PLA vs. PLA+ – Differences & Is It Worth Buying?

When you are looking at getting a PLA filament, you may come across another filament that is known as PLA+. This will make you wonder what the difference between the two actually is, if there is any difference.

If you are wondering this, then you have been asking the same questions we have, this is why we decided to have a look into what the differences are between these two filaments and if they are even worth buying.

PLA and PLA+ are really quite similar, but they do have differences, their main ones being in their mechanical properties and their ease of printing. PLA+ seems to be more durable than PLA, but people have reported that they have run into the occasional trouble with getting it to print.

Before we move on to telling you all the facts, we would recommend PLA+ for printing, more than PLA.

Now we will go into a bit more detail as to why this is. 

What is PLA?

PLA, which is also known as Polylactic Acid, is a thermoplastic. This is commonly used as a filament in FDM 3D printers.

PLA is made from compounds from scratches and sugar cane. Which makes it an eco-friendly and biodegradable plastic option. Suitable for the environmentally conscious 3D printing user.

It is revered as the cheapest printing material that is available on the market. When you purchase an FDM printer, it will almost always be a PLA filament that it comes with, and this is a done so for a good reason.

The temperature required to print this filament, is very low in comparison to others, and it doesn’t even require a heated bed to print it. Although this can sometimes be useful in helping it stick down to the bed.

So that means that not only is this type of filament easy to print with, but it is also a very safe option to print with unlike some alternative printing filaments.

What is PLA+?

PLA+ is a modified version of the normal PLA option. This is an option that eliminates some negatives of a normal PLA.

With PLA+ you avoid the negative points of using PLA, as it is said to be stronger, less brittle, more durable, as well as having a better layer adhesion that its alternative PLA.

PLA+ is made through adding in additional additives and modifiers to a normal PLA, in order to enhance it and its properties.

A majority of these aforementioned additives are not known specifically as different PLA+ manufacturers will use different formulas for this purpose.

The Differences

Now that we know what these two PLA options are and their manufacturing basic differences, let’s take a look at what makes them different when you use them for your prints.

Quality

No matter what you are printing, you will generally always want to get quality out of your prints.

Overall, PLA+ quality is higher in comparison to PLA. As the name suggests, it is PLA, but better. It is a reinforced version of PLA, in order to get the absolute best quality from it. The PLA+ print models also have a smooth and fine finish in comparison to standard PLA.

If you are seeking quality over other factors in your prints, PLA+ will do you great justice, so long as you tune up your settings, as PLA+ settings will vary from standard PLA settings. With a bit of practice, trial and error, you will receive some fantastic quality.

Strength

The strength that is present in PLA+ makes it a suitable material for printing functional parts, more so than with standard PLA.

In this case of a normal PLA, it is not advised by manufacturers or experienced printers to print functional parts with this, as it lacks the required strength and flexibility to do this well.

PLA can hold up pretty well as long as the load it must bear is not too high.

One of the primary reasons that the demand of PLA+ is high, is down to its strength and durability in comparison to standard PLA. When it comes to printing certain things, strength can be imperative, in a TV monitor mount for example.

You definitely would not want to use PLA+ for something like that, that must bear a heavy load. PLA+ would be a much more sustainable option for this, in terms of strength to be able to hold up. PLA gets brittle under certain conditions, so using it where strength is needed, is not a good idea.

Flexibility

In terms of flexibility, once again PLA+ dominates the field, over PLA. PLA+ is much more flexible and is less brittle than PLA.

Standard PLA is likely to snap quickly under any high pressure or bending, where on the other hand, PLA+ will be able to withstand more pressure or bending, due to its flexibility.

It is made to improve on the flaws of standard PLA, one of which is the lack of flexibility, as well as the painstaking brittleness. It is basically a new and improved version.

Price

As you would expect PLA+ is higher in price than normal PLA, you pay for what you get. This is simply because it has many more advantages than normal PLA, and it is an improved version that fixes all the flaws the standard version has.

The price for PLA among a multitude of companies is generally the same or at least similar. However, the cost of PLA+ can vary drastically between manufacturers.

This is simply because different companies will use different additives in their products, with each company’s focus being on enhancing different aspects of their original version of PLA.

Average PLA is not the same across the board, but will generally have more similarities across the board, regardless of brands than you will find in PLA+.

A general roll of PLA, could set you back between $20-$30 per KG. Whereas PLA+ could be in the range of $25-$35 per KG. Though this is not a massive difference, nor is it a drastic price increase from standard PLA, it is still enough to make a difference.

Color

Since it is the most popular filament, PLA has many more colors available than PLA+ does. So for once the original version has an advantage.

If you look at online videos, online stores and even filaments from other brands, PLA usually always has an even wider selection of colors to choose from.

PLA+ on the other hand is more specialized and does not have the same high level of demand that PLA does, and for this reason you will not find as many color options available.

As time goes on, PLA+ colors will slowly expand and increase, so it will become less difficult to grab yourself more specific colors of PLA+. As is with any new market item.

You may find that some brands of PLA+ will have below 20 listings, whereas the same seller will have near to 300 for standard PLA. This is the kind of extreme difference that we refer to. You may be able to find colors such as silky golds, or even rainbow.

You can spend time searching individual sellers to find the colors that you seek, however this is time-consuming, and you will not be able to get all your colors from one seller your colors may have differences, since they are made from different sellers, so you may find differences in their properties. This is something to be aware of if you do this.

Resistance to Heat

PLA is known to have a low printing temperature and a low temperature resistance in 3D printing.

So, if you have a project for a 3D printing part that may be kept outside or may require being about heat, you would not want to use PLA.

It is ideal in its requirements for lower printing temperatures, so it is quicker, safer, and easier to print with. But when it comes to resisting heat, it does not do the best job. Though, it will not melt under any form of heat, it can hold up in above average conditions.

PLA may lose its strength when it is exposed to higher temperatures, whereas PLA+ will withstand it to a higher extent. This can make PLA an unsuitable option for outdoor item use. PLA+ is a vast improvement on this temperature based flaw, to a point where you can use it for outdoor use.

Storage

Storing a PLA filament can be very awkward, as it can wear quickly die to the absorption of moisture. For this reason PLA filaments should be stored in areas with minimal humidity and normal home temperatures.

However, some states may have temperatures that will mean PLA won’t hold up too well, this is something you should keep in mind when you are trying to decide between these two.

A majority of companies will also ship a spool of PLA filament in vacuum seals with desiccant in it, and if not stored adequately PLA can become even more brittle and break off.

PLA+ is more resistant to a majority of external conditions and is easier to store in comparison to PLA.

How easy is it to print?

This is another area in which PLA trumps PLA+. PLA is much easier to print in comparison to PLA+, this is because PLA requires lower extrusion temperatures to print, when compared to PLA+.

Another reason is that PLA can also give a better adhesion to the build platform in low print bed temperatures, whereas PLA+ will require more.

PLA+ is also much more viscous when it is heated in comparison to standard PLA. This can increase the possibility of the nozzle clogging with PLA+

Are they worth buying?

You are likely now wondering which is best for you. There is no answer as to which is better and therefore the answer to whether or not it is worth buying is all down to you and your requirements for your printing.

If your intention is to build a functional, moving model, then it is best to use PLA+ for its strength and flexibility features that we discussed earlier.

PLA+ can also be used as a less toxic and more eco-friendly alternative to using ABS. That being said, if you were planning on printing a reference model, or visualization model, something such as a figurine that does not need strength properties or flexibility, then PLA is a more economical option for you.

An example of a high-quality and well priced PLA, we would suggest: TTYT3D PLA

An example of a high-quality and well price PLA+, we would suggest: OVERTURE PLA+

There are even more options out there for reliable PLA, and PLA+ brands, these are our favorites though, and they have a wide variety of colors.

They are a staple in the 3D printing community when it comes to having a stress-free filament for your printing.

Most people, as we are sure you will, go through a range of filaments and brands, trying out different places and types, before eventually finding your personal favorite option.

What is the verdict on PLA Vs PLA+?

People have plenty of good things to say about both PLA and PLA+ filaments.

The guidelines which are set between 3D filament manufacturers are at a point where things tend to print smoothly. Lasers are used to determine the width or tolerant of filaments.

Most brands will also have a warranty and satisfaction guarantee. This way you can always have peace of mind throughout your printing process.

As far as PLA+ goes, we are sure to things only improving as time goes on.

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