Is PLA the worst filament?

Discussion in 'Filament' started by AndyVirus, Oct 22, 2017.

  1. AndyVirus

    AndyVirus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2016
    Messages:
    222
    Likes Received:
    50
    I know the title is contentious, sorry but if you take out of the equation: the first layer adhesion, I am convinced that the downsides of PLA outweight the upsides of which the upsides i see are:

    Biodegradeable
    Great range of colours
    Low smell/particles

    Downsides i see are:

    Limited applications in the real world
    Must be cooled while printing or it will curl,warp,wreck the whole print
    Expands alot
    Cant print fast with it unless you have an epic cooling strategy
    Weak
    Brittle
    And so on...

    Its not even cheaper than other filaments so it does not have that going for it.

    Having had to print with out a cooling fan for many months I realised that pretty much the only reason for a cooling fan is PLA.

    PET,PETG,EDGE,Colourfab_HT,ABS,ASA,PC i have printed all with no cooling with very satisfactory results. I assume that pretty much every other filament does not need cooling other that PLA but i have not tried everything such as PP, Nylon, Flexibles etc.

    I have only had any 3D Printing experiance for 2 years now and so I am still quite ignorant but learning is the point.

    So I guess my question is, why would anyone use PLA? It is way more fiddly than say PETG based filaments which are my go to filament after trying pretty much all i can get my hands on over the years.

    Am I just spoilt as PETG is now more commonly availible than it was a few years back AND I started with a BigBox which allows for higher temps? Having not had to use blue tape, unheated beds, non all metal hotends etc. Have I just been lucky or is there a legitimate reason PLA exists or is it just its green credentials as such?

    Genuinly wondering what peoples opinions on this are as I cant see myself every buying PLA ever again unless that was the only way to get a property that is not availible in any other form such as woodfill, clay, metal filled, matte etc.

    Hopefully this post wont result in angry replies, i am just genuily wondering if PLA is just a relic that hangs on only due to low temp printers exsting.
     
  2. Old_Tafr

    Old_Tafr Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2016
    Messages:
    634
    Likes Received:
    81
    I have just started using Edge for the very reasons you list, it costs slightly more but having the BB in the (small) box room (no pun....) I have to keep the door and windows closed to avoid drafts so the smell and effect on breathing and health due to ABS and PLA plus the hygroscopic element, means Edge is a better bet.

    I have yet to get the equation right for printing with Edge and Volcano, but early days and worth the effort.
     
  3. AndyVirus

    AndyVirus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2016
    Messages:
    222
    Likes Received:
    50
    Well if you hit the nail on the head with Volcano and Edge, let me know :) I have it (or had it) printting very well with my volcanos, but i found against all reason that using little to no fan reduced the stringing almost all together for me. I did then add a wipe at the end of each layer to realy minimise it and all seemed great.

    OK that is a plus for PLA, no stinging but EDGE really is my favorite at the moment, almost no stringing depending on the model. I think the fan cause it to, for lack of a better term, rubberise it causing it to bind to the nozel and strech with the nozel movement. Just a guess but fanless as much as possible seemed to work for me.

    I found PETG or atleast Real Fillament PETG to be much weaker than edge but alot cheaper... any fan with that and the object is brittle. Volcano and PETG no fan seems pretty strong but no match for the ease of EDGE that is for sure,
     
  4. orcinus

    orcinus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2015
    Messages:
    158
    Likes Received:
    60
    Nowhere close to being "the worst".
    There is no "worst", each filament has its upsides and downsides, depending on the application.

    You can't judge them based on a single kind of prints that you happen to be printing (unless you're commenting on your particular application).

    PLA has one important upside you haven't mentioned - it's the least viscous of pretty much all the materials out there, when heated up properly. Low viscosity not only improves flow, but also makes tighter corners possible, as well as reproduction of textures. If you're printing engineering parts, sure, it's not the best (although i've noticed people underestimate PLA for real world, engineering parts too - i've been running PLA gears in extruders for years, before Titan, and had things like bird spikes printed out of PLA mounted outdoors for very long periods, rain, sun and all).

    If you need to print a detailed sculpture, and by detailed, i don't mean "a yoda head", but a scanned repro of a sculpture with a highly detailed texture, PLA at 215-220 C is pretty much the best bet out there.
     
    AndyVirus likes this.
  5. Old_Tafr

    Old_Tafr Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2016
    Messages:
    634
    Likes Received:
    81
    Biggest problem I have right now is on the first layer with it printing an extra pass. Say it needs to print nine passes to fill a gap, it prints nine, fills the gap ok, then prints an extra pass which results in a ridge protruding upward as this pass is sitting on top of later one. On a print a few inches wide there are then a series of ridges.
     

Share This Page