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3D printing lightweight PLA parts

LW-PLA is the first filament of its kind using an active foaming technology to achieve lightweight, low density PLA parts. At around 230C this material will start foaming, increasing its volume by nearly 3 times.

Users can decrease material flow by 65% to achieve lightweight parts, or use the expanding properties to effectively reduce print time by using big layer heights or single extra thick perimeters.

Active foaming technology, how does it work?

The main input variables to control the expansion are speed, temperature and flow. This allows users to vary density of the material for different parts of the model.

We use the following 4 step process to determine the maximum expansion at a certain speed, temperature and flow.

  1. Print cubes at a set speed in temperatures varying from 200°C up to 280°C
  2. Measure perimeter thickness of each cube, note temperature with highest expansion.
  3. Print cubes with decreasing steps of flow, using temperature found in step 2.
  4. Find the cube at which perimeter thickness equals nozzle size.

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Up to 65% weight reduction

Due to the expanding property of the material users can decrease flow while still printing dimensionally accurate models. Users can realize a 65% weight reduction compared to regular PLA.

3D Print more

Due to the expanding property of the material users can decrease flow while still printing dimensionally accurate models. Users can realize a 65% weight reduction compared to regular PLA.

Superb surface quality

LW-PLA prints in a fantastic matte looking surface finish and is very easy to post process. Any oozing or stringing artifacts rub right off and the surface is easily sanded for a smooth finish.

What would you print with LW-PLA?

Some weeks ago we asked our community members to submit their 3D printing project ideas for our brand new LW-PLA. We received many ideas and have seen some really interesting applications areas such as, rc planes & drones, cosplay & props, lost foam casting and many more.

We also invited Richard Horne, a.k.a. RichRap to beta test our LW-PLA material. Together we learned a lot about the material and the processing of this material. Richard was able to use the material for his own Master spool design and even a client project.

We need challenging materials, we need to work with or find ways around the limitations and allow more people to experiment with exciting developments like this foaming LW-PLA.

Richard Horne, a.k.a. RichRap

Questions about LW-PLA?

Active foaming technology, how does it work?

Send in your question to our specialist Gijs

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