3D printing has done many incredible things for many industries, including revolutionizing prototyping and manufacturing by offering a wide variety of materials to fit the needs of many industries. But with so many filaments available to users, choosing the best option for each project can be overwhelming. There are printers who don’t realize other variations are known to be better to use than standard. For instance, there are different types of PLA, like Tough and standard. Both are exceptional, but one prints superior results over the other because it combines both PLA and ABS filaments’ best qualities. With superior performance and durability, Tough PLA offers more benefits than standard PLA filament. Let’s explore some of the great amenities, like composition and application usage.
Standard PLA Filament
Standard PLA filament is a polyester derived from renewable resources, including cornstarch, tapioca roots, or sugarcane. It comprises many features, including ease of use, low shrink rate, and the ability to print on unheated beds. This filament is a powerhouse worth looking into if you want something to fill your day with wonderful surprises. However, standard PLA does have drawbacks, such as becoming brittle over time, warping, and deforming in warm temperatures. Compared to any other filament, it’s not the most desirable.
Tough PLA Filament
Tough PLA isn’t a powerhouse—it’s an entire arena of simply unnerving benefits. This powerful fiber has several additives, such as impact modifiers and fillers, that enhance its mechanical properties and performance. These additions result in slight to moderate gains in strength, durability, and flexibility, but a significant improvement in resilience to impact compared to standard PLA.
The main difference between the two is both materials’ abilities to stretch before breaking. On a scale of Polar Boy to Superman, Tough PLA takes the highest rank for reaching elongation break at 20 percent, compared to standard PLA, which only reached 5 percent.
How Much Better Is Tough PLA?
Enter Tough PLA. Think of it as PLA after boot camp—still pretty but a lot tougher. Several additives, such as impact modifiers and fillers, enhance its mechanical properties and performance. These additions result in slight to moderate gains in strength, durability, and flexibility, but they provide a significant improvement in resilience to impact compared to standard PLA.
Filamatrix has its products independently tested by an outside agency. They found that PLA has a Notched Izod Impact value of 27 Joules/meter, but our Tough PLA is an astounding 283 J/m. You can read about the basic test here, and then build your own setup at home!
One final added bonus with Tough PLA: it is difficult to quantify, but the additives in Tough PLA contribute to improved layer bonding, resulting in a smoother surface finish.
Benefits of Tough PLA
That difference doesn’t stop there. Tough PLA has incredible benefits, like enhanced durability, strength, and print quality.
Durability and Strength
Tough PLA is a strong material with high tensile strength and better resistance to breaking or cracking under stress. This material is better suited for parts requiring these attributes over its alternative, standard PLA.
Improved Print Quality and Accuracy
Tough PLA prints better objects than standard PLA. This material improves layer bonding, creating a smoother finish and better dimensional stability.
Practical Applications of Tough PLA
Just like its simple cousin, Tough PLA offers a lot to like. From rapid prototyping to producing durable end-use parts, this material delivers the goods.
The improved durability and strength of Tough PLA make it ideal for functional prototypes that require testing in demanding conditions before mass production.
With its improved impact resistance, Tough PLA becomes a better option for end-use parts such as casings, handles, knobs, and brackets. Tough PLA is an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to traditional materials such as metal or plastic.
Troubleshooting Common Issues with Tough PLA
Despite its robust properties and performance, specific challenges may arise while using Tough PLA filament in 3D printing. But if you can print with PLA, you can handle them.
Print Warping or Curling
Print warping or curling with Tough PLA is rare, but it can happen. It is typically due to insufficient bed adhesion. To resolve this issue, ensure your print bed is level and clean, and use a bed adhesive, such as hairspray or glue stick. You might also consider using a raft or brim for larger prints.
Stringing or Oozing
If you notice thin plastic strings between parts of your print, it may be due to insufficient retraction settings or high temperatures. Try lowering the printing temperature or adjusting the retraction distance and speed in your print settings.
This behavior may also arise when the filament is wet. While it isn’t necessary to dry the filament, it’s not something to avoid altogether if you want optimal results. If you experience stringing, dry the filament for six hours at 50° C (120° F) and try again.
Under-Extrusion or Poor Layer Adhesion
Under-extrusion or poor adhesion may occur due to a clogged nozzle or incorrect print temperature. Clean the nozzle between uses, increase the print temperature, or adjust the print speed.
Cracking or Splitting
If your prints are cracking or splitting, this issue could stem from printing in a cold or drafty environment. You might consider using an enclosure when printing with Tough PLA, or just stop sources of drafts in the room (like a nearby A/C vent, an open window, or a ceiling fan).
By watching out for these issues and knowing their solutions, you can ensure your Tough PLA prints turn out perfect every time. And these perfect prints can be a lot easier to get than with more “exotic” filaments.
How To Optimize Your 3D Prints Using Tough PLA Filament
Filamatrix Tough PLA may be a breeze to print, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to plan and prepare. Nobody likes to waste time and filament, so take a few minutes to lay the proper groundwork.
Adjust your printer settings to achieve optimal results with Tough PLA. Depending on your machine, extruder temperatures in the 200-220°C range should be about right. While a heated bed isn’t necessary, those who have access to one should set the temperature to around 55°C to achieve the best performance.
Print speed is crucial because it ensures your nozzle doesn’t over-extrude and ruin your masterpiece. This is true with any filament you buy. You get better layer adhesion and less ringing by slowing down your print speed.
When using Tough PLA, you may use various post-processing techniques, such as sanding, drilling, or painting. However, exercise caution and avoid applying excessive heat during these procedures to prevent any potential deformation.
Proper storage of filament is as big a deal as slow printing. Make sure to store it in a cool and dry place. Your final product can withstand tough conditions much better than the filament.
Create Durable and Stronger Prints with Filamatrix
Using Tough PLA filament in 3D printing offers several advantages compared to standard PLA. It provides vastly improved impact resistance along with other minor enhancements. Given its lower cost and easy printing, it is an excellent alternative for certain projects to ABS, PETG, and Nylon products.
One of the things we never want you to feel is limited and uninspired by standard filaments. So, take a step up in your project endeavors by trying our Tough PLA filament in your next 3D printing project. Experience first-hand what we already know about this versatile entry-level filament. As always, you can rely on Filamatrix for high-quality materials and resources.