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    3D Printer Knowledge: How to Realize Biodegradation of PLA Consumables
    03.18.2021 | Cherry Chen | News

    PLA is one of the most common and popular 3D printer consumables. In addition to its affordable price, biodegradability is also one of its main characteristics, but is this really the case? Under what conditions does PLA need to achieve biodegradation? Next, let's take a look.


    First, what is PLA and what is it made up of?


    PLA is a polymer consisting of small lactic acid units (PLA). Lactic acid is an organic acid, which plays an important role in our daily life. The yogurt we usually drink or anything with glucose can be turned into lactic acid, and the lactic acid of PLA consumables comes from corn, which is made from starch material extracted from corn.


    Polylactic acid (PLA) is one of the most used consumables for FDM 3D printers. It is easy to print in 3D and can extrude melt at 180 degree C. It is one of the preferred 3D printer consumables for many beginners and professionals. Besides these, it has a unique feature: "PLA is one of the biodegradable, non-toxic consumables, and its raw materials come from nature."

    2. What does the degradation rate of PLA depend on?


    The biodegradation process and its duration depend largely on the environment. For example, heat, humidity and microorganisms are three essential factors affecting the degradation rate of PLA. PLA decays fastest in high temperature environment with abundant microorganisms. When PLA is buried deep in the soil, it can cause signs of decay in six months.

    PLA takes longer to degrade at room temperature and pressure. In ordinary rooms, PLA consumables will last for a long time. Sunlight does not accelerate biodegradation (except heat). Ultraviolet radiation only causes materials to lose color and become pale, which is the same effect as most plastics.

    3. Is biodegradable good or bad?


    Whether this slow biodegradation process is good or bad depends largely on your point of view and how you use it. According to the principle of sustainable development, biodegradable materials are ideal because they will eventually return to nature. For example, in some ways you want it to automatically degrade and disappear after a certain period of time, such as in orthopaedic surgery, degradability is also beneficial. On the other hand, most models you want to keep the same, do not want it to degrade quickly, for example, put them in a cool and dry place, PLA printed 3D models will last longer.

    creality-3d-printer-11PLA is biodegradable because its origin is natural, and microorganisms can feed on it. After degradation, PLA can be converted into compost. It can be degraded by burying it in humidity, temperature at 60 degrees C and microbial soil. Under good conditions, PLA will show signs of biodegradation within 6 months. When you place them in a cool, dry place under normal room conditions, the PLA will last for hundreds of years.

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