The material you choose is key for a successful 3D print. Two of the most popular materials for 3D printing are Polylactic Acid (PLA) and Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol-modified (PETG). PLA is affordable and easy to print with. But some of its properties limit how much you can use it for. So, many manufacturers improve PLA's performance by mixing in other materials. These modified PLAs are called PLA+. PETG has properties similar to PLA+, but also some unique qualities. This article compares PLA+ and PETG in-depth.
Understanding The Difference Between PLA and PLA+
PLA (Polylactic Acid) and PLA+ (PLA Plus) exhibit a fundamental difference in their composition and performance characteristics. While standard PLA is crafted solely from polylactic acid, derived from renewable sources, PLA+ is engineered to be a robust and versatile filament. PLA+ features a modified composition that includes additional additives, such as polymers or nanoparticles, designed to enhance its properties. These additives empower PLA+ with significantly improved strength and durability compared to standard PLA, making it a preferable choice for functional parts and objects subject to mechanical stress. Moreover, PLA+ boasts enhanced heat resistance, allowing it to withstand higher temperatures without distortion. This heightened resilience broadens its applicability, making it suitable for a more extensive range of 3D printing projects.
Additionally, while both PLA and PLA+ are characterized by ease of printing and low warping, PLA+ typically prints at slightly higher temperatures, usually within the range of 200-230°C. This temperature adjustment may require fine-tuning of your 3D printer's settings. PLA, with its glossy finish, is often favoured for artistic and decorative prints, whereas PLA+ exhibits various surface finishes depending on its specific formulation, commonly presenting a semi-gloss or matte appearance. The choice between PLA and PLA+ hinges on the requirements of your 3D printing projects, with standard PLA excelling in aesthetically driven creations and PLA+ emerging as the superior option when strength, durability, and heat resistance are paramount considerations.
PLA+: The Versatile Workhorse
PLA+ is a modified version of the standard PLA filament, designed to enhance its performance and address some of its limitations. It offers the following characteristics:Strength and Durability
PLA+ is an improved version of standard PLA, boasting greater strength and durability. It's more impact-resistant and less prone to brittleness, making it an excellent choice for functional parts that require mechanical strength.Flexibility
PLA+ can be engineered to be more flexible than standard PLA, without sacrificing its ease of use. This added flexibility makes it a versatile option for projects that demand a degree of elasticity.Heat Resistance
While not as heat resistant as materials like ABS or PETG, PLA+ typically has better heat resistance than standard PLA. This enables it to withstand higher temperatures without deformation, expanding its range of applications.Ease of Printing
PLA+ maintains the user-friendly nature of standard PLA, with low warping and minimal fumes during printing. It prints at a slightly higher temperature than PLA, typically within the range of 200-230°C, requiring minor adjustments to your 3D printer's settings.
PLA+ can exhibit various surface finishes, with options like semi-gloss or matte. This versatility allows for aesthetic customization, making it suitable for both functional and visually appealing prints.
PETG: The Durable Contender
PETG is known for its durability and versatility, making it a preferred choice for various 3D printing projects. It offers the following characteristics:Strength and Durability
PETG is renowned for its strength and durability. It's resistant to impacts and less brittle than PLA, making it an ideal choice for mechanical components, functional parts, and objects that need to withstand stress.Flexibility
PETG strikes a balance between rigidity and flexibility. It's not as rigid as PLA but not as flexible as TPU. This intermediate level of flexibility suits a wide range of applications.Heat Resistance
PETG boasts excellent heat resistance, making it suitable for applications exposed to higher temperatures. It's more heat-resistant than PLA and less prone to warping during printing.Chemical Resistance
PETG exhibits superior chemical resistance compared to PLA. It is less susceptible to chemical degradation, making it suitable for projects where exposure to chemicals is a concern.Ease of Printing
While PETG is not as easy to print as PLA or PLA+, it's manageable with the right settings. It prints at higher temperatures, typically around 230-250°C, and may require a heated print bed to reduce warping.
In terms of mechanical properties, PETG is similar to PLA+. PETG is stronger than regular PLA and outperforms it in toughness, impact resistance, and resilience. This makes PETG well-suited for functional 3D printed parts, especially those exposed to outdoor conditions. But compare to PLA+, the PETG and PLA+ has each advantages and disadvantages. We take SUNLU's PLA+ and PETG as an example to compare the mechanical specifications of these two types of 3D printing wires.
|Elongation at break||3.6%||5.3%|
|Izod impact strength||39kJ²/m||35kJ²/m|
Choosing Between PLA+ and PETG
The choice between PLA+ and PETG largely depends on your specific 3D printing needs:
Choose PLA+: If You want a filament that offers improved strength, some flexibility, and better heat resistance compared to standard PLA. PLA+ is a versatile choice for both functional and visually appealing prints, with ease of printing and a variety of surface finish options.
Choose PETG: If You need a highly durable and versatile filament that can withstand mechanical stress and high temperatures. PETG is an excellent choice for robust functional parts, prototypes, and applications requiring chemical resistance.
Best Case Uses
PLA+ (Polylactic Acid) is often the material of choice for projects that prioritize aesthetics and detail over durability. It's excellent for creating decorative items, desk toys, and prototype parts due to its ease of printing and smooth finish. For instance, PLA+ is commonly used in the creation of architectural models where the focus is on intricate details rather than structural strength. It's also suitable for making food containers as it's generally considered safe for food contact. Furthermore, PLA+ is a popular choice for non-functional props in cosplay due to its ease of post-processing and painting.
On the other hand, PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol-modified) is more durable and heat-resistant, making it ideal for functional parts and items that need to withstand more wear and tear. For example, PETG is often used in the production of mechanical parts such as gears, where strength and durability are paramount. It's also a good choice for protective casings for electronics due to its impact resistance and dimensional stability. Outdoor signage is another common application for PETG, as it can better withstand the elements compared to PLA. In the medical field, PETG is used for making braces and other medical devices due to its strength and flexibility.
Both PLA+ and PETG have their unique advantages and are suitable for different applications. PLA+ is user-friendly, biodegradable, and prints faster, making it ideal for beginners and for applications that do not require high strength or temperature resistance. PETG, on the other hand, is stronger, more durable, and resistant to heat and chemicals, making it suitable for more demanding applications. The choice between PLA+ and PETG ultimately depends on the specific requirements of your 3D printing project.