If you are into 3D printing, you probably know about the popularity of PLA. People prefer using this material as they are great for beginners and experts alike. Even you are a beginner who wants to try printing your first 3D model, you might be wondering how to use PLA filament.
Also, its affordability and environmentally-friendly properties contribute to its labeling as a default filament.
Instead of spending time looking for information elsewhere, you have us! We have explained everything you need to know in this guide to make your 3D printing experience enjoyable.
So, let’s get started!
Often you will find that your leftover PLA filament is too short for creating a new model completely. You don’t even want to throw it away and wish it could be of use. In such cases, you have the option of fusing that filament with another one.
Before you start printing with your PLA filament, you need to ensure it remains dry. That’s because PLA absorbs moisture from the air and causes itself to swell up. As a result, you will not be able to get perfect 3D prints. Here’s how you can dry your PLA filament:
If you have an oven, you have the convenience of drying the PLA filament easily.
Place the PLA filament inside the oven tray and set the temperature to 40 or 50 degrees Celsius. Since this temperature range lies below the glass transition temperature of PLA, you can keep the filament in the oven for four to six hours. The longer you keep it at a low temperature inside the oven, the more it will get dried.
Make sure the temperature doesn’t go high, otherwise the filament will fuse. One way to check whether the oven reaches an accurate temperature is to use an oven thermometer. Before placing your PLA filament inside, you can place the oven thermometer and test the temperature.
You probably didn’t know this, but there is a device that is specifically made for drying filaments. If you don’t have an oven or don’t need to buy one, you might consider getting a filament dryer instead.
Filament dryers are very easy to operate. All you need to do is place the spool on the spool holder, adjust the appropriate settings, and the device will start drying. For PLA, it is recommended to set the temperature to 45 degrees Celsius and the timing to four hours or less than that.
Some filament driers give you the advantage of drying the filament and printing it at the same time. When you turn on the machine, the spool holder rotates. There is a hole in each spool compartment through which the filament is fed for printing. Such driers are ideal, especially if you run a 3D printing business.
Food dehydrators are used to dry fruits as well as other foods. If you already have a food dehydrator in your kitchen, you can use it to dry your PLA filaments without investment.
Unlike ovens, dehydrators are designed to operate at low temperatures, which makes them ideal for drying filaments. They typically come with grids that you can remove to accommodate large filament spools.
Proper storage is essential to prevent moisture from setting into the PLA filament. If you remain cautious about it from the moment you purchase your new PLA filament, you won’t need to dehydrate it often.
PLA filament comes packed in a vacuum-sealed bag for a reason- to prevent moisture from entering.
This is a pointer to properly storing the filaments. You might consider getting such bags for storing the filaments and also throwing in a few packets of desiccants for the best results.
When it comes to choosing bags, you can either go for the one that contains a vacuum valve for pushing the air out or the one that comes with a double-zipper. If you use a sealed bag, like Ziplocs, there is a higher chance of moisture permeating through it, so it’s better to avoid using it.
While you can also store your filaments in an opaque storage box, transparent ones let you view which filament is inside, thus giving you convenience.
Apart from bags, you can even store your filaments in a transparent storage box. These boxes come with a sealed lid that makes it impossible for moisture to settle in.
When you are choosing a storage box, you will need to know the size of the filaments you are going to store in the box. For example, if you want to store a few spools of 20cm in diameter, you might want to get a larger box.
It’s of no surprise when you fail to print your desired models, because not everyone can make it in a single go. Instead of throwing away the waste into the garbage can, you can recycle it to create new models.
While PLA is available at affordable costs, it can be wrong to assume that you will get sub-par quality printed models. As long as you are using the 3D printer and the PLA filament properly, there’s a slight chance of your designs getting ruined. Not only will you save money but also reduce wastage of filaments.
We hope our guide on how to use PLA filament was able to show you the path to printing your desired models successfully. Whether it’s a steamboat or your favorite comic character, you must be excited to display it on that floating shelf on your wall!