PLA Melting Point, Properties, Applications, And Advantages & Disadvantages –
Names and Identification of the Polymer –
Poly(2-hydroxy propionic acid)
PLA Repeat Unit
Identification of Monomer(s) –
|Common Names||Lactic Acid|
Thermo-Physical Properties –
130-180 °C ( 266-356 °C)
1.31 – 1.39 g mL-1
|Molecular Weight of Repeat unit||72.08 g mol-1|
|Molar Volume Vm||
51.7 – 54.8 mL mol-1
|Van-der-Waals Volume VvW||35.69 mL mol-1|
|Molar Heat Capacity Cp||
85-100 J (mol K)-1
|Glass Transition Temperature Tg||286-342 K|
|Molar Cohesive Energy Ecoh||
20800 – 23,500 J mol-1
|Solubility Parameter δ||
20.0 – 20.9 MPa1/2
|Entanglement Molecular Weight Me||
3900 – 4800 g mol-1
|Index of Refraction n||1.47 – 1.49|
Fascinating Read – PVC Melt Point, Properties, Applications, Advantages & Disadvantages
PLA Applications –
The four main verticals where PLA material is utilized the most are Food Packaging, Medical & Healthcare, Fibres & fabric, and Structural Applications. Below are the most popular applications.
Containers, drinking cups, salad & ice cream cups, blister packaging, etc.
|Medical & healthcare||
Artificial tissue re-creation, dermatological treatments, bioabsorbable implants, delivery system materials, tissue engineering scaffolds, covering membranes.
Ceiling materials, and automobile parts like front panels, pillow covers, floor mats, hybrid vehicle rooftops, etc.
|Fibres & Fabric||
Sportswear, shirts, carpets, proactive foams, insulation materials, beddings, etc.
- PLA has an attractive appearance and boasts a high modulus.
- The relatively inexpensive thermoplastic also exhibits phenomenal strength and stiffness comparable to polystyrene at room temperature.
- It has outstanding thermal processing capabilities and also consumes relatively less energy compared to other thermoplastics.
- It can be reheated consistently without any significant changes in its mechanical properties.
- It’s a biodegradable plastic material, meaning it doesn’t harm the environment. PLA’s renewable sources also have the ability to absorb carbon.
- It is the most preferred plastic material for 3D printing (almost 45% market share). Low melting point, no fumes, inexpensiveness, ease of print, all those qualities make it ideal for 3D printing.
- It is compostable and incinerated and emits less toxic fumes compared to oil-based plastics.
- It is compostable and biodegradable, but the degradation rate is slow.
- Poor ductility and low impact strength limit its applications compared to other thermoplastics.
- Low crystallization rate, thermal instability, and meager gas barrier performance can become slow production speeds.
Fascinating Read – What is Processing and Drying Temperatures of Plastics
1. Can I microwave PLA?
Ans. No, PLA materials are not suitable to heat in a microwave or any other scenario where it comes in contact with heat as it is not designed to be used in heated environments. Microwaves heat their insides by agitating water molecules which can incinerate PLA.
2. Is PLA food safe?
Ans. Generally, PLA is considered food safe as it is bioplastic and is made from corn starch. However, it’s not that simple because manufacturers will often add various additives and filaments for features like strength, color, and flexibility, making PLA not suitable to be used as food grade plastic.
3. What is better for 3D printing PLA or ABS?
Ans. PLA is ideal for 3D printing parts where aesthetics are a top priority. Its lower melting temperature makes it easier to print with therefore making something with fine details becomes effortless. On the other hand, ABS is also a fine material for 3D printing parts where strength, machinability, ductility, and thermal stability are important. Unfortunately, ABS is more prone to warping.
4. Is PLA stronger than nylon?
Ans. PLA is a very user-friendly thermoplastic with higher strength compared to ABS and Nylon.
5. How is PLA material made?
Ans. The basic ingredient of PLA material is lactic acid. PLA material is formed from the lactic monomers extracted by fermentation of sugarcane, beet-sugar, etc. It can be produced using three methods – Ring-opening polymerization, Direct polycondensation reaction, Azeotropic dehydrative condensation.
Suggested Read –
- HDPE Melting Point | HDPE Repeat Unit | HDPE Properties | HDPE Advantages & Disadvantages
- What is Modulus of Elasticity Units | The Ultimate Guide
- Polystyrene Repeat Unit | Polystyrene Properties
- What is Compressive Strength of Plastics | The Complete Guide
- Thermal Properties of Plastics | The Ultimate Guide
- Mechanical Properties of Plastic Materials | The Definitive Guide
Final Thoughts –
That was all I had to say about PLA melting point, properties, and other attributes. PLA material is mostly utilized for 3D printing thanks to its compatible features offered by it. So if you’re looking to produce parts with intricate geometry and design using 3D printing, then PLA is the go-to plastic for you.
Kindly share your thoughts and reviews in the comment box.
Have a phenomenal day.