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Elephant made using PLA 3D printer filament

3D Printing with PLA

Easy-to-use PLA 3D printer filament is a popular go-to material for extrusion-based printing, especially among beginners. PLA can be used to make prototypes, toys and just about anything you can imagine.

What is PLA 3D Printer Filament?

PLA, or Polylactic Acid, is a cost-effective filament for those just getting started in 3D printing. PLA is easy to use with minimal print issues and comes in dozens of colors and styles. It’s also manufactured from cornstarch, making it biodegradable and environmentally friendly.

What it makes up in application variety, it lacks in functionality: PLA prints are more brittle compared to durable and flexible TPU. Strength properties vary by manufacturer. colorFabb, for example, makes a PLA/PHA that’s stronger than stand-alone PLA.

PLA Uses & Applications

If you’re new to 3D printing, PLA is the best filament to start out with. It prints easily and is available in every color shade you can imagine, making it great for experimenting and prototyping.

PLA is one of the most popular 3D printing filaments on the market. You can make everything from superhero figurines to 3D models, cosplay costume accessories to chess pieces, cardigan buttons to desktop pen holders.

PLA has impressive variety across the bounty of manufacturers, so you’re going to find the perfect filament for your project. If you’re looking to elevate your prints with a bit of visual interest, colorFabb has special filaments that give you unique looks like wood or metal.

One of the disadvantages of PLA is that it’s not impact- or weather-resistant. But your project could hold up indefinitely when it’s not exposed to wear and tear.

How to print with PLA

3D printing with PLA is a popular choice for beginners using extrusion-based desktop printers.

Temperature: Generally, PLA filament prints well at low temperatures (190°C to 220°C), but it might take a bit of trial and error to find the right setting, which can vary by color and brand.

Common issues: The most common issues, such as under extrusion and over extrusion, occur when you’re trying to find the ideal temperature for each brand and color of PLA filament. Users have also reported trouble getting the first layer to stick, but leveling the bed or using a bit of blue painter’s tape can do the trick. Check out our Troubleshooting Guide for common print issues and fixes.

Properties of PLA: Pros & Cons

Pros of PLA

  • Easy to print, especially for beginners
  • Minimal warping
  • Huge variety of colors and styles
  • Cost-efficient
  • Biodegradable
  • Easy to post-process

Cons of PLA

  • Prints can be brittle, depending on brand’s strength properties
  • Low durability and little to no impact resistance make PLA not suited for wear and tear
  • No flexibility

FAQs about PLA

Why is PLA good for 3D printing?

PLA is a popular choice for beginners because it is user-friendly, prints with minimal issue, has lots of color options and is inexpensive. PLA is also ideally suited for experiments and prototyping.

How strong is 3D-printed PLA?

Some 3D-printed PLA projects will last a long time on a shelf, but PLA is breakable when put to a durability test. If you’re looking for something with strength and impact resistance, our Armadillo® filament is a good option to explore.

Can you 3D print metal?

Yes, most desktop 3D printers can print metal filaments such as steel, copper and bronze. Check out colorFabb’s selection of specialty metal-infused PLA filaments. After a bit of post-print polishing, you can get your pieces to shine like a work of art.

Which NinjaTek Filament Do You Need?

Compare hardness, elasticity, impact resistance and other properties of our 3D printer filaments.

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NinjaTek fire red 3D printer filament spool

Fenner Precision Polymers
187 West Airport Road
Lititz PA 17543 USA

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