Filament Friday: PLAyPHAb

3D Printing & Imaging Digital Fabrication
Filament Friday: PLAyPHAb

PLA is, without a doubt, the most common printing material on the market due to its ease of printing, but it comes with its own problems too. While strong and hard, PLA (Polylactic acid) is also very brittle, making most forms of post processing for your prints extremely difficult. To keep the positives of PLA but make it easier to work with, additives can be mixed in at the time of extrusion. One of the more popular blends is PLA/PHA, and filament manufacturer 3D Print Life has their own variant they call PLAyPHAb.

Polyhydroxyalkanoate – or PHA – is a bioplastic like PLA, and is created by fermenting sugars in bacteria which produce the polyesters. The characteristics of PHA can be altered based on which bacteria is used and what it is fed. The PHA used in PLAyPHAb has been synthesized to add flexibility and better layer adhesion to the blend. As a bonus, since PHA is a bioplastic, the prints are still biodegradable.

My test print came out great – super clean – with no drooping on my overhangs, no stringing, and smooth surfaces. Attempting to work the print found it soft like ABS, a quality lacking from normal PLA prints. I also didn’t have to make any major changes from my PLA profile to achieve this quality. I only changed the temperature, raising it from 210 to 220 in my standard PLA profile.

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Matt is a community organizer and founder of 3DPPVD, Ocean State Maker Mill, and HackPittsburgh. He is Make's digital fabrication and reviews editor.

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