PLA stands for Polylactic acid, it is a thermoplastic polyester and is made from corn starch or sugarcane. PLA looks and feels like traditional oil-based plastic, but the most attractive things about PLA is that it is biodegradale and compostable. You will have better idea how PLA is environmentally friendly by below numbers. A 3D printer object made of PLA filament degrades during six months to two years in the ocean; whereas, it takes more than 500 years for other conventional plastics.
Some may worry that PLA’s degradable characteristic means weaker structure. It is significant to point out that PLA is robust enough when used in normal applications of 3D printing. PLA printing object lasts if it is put indoors, but it is not sustainable when exposed to continuous moisture or outside. This shall give you a basic idea whether PLA filament is suitable for your applications.
PLA plastic is not only used in 3D printer filament, but also in many industies such as food packaging and medical implants, etc.
Compared to ABS filament, PLA filament is more rigid, easier to get a nice flat part and heated bed not required. PLA printing parts shrink less during cooling. One thing needs to be considered is that since PLA is harder, PLA product is more brittle than ABS printing objects. If the printing object will be banged or collided, PLA may not be the best material for you.
Temperature is another significant consideration that should be paid attention to in 3D printing. PLA plastic becomes soft at 70 to 80 degree, and it melts in the range of 190 to 220 degree. Printing difficulty of PLA 3D printer filament is easy, as long as temperature, bed height and speed are set.
PLA 3D Printer Filament Features:
• User friendly and Earth Friendly
• Ideal for consumer products, toys
• Ideal for higher print speeds, and smooth layers
• Good durability, but deform when temperature reaches 70 degree up.
• Very limited flexibility, slightly brittle
• Minor shrinkage during cooling
• Heated bed not required