Best PLA Temperature for 3D Printing

Best PLA Temperature

PLA filament is widely used in consumer FDM 3D printing due to its affordability and printability at low temperatures. Its cost-effectiveness allows users to purchase large quantities without worrying about material wastage, while its low glass transition temperature enables printing using moderate heat settings without high-end equipment.

However, determining the ideal PLA bed and print temperatures can be challenging. Although the material generally requires low temperatures, the optimal range may vary depending on the filament brand and 3D printing hardware. Printing outside the recommended temperature range can result in problems like under-extrusion or stringing. Additionally, PLA melting point, which comes on the lower side, can cause temperature-related issues even after printing.

This article provides a beginner’s guide to PLA bed and print temperatures. It recommends suitable temperature ranges, highlights the symptoms of printing at temperatures that are too high or too low and suggests ways to determine the optimal temperature range for your specific 3D printing setup.

PLA Bed Temperature 

A disheveled top can occur during 3D printing with PLA when the hot filament is pulled by the hot end. Source –

PLA plastic has a significant advantage, particularly for beginners, as it can be printed without a heated print bed. This feature makes it suitable for low-cost printers that lack heated bed capabilities.

For FDM 3D printing materials, a heated bed generally provides several significant benefits. Firstly, it helps with bed adhesion by allowing the first layer of extruded filament to remain soft for a more extended period, allowing for better adhesion. Secondly, rapid temperature reduction can facilitate part removal when switched off the heated bed. Sometimes, the finished parts will easily detach from the build surface. Additionally, a heated bed can improve print quality by reducing warping. Slower cooling of the components minimizes the severity of contraction and curling.

Compared to common alternatives such as ABS, PLA is less prone to first-layer adhesion issues and warping due to its low printing temperature. However, using a heated bed of a 3D printer may still result in better PLA printing results, particularly at a cooler room temperature or when printing large parts.

For optimal results when using a heated build plate with PLA, a temperature of around 50 °C is recommended. The popular slicer application Cura uses a 60 °C on its PLA print profile. Various material manufacturers also offer recommended PLA print bed temperature settings, such as:

  • MatterHackers Build Series PLA: 40±15 °C
  • Fillamentum Extrafill PLA: 55 °C
  • Ultimaker PLA: 60 °C

What are the Temperature Variations?

Source - The 3D Printer Bee

If your prints aren’t sticking well to the bed, it’s a clear sign that the bed temperature is too low. Increasing the temperature slightly can help soften the plastic, allowing it to stick better.

However, be cautious not to overheat the bed as this can result in an “elephant’s foot” effect, where the first few layers of the print melt and get squished down due to the weight of the print.

Elephant’s foot is more likely to occur with heavier prints as there is more force pressing down. To avoid this issue, reduce the bed temperature, but be careful not to make it too cold.

PLA Print Temperature 

To achieve optimal results when using PLA filament, it is crucial to pay attention to the nozzle or hot end temperature rather than the bed temperature. The print temperature significantly impacts the print quality, affecting material flow and interlayer bonding. A higher temperature allows for faster printing and better bonding between layers.

However, suppose the temperature is too high. In that case, it can lead to the deformation of the printed part, sagging of the extruded layers, and other issues, such as material oozing from the nozzle. Therefore, using the lowest possible temperature that yields good results can produce the best visual outcomes.

When it comes to thermoplastic printing filaments, PLA performs best at a moderate temperature of approximately 210°C, which is 50°C cooler than what is used for ABS and 30°C cooler than PETG. This lower temperature requirement is due to PLA’s low glass transition temperature of around 60°C.

However, the ideal printing temperature varies depending on various factors, including the specific filament type, printing speed (with faster prints requiring higher temperatures), and nozzle size (larger diameters requiring higher temperatures).

Rather than calculating all of these variables at once, the best way to determine the optimal PLA print temperature is to conduct some test prints, as outlined in the final section of this article. Most FDM printer users generally set their PLA print temperature to around 210°C.

Below are some recommended PLA print temperature settings from a few material manufacturers:

  • MatterHackers Build Series PLA: 205±15 °C
  • Fillamentum Extrafill PLA: 220±10 °C
  • Ultimaker PLA: 200–210 °C

How To Determine The Ideal PLA Printing Temperature?

PLA filament manufacturers generally offer bed temperature and nozzle temperature recommendations tailored to their products. Nevertheless, there may be situations where the suggested settings do not produce acceptable outcomes.

You can perform test prints and analyze the outcomes to determine the optimal PLA printing temperature for your specific 3D printing setup (including printer, nozzle, material, etc.). However, instead of printing a variety of regular parts, printing a temperature tower, a particular 3D model can be beneficial.

A temperature tower comprises several horizontal blocks that are printed at incrementally higher or lower temperatures. The numbers indicating the temperature (e.g., 200, 205, 210) are printed on the side of the tower for easy identification. Each block of the temperature tower typically includes specific features such as gaps, overhangs, and fine details, clearly indicating the printer’s performance at different temperature settings.

Printing a temperature tower is more complicated than an ordinary print since the slicer must command the printer to adjust the temperature at each appropriate increment.

After the temperature tower is printed, users can visually examine the blocks to determine which ones were printed successfully and which did not. The block with the least amount of stringing or artifacts and the best quality on fine details signifies the ideal printing temperature for the material on that particular printing setup.

The Conclusion 

In conclusion, understanding the role of PLA temperature in 3D printing is crucial for achieving successful prints. Temperature affects the printed object’s quality and strength and the printing process’s speed. With the correct temperature settings, users can optimize printing and avoid common issues such as warping and nozzle clogging. By experimenting with different temperatures and finding the optimal settings for their specific printer and filament, users can achieve high-quality prints with PLA.

Leave a Comment