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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

More PLA experiments

So far I've confirmed:
  • PLA likes painter's blue tape. I'm using Duct brand.
  • PLA can print cooler than ABS. I've been printing at 185 C.
  • Printing without a cooling fan causes increased stringiness. What I printed to fix it didn't work, so for now I'm back to a fan on a box.
  • You need to cool down or turn off your heated build plate. 70 is good for PLA. In skienforge and RepG means editing the "M109" line or making a new start.gcode and switching to it for PLA.
But with just these little tweaks printing in PLA has been a breeze. However, a timely comment set me on another set of experimentation:
I found that lower temperatures produced a sort of crystal lattice making the PLA seem more opaque, whereas higher the temperatures made the PLA more glassy and see through, but I only went to 240c. This is an area I am still to explore in more depth.
Well, let's give it a try. This time I'm going to print some TARDIS pendants that I can sell in the store when I'm done. I'm a little bit worried because I've heard that over heating the PLA can cause it to soften up the strand and jam the extruder. Here's hoping that doesn't happen. So starting at 185 and increasing the temperature 10C every iteration.
From left to right the TARDIS pendants were printed at 185C, 195C, 205C, 215C and 235C. Or maybe it was from right to left? I'm not sure because it doesn't seem to make any difference what temperature I print at. This prints some fairly thin parts and even upon close inspection none of them are more transparent or shiny than any others. If this is true then maybe it only works when I don't have a fan blowing on the plastic so it cools down slower, but I think I'm willing to call this myth busted.

It's good to know I can print PLA as hot as I print ABS without problem, for small parts at least, but why would I if it doesn't make any difference?

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