How to Select the Best PLA Filament Spool

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Polylactic acid PLA is one of the most widely used 3D printing filaments. It’s so common that most 3D printer brands offer a free filament spool with every new FDM 3D printer purchased. There are a lot of brands that offer a standard PLA filament but which one of them is better than the rest? How to select the best PLA filament spool for 3D printing.

This question is important as there are a variety of factors that need to be considered before buying PLA filament. This article is all about understanding your PLA filament and going through the procedure of purchasing the PLA filament.

Factors Affecting the Best PLA Filament Selection

3D printer PLA filament is decomposable and can very easily get affected by environmental factors like heat and moisture. Other than this poor manufacturing practices and more handling can also create a variety of problems in PLA filament. To avoid all this, the following factors should be considered before purchasing the PLA filament.

Reliability of PLA Filament

The reliability of PLA filament means the filament’s ability to provide desired results in a defined environment without failing. Simply reliability means how good your PLA filament is providing quality 3D printing.

There are several problems like warping that can occur and fail your entire 3D printing procedure. Other problems include color variations, filament breaking, and filament grinding. All these problems are associated with poor quality filament manufacturing processes.

Stability of PLA Filament

The stability of PLA filament means the filament’s ability to provide expected results during the entire period of its shelf life. This also means every product 3D printed with a different spool of the same brand will give the same quality product.

Simply stability means how consistently your PLA filament brand can print quality 3D printed products. The brand you select for 3D printing material should be well-reputed in this field. All PLA filament spools provided by the brand should provide the same reliability for the complete length of each spool (that’s the stability of the best PLA filament).

Dimensional accuracy of PLA Filament

The dimensional accuracy of PLA filament means the filament’s ability to print objects with perfect dimensions and with minimum variations in shape. If an object needs a certain dimension of 10 mm then a good PLA filament should print it in the range of 9.97 to 10.03 which is a variation of a maximum of 0.03 millimeters.

It all depends on the brand of the PLA and how well the filament is manufactured. The best PLA filament can offer a dimensional accuracy of 0.02 millimeters.

Tangling of PLA Filament

Tangling of filament is the twisting of filament wire in a manner that becomes useless until twisting is undone. PLA filament tangling is all due to the manufacturer’s mistake during the winding of the filament wire on the spool.

If tangling appears during the print it can completely stop the printing process. This is because PLA is very brittle and upon small force, it can crack and break while being fed to the 3D printer. Always chose the filament brand with a proven record of tangling-free spools of PLA filament.

Figure 2 Print Quality and Tangling of PLA Filament

Bubble in PLA Filament

The development of bubbles in PLA filament is a common problem and it happens due to poor manufacturing standards. Bubbles develop inside or on the PLA filament wire when PLA raw material is exposed to moisture during manufacturing.

It also happens when there is a larger than required quantity of moisture as raw material and the manufacturer does not reduce it to the required level. The best PLA filament will have zero bubbles in it. Bubbles can reduce filament reliability, stability, and dimensional accuracy.

Clogging due to PLA Filament

Clogging of a 3D printing nozzle is a common problem in 3D printing. It is usually caused by a poor quality filament that easily sticks to the nozzle of the printer. During clogging the printing material sticks to the nozzle rather than depositing on the printer bed or lower material layer.

This can easily destroy the 3D print and completely stops the 3D printing process until the nozzle is cleaned and the clogging is removed. A most common reason for clogging is dust and dirt in the filament. The best PLA filament has neither dust nor any dirt and thus does not clog the printer nozzle.

Figure 3 Bubble free and No clogging at the nozzle for PLA material

Adhesion of PLA Filament

Adhesion of 3d printing material with the printer bed or with the previous layer of materials is the most important factor in quality 3D printing. For the best PLA filament, any brand has to provide the best adhesion possible. Lack of adhesion can create problems like warping and poor print quality.

The main reason behind poor adhesion is the chemical composition, moisture, dirt, and dirt in the filament. This can also be caused by the use of expired PLA filament. It is recommended to use brands that have proven records to provide the best adhesion and always look for the expiry date before starting printing.

Figure 4 Perfect adhesion at printer bed by PLA filament

Compatibility of PLA Filament

Compatibility of the filament means the ability for the filament to be used in different FDM 3D printers. A standard PLA filament has a wire diameter of 1.75 mm and the best printer should have the ability to be used on any printer that supports 1.75 mm diameter filament.

The chemical composition and manufacturing standard of the filament should enable it to be used on all types of standard consumer-end 3D printers. Filament melting temperature is the most important factor here.

Figure 5 Different types of 3D printers that use Flashforge PLA filament

Environment-friendly PLA Filament

PLA is usually made from cornstarch. Several chemicals and additives are used with corn starch to develop 3d printable material. As the base of the PLA is an organic material so most PLA filaments are decomposable.

The best PLA filament should be as environmentally friendly as possible. This means that once used it can easily be recycled and should decompose completely after its shelf life.

Figure 6 Environment-Friendly FlashForge PLA filament

Applications of PLA Filament

The application of PLA filament is only limited by the material quality, reliability, and stability. There is hardly any design or product that 3d printing can not cover. So the best PLA filament should have a wide range of applications based on its material quality.

It’s always recommended to purchase PLA filament from only those brands that offer PLA material application in almost all fields as shown in the figure below.

Figure 7 Different applications of PLA filament

Concluding the best PLA Filament selection process

PLA is the most used 3D printing material and it is the first choice of every new 3D printer consumer end user. PLA filament will also offer several problems like clogging, tangling, warping, and poor adhesion. To avoid these problems it’s always recommended to use the best PLA filament available. Several factors are discussed in this article that influences the selection of a better PLA filament brand.

This content is brought to you by Flashforge.

Photos provided by the author.

The post How to Select the Best PLA Filament Spool appeared first on The Good Men Project.

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