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PLA plastic or polylactic acid is a vegetable-based plastic material, which commonly uses cornstarch as a raw material. It is the primary natural raw material used in 3D printing.
PLA is a fully biodegradable thermoplastic polymer consisting of renewable raw materials.
In plastic injection, this material is used to make packaging, primarily for the food industry as a substitute for fossil fuel derived plastics, because the material is appropriate for food contact.
PLA is used in 3D printing using FDM (fused deposition modelling), and along with ABSisone of the standard materials for this technology. There is often a tendency to compare these materials, as they are the two alternatives available for consumer printers.
It comes in the form of wire on a spool, which is fed into the extruder head where the plastic is melted and deposited into fine drops on the printing tray.
This material is translucent in its natural form, but spools of dyed filament can be used to make objects in different colours.
When cooling, this material contracts less than ABS, which gives it good geometric stability during manufacture.
In contrast, PLA will be less durable, more fragile, and more sensitive to heat than ABS.
This material’s melting point is known to be lower (around 150ºC) compared to the other materials available for fused deposition modelling.
This material is therefore particularly suitable for decorative objects with no mechanical constraints.
To manufacture parts subject to major limitations, using ABS is preferable if you want to manufacture your part with FDM technology. The layer thicknessvariesbetween approximately 70 and 400 microns and depends on the 3D printer’s precision.
Using polyamide powder sintering technology will provide even better results from a mechanical point of view.