PLA vs PLA+ Filament: What Is the Difference Between Them

PLA is one of the most popular and budget-friendly materials in FDM 3D printing, widely used for low-cost visual prototyping. However, its low melting point results in poor heat resistance. Additionally, PLA loves absorbing moisture from the air, negatively affecting the print quality and potentially causing the printed object to become brittle and weak. Thus, PLA+ was born for its strength and durability. In this article, we will comprehensively compare PLA and PLA+ in performance, printability, accessibility, price, and storage, to assist you in determining which one meets your needs.

What Is PLA +?

Black Gray White PLA+ filament for 3D printer

(Anycubic 1.75mm PLA+ 3D printer filament.)

PLA (Polylactic acid) and PLA+ filament are both made from organic materials such as corn starch or sugarcane, which are biodegradable plastics. This means that these materials do not emit toxic fumes during the printing process, allowing for frequent and repeated use without concerns. Due to the drawbacks of basic PLA, like its low heat resistance and tendency to become brittle after absorbing moisture, PLA+ was developed and introduced. PLA+ is an upgraded version of PLA's formula, applying additives that enhance the mechanical properties. These improvements can provide 3D printed parts with increased flexibility, rigidity, and impact resistance compared to regular PLA. However, it cannot reach the conclusion that PLA+ is definitely better than standard PLA. Let's delve deeper into the comparison of the two materials to see which one is better.

Comparison and Difference Between PLA vs PLA +

Mechanical Properties

PLA+ performance and mechanical property

(Tough and strong performance of PLA+)

In terms of performance, this is the key difference between the two filaments and also why many people opt for PLA+. We conducted mechanical tests, and the results showed that PLA+ outperforms PLA in mechanical performance. Using samples of Anycubic's PLA and PLA+ for flexural strength testing, the PLA showed a result of 83MPa, while the PLA+ achieved 95MPa, demonstrating the latter's higher flexural properties.

Flexural strength refers to a material's mechanical parameter that indicates its ability to resist deformation in bending. A higher flexural strength value means better impact resistance in materials. PLA+ typically exhibits better bending resistance, allowing 3D creations not only for aesthetics but also the capability of withstanding more weight and pressure compared to PLA. PLA+ thus offers a wider and more practical range of applications than standard PLA.

Printability

PLA and PLA+ bed temp

PLA is the easiest filament to print with among all. PLA+ tends to be a bit more challenging because its melting point is slightly higher than PLA, requiring a higher printing temperature. Typically, the nozzle temperature for PLA ranges between 190-220°C, while PLA+ operates within the range of 200-230°C. The difference in bed temperature between PLA and PLA+ is not significant, ranging from 50-70°C. For smaller-sized models, adjusting the bed temperature to around 50-60°C is suitable. For larger-sized models, 65-70°C hot bed temperature is recommended.

Accessibility

Colorful 1.75mm PLA filament for 3D printing

(Anycubic 1.75mm PLA 3D printer filament.)

PLA, as a very basic material for beginners and experts, is easily accessible from various material suppliers in the market, offering as many as dozens of colors for 3D printing. However, unlike PLA, PLA+ is not universally sold by all material suppliers. Brands such as Anycubic and eSUN provide PLA+ filament, which is ideal for printing more durable and stronger mechanical parts compared to PLA. Anycubic, a popular manufacturer of 3D printers, provides affordable filament 3D printers, resin 3D printers, and materials that are highly compatible with their machines and most other machines.

Storage

Cheap and quality PLA filament

PLA+ has a better resistance to moisture compared to basic PLA, but both materials love to absorb moisture. Once used, they both require sealed storage and placement in a dry environment to prevent exposure to humidity. Keeping the filament dry at all times ensures better printing quality and reduces printing defects such as stringing, poor overhangs, and bad bridges. There are many storage methods for 3D printing materials, including using a dry box, vacuum bags, and desiccants, all of which are highly effective.

Price & Cost

PLA filament price and cost

Certainly, higher-performing filaments generally come with higher prices, which is understandable compared to basic materials. For example, on Anycubic's official website in the U.S. market, the price for PLA filament is $24.5 per kg, while PLA+ filament costs slightly more at $26 per kg. It's common to find material sales in the store, promotions like "Get 3 for the price of 2," and combo discounts available.

Is PLA+ Better Than PLA?

It's challenging to make a definitive judgment as it depends on your budget and needs. But, what can be certain is that PLA+ is harder to print with than PLA, while PLA tends to be slightly cheaper than PLA+. Concerning ease of using, if you are a beginner in 3D printing, it's advisable to start with the most basic material, PLA. If your 3D projects demand strength and toughness like functional parts, PLA+ is worth considering.

Once you become tired of always printing with the same material, you can explore other new filaments such as PLA+. Exploring new things is a good way to master 3D printing skills, infusing more excitement and a sense of accomplishment into your 3D printing journey.

Pros and cons of both PLA and PLA Plus:

PLA PLA +
Pros
  • The most easy-to-print filament.
  • Low cost.
  • Application in visual prototypes.
  • More tough and durable.
  • Better heat resistance.
  • Application in visual prototypes and functional parts.
Cons
  • Brittle or easily breaking.
  • Not easier to use than PLA.
  • Higher cost than PLA.

Where to buy quality PLA & PLA+ filaments?