Do You Print Silk PLA Hotter? Explained!

Printing silk PLA is different from printing regular PLA. Not only temperature but various other settings are also adjusted here.

So, do you print silk PLA hotter?

Yes, Silk PLA has to be printed hotter than regular PLA. The temperature has to be at least 10-15 degrees higher than the regular PLA temperature. Otherwise, the filament won’t extrude properly. With this higher temperature, the print will have better layer adhesion and a shiny effect. 

But, that’s not all. We’ve explained the whole process in detail for you to check out. 

What Is Silk PLA?

Silk PLA is the upgraded version of normal PLA which has microscopic silk filaments. Rather than using petrochemicals, they can be derived from renewable sources like sugarcane and cornstarch. Its biodegradability also offers an eco-friendly option.

The added 5-10% silk filaments in the PLA give the prints a silky and matt finish. It reflects light differently compared to the normal PLA giving it a subtle shine. While having a powdery texture, silk PLAs are known for their durability. 

How to Print Silk PLA- Silk PLA Settings

Since the material is different from normal PLA, some settings need adjusting for optimum results. Let’s get to know more about them. 

Printer Setup:

General FDM 3D desktop printers will do the job. But, for precision, the printer nozzle should be .4mm. A direct drive extruder is also recommended since it improves the filament flow control.

Printer Setup
Source: Amazon

Print Surface Preparation:

You can use different print beds like PEI, BuildTak, bare glass, and blue painter’s tape. It’s best not to use adhesion promoters to ensure the silk sheen. Enclosure is also necessary to reduce warping. 

Lastly, the bed doesn’t require to be hot but a 60ºC-70ºC temperature is suggested. 

Printing Temperatures:

Silk PLAs need a higher temperature than regular PLAs. Normally, it’s best to use 10-15 degrees higher temperature. So, the extruder temperature should be around 220-250 degrees. Temperature lower than that causes poor adhesion. 

The temperature also depends on the type of nozzle you’re using. While using a brass nozzle, the temperature should be at least 225 degrees. On the other hand, using more than 235 degrees for steel nozzles is recommended. 

Lastly, following the heat, the fan speed should be reduced by 30-50%. This reduced silk PLA fan speed improves the layer adhesion. 

How to Tell If PLA Temperature Is Too Hot Or Cold?

Since there’s a recommended temperature range for printing PLA, you have to experiment with that. Based on the print model or filament, the temperature might get too hot or cold.

If the temperature gets too hot, you’ll see the following symptoms:

  • The material might feel runny or extrude from the nozzle uncontrollably. 
  • The filament won’t print in the right colour and you’ll see signs of burning. 
  • The lowest layer becomes soft if the print bed gets too hot. It can’t handle the weight of the upper layers and gets pooched out. This problem is called the “Elephants Feet”.  

If the temperature gets too cold, you’ll face the following symptoms:

  • The filament won’t melt properly when pushed to the hot end of the extruder. This will create a back pressure that eventually exceeds the extruder force. Thus, the printer will start skipping.
  • The friction will cause clicking/clunking noises since the filament is stuck in the extruder

When faced with these symptoms, adjust the temperature accordingly. 

Print Speed:

The print speed should be lowered to 30-50 mm/s. Otherwise, the outer walls of the model will have visible silk strands. The volumetric speed should also be turned down to 8 than the normal value of 15.

Slice Settings:

The retraction should be set to 4-6mm. It prevents stringing on travel moves. The layer height should also be adjusted to .15-.2 mm for a smoother finish. 

Finishing:

Besides removing sanding rafts and supports, silk PLA needs a good finish. You can coat your finished model with paint, varnish, or epoxy resin for the perfect appearance. 

With all these settings, you can start printing with your design. You can also download 3D models from Cults3D.

Silk PLA Not Sticking to Bed

If you mess up the settings we mentioned, then the Silk PLA might not stick to the bed.  but some other reasons could cause this problem. 

Unleveled Print Bed:

If the printing surface is not even, your print won’t bond with the print bed properly. With this uneven first layer, the whole structure faces a risk of being peeled off. Some printers have an auto bed leveling sensor that adjusts your bed level.

But if your printer does not have this feature, you can also do it manually like this:

  1. Align the printer nozzle close to the bed. Now, put an A4 size paper between the build surface and the nozzle.
  2. Use the leveling nob, and raise the printing bed. Do it until you feel a slight resistance while pulling the paper out. 
  3. Keep on repeating this process for every corner of the build surface. With that, your print bed will be leveled. 

Dirty Print Bed:

Continuous use will expose your print bed to dust, grease, dirt, etc. This will negatively impact your Silk PLA print. Thus you need to clean the print bed regularly. However, the cleaning process varies depending on the type of print bed you are using. 

Cleaning them with soap and water is enough with general PEI build plates. But with Borosilicate build plates, first, remove them to scrape off any adhesive residue. Then wash the surface with glass cleaner and wipe the surface off with isopropyl alcohol. 

You should maintain this cleaning process once a month. 

Bad Filament:

You can also get a bad print if the quality of the filament is low. For that, you need to know how to test your Silk PLA. But sometimes even if the initial condition is good, the filament might get worse due to environmental factors. 

If the PLA isn’t properly stored, it might absorb moisture from the environment. This will hamper the texture causing air bubbles. Thus, the print will have poor adhesion and stringing while passing through the extruder. 

So it is important to store the PLA correctly. It is advised to store the filament in a dry box with desiccant packets. However, if the filament has already absorbed moisture you can dry it out. Dry the filament in 40-45 degrees temperature for 4-5 hours. 

Damaged Build Plate:

Sometimes the build plate of your 3D printer might be damaged.  Over time the built plates might deform or warp. This will also cause the PLA to not stick on the print bed. If that’s the case just replace your build plate with a new one.

Here, you can choose spring Steel sheets or glass print beds. They offer reliable adhesion with silk PLA. Specially glass build plates don’t warp and are easy to clean. 

Is It Hard to Print with Silk PLA?

No, it’s relatively easy to print with Silk PLA.  It doesn’t have shrinking or warping tendencies like other filaments. From home decor, toy production, and functional prototypes the Silk PLA can have a variety of applications. 

It has some other benefits too. Printing the Silk PLA doesn’t produce any fumes.  With the right print settings and paints, you can imitate various metals, leathers, or textiles with silk PLA. It can also handle compression and bending forces.

Thus Silk PLA is being widely used in the 3D printing sector. 

Issues with Silk PLA

While having a lot of benefits the Silk PLA also has its own demerits. Compared to other filaments It absorbs moisture much faster. It’s also stickier to work with. 

Because of these properties, sometimes throughout the printing process, the filament stops extruding. When facing this clogging, you need to pause, hot pull, and trim about 100 cm of the folded material. 

It is advised to take 2-hour intervals while printing to continue this pull and trim process. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What makes Silk PLA shiny?

A compound called elastomers makes the Silk PLA shiny. It prints almost the same as regular PLA but the end product has a glossy finish. Elastomers might affect the physical properties slightly but it doesn’t hamper the print. 

What is 100% filament silk?

A 100% filament Silk is the shiniest filament you will find. This is the main difference between spun silk and filament silk.  While spun silk has a soft luster, filament  Silk will have the highest sheen. 

How to clean Silk PLA print?

Silk PLA prints can be cleaned using heat guns, sandpaper, polishing tools, and mechanical tools. Clear spray and resin can also be used to further shine the end product. 

Bottom Line!

Hope you got to know everything about do you print silk PLA hotter. Still, we’d like you to know one last thing. Using acetone with PLA degrades the material. Thanks for reading the whole article.

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