Exploring the Pros and Cons of 3D Printing with PLA Material

3D printing has revolutionized the world of product design and manufacturing, offering a myriad of materials to choose from. One popular choice is Polylactic Acid (PLA), a biodegradable and eco-friendly thermoplastic derived from renewable resources such as corn starch or sugarcane. In this blog, we’ll delve into the benefits and shortcomings of 3D printing with PLA, shedding light on its unique characteristics.

Benefits of 3D Printing with PLA:

  1. Ease of Printing:
    • PLA is known for its ease of printing, making it an excellent choice for beginners and experienced users alike. It has a low printing temperature, reducing the risk of nozzle clogs and making the printing process smoother.
  2. Bridging:
    • PLA exhibits good bridging capabilities, allowing for the creation of intricate designs and complex structures without compromising print quality. This makes it suitable for projects that require intricate details.
  3. Lots of Colors:
    • PLA comes in a wide array of colors, providing designers with the flexibility to choose vibrant and diverse options for their projects. This allows for creativity and customization in product designs.
  4. Fumes:
    • PLA is generally considered to produce fewer fumes compared to some other 3D printing materials, making it a more user-friendly option. This can be especially important for those working in enclosed spaces.
  5. Biodegradable and Eco-Friendly:
    • PLA is derived from renewable resources, making it biodegradable and environmentally friendly. This is a significant advantage for those who prioritize sustainability in their designs and manufacturing processes.
  6. Recyclable:
    • PLA is recyclable, adding to its eco-friendly profile. Recycling PLA reduces waste and contributes to a more circular and sustainable approach to manufacturing.
  7. Inexpensive:
    • PLA is a cost-effective material, making it an attractive choice for prototyping and creating affordable products. Its affordability doesn’t compromise its overall quality, making it a popular option in various industries.

Shortcomings of PLA:

  1. Brittle and Relatively Weak:
    • One of the main drawbacks of PLA is its brittleness and relatively low strength compared to other materials like ABS. This limits its use in applications where high durability and impact resistance are critical.  Due to the homogeneous nature of PLA its bonds are weak and the layers are filled with micro-holes leading to stress failures on occasion.
  2. Constricts and Distorts:
    • PLA has a tendency to constrict and distort under high temperatures. This characteristic can pose challenges in applications where exposure to heat is unavoidable, such as direct sunlight affecting the structural integrity of the printed object.
  3. Low Temperature and Chemical Resistances:
    • PLA has lower temperature and chemical resistances compared to some other thermoplastics which will begin to warp, distort and/or dissolve when exposed to chemicals.

Conclusion:

3D printing with PLA offers a range of benefits, from ease of printing and versatility in colors to eco-friendliness and cost-effectiveness. However, its shortcomings, such as brittleness and limited temperature resistance, should be carefully considered based on the specific requirements of the intended application. As with any material choice, understanding the unique properties of PLA and its compatibility with the desired use case is crucial for successful 3D printing projects.

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply