PLA, or polylactic acid, is a biopolymer used in FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) 3D printing, among other things, and the reason it’s used so often is for two main reasons. The first is that it’s fairly inexpensive for the base resin, and the second is that it’s incredibly easy to print compared to other thermoplastics used in 3D printing.
While regular PLA can be printed incredibly easily and gives you a stiff, heavy part, it might not always be what you’re looking for, so companies can modify the plastic for other uses. You can buy PLA+ filaments which are a bit less stiff but therefore more impact resistant, you can get matte filaments, stone or metal filled filaments, even those that glow in the dark or contain carbon fiber, and we take a look at some of our favorites here.
The best everyday PLA has to be something consistent from batch to batch, relatively inexpensive, and available in a wide range of colors for whatever you need to print, and I can’t think of a better one material that embodies this as Printed Solide’s Jessie PLA. At $20 a kilogram for their standard colors, and just a dollar more for their glitter-filled glitter filaments that they manufacture on-site at their factory in Newark, Delaware.
Made in the USA, with high repeatability and quality control, Jessie PLA has fans all over the US and it’s no wonder the colors are great, the prices are worth it and the business is still going strong. happy to talk to customers just in case. is a problem, and more companies could learn a thing or two from David at Printed Solid.
Matterhackers are a force to be reckoned with in the world of 3D printing, not only are they a machinery retailer, but they also manufacture and distribute filaments, from their lower cost “Build series” range to their premium range range “Pro series”, and what we are talking about here is an offshoot of this high-end Pro series.
Pro Series Tough PLA is a modified PLA that was designed to take PLA to the next level and effectively act like ABS in many ways, while you don’t get the heat resistance or chemical welding capabilities of ABS, you have the ability to drill and tap 3D printed parts, they are more ductile than standard PLA and closer to ABS, meaning a drop is less likely to end in a crash. cracked or damaged part.
You can also anneal Tough PLA, what does that mean? in simple terms it involves slowly heating a material to a point where it releases the built-in stresses, this makes a stiff, brittle material more ductile and impact resistant, in 3D printing this has also allowed you to increase heat resistance, and Tough PLA can withstand temperatures or up to 85c after annealing, very neat.
Value means a lot of different things to different people, for some it’s the cheapest item possible, for others it’s the best mix of price, performance and availability, I fall into the latter, c That’s why I think Jessie PLA of The Printed Solid is the ultimate value of PLA in the USA.
Made in Newark, Delaware on-site, Printed Solid has 38 colors of Jessie PLA, of which 31 are standard colors and 7 are high-glitter fancy colors, and the difference between the two? ONE DOLLAR. A kilogram of PLA for $20 is already cheap, a kilogram of PLA made in the USA is insane, what’s even better is color batch-to-batch reliability and diameter accuracy by Jessie PLA. Printed Solid even offers Jessie in the much less popular but still used 2.85mm format, so those of you who rock old Lulzbot machines or stuff from Ultimaker and BCN3D are still covered.
Flexibility isn’t really what you think of when you initially think of PLA, in fact it’s one of the stiffest printing materials outside of carbon fiber filled materials, but maybe that you can’t print TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) on your printer but you want something with a little flair, that’s where flexible PLA comes in, and nothing does that better than Ataraxia’s PLA+ Art
Flexibility is measured on the Shore, Shore A or Shore D scale, they are not directly comparable but they both follow the rule “the higher the number the stiffer it is” so a 95A TPU is much stiffer than a 60A TPU, and the softer it is the harder it is to print, imagine trying to push wet spaghetti through a straw that’s only a little bigger than the spaghetti, that’s very hard.
What if I told you that Ataraxia Art’s patented PLA+ is 89A, softer than most standard TPUs, and EASIER to print. the rule of thumb for printing with flexible is that you really reduce speeds, until a few years ago printing TPU above 25mm/s was unheard of, you were a fool. but Ataraxia Art’s flexible PLA+ can be easily printed at up to 90mm/s, our own Chris Wedel printed parts using it at 80mm/s on his Flashforge Adventurer 4 and it came out a dream, actually the images here are of Chris and printed on the Adventurer 4.
Whether it’s phone cases, door bumpers, rubber feet for your furniture or heck, maybe you just want to try a 3D printed wallet, Ataraxia Art’s flexible PLA+ is so beginner-friendly that it makes up for the higher cost, with 12 colors you’re likely to find something to your liking too.
One thing people don’t think about with 3D prints is the weight, if you print props, a 50g hand plate, 300g shin guard and 500g helmet, it adds up quickly . On the other hand RC airplanes are a popular thing to 3D print but you want them to be as light as possible any extra weight is more stress on the motors and then you need a bigger battery big is a vicious cycle, so comes colorfabb LW-PLA or lightweight PLA.
LW-PLA is embedded with a special foaming agent that when it reaches a certain temperature it starts to bubble and expand, while that’s usually a bad thing, in a controlled way you can foam the filament and trapping air to take the place of filament that was once there, leaving you with a print that, at full foam, can be 65% lighter than a part without foam! this also means that a single roll of 1kg filament is roughly equivalent to 2.2 rolls of 1kg filament.
Not only is it much lighter, but LW-PLA also sands incredibly easily and is easy to paint and prime, another real boon for cosplay and props. The only major downside, apart from the cost of the LW-PLA, is that due to the nature of the foam, the retraction doesn’t really work, which means there will be small strings and boogers to clean up, luckily, they just pop off with your finger.
The amazing thing about LW-PLA is that you don’t need a high-end printer or extruder to print it. I printed helmets on my Anycubic Kobra Max. the Kobra Max has a Bowden extruder and a PTFE lined hotend. I printed this on my Voron V0.1 with an all metal hotend with a direct drive extruder and both printed perfectly. Something that is traditionally a problem with Bowden extruders, namely oozing and stringing, is unavoidable with this material anyway, so this allows you to use it in more places.
At the end of the line
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So for me the bottom line is that for most people, for most things, picking up some Jessie PLA from PrintedSolid is the best thing you can do. A great mix of cheap, high quality filament with good consistency so you can count on buying 5 rolls that will color match each other, which I’ve experienced isn’t the case with many other manufacturers with more expensive filaments.
Printed Solid has a really extensive range of colors available, but they also recently bought the rights and recipes to a fan favorite, Polyalchemy Elixir, the original “silk filament” with my favorites being “Emerald City”, I can’t wait to be printed Solide to bring it back and maybe introduce some new colors.
That’s why Jessie PLA is my top choice for the ultimate PLA for most things, it’s ridiculously cheap at $20 per kilogram for USA made filament, and the company is always ready to help the customer in any way, be it on social media, their customer support line or more.