Polylactic Acid, more commonly known as PLA, is one of the most popular plastic. It is a biodegradable thermoplastic polyester produced by condensation of polymerization of lactic acid. Bio-plastics have gained much attention due to the increasing environmental crisis. These are developed to replace the traditionally used petroleum-based plastics.
PLA is an answer against many petroleum-based plastics in commercial applications. It is the most commercially successful bio-plastic. Hot PLA obtains properties of unique mechanical and chemical composition. The chemical properties directly affect the glass-transition temperature.
PLA is very user-friendly and easy to print. You can cast your designs by extruding them at the perfect temperature. You just need to know the correct method and temperature to achieve this. Since PLA are available in a range of colors and texture, its extrusion heat also differs accordingly.
Here, I am going to talk about a range of heat temperatures of hot PLA prints and Beds suitable for PLA in different conditions. And most importantly, what you should not do while printing the PLA!
One of the interesting features of PLA is that it can be heat treated. It can be cooled and reheated again. This can be done without much degradation of the plastic. By doing so, you can easily recycle it.
Extrusion is a common way to melt PLA. They can be blended with different polymers and thermoplastics for better strength and durability.
Even you can bake them in the oven! You can bake ABS filaments in the oven at 200F for up to 30 minutes. ABS is also used for 3d printing. However, PLA exceeds ABS due to copolymerization with other bioplastics. Thus, PLA obtains the properties of other thermoplastics.
PLA Prints And Their Printing Temperature
PLA filament is very easy to print. It does not require a heated bed surface in most cases. But if your machine has a print bed, it would be easy for printing smoothly. Every material filament is chemically different. These filaments have their own requirements for processing.
In the case of PLA filament, they also require different glass transition temperatures. It means that turning the filament from a brittle to a soft rubbery substance. So, it can easily extrude the hot filament.
PLA Filament And Print Knowledge
The natural melting point of PLA filament is around 80°Celsius. One of the most important things is to remember that there is no exact printing temperature available for specific PLA filaments.
It varies upon the texture, brand, and colors. Your printing machine is also a crucial detriment. The printing machines come in different heat-bed diameter and temperature settings.
By annealing, you can save the printed part from too hot a temperature. The best way to figure out is to keep experimenting with PLA strands and keep a record for future reference. If the printing temperature will bee too hot or too cold, it will create printing errors. Machine parts like bed or nozzle will also get affected.
The general temperature ranges from 190° to 220° Celsius. You can also heat treat filament in the oven at the recommended temperature of the filament. Keep adjusting the temperature of the printer while printing them. The trial and error method will definitely lead you to your desired print temperature.
3D Printing On PLA
If you are doing 3d printing on PLA plastic, you can start from 205° Celsius heat treat. Then you can adjust the temperature by 5° Celsius up or down. PLA has a relatively low glass transition temperature. Thus, it is not suitable for high-temperature applications. It is also fragile than abs for 3d prototyping.
Most of the filament already mention their heating temperature. But the printing machine and the bed surface will decide the rest. However, some of the commonly used PLA prints are available online.
For example a spool of black PLA print at 215° Celsius. The blue PLA printed part can achieve the best results at 210° Celsius. The heated bed of the printer and print speed are also important to check simultaneously.
The Perfect Bed Temperature For PLA Print
Though hot PLA does not require a heated bed. Still, to achieve the desired prints without much mess a hotbed will be helpful. The hot print bed is crucial for 3d printing of filament. The best range of temperature of hotbed falls between 20°-70° Celsius. It varies from PLA materials, color and brands.
You need to fix a certain temperature. The hotbed also provides adhesion to the printed object. It ensures that the first layer of the object is well fixed. If the bed gets too hot, go for annealing. You can use Temp Towers to set the perfect temperature. Software like Cura, Simplify3d, and Slic3r is also helpful to instruct the machine.
The first layer of PLA must be perfectly cast because it will be the foundation of the entire printed parts. The PLA filament requires a specific hotbed temperature because printed material can shrink and warp while printing without a hotbed. The print bed maintains heat and allows these materials to cool slower during extrusion. Otherwise cold PLA will not print as per the design. It can also damage the machine bit and printed PLA.
You can also directly print PLA material on glass. The bed temperatures should be around 60° Celsius. Make sure the printer setup is fine. Use a glue stick or masking tape to adjust the filament on the bed. The bed level should be at the right level. The extruder should be at the right height. The nozzle must remain close enough. So, it can print easily. The speed should not be too fast because it will pressure the PLA and damage it. Also, the plastic might get cool easily.
Issues With Too Hot Temperature While PLA Printing
Since no exact temperatures are available for any specific PLA. You have to keep experimenting. While it may sound tiring and you might mess up with your machine sometimes. During much heat, the hot PLA will start melting and burning. It will drip out of the hot end.
The answer to handling the extremely hot temperature of the bed or the hot end is to minimize it by 5°Celsius. The best way to find the ideal temperature of hot PLA is to keep trying by slowly adjusting it. Observe the pattern and maintain a heat-treated record for future references. Let the hot end cool down for some time.
Hot PLA is easier to use than any other bioplastics like ABS or PETG. It has exceeded ABS due to its printing effects. If the extruder is too hot, the hot PLA can become messy and flimsy. If the hot end is too hot, the printer will not be able to print material horizontally to link two raised parts of the model.
By annealing the heat of the hot end, you can save it from deformation. If prints are sloppy, you need to decrease the heat of the hot end. By adjusting it to low heat, blob and stringing can be prevented. The so-called Elephant foot occurs during such situations.
Issues With Low Temperature While PLA Printing
The low heat of the bed surface and extruder will impact hot PLA. The prints will not stick on the printed bed. There will not be proper adhesion. It will not stick properly. So, the answer is to increase bed temperature by 5°Celsius. The best way to find the ideal heat is to keep trying by slowly adjusting it. Observe the pattern and maintain a record for future references.
It is better to process them in the enclosure. The room will keep heat inside. A case for your printing machine will prevent the outside temperature from affecting the process. It keeps the heat inside the printer. The external factors like a cool breeze, wind, and AC will not hamper the process.
Things To Keep In Mind While PLA Processing
Good ventilation is necessary during the processing. For getting the best results, turn on the fan while PLA prints. You can use the extruder fan to dissipate heat. To avoid nozzle and Bowden tube blockage regularly, lower the heat temperature and use the fan. The filament diameter and nozzle diameter also affect printing temperature. You have to give more time for the filament to liquify.
PLA Is Much More Than You Think
PLA is commonly used on FDM machines. They are good for 3d printing. Its printed parts could be CNC machined. The filament melts while heat treating. It is available in a large number of color variations. It is popular for properties like stiffness, toughness, and heat resistance. They are transparent, glossy, ductile, and rigid.
All these properties make them the first choice for print. The printed part is used in automobile, electronic, medical, and non-medical industries as well. They can be transformed into thin sheets, spun into fibers, molding textiles, and thermoformed packaging.
The global production volume of PLA was around 190,000 tons in 2019. It can easily decompose within 3 to 6 months. It is an alternative to traditional plastics. Thus, it is crucial to saving the environment from global warming and plastic pollution. PLA use will surely benefit industries as well as the environment.