Knowledge about PLA 3D Printing Filament (Polylactic Acid)

Basic Information

Polylactic acid known as PLA is the most widely used 3D printing filament. It is a thermoplastic polyester with backbone formula (C3H4O2)n or [–C(CH3)HC(=O)O–]n, formally obtained by condensation of lactic acid C(CH3)(OH)HCOOH with loss of water (hence its name). It can also be prepared by ring-opening polymerization of lactide [–C(CH3)HC(=O)O–]2, the cyclic dimer of the basic repeating unit.


PLA has become a popular material due to it being economically produced from renewable resources. While its widespread application has been hindered by numerous physical and processing shortcomings. PLA is the most widely used plastic filament material in 3D printing. Its low melting point, high strength, low thermal expansion, good layer adhesion, and high heat resistance when annealed make it an ideal material for 3D printing purpose. Without annealing, however, PLA has the lowest heat resistance of the common 3D printing plastics.


Raw materials

At the current market, most PLA 3D printing filaments are produced from TOTAL LX175. And there is another material source which is NatureWorks 4032D. TOTAL LX175 is most commonly used because it is the most accessible material, especially in China material market. Not mention it is cheaper than NatureWorks 4032D. In that case over 90% of 3D printing PLA from Chinese manufacturers are using LX175.

GratKit pics - NatureWorks 4032D material

It is said that there is no difference between 4032D and LX175. However, people hardly believe so. According to Tailoring of advanced poly(lactic acid)-based materials: A review data by Stoja Milovanovic, Jelena Pajnik and Ivana Lukic, properties of different types of PLA and methods for their processing are listed respectively. The differences of properties between 4032D and LX175 are clearly shown.


GratKit pics - The differences of properties between 4032D and LX175

 Industrial Experience

It is said that over 90% of world PLA 3D printing filament is manufactured in China. And it is a common experience among China PLA filament manufacturers that quality and user experience are much batter for filament manufactured from NatureWorks 4032D than those from TOTAL LX175.

4032D filament usually stays in good condition longer than LX175 filament. Based on real real storage tests, 4032D filament stays in condition after 12 months, while LX175 filament breaks easily after stored over 6 months.

The printing performance of 4032D filament is better than LX175 filament as well. Using 4032D filament has lower failure rate than using LX175. People gets less conditions of blockage, breakage, shrinkage etc while printing with 4032D filament. And the printed models from 4032D filament is better in appearance and more durable than models from LX175.

However, there are two main disadvantages for 4032D materials based on the industrial experience as well. The first issue is that 4032D material is more expensive than LX175. That caused the selling price of 4032D filament more pricey than LX175 filaments. And the second issue of 4032D material is that the market in China could not adequate supplies of 4032D raw materials. In that case, most manufacturers do not have enough materials for their orders. So they neglect mention about raw materials.


Our Solution

GratKit Smart Equipment is a manufacturer faithful of providing PLA 3D printing Filament with Natureworks 4032D raw materials. The GratKit PLA filament is at the same price level of market filament sellers of LX175 materials. Meanwhile, GratKit has stable supply source of 4032D raw materials to be one main brand offering better 3D printing filament.

GratKit PLA filament from NatureWorks 4032D

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