PLA Temperature — When your Nozzle and Bed should be for 3D printing with PLA
In 3D printing, PLA (Polylactic Acid) is one of the most commonly used filaments. One of the reasons for its popular use is because of its leniency with printing conditions. However, one needs to know the ideal PLA printing temperature to have a beautiful printing experience.
One of the biggest challenges is dialing in the correct printing and bed temperature. This is because PLAs can’t withstand much heat so one has to ensure that PLAs are not exposed to too much heat. It is therefore very expedient to get the temperatures right as it is responsible for the difference between a failed and perfect one.
This article will do justice to how these challenges can be overcome and give detailed information about 3D printing with PLA filaments.
What is the best Nozzle Temperature for 3D Printing with PLA?
Generally, the chemical makeup of a thermoplastic directly influences its glass transition temperature (the temperature at which the filament turns from brittle filament into a rubber substance). Hence, the glass transition of PLA determines the kind of temperature that PLAs can withstand. Also, because each plastic has a different glass transition temperature, every filament needs to be printed at a different temperature.
It is usually between 600C - 650C or 1400C-1500F. This is because PLAs begin to soften at these temperatures. However, as far as 3D printing is concerned, there is no specific temperature because there is usually variableness in temperature.
Some types of PLAs print well at 1900C while some require as high as 2000C and some print well only above 2000C. This is so because the melting points of PLAs are usually between 1800C and 1900C.
However, it is advisable to dial in your PLA printing at about 1950C when doing your PLA printing. The results you get can then determine whether you will increase or decrease the temperature or not. Please note that every degree can make a difference, so kindly take note of the results you get at each temperature.
Additionally, ensure you do not change other variables like the print speed, retraction, and bed temperature when you’re doing these tests. They must all be the same across all of your prints.
Where Can You Use PLA?
PLAs are considered usable in settings that are within room temperature. But if the temperature is above 600, the PLAs will begin to soften. Once the temperature becomes too high, the PLA will begin to experience shrinking, and warping and will bend at the slightest amount of stress.
What is the Heat resistance of PLA and PLA+?
It is pertinent to know that there are differences between PLA+ and PLA. For instance, PLA+ is considered stronger than PLA. Also, PLA+ looks better than PLA in the finished product tests. However, as far as heat resistance is concerned, it is advisable to stick to lower temperatures.
What Do You Do When the Nozzle Temperature Is Too Low?
Another important question to answer is what to do when the temperature is too low or too high. There are a number of issues that result from a low nozzle temperature.
One, the filament will not extrude at the level of consistency as it should. Two, your layers will be breakable and wispy. As a result, the first layer will not stick to the bed owing to the fact that the filament is not enough as it is being laid down.
Lastly, your nozzle may become clogged. In other words, when your nozzle temperature is too low, the temperature will be high enough for the PLA but not enough for it to flow through the nozzle as it should. Consequently, the extruder will start making some dangerous sounds as a result of its struggles to push the PLA filament through.
What then do you do to ensure that your temperature is properly set? A sufficient answer to this question is to manually push your filament through the hot end by disengaging the extruder. This way, the filament flows without excessive force. Afterward, push it a bit by manually raising the temperature of the nozzle on the 3D printer menu. If you have to strain it too much, this means the temperature is definitely too low.
Another solution is to undergo a process called Annealing- a process where the parts are gradually exposed to a level of heat temperature to rearrange the molecular structure and make it stronger.
What Do You Do When The Temperature Is Too High?
Just as there are several adverse effects when the nozzle temperature is too low, there are adverse effects when the temperature is too high. For example, if the nozzle temperature is too high when printing PLA, the prints will be messy because the filament is not cooling fast enough after it’s laid down. It is therefore important that you maintain a balance of the nozzle temperature; it shouldn’t be too high or too low.
Here are a few signs of an extremely high nozzle temperature:
- Droopy or saggy prints,
- Edges that are meant to be straight will come out rough, and
- Your 3D printer will start bridging (when the 3D printer lays filaments across separate areas of filament, connecting them to form a ‘bridge’)
What Then Is the Best Bed Temperature for 3D PLA Printing?
If there are adverse effects for the two extremes of nozzle temperature, then one has to be very careful when setting the bed temperature too.
Just in case you are wondering about what the bed temperature does that warrants that we set correctly, the bed temperature helps the print stick to the bed for the entirety of the print. If the temperature is off, the print can lift off the bed before it is complete. This process is called Warping (which is very common in prints that have a large surface area on the bed). Summarily, warping becomes easy when the temperature is off.
On the other hand, if the bed temperature is too high, the excess temperature can cause the bottom layers to soften and squish under the weight of the rest of the print.
The interesting thing about setting the bed temperature for 3D PLA printing is that it is quite complicated. Nevertheless, there is a consensus that bed temperatures should neither be lower than 500 nor higher than 700.
Can You Print Pla Without A Heated Bed?
In a case where one’s 3D printer does not have a heated bed, one can use painter’s tape, hairspray, or glue stick to improve the bed adhesion.
What Difference Do Brands/Colors Make In 3D Printing?
Brands and colors can make a difference since different brands of PLA have different ideal printing temperatures. Whereas within some brands, one color prints at a different temperature than others, while in others, it is not so. For instance, a spool of black filament may print best at about 2150C, while a spool of blue filament prints better at 2100C. Always note that small differences between temperature degrees can have an effect on your prints.
The important thing is that there is usually variance in the manufacturing of PLA. Hence, while one may not need a separate printing profile for different colors of PLA, one may definitely need separate profiles for different brands. Therefore, it is advisable to stick to a particular brand of PLA filament once one has dialed in one’s PLA printing temperature.
What About the Ideal Ambient Temperature for 3D PLA Printing?
A 3D printer’s nozzle and the bed can definitely maintain the temperature that one sets. However, if the temperature around the 3D printer is too cold, the filament may prematurely cool before being laid down. Therefore, do not position your printer near an open window or right under the draft of an air-conditioner.
To isolate the temperature variables, the ideal thing to do is to build a 3D printer enclosure or keep your 3D printer at a close-to-room temperature.
Printing a Temperature Tower Another alternative to finding the ideal temperature range for a particular filament is to print a temperature calibration tower. Temperature tower models are designed to use a different temperature after many layers so that one can see the difference in the print as it progresses.
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