or over-extrusion.
Under-extrusion happens when the diameter is too large for the printer’s extruder, causing the filament to become trapped and inhibit proper extrusion. On the other hand, over-extrusion occurs when the diameter is too small for the extruder. This causes the printer to extrude too much material, resulting in a stringy and messy print.
It is also crucial to remember that the diameter of PLA filament can vary across manufacturers and even between batches of the same brand. As a result, it is critical to check the diameter frequently. Adjusting the 3D printer’s settings is also recommended to ensure consistent and accurate prints.
The filament’s color can affect the overall appearance and aesthetic of the 3D print. For example, a 3D model with a natural or translucent filament will look different from a bold, bright color. However, it is essential to consider that the color can affect the printing process and the final quality of the print.
Filaments with darker colors, such as black, need higher printing temperatures. If they are not printed at the right temperature, it could lead to clogging or under-extrusion. Meanwhile, lighter-colored filaments need low temperatures and can be more tolerant if printed at slightly lower temperatures. In addition, the quality of the pigment utilized in the coloration process can impact its quality.
Not all filaments are suitable for every printer, and using an incompatible component can cause clogging under-extrusion or even damage to the machine. Compatibility is often determined by the diameter of the PLA filament and the printer’s extruder system. For example, some printers have different extruder systems, such as a direct-drive or Bowden extruder.
One way to ensure compatibility is to choose PLA filament from the same manufacturer as the printer. This can help ensure it is designed to work well with the printer’s system and will minimize the risk of printing issues.
PLA filament is generally more affordable than other 3D printing filaments such as ABS or PETG. This makes it an attractive choice for those on a budget or those experimenting with 3D printing. However, it is important to remember that the price can vary depending on its quality, color, and manufacturer. For instance, higher-quality filaments — such as those with tighter tolerances — can be more expensive but produce better results.
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At Terrafilum, we develop and provide top-of-the-line, eco-friendly 3D printing filament solutions to customers in diverse industries! From custom filaments for large-scale industrial projects to meeting strict engineering design criteria, we’ve got you covered. Our commitment to exceeding all our customers’ printing needs has been achieved, and we manufacture our products right here in the USA.