Polylactic Acid or PLA is made from renewable resources such as corn rather than oil, PLA sequesters atmospheric CO2. The printed object’s lifecycle can end just as safely as PLA biodegrades into non-toxic materials, making it safe for the planet

what is pla?

ORIGINS OF PLA

who created PLA?

In the early 20th Century, quantum physics was transforming chemistry by explaining, for example, how covalent bonds form polymers. The industrial giant DuPont decided it had to get in on the action as these discoveries led to remarkable chemistrybreakthroughs.

One of the scientists DuPont recruited in 1927 was organic chemist Wallace Carothers. His research lab invented polymers that DuPont would go on to market as Nylon and Neoprene. Carothers also created PLA but for decades afterward DuPont’s production process was too expensive for businesses other thanthe pharmaceutical industry.

Flash forward to the 1990s when an idealistic chemist named Patrick Gruber decided he would help end the world’s reliance on petroleum. One weekend, Gruber and his chemist wife Sally cooked up the first batch of corn-based PLA on their kitchen stove.

how is pla made today

Though modern PLA manufacturing has scaled up from that stove-top chemistry experiment, the process is still the same. Everything starts with a starchy plant such as corn or beets. Once the plant’s starches are converted into dextrose, a fermentation stage uses microorganisms to convert thissugar into lactic acid.

Chaining the lactic acid into a polymer can be done directly but most manufacturers take a two-step approach. First, they combine lactic acid molecules into ring-shaped lactides. Then they polymerize the lactides into long-chain molecules of PLA.Unfortunately, the reaction also creates water that has to be removed in a vacuum or through distillation.

Now dried and pelletized, the PLA is ready for industry. What started out as corn kernels becomes injection-molded bottles, plastic bags, food packaging and even medical implants.

NATUREWORKS

What is ingeo?

Hatchbox makes filament using Ingeo PLA from NatureWorks, the company that Patrick Gruber co-founded to commercialize plant-based PLA.NatureWorks sources starchy plants to produce lactic acid, lactides and ultimately pellets of its Ingeo PLA.

But not all PLA is made the same. Hatchbox PLA filament uses versions of Ingeo specially-formulated to providegood build-plate adhesion, low emissions and low warping or shrinkage as the part cools.

NatureWorks still shares Patrick Gruber’s concern for the planet. More than a raw material, corn sequestersatmospheric CO2 and reduces fossil fuels’ impact on Earth’s climate.Someday, NatureWorks could convert CO2 directly into PLA.

The company cares just as much about the end of Ingeo PLA’s lifecycle. NatureWorks’ composting and recycling technologies help keep Ingeo PLA out of landfills and incinerators.

how ingeo is made

PETG is among one of the most environmentally safe 3d printing materials on the market. Because of it PET base, PETG can be easily recycled.

Harvesting Carbon Dioxide

Many plastics start out as oil, the remains of plants that extracted CO2 from ancient Earth’s atmosphere. NatureWorks skips the million-year process of turning CO2 into oil by making Ingeo PLA from plants grown today. Unlike oil, plants are renewable resources that harvest greenhouse gases from modern Earth’s atmosphere.

The second step in making ingeo PLA safe for the planet is the starches, plants like corn or beets are molecular chains of glucose. NatureWorks uses enzymes to break these chains into simpler sugars. Microorganisms eat the sugars in a fermentation process

From Plants to Lactic Acid

The starches in plants like corn or beets are molecular chains of glucose. NatureWorks uses enzymes to break these chains into simpler sugars. Microorganisms eat the sugars in a fermentation process similar to using yeasts to make bread or beer. Rather than releasing CO2 or alcohol, these microorganisms release lactic acid.

The third step in making PLA environmentally safe is the proprietary process, which removes water from the lactic acid to create ring-shaped molecules called lactides. You can make forms of PLA directly from lactic acid, but not for 3D printing.

Ringing in the Lactides

You can make forms of PLA directly from lactic acid. But in order to get the right properties for industrial use, NatureWorks adds another step. Their proprietary process removes water from the lactic acid to create ring-shaped molecules called lactides.

The final stage for making PLA uses special catalysts to break the lactide rings. These open rings then connect together into long molecular chains of polylactic acid. As the PLA emerges from this process, it forms into pellets of Ingeo PLA

PLA Polymerization

The final stage uses special catalysts to break the lactide rings. These open rings then connect together into long molecular chains of polylactic acid. As the PLA emerges from this process, NatureWorks forms it into pellets of Ingeo PLA that companies like HATCHBOX use as feedstock for their own products.

ingeo - eco-friendly properties

NatureWorks considers its environmental impact far beyond the factory floor. The company’s perspective stretches all the way from the fields of corn to the truck carrying Ingeo PLA pellets. This Eco-Profile measures how Ingeo impacts the environment.

What is Eco-Profile?

With a mission to make plastics more sustainable, NatureWorks considers its environmental impact far beyond the factory floor. The company’s perspective stretches all the way from the fields of corn to the truck carrying Ingeo PLA pellets from the factory. This Eco-Profile measures how Ingeo impacts the environment.

Recycling PET & PETG plastics benefits the environment far beyond the landfill. Producing fresh plastic requires a huge amount of energy and water. Feeding used plastics back into the production process helps reduce the consumption natural resources

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Greenhouse gas concentrations in our atmosphere is at record levels, driving climate changes that will profoundly affect modern civilization. Making products from Ingeo PLA is one small step towards reversing this trend as its production emits seven times fewer greenhouse gases than petroleum-based plastics such as ABS.

The raw materials for most plastics require energy-intensive oil refining. Since plants get their energy from the Sun, making Ingeo PLA consumes nearly two-thirds less energy than ABS and other 3D filament materials.

Non-Renewable Energy Use

Most greenhouse gas emissions come from fossil fuels so consuming less non-renewable energy also slows climate change. The raw materials for most plastics require energy-intensive oil refining. Since plants get their energy from the Sun, making Ingeo PLA consumes nearly two-thirds less energy than ABS production.

USES FOR PLA

PLA INDUSTRIAL USES

PETG plastics are used to package pharmaceuticals and medical devices because of its heat resistance. The thermoplastic can withstand radio-frequency sealing and sterilization processes without losing its protective qualities or transparency.

Medical Field / Healthcare

When made with the right solvents and additives, PLA is bio-compatible and sees widespread use in medical applications from drug delivery systems toorgan modeling. PLA is also a promising material for temporary implants. Joints can regrow around 3D-printed PLA scaffolds which the body breaks down into non-toxic lactic acid.

Clear plastic machine guards play important roles in workplace safety and quality control. More durable than acrylic and easier to form than polycarbonate, PETG machine guards are often used in food processing as well as other processing centers.

Engineers

Engineers use PLA for rapid prototyping since it is easy to print, non-toxic and does not shrink much when it cools. Today, many industries are going beyond classic prototyping and adopting 3D printing for finished parts. The toy industry, for example, uses PLA to create limited-run or customized products that are safe for kids.

PETG's properties make it a perfect choice for packaging in the food, beverage and cosmetics industries. The durability and light weight of PETG packaging reduces distribution costs associated with acrylic or glass packaging.

food packaging

Bottles and other food-safe packaging are already made from PLA. Since it comes from plant-based resources, PLA is more sustainable than other petroleum-based plastics used in food packaging. And with the growing concern over microplastic waste, PLA’s ability to biodegrade makes it even more attractive to the food industry.

everyday users

Kid-safe and pet-safe, PLA is the most accessible material for everyday 3D printing. All filament-based printers from the most affordable consumer-grade products on uplet you use the material. Whether you are repairing a household item or unleashing your creativity, there is a color and blend of PLA for every project.

PLA 3D filament can also be used to print office supples such as cell phone holders, pen holders, sticky note dispenser and much more! PLA does not emit a smell when printing like ABS does, which makes having an in office printer a must.

cell phone holder

PLA is also being used to create PPE for all the front liners during this epidemic, COVID19. Printers from around the world have reached out to HATCHBOX to help donate filament to keep the printing alive for PPE, face masks, etc.

face shield frame

PLA characteristics & benefits

PLAs characteristics was put into 4 categories by HATCHBOX and given a score from 1-10. Those characteristics are; Strength 6/10 , Odorless 10/10, Flexibility 5/10 and Easy to use 8/10. Be sure to finding the right filament for the job.

pla print settings

pla benefits

When printed, PETG 3D filament does not emit a bad odor as other thermoplastics like ABS do. Its always recommended to have a well ventilated printing area.

NO ODOR

One of the best features of our PLA filament is that it has less warping than any other material. This also includes better layer adhesion when printed correctly.

MINIMAL WARPING

With no heat bed required, PETG is one of the most easiest filaments to print with. Paired with easy adhesion, PETG prints are sure to become you next favorite.

NO HEAT BED REQUIRED

ADVANTAGES & DISADVANTAGES OF PLA

PETG plastic prints combines the best properties of PLA and ABS. You get strong parts that can support mechanical loads. PETG is naturally transparent which allows for unique effects. PETG’s odorless emissions are non-toxic.

pla advantages

PLA is one of the easiest filaments to work with. You can use lower nozzle and bed temperatures while printing and finish your parts with a variety of post-processing methods. Aesthetically, PLA produces better surface details and comes in a wider range of colors and blends. Best for kids, you do not need to ventilate toxic fumes.

PLA 3d printing also has its disadvantages. PLA prints are poor choice for mechanical parts since they have a lower tensile strength than ABS or PETG. Especially in high temperatures, PLA printed parts are more likely to deform under stress.

pla disadvantages

PLA is a poor choice for mechanical parts since it has a lower tensile strength than ABS or PETG. Especially in high temperatures, PLA parts are more likely to deform under stress. And PLA’s biodegradability weakens parts even more over time. Choose PLA instead for rapid prototyping, aesthetic prints and similar applications.

When printing with PETG, its important to note that not all filaments print alike. You must dial in your printer to be able to perform with PETG, which will make your printer run hotter than with any other material.

PRINTING TIPS FOR PLA

Dial in your print settings by starting with a 180°C nozzle temperature and 40mm/s print speed. Adjust from thereto get the best results. Run the part cooling fan at 100% except during the first few layers when adhesion matters more. And since PLA becomes brittle as it absorbs moisture, store PLA filament in airtight enclosures.