PLA: 3D Printing Materials Overview

PLA is perhaps the most popular material when it comes to 3D printing. It has several in demand applications and almost all FDM 3D printers nowadays can print with PLA. Read further to learn about how you can use this thermoplastic, how to set up your ZMorph 3D printer, and what are the mechanical properties.

PLA 3D Printing
PLA 3D printing

What does PLA Stand For?

PLA stands for polylactic acid or polylactide. It’s a common thermoplastic that is easy to print, biodegradable, and emits low-toxic fumes. Is inexpensive and recommended for inexperienced users because of its printability and vast applications.

How to Print with PLA?

In this section you will learn how to set up ZMorph Multitool 3D Printer and Voxelizer to 3D print with PLA filament. Don’t worry if it’s your first time, we will guide you the best way we can. Read further to find the best 3D printer settings for PLA.

PLA 3D Printing
3D printing with ZMorph VX.

Voxelizer Settings

If you’re 3D printing with PLA ZMorph 1.75 filament, you practically don’t have to do anything as we’ve prepared presets for you beforehand. Simply go to printing settings and from the list of filaments choose PLA ZMorph. If you don’t see the preset on the list, click on the “Open filament library wizard” icon and add settings of your preference (works only if you’re connected to the internet).

PLA 3D Printing
PLA preset in Voxelizer (click to zoom).

The rest of the settings depends on your model and 3D printing preferences. If you’re not sure about them, visit the ZMorph Academy (it’s free!).

Adhesion

Use an adhesion glue (i.e. Dimafix) and default Voxelizer settings for optimal adhesion.

PLA Printing & Bed Temperature

When 3D printing with PLA, your extruder should be heated to 200-230 °C. This way the material will melt and slowly flow through the nozzle.

The bed temperature should be set to 60 °C for the best adhesion. Remember to put some adhesion glue before heating up the worktable and starting 3D printing.

PLA 3D Printing
Models 3D printed from PLA.

Other printer settings

While 3D printing with PLA, you don’t have to close the plastic covers. PLA 3D printing results are best when the machine is working with open chamber and with the attached fan.

The machine will always remind you about the fan add-on. This information is included in G-codes generated with Voxelizer and in ZMorph VX firmware.

3D Printing PLA
Voxelizer reminder about using fan (click to zoom).

For most models 100% printing speed should be accurate, but you should consider slowing down while 3D printing complex models from PLA filament.

PLA Applications

PLA filaments have a wide spectrum of applications. You can use it in rapid prototyping, for making 3D printed showcase models, or educational purposes. PLA is also commonly used for architectural models, containers, molds, and consumer goods.

Samples

PLA 3D Printing
3D printed fixtures for subtractive manufacturing.
PLA 3D Printing
3D printed architectural model.
PLA 3D Printing
3D printed laptop stand.

PLA & Dual Extruder

If you have the Dual Extruder toolhead, we invite you to experiment with some of the unique Voxelizer features like color blending. Mixing PLA with other PLA filament is simple and you can add a special touch to your models.

PLA 3D Printing
4-color mountain 3D printed with Dual Extruder.

If you are printing complex models, consider using Dual Extruder for mixing PLA with PVA. PVA is your go-to support filament that is easily dissolvable in water. This way you will be able to 3D print movable parts and complex structures in one go. Remember to set appropriate artefact parameters.

PLA vs ABS

ABS is another very popular material for 3D printing but there are some significant differences between these two filaments. First of all – ABS is harder and more durable than PLA. It has different chemical structure and therefore usually has different applications. While PLA is mostly used in showcase models and rapid prototypes, ABS can actually be used as end-parts or functional prototypes.

ABS is slightly more difficult to print with. If you’ve never tried this material, check out our tips on 3D printing with ABS or learn about the main differences between PLA and ABS.

PLA 3D Printing
PLA (left) vs ABS (right)

Health & Safety

While PLA is fairly safe material because it doesn’t emit toxic fumes, you should always prioritize your health and be careful around the machine. Bear in mind that the printing temperature of PLA is around 200 °C so if you touch the extruder or freshly printed model you can burn yourself. Always wait for the machine to cool down before taking out your model.

Despite non-toxic fumes your machine should work in a well ventilated area. Some people react negatively to burning plastic fumes and if you suddenly feel dizzy, stop your work and get some fresh air.

PLA 3D printing
3D printed tool tray.

PLA ZMorph 1.75 mm Filaments

ZMorph filaments is a set of 3D printing materials designed especially for ZMorph VX Multitool 3D Printers. We thoroughly tested the materials before putting them on sale and prepared Voxelizer presets to make sure your models are always of excellent quality. Visit our online shop or contact your local reseller for more info.

PLA 3D Printing
3D printed PLA samples.

If you want to learn more about PLA or other materials for ZMorph VX, read the ZMorph Materials Library.

Jakub Spiryn

Content Manager at ZMorph

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