As a UK provider of PLA 3D printing filament, we are often asked by 3D printing users about the different types of PLA filament and what the best PLA filament is. This article will therefore give an overview of what PLA is, as well as explain the different types of PLA 3D printer filament we sell.
What is PLA?
Polylactic acid / polylactide (PLA) is an example of a bioplastic – a plastic made from renewable, plant / biological material.
The Material of Choice
PLA is the most popular 3D printing filament material – as exemplified in a 2019 survey which shows that more than 95% of 3D printing users use PLA.
In the early years of desktop 3D printing, ABS emerged as the most popular filament, however, PLA soon began to takeover as the undisputed no.1 filament of choice.
3D printing users prefer PLA because it’s relatively low-cost, easy to print, less likely to warp compared and doesn’t emit any unpleasant fumes during the printing process. As a renewable bioplastic it is also more environmentally-friendly – however it’s important to note that the sustainability claims made by marketers of PLA could be perceived as greenwashing.
PLA Filament Types
As of January 2020, Filament offer five PLA 3D printer filament materials:
- rPLA (recycled PLA)
- Engineering PLA – ePLA
- Matte PLA
- Cosmic PLA
- Wood PLA
To address the ‘plastic problem’, we have pioneered rPLA (recycled PLA) 3D printer filament, still boasting the same great PLA features such as; low warping, limited smell and premium print quality – but with the added benefit of being produced from factory waste streams as opposed to virgin pellets. All users of rPLA can feel good about reducing the demand for natural resources and therefore saving the environment, whilst being confident that the print quality will still be one of the best on the market! The go-to filament for all 3D printer owners, perfect consumer products, toys and general prototypes.
Recommended printing temperature: 190-220°C
Engineering PLA – ePLA Filament
ePLA is our engineering-grade PLA filament, with performance comparable to ABS. Features a heat resistance of >95°C (after annealing) and the ability to print at speeds up to 120mm/s. ePLA gives a semi-matte finish once printed.
Recommended printing temperature: 235 ± 10°C
Matte PLA Filament
As the name suggests, this PLA matte filament is perfect for those desiring a matte finish. The printed surface diffuses light to give it a matte look and reduce the visibility of layer lines. Not to mention the added textured feel!
Recommended printing temperature: 205 ± 10°C
Cosmic PLA Filament
Our highly-rated PLA now featuring metallic, glitter flakes to create prints that are “out of this world”. Ideal for creating eye-catching prints!
Recommended printing temperature: 205-225°C
Wood PLA 3D Printer Filament
Filamentive Wood is a PLA composite 3D printer filament. 40% of the formula is made from recycled wood fibres, providing a realistic wood colour, finish and even smell. Some wood filaments can be difficult to print, so our goal was to offer a wood filament that is also easy to work with and we have succeeded – many of our customers praise this filament for “printing like butter”. You can even post-process your wood prints – such as sanding, varnishing and coating – to make eye-catching, decorative wood objects.
Recommended printing temperature: 200-230°C
We also recommend a nozzle >0.5mm to easy flow / reduce blockages.
So… What is the Best PLA Filament?
It’s difficult to pick just one material as ‘the best’ as it depends on the application, 3D printer capability and the needs / requirements of the user.
If you’re looking for a general prototyping filament that is easy-to-print, we highly recommend our rPLA filament.
If you require something more robust / durable that may also need to be subjected to higher temperatures, our ePLA fits the bill!
If a matte finish is what you’re looking for, our PLA Matte is the obvious one to go for here!
If you’re looking for glitter / sparkly PLA for that added WOW factor, PLA Cosmic is the one!
If you need something to smell like wood / look like wood / feel like wood, Wood PLA is a no-brainer!
Due to it’s relatively low-cost, printing ease, environment credentials and the variation, it’s easy to see why PLA filament is used by more than 95% of 3D printer users.
With so many options, PLA is likely to be the best material for your project, but it is also worth noting we offer many other polymers – including ABS, ASA, PETg – so we would highly recommend reading our Materials Guide for further information.
We also offer 3D printer filament samples of all materials we sell.
Hopefully this has been an interesting and informative read – happy printing!
Any questions? Please email us!