PLA (Polylactic Acid) Biodegrable Filament. 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.
PLA is the most commonly used filament. It’s biodegradable, easy to print, and very strong. The perfect choice for printing large objects thanks to its low thermal expansion (little to no warping) and for printing tiny parts because of its low melting temperature.
PLA materials are available in a wide range of colors, some even have special characteristics such as the ability to glow in the dark. Keep in mind that certain PLA filaments may require a different nozzle.
It is a natural polymer designed to substitute widely used petroleum-based plastics such as PET (polyethene terephthalate).
In packaging, PLA plastic is often used for plastic films and food containers.
First and foremost, it’s easy to print with. PLA has a lower printing temperature than ABS, and it doesn’t warp as easily, meaning it doesn’t require a heating bed (although it definitely helps). Another benefit to using PLA is that it doesn’t give off an evil smell during printing. It’s generally considered an odorless filament, but many have reported smelling sweet candy-like fumes.
Finally, as a biodegradable thermoplastic, PLA is more environmentally friendly than most types of 3D printer filament, being made from annually renewable resources such as corn starch or sugar cane.
Like ABS, PLA is the base material used in many exotic or recreational filaments, such as those with conductive or glow-in-the-dark properties, or those infused with wood or metal.
WHEN SHOULD I USE PLA?
In this case, the better question might be, When shouldn’t I use PLA? Compared to other types of 3D printer filament, PLA is brittle, so avoid using it when making items that might be bent, twisted, or dropped repeatedly, such as phone cases, high-wear toys, or tool handles.
You should also avoid using it with items which need to withstand higher temperatures, as PLA tends to deform around temperatures of 60°C or higher. For all other applications, PLA makes for a good overall choice in filament.
Common prints include models, low-wear toys, prototype parts, and containers.