Are you wondering how long does PLA filament last? Does it actually expires or go bad? Can we some how use the filament for longer period of times? Do not worry after going through this article you will have answers to all of these questions. But before going in to details, let u provide you with one liner answers:
- Generally PLA Filament can lasts from 1 month to 2 years.
- Yes, PLA filament expires or go bad
- Yes, we can increase the usability to maximum by taking proper measures.
Before going in to details about how long does PLA Filament last? Let us understand what is the major cause of PLA or any 3D Printer Filament to expire or go bad.
We will also discuss how can we ensure that the filaments can be used for maximum period of time.
What is PLA (Polyactic Acid) Filament
PLA or Polyactic Acid is generally is one of the most common materials used for 3D printing. It is made up of renewable resources such as corn starch, tapioca roots or sugar cane etc.
Commonly 3 types of filaments are used for 3D printing namely:
Among these three filament types PETG or Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol-modified is believed to be the one that lasts longer from the other two.
How long does PLA filament last?
Generally PLA Filament lasts from 1 month to 2 year. Shocking can it go bad even in 1 month? Yes it can go bad that much quickly if it is not stored or handled properly.
Major Cause of PLA Filament or 3D Printer Filaments to Go Bad
If we have to name one single factor that causes PLA Filament or 3D printer filament to go bad without hesitation my answer would be moisture.
The material used in manufacturing of PLA Filament is super moisture absorbent. When the level of filament increases the outer surface gets brittle and it can easily be broken then even with very small force.
Signs that PLA Filament is Gone Bad
There are no obvious visible difference between PLA Filament that is perfectly fine and the one that is gone bad. But during printing you can easily feel the difference. As the level or Quality of printing is much poorer compare to PLA Filament that is working fine.
Another sign that you might feel is sizzling noises coming out of the printer. The main reason for these noises is during printing the filament material turns moisture inside material into steam resulting in these noises. In addition to these noises the moisture also leads to inconsistent printing
Is it possible to increase the time for how long does PLA filament last?
Yes it is possible to increase the time PLA Filament lasts by two very easy steps.
Storing 3D Printer Filament in Dry Place
As discussed above moisture is the biggest enemy of PLA or any filament. So if you want it to last longer you always have to store it in a dry place. The best way to store them is in Air tight container. Generally the chances of moisture is air tight containers are very low.
Secondly you can wrap them in desiccant before storing them in air tight container. It will absorb any moisture that even makes its way in air tight containers.
Only Buy when You need PLA Filament:
I understand this is common sense. But believe me lot of people have this habit of buying extra items for emergency needs or just for their safety. Believe me PLA Filament is not one of those materials that you need to keep extra in your house. It can absorb moisture lot quicker then you can imagine.
Retail and wholesale shops have special moisture free storage spaces to keep them dry. So it is always recommended to buy only when you need.
Is it possible to Print with Old PLA Filament?
Yes it is hundred percent possible. But you must be aware of certain things before printing to avoid ending up causing even damage to your printer.
The simple and easy way to use old pla filament is to preheat your filament and let it try before you want to use it. if you are planning to use the old PLA filament without preheating and drying believe me it can have disastrous results. You might end up blocking your printer’s nozzles or shutting down of entire printing system.
Conclusion and Summary
The simple answer to ‘how long does PLA filament last?’ is: there is no definite time period. It can last for very few days or you might continue to use it for next couple of years.
It totally depends on the way you handle your PLA Filament. If it is kept, used and stored properly we can use it for maximum period of time.
The article is specifically written about how long does pla filament last? This goes for almost all the 3D printing filaments available on the market. All of them are super moisture absorbent. Easily go bad if they are exposed to environment or moisture. Precautions are also the same for all types of 3D Printer filaments. Keep them in air tight containers, wrap them properly with materials that absorb moisture and they can last longer.
Last and most important thing is printing with expired or bad filament is dangerous in terms of loss it can generate. These filaments might result in damaging your printer nozzles or even printer in some cases. Therefore if you ask me i will never take the chance of printing with a filament that i believe is bad or not working properly.