A 3D Print Beginner's Guide to PLA

Don’t Rely On Beginners Luck

Now you have a 3D printer, appropriate supporting software, and some ProMolt 3D filament. This means it’s time to learn how to print. Read on to make sure you're ready before wasting your time (or your filament!) on messy or undesirable prints.

 

The Important First Layer for PLA

The success of your PLA print will often depend on the very first layer printed since this is the only layer that will come into contact with material that is not PLA. To get this first layer right, make sure that:

  1. Your print bed or print surface is level
  2. Your extruder is at the correct height from the bed
  3. Your PLA filament adheres to the chosen base material. This is best accomplished by visually checking your print after the first few printed layers have been completed.

 

PLA Printing Base Material

Typically, to improve ease of use and quality of prints we recommend trying one of the following options:

  1. Placing tape (blue painter’s tape or polyimide tape) directly on the printing bed for a base material
  2. Print with a heated bed and print directly onto the glass bed.

 

PLA Printing Base Material – Blue Painters Tape

If using blue painters tape, make sure to not heat the bedsince PLA does not stick very well to warm blue painters tape. As a quick reminder, make sure the bed is level when using tape by not overlapping the edges. Overtime, tape and PLA adhesion may degrade. So if the blue tape is not holding on to the part like it used to, time to replace it. However, as long as the part does not pull the tape off the bed, the tape should last about 5-10 prints.

 

PLA Printing Base Material – Polyimide Tape

This is different from blue painters tape due to the fact that polyimide tape (also known as Kapton tape, which is a brand of polyimide tape) works better with a heated bed. In fact, we recommend you have a heated bed if you are going to try this option. Once again, make sure the bed is level when using the tape by not overlapping the edges. To see how to install Kapton tape, check out this video.

 

PLA Printing Base Material – Heated Bed

For most users, this produces the highest quality base surface quality but is also the most difficult to master. The extruder height plays a significant impact on the success of the start of your project here. If the extruder is too far to the glass then the PLA will not stick and if the extruder is too close to the glass bed then the PLA extrusion process will be blocked and, once again, not stick. If using the heated bed route, heat the bed to 60-70°C, and clean the glass with denatured alcohol for improved adhesion.

Print Temperature

Unfortunately, each 3D printer prints a little differently so there is not one magic print temperature to get the best prints for every printer. Good thing ProMolt 3D has filament designed to account for these temperature variations and can print high quality prints for a variety of printers. The typical print temperature range for our PLA filament is 190-230°C. (Most of our prints have experienced the most success around 210°C). When first using our filament, we recommend starting within the suggested range and adjusting the temperature in increments of 5°C until you have a perfect print. You don’t know what a perfect print should look like? We have you covered, no worries:

  • If printing too hot then the extruder will look like it is leaking filament and your prints will look stringy
  • If printing too cold then the filament will not properly adhere to each previous layer and your prints will look rough and may be easy to pull apart

 

Changing PLA Filament

When switching between PLA colors, heat the extruder up to 80-100°C. Ideally, you want the filament to be soft so that it can be properly remove without being so hot that it is leaking melted filament. Once removed, increase the heat of the extruder to the normal operating range and load the new filament normally. You will want to run the new color through the extruder until the new color is printing clean.

 

The Best PLA Filament

Ready to try it out? We've got Black and White PLA in our store to get you printing with the highest quality PLA, backed with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Make sure to check out troubleshooting flowchart if your 3D printing isn't going perfectly!

 


 


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