• Easy formability
  • Wide range of applications
  • Relatively low cost
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Biodegradable
  • Food safe
  • Smooth surface

About PLA

PLA, short for Polylactic acid, is a common material for FDM 3D printing and one of the most used bioplastics in the world. Unlike petrochemical-based plastics, PLA is considered to be biodegradable and eco-friendly. This material is extremely affordable and, thanks to its properties, is the easiest to 3D print with.


Property Value
Heat Deflection Temperature (HDT)126 °F (52 °C)
Density1.24 g/cm³
Tensile Strength50 MPa
Flexural Strength80 MPa
Impact Strength (Un­notched) IZOD (J/m)96.1 *
Shrink Rate 0.37-0.41% (0.0037-0.0041 in/in)

* *IZOD impact testing is a standard method of determining the impact resistance of materials


PLA is a polyester, produced from renewable resources including the sugar in maize and sugarcane. The sugar is fermented and turned into lactic acid, which is then turned into polylactic acid. PLA has a wide range of applications and methods of processing starting from creating films and packaging up to usage in healthcare for degradable implants.

Why is PLA mostly used for 3D printing?

PLA is the most popular 3D printing material for FDM technology and can be easily sanded, painted or post-processed in a different fashion. This plastic enables working on relatively low extruder temperatures and appears to be “user-friendly”. Compared to some other filaments, there is no crucial need for a heated bed, reinforced nozzle or printer chamber to work with it.

PLA behaves much better than tougher plastics and usually doesn’t have a bad smell or fumes. The storage of such a material is comparatively low-key as well. On top of all that, PLA is produced in a big variety of colors and used as a base material for many composites with over the top properties.

Is polylactic acid plastic (PLA) really degradable?

PLA is really degradable compared to many other plastics. But consider that it is still plastic, it requires either specific conditions or more time to degrade. Landfilling isn’t a preferable method of getting rid of PLA wastes.

PLA has a “7” recycling identification code and can be reprocessed into the same virgin material. A good option is an industrial composting.

What is PLA+? How is it different from PLA?

PLA+ is a generic name for many PLA-based composite filaments usually created to showcase improved material properties. Usually, these have a better stiffness, higher melting point, lower moisture absorption. Among filament manufacturers, there are no standards regarding what exact additive is represented by “+”. Many brands don’t disclose their formulas either, so such PLA filament can be a blend of anything or just derived from an especially nice cornfield.

What is the best glue for 3D printed PLA plastic?

There is quite a variety of glues that work well for PLA: Cyanoacrylate (Superglue), Epoxy, Polyurethane or Silicone Glues. Additionally, some PLA parts could be bond together with acetone.

Is the 3D printing PLA material food safe?

There are grades of PLA considered to be food-safe. However, you must pay attention to the manufacturing method used for creating an object from PLA. Generic 3D printers that use PLA filaments can’t be considered a source of food-safe parts.

Can PLA plastic be injection molded?

PLA can be molded in both amorphous and crystalline forms but it requires much attention to material conditions before the process, as well as careful settings of molding temperatures and agents.

Common Uses

  • Production of tubes
  • Food packaging
  • Cutlery
  • Surgical threads
  • Surgical pins

PLA Advantages

  • Can be solvent welded using dichloromethane
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Can be used for food containers
  • Easy to 3D print with
  • Wide range of color and composite options

PLA Disadvantages

  • Machine processing is difficult
  • Low heat resistance
  • Relatively low strength