We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
The filament maker Proto Pasta has released new version of their High Temperature PLA filament that looks very promising for anyone looking to work with PLA filament, but get much higher resistance to high temperatures that could be similar or even better than that of ABS. Earlier this yeat we have tested the original Proto-Pasta High Temperature PLA Filament and it did quite well, but it offered heat deflection of up to 88°C and the new version of the filament promises up to 140C. The print parameters are apparently similar to that of standard PLA filament, but with the High Temperature PLA you will need to heat threat the 3D printed part after it is ready.
Proto Pasta have used an oven at 110C for about 30 minutes with good results and they do recommend leaving the supports on your parts, placing them on a non-radiating surface (like glass, ceramic, or composite), and letting them cool in the oven to minimize distortion. Parts can be annealed at a lower temperature (though must be above 60C) for a longer time with less risk of unwanted deformation. There is an obvious visual change indicating the improved performance of the filament.
The new Proto Pasta High Temp PLA v2.0 is available in two variations – standard with Iridescent Ice or Silver Smoke color as well as a special limited edition Aromatic Coffee PLA. Both are available in 1.75 and 2.85 (3) mm diameter and come on 500 gram spools with a price of $35 USD at the moment. The Aromatic Coffee PLA comes with a nice pearlescent, translucent bronze color when printed and becomes very wood-like when annealed and releases an invigorating roast coffee scent when heated.
One of the most significant disadvantages of PLA versus ABS filaments is that the heat resistance of the PLA filament is significantly lower and if you want to 3D print parts that are going to be exposed to temperatures of 50-60 degrees or more Celsius, then PLA becomes unsuitable. The good news is that there are alternatives to ABS that are easy to be used as standard PLA, but offering higher temperature resistance as compared to standard PLA filament. Once such alternative is Proto-Pasta’s High Temperature PLA filament that we are going to try out now and see how it compares to standard PLA filament in terms of ease of usage and temperature resistance. Proto-Pasta High Temperature PLA is a custom compound consisting of mineral filled impact modified PLA with a nucleating agent to help promote crystallization. Crystallization is what gives this material added heat resistance. To increase crystallization, parts must be soaked in hot water or an oven after printing at 60C-80C for about 5 minutes. According to the manufacturer of the filament the High Temperature PLA should offer heat deflection of up to 88°C after being post-treated as compared 50-60 degrees Celsius for most standard PLA. There is no need for a heated build plate and the recommended printing temperatures are between 190 and 230 degrees Celsius.
The Proto-Pasta High Temperature PLA filament is with white in color with grayish appearance and we did some test prints for the whole recommended temperature as a printing range on our MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer with a standard 0.4mm nozzle. The resulting quality was good for all prints of 200 degrees Celsius and up, only at 190 degrees we’ve had some issues with the filament getting properly extruded, so the test print of a simple house did not end up looking good. Just in case we have repeated the print multiple times and the result was pretty much the same – an unusable print, so apparently a temperature of 200 or above degrees should be fine. We have used a cup of hot water for the crystallization process and after that even at 80 degrees the printer part remained strong and did not soften. So if you need a PLA filament with higher temperature resistance the Proto-Pasta High Temperature PLA filament could be a good choice, though it comes with a higher cost and is apparently currently out of stock at the manufacturer.
It seems that Proto-pasta is launching another interesting experimental filament – an electrically conductive PLA 3D printer filament. The project was made available on Kickstarter with a goal of just $2500 USD that we expect will soon be reached with the filament expected to be available in March this year. The Proto-pasta Conductive PLA filament should be similar in properties to normal PLA filament, though it is supposed to offer high electrical conductivity – better than other alternative conductive filaments according to the makers of the filament. The conductive 3D printer filament is ideally suited for DIY projects, however the problem with conductive filament that remains is that you are not able to solder components and cables to it – so not way to 3D print a PCB using it. The use of a good and highly conductive (15 ohm-cm) 3D printer filament that is PLA-based like the one coming form Proto-pasta will open the doors for some really creative projects that need electrical conductivity.