Bio-Friendly Plastic for your MakerBot – Polylactic Acid

PLA 4032D - 5lb coil - Plastic - MakerBot Industries

Polylactic Acid (PLA) is an extremely awesome polymer for many reasons. First, it is bio-friendly. It is made from corn, which is a renewable resource. Secondly, it is bio-degradable which means it will break down in a landfill. Third, it is clear which makes for gorgeous crystalline prints that absolutely scream for LEDs. Last but not least, it has an extremely low shrinkage factor which means it resists warping, even at very large print sizes. All-in-all its a very exciting new filament.

The PLA should print very well at standard ABS settings, but we will be releasing updated settings very shortly that will allow you to get the very best out of your MakerBot with PLA.

The particular variant of PLA that we use is Ingeo 4032D. For full technical specs, check out the PLA datasheet.

We are getting this started off right by offering a special introductory price of $60 for 5 pounds of PLA ($12 a pound). When the sale ends on Monday January 11th, it will go up $80 for 5 pounds ($16 a pound). We want folks to get it and make with it ASAP and we want to give the early adopters a nice discount. Get yours now!

Tagged with 7 comments

7 Comments so far

  • John Gilmore
    January 10, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    “Boidegradable” does not mean “will break down in a landfill”! See landfills are deliberately designed to be extremely unfriendly to biodegradation (as bacteria are hazardious) and even food products will last a good long while in them. Almost nothing will actually degrade in most landfills.

    Some people argue that this is a good thing, as it sequesters carbon in the ground and (in theory) reduces carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Hogwash! We’d be much better off composting it all, letting the bacteria do their jobs, and building our soil quality in the process. But that’s not really relevant to our present discussion, which was nitpicking about decomposition rates in municipal landfills.

    Hmm… Where’s the preview button on this thing?

  • urke
    January 10, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    you can get this same stuff in 5 lbs rolls from for $47.00 and the are getting it in new colors soon. this website uses it with a reprap and has demo pices on there web site.

  • Miguel Valenzuela
    January 11, 2010 at 6:25 am

    Thanks John for clearing up the biodegradable issue. I was going to post the same comment when I read it. MakerBot may consider revising that to state that the PLA breaks down in a compost environment where temperatures are a bit higher.
    Hey, maybe you can quick fab a compost bin for your compost pieces!

  • Ryan
    January 11, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    @urke The Makerbot guys have screened several varieties of PLA before getting this batch in stock. UltiMachine is not carrying the same variety and I’d assume it’s generally harder to print with since makerbot didn’t choose it.

  • urke
    January 13, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Ryan makes the stuff them selves and use it all the time and it works fine. And even if it is not as high quality it is still $27.50 per roll less then makerbot who is charging $75. but thats an opinion an if you want makerbots you pay for it.

  • anonymous
    January 18, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Before you buy this stuff, be aware that it will probably ruin your extruder sometime soon. That will mean you have to rebuild it and change settings until it works reliably. So no matter which variety of PLA you use, it will end up costing 20 bucks more for new heater assembly parts.

    To make sure your extruder doesn’t break, use an M6 nut!!! This is the most important thing to do. It should be tight between the thermal barrier (PTFE) and the big metal washer.

    Another thing to do is run it at its lowest melting temperature. Start at 150 C and go up in small increments until touching some PLA to the tip melts the PLA. You want it at the lowest temperature so that the PLA doesn’t go up the thermal barrier and cause clogs.

    For more info on this subject check out this thread: PLA stories

    With all this being said, once you do get PLA working, it is basically the perfect Makerbot material. It sticks really really well to the base, it looks cool, and it has virtually no warping. Again the only problem with it is that the current extruder isn’t designed to take the stresses of PLA. Get past that and you’re on your way to success!

  • Shane
    October 7, 2010 at 2:34 am

    John is right.. nothing breaks down in a landfill, in fact they dug up a landfill and there was a newspaper many years old and they could still read it!


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