Best PLA 3D Printing Filaments of 2017

As someone who prints in 3D, you’ll most likely know Polylactic Acid as PLA—a raw material used to create 3D parts. PLA is one of the most popular 3D printing materials around. We use it for building prototypes and models of solid objects and various components. PLA is something scientist call a thermoplastic polyester, which is biodegradable and bioactive. It’s these properties that make it so interesting. The material derives from various renewable (green) resources. What these are differs, depending on which country produces the PLA. In the US and Canada, they make PLA from corn starch, in Asia it’s typically starch and tapioca roots. Other places around the world will use sugarcane.

Choosing the Right PLA Filament

Not all 3D PLA filaments are of the same quality. It’s the purpose of this page to highlight the best materials around so that you don’t waste your money on a substandard product. Before we look at the best PLA filaments of 2017, let’s take a quick look at this special material and why you might want to consider it for your 3D printing projects.

A quality PLA 3D printing filament is popular for the following reasons:

  • It’s affordable
  • Easy to print with because of lower printing settings
  • Less likely to warp compared to other materials
  • Decomposes, which makes it an eco-friendly product
  • It’s non-toxic
  • Doesn’t emit any unpleasant fumes during the printing process

When to Use PLA Filaments

Beginners particularly like working with PLA filaments. They like it because a quality PLA is easy to use and less susceptible to common problems like warping. It smells quite pleasant too. Not all 3D printers come equipped with a heated build platform. In this case, PLA is perfect because it doesn’t need a heated bed. Compared to ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene Styrene) filament, PLA is a more brittle material and sets with a harder surface. This means it’s more inclined to break when bent, which might be an issue if you want a more flexible end product.

What to Print Using PLA

The items you want to print and your expectations should determine what type of 3D printing filament to use. As a general rule, PLA is ideal for printing things like gadgets, toys, household items, and anything else that doesn’t need too much flexibility. Remember that it’s biocompatible too. That makes it safe to use for things that come into direct contact with the skin. PLA filament is ‘food safe’ as well. This means you can use it to produce items that come into direct contact with food and beverage. These might include storage jars, cups, and plates, etc.

Okay, below are our top seven picks of PLA 3D printing filament, as voted by the people who use them. Note that star-ratings are accurate at the time of putting this review page together. Note that each of the brands mentioned here offer more options than the top picks listed.

#1 HATCHBOX PLA Printer Filament

hatchbox-pla

Our first pick is a truly high quality 3D PLA filament. Your finished 3D parts will have a nice glossy finish with little to no warping. Hatchbox PLA is an easy-to-use material that’s 100% eco-friendly. Their filaments have perfect tolerances, no tangles, and high strength. Another positive feature is that they emit only a mild and quite pleasant odor. These things combined have earned Hatchbox its reputation as a top 3D printing filament brand. Their products continue to get an endless stream of positive reviews from happy customers. There’s also widespread praise for Hatchbox PLA materials from professionals working in the 3D printing industry. If you want a top-quality PLA at an affordable price, and with reliable tolerance, add Hatchbox to your shortlist of choices.

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The table below shows some product highlights for Hatchbox PLA

Brand/Product Name:HATCHBOX PLA
Star Rating:
Colors available:Yellow, red, black, white, blue, purple, red, gold, glow-in-the-dark, and others
Size available:1.75mm, 1kg (2.2lbs) spool
Print temperature:180°C – 230°C | Bed Temperature (not essential): 50°C – 55°C
Price Check:Product Link

#2 ColorFabb PLA Printer Filament

colorfabb-pla

It may not be the name on everyone’s lips just yet, but don’t let that deter you. Colorfabb PLA printer filament is a premium Dutch brand and one of the best PLA materials around. We’re listing it here on our top picks page for good reason. ColorFabb is a super-strong product; in fact, it has higher strength and more durability than most of the better known brands. This is thanks to its unique ingredient, namely Polyhydroxyalkanoates, or PHAs for short. Without getting too technical, PHA is polyester. Living bacteria create PHA during the natural fermentation process of sugars. Aside from its added strength, Colorfabb PLA is still as easy to print with as any other PLA filament. It won’t clog or jam, and it’s also biodegradable. It’s not the cheapest 3D printing material around, but you do get excellent value for money from this high quality product.

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The table below shows some product highlights for Colorfabb PLA:

Brand/Product Name:ColorFabb PLA
Star Rating:
Colors available:Standard black, shining silver, Dutch orange, sky blue, and glow-in-the-dark
Size available:1.75mm Diameter, 0.75kg spool
Print temperature:190°C – 230°C | Bed Temperature (not essential): 60°C – 80°C
Price Check:Product Link

#3 Ultimaker PLA Printer Filament

ultimaker-pla

Staying with Dutch products, Ultimaker is another premium quality PLA filament to consider. The company created this with their Ultimaker-2, 3D printer in mind. It offers a consistent diameter—something that helps to reduce the risk of jams. It has amazing tolerances too, and incredible strength. If high detail is important to you, then think seriously about Ultimaker PLA filament. It’s a tried and tested, versatile material, that’s fast, reliable, and safe to use. If you want to print 3D parts that are consistent, smooth, and sport great detail, consider Ultimaker PLA.

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The table below shows some product highlights for Ultimaker PLA:

Brand/Product Name:Ultimaker 2 PLA
Star Rating:
Colors available:Silver metallic, black, blue, transparent, peal white, magenta, red, and others
Size available:2.85mm, 750g spool
Print temperature:190°C – 230°C | Bed Temperature (not essential): 60°C – 80°C
Price Check:Product Link

#4 MakerBot PLA Printer Filament

MakerBot

If you have a MakerBot 3D Printer, this is by far the best and most consistent PLA filament for your machine. It’s a US product that’s quality tested at every step of the way. Quality control is one of the reasons why MakerBot has such a great reputation for top-notch 3D printing machines and materials. Their PLA filament is up there with the best of the high-end 3D printing materials. If you want to create parts with zero warping, then this has to be on your list of options. For serious 3D printers, you can even buy jumbo XXL 10 lb. spools of MakerBot PLA that’ll keep you going for a long time. If you don’t have a MakerBot Replicator 3D printer, don’t worry. MakerBot quality PLA filament works just as well with any modern Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printer. When you buy a PLA filament by MakerBot, you can expect top-quality prints every time. You’ll experience less of those common problems too, and thus reduce downtime that often occurs with lesser brands.

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The table below shows some product highlights for MakerBot PLA:

Brand/Product Name:MakerBot PLA
Star Rating:
Colors available:30+ including red, white, grey, translucent, neon, and glowing finishes
Size available:1.75mm, 1kg (2.2lbs) spool
Print temperature:190°C – 230°C | Bed Temperature (not essential): 60°C – 80°C
Price Check:Product Link

#5 Proto-pasta PLA Printer Filament

proto-pasta-pla

Manufactured by ProtoPlant in Vancouver, Washington, USA, this innovative 3D printing material began its life thanks to Kickstarter. A small group of material scientists first founded Proto-pasta PLA filaments back in 2013. They were on a mission to develop the world’s best 3D printing materials—so did they succeed? Well, their specialty PLA filaments are stiffer than regular PLA. They have better dimensional stability as well, which aids warp-free printing. These specialty-type PLA materials also have superb layer adhesion and trouble-free support removal. It’s on our top picks list because these are high quality materials with reliable tolerances. Not only do 3D parts look great, the filament performs to perfection. It even lets off a pleasant smell during the printing process.

If you’re creating a 3D model that includes electronics of some kind, then look no further than Proto-pasta conductive PLA. For that carbon fiber finish, it has to be the original Proto-pasta, black carbon fiber. And if your 3D model needs to behave like pure iron and respond to magnets, they’ve got you covered with that too. In this case, you’ll need a spool of Proto-pasta’s, gray, rustable magnetic iron in your shopping basket.

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The table below shows some product highlights for Proto-pasta PLA:

Brand/Product Name:Pro-pasta PLA
Star Rating:
Colors available:Black (carbon fiber), gray (stainless steel and rustable magnetic Iron)
Size available:1.75 mm, 500g Spool
Print temperature:195°C – 220°C | Bed Temperature (not essential): 50°C
Price Check:Product Link

#6 IC3D PLA Printer Filament

IC3D-pla

Manufactured in Ohio, IC3D PLA is another premium quality filament from the USA. The company takes great pride in its continuity of excellence. They even hand check each spool before vacuum sealing the product. This PLA works on variety of mainstream 3D desktop printers (see below). More good news for regular users is that IC3D cost less than a lot of its rivals. It’s free from common tolerance issues and has no problems with warping. Depending on your 3D printer, it may even be possible to print with IC3D without using any kind of bed adhesion material. This alone makes IC3D PLA filament quite unique. The company advertises their materials as a trouble-free experience, and one that guarantees 100% user satisfaction.

According to IC3D Industries, their PLA printing material is compatible with the following 3D printers (with heated beds): 3doodler (pen), Afinia, Airwolf, Delta, Flashforge, Lulzbot, MakerBot, Makergear, Mbot, PrintrBot, Reprap, Solidoodle, UltiMaker, Up!

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The table below shows some product highlights for IC3D PLA:

Brand/Product Name:IC3D PLA
Star Rating:
Colors available:Black, blue, gray, natural, orange, red, and white
Size available:1.75mm, 1.kg (2.2lbs) spool
Print temperature:190°C – 240°C | Bed Temperature (not essential): 60°C – 80°C
Price Check:Product Link

#7 Polymaker PLA Printer Filament

PolyMax-pla

This is our seventh and final pick for the top PLA 3D printing materials of 2017. Here we look at the large Chinese filament manufacture Polymaker. According to the website, their PLA has an impact resistance somewhere in the neighborhood of nine times that of more regular PLA filaments. User reviews and high ratings tend to back up this excellence. Polymaker is fast becoming the brand to have, not only with regular PLA filaments, but specialty materials too. As you would expect from a PLA filament of this quality, it’s not the cheapest. But then you’re not buying into a false economy product either. Choosing cheap PLA only leads to greater frustration and expenditure in the long term anyway.

Worth noting here is that Polymaker was also one of the handpicked PLA filament brands to get a mention in the Natureworks 3D Printing Suppliers Guide in 2016. For the record, Natureworks LLC is currently the biggest producer of top-quality PLA. Polymaker wouldn’t have made it into their guide if it wasn’t worthy as their preferred Chinese distributer. No company can buy a brand name. This is only something they can earn through continuity of excellence and good value for money. Polymaker has made their presence known with their finest PLA filaments, and continue to deliver on their promises.

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The table below shows some product highlights for Polymaker PLA:

Brand/Product Name:Polymaker PLA
Star Rating:
Colors available:Orange, yellow, blue, black, red, white, teal, green, gray, and purple
Size available:1.75mm, 2.85mm, 750g spools
Print temperature:200°C – 230°C | Bed Temperature (not essential): 60°C – 70°C
Price Check:Product Link

Our Final Thoughts on 3D PLA Filament Picks

Our list here is not conclusive as there are other quality PLA materials available that will also serve you well. There are new company names and innovations in 3D printing filaments popping up all the time. Even so, we’ve selected the seven materials above with great care, based on real user feedback and overall ratings. These are all PLA filaments that have great strength and amazing tolerances. Try to be mindful of the fact that premium PLA 3D printing filaments cost more for a reason. They will go further, last longer, produce better results, and cause fewer headaches. In the longer term, premium PLA filament will cost you less money and save your precious time.

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