Material Data

What is PLA, and what is it used for?

Polylactic Acid (PLA) is different than most thermoplastic polymers in that it is derived from renewable resources like corn starch or sugar cane. Plastics that are derived from biomass (e.g. PLA) are known as “bioplastics”

Polylactic Acid is biodegradable and has characteristics similar to polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), or polystyrene (PS). It can be produced from already existing manufacturing equipment (those designed and originally used for petrochemical industry plastics). This makes it relatively cost efficient to produce. Accordingly, PLA has the second largest production volume of any bioplastic (the most common typically cited as thermoplastic starch).

There are a vast array of applications for Polylactic Acid. The ease with which Polylactic Acid melts allows for some interesting applications in 3D printing. On the other hand, its low glass transition temperature makes many types of PLA (for example, plastic cups) unsuitable to hold hot liquid.

Here is a look at some different PLA products on the market:

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What is FDM 3D Printing?

Fused deposition modeling (FDM), also known as fused filament fabrication (FFF), is the most widely used type of 3D printing at the consumer level. FDM 3D printers work by extruding thermoplastic filaments, such as ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), PLA (Polylactic Acid), through a heated nozzle, melting the material and applying the plastic layer by layer to a build platform. Each layer is laid down one at a time until the part is complete.

What is Water Washable Resin?

In contrast to most other resins, the Water Washable Resin requires absolutely no volatile organic chemicals (VOC's) for dissolution of uncured material, which are potentially harmful to humans, pets, and the environment.
Water Washable Resin is designed to be compatible with a full range of stereolithography (SLA) and digital light projector (DLP) 3D printers. Printing with Water Washable Resin is the same as printing with any other resin. Dissolving excess resin in water is simple and straightforward, requiring only a short period of rinsing or soaking and then placed in a UV oven for final curing.

What is SLA/DLP 3D Printing?

One descendant of SLA is digital light processing (DLP). Unlike SLA, DLP uses a digital projector screen to flash a single image of each layer across the entire platform. As the projector is a digital screen, each layer will be composed of square pixels. Thus, the resolution of a DLP printer corresponds to pixel size. The Build plate is lowered into a vat of liquid resin. Once the cured model is pressed tight to the exposure plate, the LED screen flashes the image of the next layer to be cured. This process is repeated over and over with layer thickness of .05mm or less.