How Strong is 3D Printed PLA
Do you want to print a 3D model for which structural integrity is important? If you’re printing 3D parts such as hooks, the strength of the 3D print is important. There are various factors that contribute to the strength of 3D prints. One major factor is the type of filament used to print 3D prints. Polylactic Acid or PLA is one of the most popular materials used for 3D printing. Below we discuss how strong 3D printer PLA is and whether it is a good choice for your 3D prints. We also give you some tips on how to improve the strength of your 3D parts.
What Does It Mean to Be Strong?
There are various factors used to measure the strength of 3D filaments. For the purposes of this article, we will be mostly considering tensile strength. Tensile strength is the measure of a material’s resistance to breaking when it is pulled apart. This is an important property to consider when determining the overall strength of a material. The tensile strength of the material reflects the ability of the material to hold firm or bend when it is supporting a load.
PLA has a tensile strength of 7250 psi. This is considered very strong. However, there is a caveat when it comes to PLA. PLA is a biodegradable material. This means that it breaks down with time. The breakdown is especially faster when the material is exposed to the sun. Therefore the strength of your 3D prints may be compromised over time. It is also important to note that PLA is quite unpredictable under exposure to strong sunlight. It can change its form with a few hours of exposure. You should therefore be careful about how you use your print products.
PLA Vs PETG Filaments
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) or filament PETG is another popular filament used for 3D printing. It is made from Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). This is the same material used to make plastic water bottles and other popular plastic materials. However, while PET products can be recycled, PETG products cant. PETG can be difficult to work with while 3D printing. However, if you’re looking for a high strength material, it is one of the best options. With a tensile strength ranging from 4100 to 8500 psi, it is a great option for any projects requiring resistant materials.
PETG also offers the advantage of being a highly durable product. It is also resistant to degradation due to exposure to the sun. It is therefore a good option for outdoor projects.
Should you go with PLA or PETG? This depends on your preferences as well as the results you’re looking to achieve. PETG requires more time to melt than PLA since it is a hard filament. It can also be difficult to work with as it can ooze and string. You will have to carefully calibrate your 3D printer to control your results. PLA is a lot easier to work with and will provide you with a smooth finish. PLA is also safer to work with as it is produced from organic material. It is also a great option for the environment.
Tips to Make Strong 3D Prints
Aside from choosing a strong filament for your 3D prints, there are various other things that you can do to ensure that you print strong 3D prints.
- Choose a strong infill pattern
The infill pattern you choose for your 3D prints plays an important role in providing internal structural support to the prints. The infill pattern will add to the stiffness of the model and prevent the wall from being deformed. Some strong infill patterns to consider include triangular shapes, rectangular shapes and hexagonal shapes. These patterns are strong. The chances of the 3D model deforming while using these patterns are low. You can print a strong model while still maintaining a good print speed. This is a win-win.
- Increase the infill density
Another great way of increasing the strength of 3D prints is by increasing the infill density. Infill density can range from 0 to 100%. 100% infill density is solid. In theory, a model with 100% infill density ought to be very strong. However, it has been shown that anything above 70% infill density will not do much to increase the strength of the 3D print. It is therefore better to find a good balance between the infill density and the infill pattern. This will take some trial and error.
- Increase the thickness of the walls
The thickness of the walls of the 3D model is vital for the structural integrity of the model. Thicker walls will result in a stronger 3D print. Thicker walls also improve the water tightness and the overhangs of the 3D print. You will therefore have an overall better product if you increase the wall thickness. You should aim to have a wall thickness of not less than 1.2mm.
- Use thinner layering
The thickness of the layers you use while printing is also important when it comes to the strength of a 3D print. While using thicker layers reduces the time required for 3D printing, the adhesion between the layers is greatly reduced. If you want to maximize the strength of your print you should go with lower layer thickness. Try to go as low as 100 microns (0.1mm) for maximum strength. However, you should note that this will reduce your printing speed significantly. You should therefore be prepared to spend more time on your prints.
- Reduce the cooling rate
The rate at which the filament cools during the 3D printing process will affect the adhesion of the layers after the model has been set. If cooling is occurring too quickly, the adhesion will be reduced. It is therefore important to reduce the cooling rate. This however, depends on the material you’re using. Working in an enclosed chamber helps to control conditions around the print. You may also want to use a heated printer bed.
Consider the factors outlined above to achieve stronger prints.