UK PLA

Firstly, if you have ended up here, you’ve probably scanned the QR code on your UK PLA Spool or Box. So thank you, every purchase helps us grow! Our mission is to create high-quality filament here in the UK. With our filament, we want to enable the production of great prints, while minimising your environmental impact.

Read on for some guidance on the best settings for your new material.

Generally speaking, PLA is considered one of the easiest materials on the market to print with. However, as any experienced 3D printer will tell you: you need to tune your printer to a material to get the best results.

Below we discuss our print settings in more detail.

Hot End Temperature

Our standard nozzle size is 0.5mm. For most of our machines, we have found that 215˚C is a good starting point. This temperature provides a balance between part strength, print speed and part detail. However, for large prints, we often increase nozzle size and temperature to enable higher melt flow rates to be achieved.

Dull prints? Increase hot end temperature by 5˚C and repeat. Particularly with Silk PLA

For smaller nozzles, you may wish to lower the temperature, but the results will speak for themselves. Since different 3D printers have different extruders, hot zones and thermistors, the temperature shown on your screen is not equivalent to the same temperature on a different printer. The best way to determine the optimum temperature for a material on your specific printer is to print a temperature tower.

Here’s a link to a compact temperature tower on Thingiverse. Our UK PLA prints at the higher end of the PLA temperature spectrum, in line with PLAs often marketed as PLA Plus, as such chose the PLA Plus tower.

Heated Bed Temperature

For our printers, a bed temperature of 50˚C along with a spray of 3DLAC works well! Nevertheless, users of adhesive surfaces such as BuildTak, will find that 60˚C works better. If you are using a different bed adhesive, we suggest you start with 50˚C and raise this if sufficient adhesion is not achieved.

Bed Adhesion

At the moment, we use glass beds with 3DLAC, because it is very quick to apply and we have a lot of machines. However, a google search will provide countless results of possible adhesion solutions. Naturally, the best adhesive material will vary for your setup and build surface (glass, steel, PEI, etc.). PVA based glues often work well for PLA, so a standard Pritt Stick can often do the job.

As described above, for adhesive surfaces such as BuildTak and PrintBite a bed temperature of 60˚C is recommended. This is generally also the case for PEI.

Print Speed

It is difficult to recommend a one size fits all solution for print speed. If you are new to 3D Printing, we would suggest a value of 40mm/s for your extrusion speed and 80mm/s for your travel speed.

Most of the time, users will want to print at the fastest speed possible, however, there are a lot of factors that contribute to this maximum. All of the following values will need to be considered in order to determine the fastest speed you can print.

  1. The mechanics of your 3D printer. Manufacturers will normally provide safe maximums for your specific printer, which serves as a good value for your travel speed. To ensure good quality prints, the extrusion speed will generally be much lower than your travel speed, because of the maximum extrusion rate of your printer.
  2. The maximum extrusion rate of your printer. You can find a safe printing value by experimentation, but if you prefer an exact approach, here is our tutorial.
    • Material used. If you compare the technical data sheets of different materials, you will discover how the ‘Melt Flow Rate’ differs. This value will give you an indication of whether one material can be printed faster than another. However, since the test setup for this value is very different from the setup of your printer, the listed flow rate will be different from your own systems max flow rate.
    • Temperature. It will be possible to extrude a material once it reaches its melt temperature. As this temperature is increased the fluidity of the material also increases and so too does the max flow rate. Simply put, you can increase the temperature to increase max flow rate, however, always observe the maximum safe temperature for your material. For PLA this is 235˚C.
    • Hot End. While temperature is important, so too is the amount of material that can be heated at once. Assuming good design, hot ends that have a larger melting zone will have a higher melt flow rate. That said, larger melt zones, do impose limitations in other areas of the print.
    • Drive gear. Different drive gears are capable of different levels of push force and material grip. A dual-drive gear will generally increase the maximum flow rate of your printer compared to a single drive gear.

Fan Speed / Cooling

PLA is a low warp material, which means it can be actively cooled with a part cooling fan while you print. Cooling generally provides better details but reduces interlayer adhesion and resultantly part strength. 50% cooling fan power is often a good start for PLA.

Printer Problems

Check out this video on some of the common causes of serious under-extrision:

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More filament below, tempted…