PLA - Polylactic Acid
What is PLA
PLA is the typical desktop printer material, printed using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology. An extruder deposits molten plastic onto a build platform, layer by layer until the model has been created.
The printing process creates visible stepping between layers. Support structures are generated to scaffold overhangs, which are manually removed after printing. The stepping and support structures create a coarse and sometimes rough surface. This is a great material to use for prototyping and perfecting your final design.
The printing process uses a 0.4 mm diameter nozzle, 1.75 mm diameter filament, 0.2 mm layer height and 20% infill.
The main difference between ABS and PLA is the fact that PLA is biodegradable. This is because it is made from corn or other plants. While printing with PLA, it is important to remember that sharp corners will often be round at the expense of sharpness, and print layers will be visible after printing.
Fused Deposition Modeling, or FDM, is an extrusion-based technology. It use a temperature-controlled print head to deposit a thermoplastic filament layer by layer onto a build platform. The filament is melted due to a heated nozzle, which a motor pushes the filament through.
An FDM printer moves the print head along specified coordinates, laying down the molten material onto the build plate. Once in place, it cools and solidifies. This process continues, layer by layer, until the model is complete. Support structures are used as needed, depending of the geometry and orientation of the model.
Compared to other 3D printing methods, FDM is the most cost-effective way to prototype. It is suitable for both prototyping and non-commercial functional applications. You can choose from a wide range of thermoplastic materials. Models printed in FDM have visible layer lines and therefore require post-processing to have a smooth finish.
The minimum wall thickness for this material is 0.8 mm to ensure structural integrity. If there are any protruding parts on the model, we recommend the use of support structures to maintain stability.
Included engravings optimally have a minimum requirement of 1.0 mm line thickness, 1.5 mm depth, and 4.5 mm overall height.
For embossments, it’s important to ensure they are thick enough to survive production and shipment. For this reason, the recommended minimum dimensions are 0.8 mm line thickness, 0.8 mm depth, and 3.0 mm overall height.
If the model will be printed in parts to be assembled, a 0.5 mm width is necessary between the different pieces to ensure fit.