If you are familiar with 3D printing you might already know that PLA is the most commonly used material for your models. This is all because it’s easy to use even for first-time consumers and provides great strength elements to your model. Another plus is the fact that it is non-toxic.
Moreover, to the aforementioned, you can also add other materials to PLA to enhance the properties of the model you are building. By adding supplementary materials to PLA you will be able to use it in many different ways that would’ve otherwise impossible. For example, if you take the wood and PLA blend you can create furniture with a great wooden appearance. Metal can also be added to PLA to give your objects more strength and make it glossy. You can try the blended PLA options that are further described in this article to enhance the models you are already building with your 3D printer but also to expand your prospects as to the possibilities that exist with 3D printing.
Unfortunately, adding materials to PLA can enhance the difficulty of printing items and in some cases deteriorate the properties of PLA. You will have to keep in mind the temperature of the nozzles when printing. Some of the blends will require higher temperatures while others might need low temperatures to work their best but even though the temperature is low it should be sufficient to melt the PLA.
This article will briefly look at the PLA blended combination filaments that are already available for consumer use. You will learn the best way to apply these blends and also what you should be keeping in mind when you choose to try one of these blends.
With this blending option, you might have guessed wood is added but to be more specific wood particles. The particles are melted together with the PLA to give your model a touch of wood that appears as realistic as can be. After you printed with this mixture your model will still require some sanding and polishing until you see a high gloss finish that will enable you to see the true benefit of using this combination. This will also uncover the grain of your wood making your model appear as if it was handmade from real wood.
This blend allows you to create 3D objects that would be really hard to achieve even for the most skilled craftsman using hardwood. The models look so real that it would easily fool the eye.The blend doesn’t just look real world but also physically feels like it. When tapping the object you will hear a sound similar to that of real wood. When the filament is heated during the printing process you will get that fresh wood smell. This is a very satisfying wooden smell you would actually enjoy but the sent isn’t too strong such that it would aggravate you.
When you compare blended PLA to pure PLA you will notice that some of the flexibility properties of the material are lost. The material will also have less strength than unadulterated PLA. By using blended material instead of the pure material you will end up with a more brittle material and should therefore avoid printing high loads. You will also face a challenge when trying to print with this material as it is more difficult to use than pure PLA because blended materials are more selective of the nozzle temperature that is required. Having your temperature too high might burn the wood portion inside the filament and on the other hand if its too cool the PLA might not melt sufficiently and you might end up with a disaster. Your model might look nothing like what you’ve sent the 3D printer but keep in mind that alterations can be made to change the temperature of the nozzle and allow your printer to use these blended materials better.
Different types of wood can be blended with PLA giving consumers a wide selection to choose from. Some of the options include mixing birch wood with PLA, pine wood with PLA and OAK wood with PLA. You might notice that these different wood blending option doesn’t have too much difference except for their appearance. Below is the wood blending types that have their own unique qualities besides those already mentioned.
This combination uses bamboo wood elements with PLA filament. The blend behaves very similar to other wood and PLA combination but has some slight variances. Depending on the temperature of the nozzle you will be able to print wood finished with lighter and darker shades.
There is software that can be used to make the nozzle temperature fluctuate during the whole printing process. One such software is called Simplify3D that can be used to tweak a lot of settings on your 3D printer. This allows you to make better quality prints than what you would have received using the default settings. Playing around with the settings will enable you to mimic the grain of wood or you might also create your own pattern that can be woven during the printing process.
You will see that cedar wood gives your items a unique color when printing that appears to be red and orange simultaneously. If you love the smell of wood you will also love the fumes you will get while printing with cedar wood and PLA. This scent is also present in your 3D objects. Cedarwood is very useful when printing objects what would be used inside a house. Have you ever noticed some furniture just gives off a distinctive wood aroma while others tend to lose their scent after some time? The chance might be big that the furniture with the distinctive odor is made of Cedarwood. The wood is primarily used to make your house smell good and it also possesses properties that allow it to keep moths out.
Coconut wood is known for its significant ability to keep moisture out. This makes the wood perfect for objects that should be damp resistant like those you would place outside your house. Using this combination of materials will make it easy when you print your 3D object to having it up to standard and fit for open-air use and the tough weather conditions that furniture has to endure alfresco.
You will get a light colored wood finish when making use of this combination but also have low-density objects. When an item has a low density the object becomes really light but by using PLA it becomes softer too. Again you would need to keep in mind that the temperature for this combination should be just right. Corkwood burns at a lower temperature so you’ll have to make the necessary changes in the software you use to communicate with your 3D printer.
This blend is very similar to that of PLA and Cedar. The combination is primarily used because of the aromatic qualities it poses. The key ingredient that is combined with PLA is the pine needles.
This category of PLA blended filament looks at the different metallic powders that are combined with PLA to give your 3D objects metal-like finishes. You objects won’t just look like you used real metals to produce but you will also be able to feel it in the weight of the object. Some of the metals that are combined include copper and stainless steel. The 3D objects that are produced when PLA and different metal powers are combined can be polished just like real life metal objects to give you the metallic finish you desire. The objects that are produced are denser thus making them heavier in weight compared to printing pure PLA objects. There are various ways that PLA and metal combined filament can be used for example in jewelry or in your DIY projects.
In this combination, bronze powder is added to PLA to print objects that appear as if they are made of bronze. Just like you would do with regular bronze objects these ones also require to be polished to give you the desired look and feel. Keep in mind that the final product might also tarnish during the manufacturing process.
You will definitely notice that bronze is much harder than pure brass and this is because it is an alloy that combines tin and brass to give it harder properties. This is definitely a plus if you want your objects to be hard but this could take a toll on you printers nozzles as it’s most likely also made of brass.
Copper and PLA 3D objects might also tarnish after they are printed that gives it green verdigris as an effect just like you would get with solid copper.
You might remember from school that copper is a really great conductor of electricity hence they are used in electric cabling to power our hungry house appliance. Unfortunately, this is no longer true when combining copper with PLA. To have a conductive 3D object you will have to use a special PLA and carbon combined blend filament that is conductive.
Printing with this blend will result in a darkened gold color object that appears to rather be a combination of copper with bronze than a different type of metal all on its own. This gives the 3D object you printed a truly unique appearance.
If metal is what you are looking for this would be the most realistic metal you can get with PLA blended filaments. Take the time to give your already PLA/Steel printed object a good finish and you will definitely notice that people find it hard to tell that this is definitely not solid steel.
Iron power is combined with PLA to give this combination. Interesting enough even though you found that copper no longer kept its conductive properties in this case iron still keeps its magnetic properties. The finish of our objects is also pleasant to the eye. Instead of using glue to put the model you’ve printed together you can buy neodymium magnets to bond together the separate parts of your 3D objects.
Exotic PLA blend filaments
When you require a high strength ratio to the weight you might use something like carbon fiber reinforced plastic also know as CFRP. Not only will the result be a really strong 3D object but you will also have a model that is lighter in weight than if you would, for example, use PLA/iron. Carbon fibers are combined with PLA to give your objects the strength they have after they are printed. The same strength that you would get from CFRP is imparted in your object through the fibers when printing.
Conductive Graphene carbon parts are added to PLA, to be more specific the particles are added. The combination resulted in a type of filament that can carry a current of low voltage and experience low resistance. You can thus use your 3D printer to create a simple electronic circuit board that transfers enough current to the LEDs, the motors, and sensors.
Novelty PLA blend filaments
In this category, you will be introduced to materials that are blended with PLA not to give them any mechanical properties and improvements on the appearance but they are rather just for novelty value. You can, for example, get a pleasant smell. Keep in mind that these are additional and might not always be easy to come by filament options. You should also check that these type of filament can be used in your printer before you load it into the filament calendar of your printer. If your printer doesn’t support PLA as a printing material you will not be allowed to print it.
PLA blends for Odor
You might have probably already have guessed what the desired outcome of this blend would be. Yes, it is to make your product smell like beer by adding a byproduct that breweries use in beer with PLA. The odor you will smell during the printing process and after the product is printed is very pleasant. You get nothing more than the odor from this blend. No special appearances or finished just a beer smelling like odor after the product is printed. Everything that you can expect when printing with PLA is what you’ll get when using this blend.
The characteristics of this blend are very much similar to that you will get when printing with PLA/ beer blend. The scent you’ll get during the printing process and the finished object is similar to that of a cup of coffee. The strongest scent is given off during the melting process. You would not use this type of novelty blend that much when printing objects unless you want everything coming out of your 3D printer to smell like coffee. Mostly the items that go into a coffee shop or even coffee beans themselves are printed using the coffee blend.
PLA blends for Appearance
PLA color changing
There are two types of filament that can be used for an object to change its color. The one variation changes color depending on the temperature with another variant changing color depending on the amount of Ultraviolet Light in the objects surroundings. You would most likely use this type of filament when you want your object to be vividly colorful. For example, you would like to print a model car in red. You would in this above example be required to give your model a red paint finish on the outside. The inside might also be other colors. You might have noticed that the colors that come with metal and wood blended PLA combinations can be rather boring if you are a creative person that enjoys color. This color changing filament is your best bet for adding some color to your models.
Where can you buy these filaments?
Most of the filaments that are mentioned in this article are available from Amazon. You can follow the links below to purchase now.
- PLA/Bamboo buy on Amazon regular price $65 buy you’ll pay $46.73*
- PLA/Cedar buy on Amazon from $42.00
- PLA/Coconut wood buy on Amazon from $58.13
- PLA/Corkwood buy on Amazon from $46.74
- PLA/Bronze buy on Amazon from $19.99
- PLA/Copper buy on Amazon
- PLA/Brass buy on Amazon regular price $36.99 buy you’ll pay $21.59*
- PLA/Steel buy on Amazon from $19.99
- PLA/Carbon Fibre buy on Amazon regular price $49.99 buy you’ll pay $20.99*
- PLA/Conductive Carbon buy on Amazon from $48.00
- PLA/Beer blend buy on Amazon from $39.99
- PLA/Coffee blend buy on Amazon regular price $45.00 buy you’ll pay $40.25*
- PLA color changing filament buy on Amazon from $51.95
* You’ll get a special discount when buying this filament blend using the link.
You can see for yourself from the list above that there are various filament types to choose from when you want to print 3D objects. When you want to achieve a specific finish on your model, you can choose one of the filament blend types above. In case you are unsure of the filament type that you should use for your object, you can choose one of the metal or wood finishes as default from the list above. Keep in mind that you might have to sand your object just to make it look a little more awesome.