Here at Slant 3D, we end up producing a lot of products with PLA. We have gotten very familiar with the pros and cons of that material. We want to showcase things to be aware within the production of what can be done and what can't be done what increases cost and what decreases the cost.
PLA is one of the most common materials that we actually work with at Slant 3D. The reason for that is that many of our clients are already prototyping their products with their own 3D printers. This normally means they're very often led towards PLA because it's a very simple material to work with
at home or prototyping machines. However, PLA has a few advantages and disadvantages, especially when moving it into production that we're going to try to discuss here as much as possible.
First of all, PLA is bioplastic. There are several different grades of it it goes from a number called 4043 which is very brittle and is generally the low-cost option of PLA up to a number called 870 which is a very durable kind of less brittle more reliable almost abs replacement type plastic but it is more expensive so it is less scalable. This generally means PLA is used because of how brittle it is to be cost-effective. It's used for promotional products certain types of toys, good quality surface finish consumer products, that kind of thing, but it is almost never used for engineering products or high-reliability products. It's kind of a not tchotchke material but a consumer product brick block kind of material. that being said depending on the design it can be turned into anything, PLA does have a reasonable amount of flexibility so you can use designs like grip fins and that kind of thing within it that have just a little bit of flex to allow something to fit.
The tolerances of PLA since it's FDM there is generally fairly low pro tolerances of about 0.2 millimeters. That is the general tolerance to play with any sort of 3D printed part but if you were able to design in a wider tolerance that decreases the cost of parts long term because QC standards are lower and it's easier to produce lots of parts without having to check and have secondary processes to inspect them.
PLA has the largest color variation of almost any material the only other alternative might be like Pet-G and ABS but in PLA we were able to do custom Pantone matches for almost any color that you can imagine though those take a couple of extra weeks for creation.
PLA also is able to offer a fairly quick turnaround because it does not have as much setup cost it is quicker to start up it's quicker to set up. it's also very good for print on demand because it can produce one part out of the blue very reliable because it's a very stable material.
PLA is the lowest cost material in our catalog depending on the design but it lends itself to being highly automated with auto ejection and it is just a low-cost source of material that may be changing in the future so check back with future updates to see if other materials have become less expensive but in general that's a good rule of thumb.
Another thing to watch out for with PLA is its strength lower inner layer adhesion is not amazing compared to other materials it is more brittle so you do not want vertical surfaces that have layer lines going through them pointing straight up in the air because they will snap off with a reasonably small amount of force so those either need to be very reinforced or just try to avoid them if possible. the closer you can get to a sphere or a block is something that you want to do
PLA into scale generally kind of bottoms out fairly high certain other materials like pet g is actually cheaper at mass production if the part is right because the cost of raw materials is less even though PLA is easier to work with so there's a trade-off there depending on the design of the part Itself.
PLA has a very good surface finish, in general, it's very consistent because it flows smoothly and does not require any sort of complexity and setup or settings and it's also the most robust for adjusting to different types of geometries just again because it's a very robust material inside of the 3D printing process
PLA a fairly good general option for products with some sort of aesthetic leading component lamps, consumer products, household items, and certain types of toys PLA is not able to stand up to the outdoors it melts inside of a hot car it will literally deform and soften so it is not something for functional parts inside of a hot car in Arizona but it can be used within a house within a controlled environment
Hopefully that covers kind of the pitfalls in the general outline of PLA and where it can be used if you have any other questions comment down below and we'll try to create a video to cover some more of that stuff and let us know if there's anything else that you'd like us to talk about having a great day, everybody.