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Tech notes for PLA printing...

CHINESE PDF document, how to print with NEW LINE PLA correctly 1st draft!

CHINESE DOC document how to print with NEW LINE PLA correctly 2:nd draft!

This tech notes is a compilation from willingly and unknowingly participants. I have seen a lot of good information on the net, but none compiled. So I want to create a good place to find a lot of tips and fact about 3D printing and it's materials. Now I also have a tiny bit more experience myself and I will extrapolate some facts from that as well!

Wiki facts:

PLA

- bio-degradable polymer

- heater settings: 190-230 C depending on the type

- PLA can absorb moisture from the air (does ABS?)

- PLA bonds very very firmly to Acrylic, and it is not recommended to print directly on an Acrylic build surface. It does stick well and is removed easily from BlueTape. It can also be printed on Polyamide(Kapton) that is pre-heated, but will be hard to remove until both the part and the surface are cooled. It can also be printed directly onto heated glass

 

ABS

- requires less force to extrude than PLA

- heater settings: 225-250 C depending on the type

- produces fumes

- is bad because it tends to warp catastrophically off the build platform when printing large parts. This can be remedied by using a heated build platform (in which case it is just as nice as PLA and because it requires less force to extrude, is easier to print with!). ABS will stick to acrylic at low temperatures and to PET or Kapton tape if the bed is hot.

 

Be very accurate HOW you measure temperature, it is easy if your probe is misplaced to get up to 20 deg/C erroneous reading.

If you print to cold you will have clogging problems and very bad prints. Your print can also loosen from the table and get ruined.

If you print to hot you will have problems with the running of material and great difficulty with any form of details in the print.

Before printing, let the machine warm up, don't be in a rush.. 15 minutes, it is a big difference between print head being hot or warm through.

After printing, let the machine stay hot for about 3-5 minutes so the nozzle can drip clean. This to prevent any clogging at the next print job.

I did some tests on PLA:

PLA is very easy to cut with any cutting tool.

PLA can't take battering like hammer blows or things of that nature.

PLA is very strong when you just tug into it.. surprisingly strong.

PLA is not a good material to use with hot water things like connectors and/or vents/funnels and so forth, use ABS instead. PLA is VERY GOOD with everything that keeps below aproximatley 50 degrees C. Another fact is that PLA will start to disintegrate in WATER but it will take some time, I guess about 6-8 months or so before you rely see the difference. PLA is also used in different things during surgery, things like tread and screws. The whole point is that the body will eventually dissolve the material and dispose of it completely.

This said, the PLA we use is not at all that clean, not in the manner of using in any way that has to do with damages and repair of your body... For this you need very, very clean manufacturing and that is not the case with PLA from this site.

All PLA we sell is produced by a manufacturer that works primarily with chemical development and research, the ROD we sell is a bit of a spin off for them. All PLA is produced in their own machines with virgin materials to ensure the highest standard.

Environmentally PLA is very good: when producing PLA rod from Poly lactic acids you use close to 1:1 in the process. 1 litre gives 1 certain amount of PLA and that same PLA becomes a litre of dissolved poly lactic acid again. ABS on the other hand needs aprox 2:1 that means 2 litres of oil to produce a certain amount of ABS but the ABS will not give the same amount of chemicals back as was used in production.

The PLA has a very sharp glass transition point, the moment the material goes from fluid to solid. That mean that if you use a fan to cool it at printing time, it will set to solid very quickly. In it self that reduces the thermal stress on the printed part so warping can be avoided when printing larger designs with PLA.

You can enhance the part you printed by sanding and spraying with automotive spray filler and also paint your design with acrylic colour.

Here are some usual polymers used by industry, polylactic acid (PLA), polyglycolic acid (PGA), poly-2-hydroxy butyrate (PHB), and polycaprolactone (PCL), as well as their copolymers.

Another fact is that PLA wire 3mm that we sell weigh about 9 grams / meter, so 5 kilo is 5000 gram that makes a little more than 555 meters / spool.

I am always looking for more facts about PLA and it's uses and will update this page as often as I can.

During my own printing experience and what has been a very uneven travel I have found that some truths is definitely to listen to.

1.) You should always look at a printer with a heated bed! If you don't you will regret it!

Reason:

When you look what other people have been printing you will see smooth solid surfaces MUCH less stringy than your own, and the biggest difference will be the heated print bed. I have now been printing with and without a heated print bed and those are my experiences!

2.) Never expect one PLA to be exactly the same as the one you just bought/printed with.

Reason:

All PLA thread is created from a base oil and resin plus colouring. That is like if you make 10 spongecake at home they will be similar but not the same. This goes also for colouring.

3.) If you buy a BLACK and a BLUE and a WHITE from the same batch, they should be the same ?? NO!

Reason:

When you create colour in PLA you add different colouring agents. It can be as simple as coal for black or aluminium oxide for white. But all different colouring agents will change the viscosity as well as the temperature needed to melt the PLA. It does not have to be big differences in this temperature for you to get a BAD print. This very much up to what printer and what hot end you use. Naturally the 1.75 mm is more sensitive than 3 mm rod, but that is a consequence from getting a much finer addition of plastic from the extruder. One rule is always true, let your printer get warm through!

@

4.) Some other things to rely think about before you pay good hard earned cash on a printer is in my mind some things.

- Is there spare parts ?

- Does the deliverer answer E-mails within reasonable time

- Is the deliverer him self printing anything in 3D ( does he know what he is selling )

- Can your printer be equipped with different hot ends/extruders ? ( preferably easily! )

- What type of feeder, pinch feeder or ?? Try read about the most common problems with it..

Reason:

The more you try to understand and read before you buy your printer, the less nasty surprises afterwards.

5.) Some quality checks of your PLA

- Is the PLA round ? If not it can be difficult to get through the feeder/extruder

- Is the PLA oily ? If it is WET you can dry it in an oven, this can also be a warning

- Is the PLA brittle and prone to cracking ? This can be a problem with the feeder/extruder

- Is there a lot of air bubbles in the PLA ? That can be a sign of a bad production technique

- Is there a lot of residue, garbage inside the PLA ? that can clog your system up

- Is the PLA creating a lot of emissions when in use ? Again, could be bad production.

The above questions is for reference, none of them is actually a definite fault of the PLA. But the less mechanical irregularity's there are. The easier will your printing be!

Just some of my thoughts from experience printing with a cold bed!

More facts!

Due to the chiral nature of lactic acid, several distinct forms of polylactide exist: poly-L-lactide (PLLA) is the product resulting from polymerization of L,L-lactide (also known as L-lactide). PLLA has a crystallinity of around 37%, a glass transition temperature between 60-65 , a melting temperature between 173-178 C and a tensile modulus between 2.7-16 GPa. However, heat resistant PLA can withstand temperatures of 110C (230F).

PLA has similar mechanical properties to PETE polymer, but has a significantly lower maximum continuous use temperature.

Polylactic acid can be processed like most thermoplastics into fiber (for example using conventional melt spinning processes) and film. The melting temperature of PLLA can be increased 40-50 C and its heat deflection temperature can be increased from approximately 60C to up to 190 C by physically blending the polymer with PDLA (poly-D-lactide). PDLA and PLLA form a highly regular stereocomplex with increased crystallinity. The temperature stability is maximised when a 50:50 blend is used, but even at lower concentrations of 3-10% of PDLA, there is still a substantial improvement. In the latter case, PDLA acts as a nucleating agent, thereby increasing the crystallization rate. Biodegradation of PDLA is slower than for PLA due to the higher crystallinity of PDLA. PDLA has the useful property of being optically transparent. Stereocomplex blends of PDLA and PLLA have a wide range of applications, such as woven shirts (ironability), microwavable trays, hot-fill applications and even engineering plastics (in this case, the stereocomplex is blended with a rubber-like polymer such as ABS). Such blends also have good form-stability and visual transparency, making them useful for low-end packaging applications. Progress in biotechnology has resulted in the development of commercial production of the D enantiomer form, something that was not possible until recently.

PLA is currently used in a number of biomedical applications, such as sutures , stents , dialysis media and drug delivery devices. The total degradation time of PLA is a few years It is also being evaluated as a material for tissue engineering.

Because it is biodegradable, it can also be employed in the preparation of bioplastic , useful for producing loose-fill packaging, compost bags , food packaging, and disposable tableware. In the form of fibers and non-woven textiles , PLA also has many potential uses, for example as upholstery , disposable garments, awnings, feminine hygiene products, and diapers .

PLA has been used as the hydrophobic block of amphiphilic synthetic block copolymers used to form the vesicle membrane of polymersomes .

PLA is a sustainable alternative to petrochemical -derived products, since the lactides from which it is ultimately produced can be derived from the fermentation of agricultural by-products such as corn starch or other carbohydrate-rich substances like maize , sugar or wheat. PLA can be an alternative to high-impact polystyrene by using as much as 1 wt% non-PLA due to creating co-polymers which can strengthen PLA plastic

VIRGIN or RECYCLE materials?

Well this is a question we will have to wrestle with for some time. Basically you can never get as good material as the VIRGIN material and that is what we sell on this site. But the 3D-printer revolution is the perfect way to incorporate the recycle side of this trend and also a necessity. Even if there is a chance that we will be able to make as much PLA as we want in the world, it will always be a need for recycle plastic as well! Here we can see the example in the Filabot project. A very noble course and a good project. But I fear that a lot of printing peoples will miss the point with the possibility to create their own filament. Do not forget that you will not necessary know where the plastic have come from. Your recycle tech is as personal and varied as everything else in your print chain. Colouring will be a rely bad chapter in this situation. Colour will change the properties of the filament and also the materials will have to keep in diameter. Your heat system must be very good and if you extract filaments straight to rolls you will have deformation, stretching and also filament attaching to each other as issues (we have seen it all).

Supply3DPLA have actually at a number of points in time had the possibility to buy PLA produced on NON VIRGIN material and we have tested this material that is MUCH CHEAPER than the virgin one. But every test and every trial we done shows that the recycled material is far inferior in it's abilities to conform to what we expect at print time. Problems has been following: the flow through the heater, bubbles and dirt in the filament, very nasty habit of attracting water and that explodes in the heater causing breaks and weird feeds. The list can go on.

When you start with a plastic and grind it you start to affect it both mechanically as well as chemically. You also introduce different things you have in your air at the grinding place. Next your pellets/grains will be melted and this procedure also holds some surprises. It actually matters how you melt this plastics and in what type of material to get a quality as good as possible.

Let us expect that your filament is pouring out of your system no matter where it comes from... Here starts problem number two. The diameters of your filament should be VERY consistent, actually you will need a laser measuring device. This machines will not come cheap and the reason is that they have to give a perfect reading no matter what happens with your environments around you during extrusion. Another problem is that the filament deforms very easy if you don't let it cool slowly after extrusion. We have an entire discussion about filament that is flat and no good and that is what we who distributes filament don't want. You will have to accept flattened filaments from you home extruder or perhaps you will build this long filament flex ways that is used in the Chinese factories ( they still have bad batches ).

Most of all as I see it, when I can create my own filament I can finally get whatever I want. WRONG, you can get any plastic through your grinder and this way create any form of plastic you want. But how many will actually start up a complete chemical lab to synchronise with your filaments so that you get a blend of plastic and colouring and softness and water resistance that is in balance.

I might sound like an old bigot that tried to put a damper on the recycling and manufacturing of RELY CHEEP materials, this is not the case. My warning is that EVERYTHING I HAVE HEARD AS A COMPLAINT ON FILAMENTS IN THIS WEBSHOP WILL COME BACK AND HAUNT ANY MANUFACTURER of filaments. Never forget that.

RAW PLA material is actually liquid when reaching my sources in china. They have quite some blending and balancing to do from there. This will have to be done by yourself also. They can use extremely fine mesh to civ the liquid through and still some dirt sneaks through from time to time. You will not be able to have as fine a mesh but you will be forced to clean up all of your source material. I also guess that discolouration will be very common, perhaps some specific garbage plastic will be VERY good at keeping it's colouring properties but definitely not all.

Next comes the rolls, I guess that you will need rolls. If you print your rolls and then also spool your plastic on your rolls and then want to sell or use them, their will be very little surplus for you to work with. Lets say that you extrude 6 Kg 1 Kg goes to printing rolls and 5 Kg on these rolls.

Now you must take a look at how long it takes to extrude the first plastic to get plastic to print the rolls then you need to extrude plastic on those rolls after printing them.. Let's say that no problems and no mistakes have been done, look at the time for this job.

Also you have to keep quality, cleanliness and humidity in check or your filament will start to change and in worst case become worthless.

Okay so you will now have your own extrusion machine and you grind our PET bottles and their caps and you get decent results. You start printing with your filament and everything is well. You have actually made it! Here comes the market chapter 2, the garbage will start to be worth something and in the end you will have to pay to get the material you start from. Only what you get as garbage with you home will not be enough I guess that if you extrude filaments yourself you like to print a lot. Also the quality of the print them self will not be up to speed to the ones we have seen with what the Chinese call second source material. That is everything NON VIRGIN.

Just some thoughts about the home extrusion of filaments, if you succeed and you can deliver a couple of ton / year please let me know! You got a customer in Supply3DPLA.

BEST OF LUCK!


   
 
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