Introduction

Polylactic acid or polyactide (PLA) is a biodegradable and bioactive polyester made up of lactic acid building blocks. It was first discovered in 1932 by Wallace Carothers by heating lactic acid under vacuum while removing condensed water. During the early times, only low-density PLA was produced. By using lactide as a raw material and through the process of ring-opening polymerization, a high-density version of PLA was finally developed.

Early applications of high-density PLA were mostly limited to biomedical areas due to its ability to be safely absorbed biologically. Over the past decades, the development of economical production methods and a rising environmental consciousness in consumers lead to the widespread use of PLA as packaging material for consumer goods. PLA is manufactured from renewable sources and is compostable, addressing problems in solid waste disposal and lessening our dependence on petroleum-based raw materials. It is currently the second most produced and consumed bioplastic in the world in terms of volume.

PLA 3D printing
PropertiesPLA
Tensile Strength37 MPa
Elongation6%
Flexural Modulus4 GPa
Density1.3 g/cm3
Melting Point173 ℃
BiodegradableYes, under the correct conditions
Glass Transition Temperature60 ℃
Spool Price*** (1kg, 1.75mm, black)$USD 22.99
Common ProductsCups, plastic bags, cutlery

Pros

  • Can be printed on a cold surface
  • More environmental-friendly
  • Shinier and smoother appearance
  • No harmful fumes during printing
  • Higher 3d printer speed than ABS
  • More detail than ABS

Cons

  • Less sturdy than ABS
  • Can not be sanded
Price
Details
Time
Design tips

Maximum bounding box

250 × 380 × 200 mm

for vase mode printing : X,Y,Z < 1050 mm (BigRep One)

Minimum bounding box

X, Y,Z > 5 mm ( for separated parts)

Minimum embossed detail

Z = 0.2 mm , Y = 0.3 mm

0.5 mm for readable text

Minimum engraved detail

Z = 0.2 mm , Y = 0.3 mm

0.5 mm for readable text

Minimum engraved detail

Z = 0.2 mm , Y = 0.3 mm

0.5 mm for readable text

Minimum unsupported wall thickness

0.7 mm

A supported wall is connected on two or more sides. An unsupported wall is one connected to other walls on less than two sides. Walls in your model should be thicker than or equal to the minimum measurements suggested to ensure your model makes it through printing and cleaning. Walls that are too thin are prone to warping in the printing processing, or may break when we remove it from the printer and clean it. Walls and wires close to or slightly above the guidelines may still be rejected based on the geometry. For example, extra long wires or walls protruding from an object may be damaged during cleaning. Our production team will communicate with you if the design is too weak with tips on how to strengthen it.

Minimum supported wall thickness

0.7 mm

Minimum supported feature size

0.8 mm

Minimum unsupported feature size

1 mm

A geometry considered a wire when its thinner in both unconnected directions than its length. When a geometry is thicker than 0.9 mm in one direction, it will fall under the wall guidelines. Wires that are under our suggested minimums are prone to breaking in the cleaning process, or warping.

Overhang and supports

Can print without supports < 45°

Need supports > 45°

Clearance between parts

0.5 mm

Clearance is the space between an two parts, e.g. space between gears or a ball and socket joint.