Remember me
▼ Content

3D printing, is PLA carbon neutral?


3D printing, is PLA carbon neutral?27-02-2019 22:53
HarveyH55
★★★☆☆
(603)
Well, finally did it, bought a 3D printer kit the other day. I've been wanting one for a long time, but the cost, and the part about having to constantly tweak settings, failed prints, kept me waiting for something a little more plug-n-play. Doubt it's going to happen, but $179, just couldn't wait any longer. It's an open frame machine, so even if it's kind of cheap, should be hard to make it better. Reviews are good though, and this style we established, so figure it's going to work as expected.

Been reading, and watch a few videos, to get ready for assembly, setup, and calibrations. Pricing and comparing filaments, and the cheapest is PLA, made from corn starch. One of the selling points, was that it's biodegradable, decomposes into mostly CO2 and water, both evil greenhouse gasses. I was just thinking how many decades, people have been printing with PLA, and all the failed prints, and just plain junk, has been sent the the landfill. From what I've been reading, even the best, and most expensive printers, often take a few tries, to dial in a good print. I should start with PLA, just for the CO2 contribution, but figured ABS a better choice for what I want to use the printer for most of the time. Was also concerned about the high humidity here, and PLA is a sponge, needs to be stored carefully, dried out in an oven occasionally. Not sure how long a 2.2 lb spool lasts, but doesn't seem very long for many users. Don't think I'll printing every day, and will likely have problems with PLA.
28-02-2019 01:15
Into the Night
★★★★★
(7678)
HarveyH55 wrote:
Well, finally did it, bought a 3D printer kit the other day. I've been wanting one for a long time, but the cost, and the part about having to constantly tweak settings, failed prints, kept me waiting for something a little more plug-n-play. Doubt it's going to happen, but $179, just couldn't wait any longer. It's an open frame machine, so even if it's kind of cheap, should be hard to make it better. Reviews are good though, and this style we established, so figure it's going to work as expected.

Congratulations! You'll have fun with this machine! I use mine for prototyping and even making certain parts for aircraft and instruments I make.
HarveyH55 wrote:
Been reading, and watch a few videos, to get ready for assembly, setup, and calibrations.

Calibration of the table is picky. It helps if you got a heated table. Remove the protective tape and clean the thing thoroughly with alcohol before printing. Finger oils prevent laying the initial pattern. Some people find hairspray on the table helps the first layer to stick.

I use an automotive thickness gauge to align the table. Works good. The nozzle is steel, and the thickness gauge is more accurate than the 20# piece of paper they often suggest.

HarveyH55 wrote:
Pricing and comparing filaments, and the cheapest is PLA, made from corn starch. One of the selling points, was that it's biodegradable, decomposes into mostly CO2 and water, both evil greenhouse gasses.

Heh. There goes the environment! Of course my soda contributes to that as well!

The advantage of PLA is that it is food handling capable. Food touching this plastic are not contaminated by contact. You can both store food and handle food with it safely.

It breaks down in UV. Water will degrade it over time. It is somewhat weak, but makes a good prototyping plastic due to it's ease of sticking to the table and it's low melting point.

HarveyH55 wrote:
I was just thinking how many decades, people have been printing with PLA, and all the failed prints, and just plain junk, has been sent the the landfill.

No worse than throwing out granny's muffins.
HarveyH55 wrote:
From what I've been reading, even the best, and most expensive printers, often take a few tries, to dial in a good print.

First, there is the learning curve on how to align the table. That takes a few prints. After that, it is mostly just mistakes in the CAD that you are using that creates the failed prints. Sometimes the slicing software screws up.
HarveyH55 wrote:
I should start with PLA, just for the CO2 contribution, but figured ABS a better choice for what I want to use the printer for most of the time.

Start with PLA. It's sticks better and is quite disposable. ABS has the advantage of being a harder plastic, but it doesn't stick to the table as easily and it can pick up too much moisture, making printing with it somewhat problematic as that moisture boils out going through the print head and distorting the print. This is rigid and strong, but somewhat brittle. It creates shards when it breaks, so be aware of that. It is the plastic used to make things like sewer pipe. It too breaks down in UV, but not as rapidly as PLA. Water and humidity doesn't otherwise affect it. It's mostly the high temperatures in the head that's the problem with ABS and water vapor absorption.
HarveyH55 wrote:
Was also concerned about the high humidity here, and PLA is a sponge, needs to be stored carefully, dried out in an oven occasionally.

Both plastics can absorb water. Usually not a problem except for the print head itself. The high temperatures boil the water out again, distorting the print and may even prevent it from sticking to the table. PLA will degrade in water over time, even after the print. It just dissolves. You can stop it by painting the figure as part of your finishing work on it.
HarveyH55 wrote:
Not sure how long a 2.2 lb spool lasts, but doesn't seem very long for many users.

It really depends on how large the prints are that your making, and how often you are making them. Some people build a rack of different colors of filament, making their choice on the fly by reloading the head.
HarveyH55 wrote:
Don't think I'll printing every day, and will likely have problems with PLA.


PLA is easier than ABS. The biggest problem is getting the print to stick the initial layer to the table. Alcohol is your friend (not to drink! to clean!). You might feel like drinking it after fighting with a cranky print though!

Slow cooling helps. Print a protective hat brim around your object (your slicing software has a selection for this). That will help the printed object stick to the table better. Keep cold drafts away from your table. If there is an enclosure with a door, close the door. Too rapid a cooling on the first layer is the biggest problem.

Enjoy your new machine!


The Parrot Killer
28-02-2019 04:31
HarveyH55
★★★☆☆
(603)
I've been watching and reading about 3D printers for a long time, figure I'm as close as I can get, without practical experience. Don't expect the assembly to be a problem. It has an aluminum build plate, with some complaints of being warped. Hopefully, mine comes flat and true, otherwise I'll go with glass.

PLA does sound like a good option to start with, but really think it'll be a problem here in Florida. If I spend the time printing something, I'm going to hope it will last a good while. Really think PLA will fail quick in our climate. Sort of wanted to do nylon, but not this printer though, but figure most of the stuff I'll make, can always be reprinted if need to be replaced. Antway, it's a decent, cheap starter machine, and should at least let me know what I need to look for, if I need a better machine for my needs. It should be plenty precise enough for anything I might want to do with it, have patience, don't need a part in minutes, can wait all day.
28-02-2019 19:09
Into the Night
★★★★★
(7678)
HarveyH55 wrote:
I've been watching and reading about 3D printers for a long time, figure I'm as close as I can get, without practical experience. Don't expect the assembly to be a problem.

That'll depend on your skills. It's mostly mechanical in nature though. Just take it one step at a time.
HarveyH55 wrote:
It has an aluminum build plate,
I prefer those.
HarveyH55 wrote:
with some complaints of being warped.
Never seen one. They are machined flat and anodized. I suspect most of the comments about 'warped' plates is simply people not getting the technique on how to align one.
HarveyH55 wrote:
Hopefully, mine comes flat and true, otherwise I'll go with glass.

Glass is much harder to get something to stick to, and it can break. It will also warp over time (Glass is actually a very thick liquid, not a solid). Plate glass suspended horizontally and heated will warp.
HarveyH55 wrote:
PLA does sound like a good option to start with, but really think it'll be a problem here in Florida.
I'm in western Washington, and just as humid, just not as warm. I have no problems. It's so humid here we get more fog than London. I really don't think you'll have a problem, despite the humidity there. The only problem you'll probably have is from a hurricane because the power's out.
HarveyH55 wrote:
If I spend the time printing something, I'm going to hope it will last a good while.
It can. After printing, you'll want to finish the piece. Printing leaves little ridges on the piece, and you'll want to sand them out or treat the piece with an acetone vapor bath. Painting it is a common way to protect it and beautify it. It really depends on the kind of thing you want to print and what use you put it to. Keep it out of the UV and don't let it soak in water for PLA. ABS soaking in water is okay (they build sewer pipes with it!).
HarveyH55 wrote:
Really think PLA will fail quick in our climate.

It really depends on how you finish the piece and how much exposure to sunlight it gets.
HarveyH55 wrote:
Sort of wanted to do nylon,

A nice plastic, but it requires a much higher melting point. Your print head can't get that hot. You CAN get print heads that can, though. Nylon won't hurt the aluminum table despite its temperature.
HarveyH55 wrote:
but not this printer though, but figure most of the stuff I'll make, can always be reprinted if need to be replaced.

Once you have the CNC file, you can reprint it as many times as you wish.
HarveyH55 wrote:
Antway, it's a decent, cheap starter machine,
It sounds very similar to the one I use. I find it's a better machine than the ones you buy that are already finished.
HarveyH55 wrote:
and should at least let me know what I need to look for,
It's hard to beat this little machine for quality. One option for these things is two or three color printing. It's essentially two or three heads mounted on the same carriage and the software is programmed for them. It reduces your X direction though. Another option is to get a head capable of melting nylon.
HarveyH55 wrote:
if I need a better machine for my needs.
That option's always open!
HarveyH55 wrote:
It should be plenty precise enough for anything I might want to do with it, have patience, don't need a part in minutes, can wait all day.

It's plenty precise. Precision is a function of how long you are willing to wait for your part and the quality of the piece. You can program this in your slicer software.

3D printing is not fast, no matter what printer you are using. Many pieces take several hours to print. The smaller pieces take less time. The cause is not the printer, it's the plastic. It takes time to melt it and squeeze the bead on the table. You can only move the filament through so fast.

There are other (and really expensive) printers that can print in sintered aluminum or brass, even sintered steel. With a two color printer you can set one color up to be a dissolvable plastic, which washes away with water easily (much faster than PLA!). You can use this material to act like a support structure to complex pieces. You can always make a a minimal support structure and cut it off mechanically afterwards, of course.

What do you plant to print with yours?


The Parrot Killer
06-03-2019 11:33
HarveyH55
★★★☆☆
(603)
The printer came yesterday afternoon, took about 3 hours to assemble, lots of parts leftover. Some are obviously spares, others weren't addressed in the instructions, probably spares on the pre-assembled portions. Included software didn't install. download failed overnight, restarted.

The bed is balanced on the Y-axis, and wobbles, very loose, but found what needs to be adjust, after work. Should just need to level the bed, once it's stable, and ready to print. Didn't preheat, but did go into manual mode, and moved all three axis. smooth, and surprisingly quiet.

Have to see what kind of modeling software is available. I stop playing with that, when my XP computer died, and what I was using didn't work on Vista. Didn't use it that much, to buy/download a new version, or learn something else.
06-03-2019 21:51
Into the Night
★★★★★
(7678)
HarveyH55 wrote:
The printer came yesterday afternoon, took about 3 hours to assemble, lots of parts leftover. Some are obviously spares, others weren't addressed in the instructions, probably spares on the pre-assembled portions. Included software didn't install. download failed overnight, restarted.

The bed is balanced on the Y-axis, and wobbles, very loose, but found what needs to be adjust, after work. Should just need to level the bed, once it's stable, and ready to print. Didn't preheat, but did go into manual mode, and moved all three axis. smooth, and surprisingly quiet.

Have to see what kind of modeling software is available. I stop playing with that, when my XP computer died, and what I was using didn't work on Vista. Didn't use it that much, to buy/download a new version, or learn something else.


I don't run Windows anywhere. I use Linux and Unix for everything. The CAD software I use is FreeCAD. It is, as they say, open source and free to use. It will also run on Windows.

For the slicer software, I use Cura. It also runs on Windows. I find it's best to put the CNC file on a memory stick and mount that in the printer, rather than use the USB interface. A lot of printers don't handle USB timing well.

The tables are often mounted with screws and springs. You tighten or loosen each corner to level the table. Your table might be different, but the same basic principle usually applies.


The Parrot Killer
09-03-2019 04:10
HarveyH55
★★★☆☆
(603)
Finally did some printing, man is it slow. first one took 52 minutes, but went great. ABS stuck to the bed well, came off with a little scraping and gentle prying. There was a little stringing, maybe a dozen strands, mostly on the first few layers. Started a Labrador Retriever couple of hours ago, maybe a third done. Looking good so far. Should have gone smaller, less infill. Damn metric system... Millimeters just don't translate well to real measurements.

Part of a front leg came off at the knee. Going to let it finish, guess it's my first failed print. Just testing it out, so it wasn't that important.

Downloaded Blender, a free 3D modeling program, but will have to read the manual some, not so easy as expected. Figured programs would have gotten easier, probably just need to know what the controls are. Moving stuff around, scaling work okay, just painful. Not select a drag, far as I can tell.
09-03-2019 16:44
HarveyH55
★★★☆☆
(603)
Almost 6 hours, total failure. Many layers didn't stick. Raised the nozzle an bed temperature some, trying a different model. So many things to try, got a hunch I'll be stopping the fails, a lot, to try something else.
09-03-2019 17:55
Into the Night
★★★★★
(7678)
HarveyH55 wrote:
Finally did some printing, man is it slow. first one took 52 minutes, but went great. ABS stuck to the bed well, came off with a little scraping and gentle prying. There was a little stringing, maybe a dozen strands, mostly on the first few layers. Started a Labrador Retriever couple of hours ago, maybe a third done. Looking good so far. Should have gone smaller, less infill. Damn metric system... Millimeters just don't translate well to real measurements.

Part of a front leg came off at the knee. Going to let it finish, guess it's my first failed print. Just testing it out, so it wasn't that important.

Downloaded Blender, a free 3D modeling program, but will have to read the manual some, not so easy as expected. Figured programs would have gotten easier, probably just need to know what the controls are. Moving stuff around, scaling work okay, just painful. Not select a drag, far as I can tell.


Sounds like your first print went well! You can see how difficult that first layer is by the stringing that you did see. It is critical to keep that bed clean before a print. Alcohol works well.

Blender is much more than a 3d modelling program. It's a full featured animation tool. It's modeller is what most people spend their time in with Blender. There are scaling commands in the modeller, but they are a bit awkward to use, and documentation for the keys in the modeller is poor. It sounds like a good choice, however, since you are printing figurines. Blender can be almost a life study to get really good at it, but you can produce some decent models after a while. It's one of those programs that you get better at the more you use it.

If you wish to print machine type parts, FreeCAD is the better choice.

Happy printing!



The Parrot Killer
09-03-2019 17:59
Into the Night
★★★★★
(7678)
HarveyH55 wrote:
Almost 6 hours, total failure. Many layers didn't stick. Raised the nozzle an bed temperature some, trying a different model. So many things to try, got a hunch I'll be stopping the fails, a lot, to try something else.


The bed alignment may have shifted (locknuts tightened?) or the bed itself needs cleaning. The head to bed distance at zero is very touchy. I use an automotive thickness gauge to set mine. It's more accurate than the piece of paper commonly suggested.

If you use an auto thickness gauge, be sure to clear it with alcohol before using it! They are often coated with a light oil. Even so, after alignment, clean the bed again...just before you make a print (let the alcohol evaporate first!).


The Parrot Killer
10-03-2019 06:01
HarveyH55
★★★☆☆
(603)
I cranked the nozzle temperature up to 250 C, bed up to 120 C, and it cured the separation, although I scaled down the models to save time. Unfortunately, they were all very difficult to remove. The last ones left a mess, guess because of the smaller size. The aluminum bed is fine, they gave me some sort of textured mat, that clamps over it. Not sure how I'll clean that up, maybe sand it lightly. Some definite raised areas, but not enough to scrape. Wonder if anyone else has a stuck part problem. Mostly, I read about parts coming loose, most definitely not an issue so far.

Will check out FreeCad. I'm more interested in useful things, like for electronics projects.
10-03-2019 19:36
Into the Night
★★★★★
(7678)
HarveyH55 wrote:
I cranked the nozzle temperature up to 250 C, bed up to 120 C, and it cured the separation, although I scaled down the models to save time. Unfortunately, they were all very difficult to remove. The last ones left a mess, guess because of the smaller size. The aluminum bed is fine, they gave me some sort of textured mat, that clamps over it. Not sure how I'll clean that up, maybe sand it lightly. Some definite raised areas, but not enough to scrape. Wonder if anyone else has a stuck part problem. Mostly, I read about parts coming loose, most definitely not an issue so far.

Will check out FreeCad. I'm more interested in useful things, like for electronics projects.

Don't go too high on the nozzle, or you will burn the plastic instead of melting it. Plastic actually has a narrow range of melting vs burning for most plastics (including PLA and ABS).

If a model is sticking to the bed, you can use a modified putty knife. Simply get a cheap 1 inch knife from the hardware store, stick in your vice, and round off the corners with 80-100 grit sandpaper (using a file to first make a diagonal corner helps speed the process).

Place the knife against the base of the model (right on the bed is ok, just keep it as horizontal as you can). A small hammer or even a screwdriver handle tapped against the knife will instantly break loose a stuck model. Don't hit it too hard, Rocky, just a light tap or two will do.

The light touch and the rounded edges will allow you to do this without gouging or damaging the table at all.


The Parrot Killer
11-03-2019 01:13
HarveyH55
★★★☆☆
(603)
I only did one print today, came up pretty easy, except one spot it kind of fused to some leftover. The only thing different, was I got to it, right when it finished printing. The one that stuck so bad the day before, had cooled off quite a bit. Think the pad is the main problem. Looked into a replacement this morning, not to expensive, until I read the reviews. It's just a sticker, have to remove the old one from a fiberglass board, clean off the old adhesive first. The chance of getting it lined up right, and no air bubbles, first attempt... Will look into a glass plate, if I can't find the pre-laminated pad.

I'm using uncolored ABS, translucent, and haven't seen any discoloration yet. I'm still sort of midrange, don't think I need to go any higher, might back it off 5 C next time, GoPro mounts, small parts.
11-03-2019 19:11
Into the Night
★★★★★
(7678)
HarveyH55 wrote:
I only did one print today, came up pretty easy, except one spot it kind of fused to some leftover. The only thing different, was I got to it, right when it finished printing. The one that stuck so bad the day before, had cooled off quite a bit. Think the pad is the main problem. Looked into a replacement this morning, not to expensive, until I read the reviews. It's just a sticker, have to remove the old one from a fiberglass board, clean off the old adhesive first. The chance of getting it lined up right, and no air bubbles, first attempt... Will look into a glass plate, if I can't find the pre-laminated pad.

I'm using uncolored ABS, translucent, and haven't seen any discoloration yet. I'm still sort of midrange, don't think I need to go any higher, might back it off 5 C next time, GoPro mounts, small parts.


I find the aluminum table itself to work just fine. I don't use a pad of any kind.


The Parrot Killer




Join the debate 3D printing, is PLA carbon neutral?:

Remember me

Related content
ThreadsRepliesLast post
Alberta throne speech followed by bill to repeal provincial carbon tax023-05-2019 09:20
It will be Very Hot and very Wet--We've exceeded 415ppm of Carbon Dioxide for the first Time since th3118-05-2019 19:28
California's Carbon-Tax?117-05-2019 10:16
What does 'Carbon-Pricing' mean?1215-05-2019 22:27
3d drawing program.2012-05-2019 21:54
▲ Top of page
Public Poll
Who is leading the renewable energy race?

US

EU

China

Japan

India

Brazil

Other

Don't know


Thanks for supporting Climate-Debate.com.
Copyright © 2009-2019 Climate-Debate.com | About | Contact