PLA 3D Printing Speed & Temperature – Which Is Best?


Being an avid printer of PLA material I was thinking to myself, is there a perfect 3D printing speed & temperature that we should all be using to get the best results? I set out to answer that very question in this post so keep reading to see what I found out.

What is the best speed and temperature for PLA? The best speed & temperature for PLA depends on what type of PLA you are using and what 3D printer you have, but generally you want to use a speed of 60mm/s, a nozzle temperature of 210°C and a heated bed temperature of 60°C. Brands of PLA have their recommended temperature settings on the spool.

There is more important information that will allow you to print some of the best quality PLA that you’ve ever printed, and a bunch of tips to avoid common issues that people experience, many I’ve experienced myself. Better your 3D printing journey and learn the optimal settings.

What is the Best Printing Speed & Temperature for PLA?

Generally speaking the faster printing speed you use, the worse the final quality of your objects will be. In terms of temperature, getting this right doesn’t necessarily improve the quality, more so than preventing issues that cause imperfections in your prints such as stringing, warping, ghosting or blobbing.

There are many things that can negatively affect your prints so making sure your speed and temperature are optimal is important.

Don’t forget that it varies in environment too. 2 different homes/offices can have different temperatures, different humidity, different airflow. 3D printing is very much an environment dependent process.

Best PLA Printing Speed

This mainly depends on your 3D printer and what upgrades you’ve done to it.  To print PLA on a standard Ender 3 without any upgrades, you should have a 3D printing speed between 40mm/s & 70mm/s with the recommended speed being 60mm/s.

You can get different types of heater cartridges and hardware to enable you to print at higher speeds. Many tests and experimentation is happening to increase printing speeds so rest assured, things will get faster over time.

I will describe the best method on how to find your optimal printing speed and temperature below.

Best PLA Nozzle Temperature

You want a nozzle temperature anywhere between 195-220°C with the recommended value being 210°C. As previously mentioned it depends on the filament manufacturer and what they personally recommend for their brand.

PLA is manufactured in different ways and colors and these factors make a difference on what temperatures best work for printing with.

If you have to exceed the recommended temperature to print PLA successfully, you might have other underlying issues that should be addressed. Your thermistor could be giving inaccurate readings meaning your temperature isn’t actually getting as hot as it’s saying. Check that your thermistor is properly seated within your hotend and that there aren’t any loose connections.

You could also be missing the insulation on your hotend which would usually be original yellow tape insulation or a silicone sock.

Another possible issue that you could be experiencing is you not having the hot end side of the Bowden tube cut flat and pushed right up against the nozzle.

It’s unlikely this is the issue because it would cause bigger problems that a higher temperature wouldn’t necessarily fix. It results in a gap inside the hotend where melted filament blocks the extruder area.

Filament might not flow evenly if your extrusion temperature is too low so it’s important to get this right. You don’t want to be midway through a print and start seeing gaps between layers due to bad extrusion.

Best PLA Print Bed Temperature

An interesting fact with PLA is it doesn’t actually require a heated bed, but it is definitely recommended amongst most 3D filament brands. If you’ve looked around at PLA filament brands, you’ll see a common theme with bed temperatures being between 50-80°C, mostly having an average of 60°C.

A higher temperature heated bed is advised if you are printing in a cooler environment because you want your overall temperature to remain high. PLA prints best in a warm room, non-humid environment.

Using a heated bed when printing with PLA solves many common issues such as warping and first layer adhesion.

Ambient Temperature for 3D Printing PLA

It’s important to remember that the environment your 3D printer is in will have an effect on the quality of your prints. You don’t want a windy environment, nor do you want a cool environment. This is why many 3D printers have enclosures, to regulate the temperature and ensure external factors don’t negatively affect your prints.

For example, if you are printing with ABS and don’t have an enclosure or heat regulation, you are very likely to see warping and cracking at the end of your print. Controlling the temperature and conditions of your environment is an important step to perfecting your 3D printing quality.

An awesome enclosure that I stumbled across recently is the Sovol Creality Enclosure. It’s fits an Ender 3/5 & Pro versions with very easy installation (about 10 minutes with no tools required) and easy to store away.

  • Keeps a constant temperature printing environment
  • Improves printing stability & is very strong
  • Dust-proof & great noise reduction
  • Uses flame-retardant material

Differences in PLA Brands & Types

There are several filament manufacturers out there with different ranges of PLA out there which makes it difficult to determine a specific temperature that it optimal for all forms of PLA. Since PLA can be made in ways that make it more or less susceptible to heat, temperatures have to be tested and adjusted to get it perfect.

Even darker color filaments are known to require a higher extrusion temperature because of the color additives in the filament. The chemical makeup of PLA can be altered depending on the manufacturing process.

One user mentioned that Prusa had sensitive filament when printed with a brass nozzle, all the way to the point where he had to half his speed to get the print successful. Proto-Pasta on the other hand would need high temperatures and a 85% speed compared to his normal speed.

You have wood filament, glow in the dark filament, PLA+ and so many other types. It just goes to show how much different your settings can be depending on what PLA filament you have.

Even down to the nozzle, some require different temperatures and speed changes depending on the nozzle size and material type. The first step is making sure your first layer comes out good, then looking at stringing and retraction tests.

How to Find Your Perfect PLA Printing Speed & Temperature

I do my trial and testing by starting with the recommended printing speed & temperature then changing each variable in increments to see what effects it has on the printing quality.

  • Start your first print at 60mm/s, 210°C nozzle, 60 degree bed
  • Pick your first variable which can be the bed temperature and raise it by 5°C
  • Do this multiple times up and down and you’ll find a temperature where your prints complete the best
  • Repeat this process with each setting until you find your perfect quality

The obvious solution here is to do some trial and testing to see what works best for your PLA brand, your printer and your settings. There are general guidelines that you can follow which usually give you great results, but these can definitely be fine-tuned and made even better.

For nozzle temperature specifically, a good idea is to print something called a Temperature Tower from Thingiverse. It is a 3D printer test to see how well your PLA is printing under each input temperature by adjusting temperatures during one big print.

 

Is There a Relationship Between Printing Speed & Temperature?

When you think about what’s occurring while your filament is being extruded, you realize that the material is softened by the high temperature and is then cooled down by your fans so it can harden and settle to be ready for the next layer.

If your printing speed is too quick, your cooling fans won’t have enough time to cool down your melted filament and is likely to result in uneven layers or even a failed print. You need to carefully balance your 3D printing speed and nozzle temperatures to get the ideal extrusion and flow rates.

Vice versa if your printing speed is too slow, your cooling fans will have cooled your filament quickly and can easily lead to your nozzle clogging as the material isn’t being extruded fast enough.

Simply put, there is a direct trade off between printing speed & temperature and it needs to be properly balanced to achieve optimal results.

Best Upgrade to Get the Optimal Printing Speed & Temperature

Some of these possible issues can be tackled by using upgraded parts such as your extruder, hotend or nozzle. These are the most important parts to getting your prints perfect.

The highest printing speed will be achieved by having a top-tier hotend like the Genuine E3D V6 All-Metal Hotend. This part has the ability to reach temperatures of up to 400C, you won’t be seeing any meltdown failures from this hotend. There is no risk of overheating damage because the PTFE filament guide is never subjected to high temperatures.

This hotend has a sharp thermal break which gives great control over filament output so retractions are more effective and reduces stringing, blobbing and oozing.

  • It will help you print the widest range of materials
  • Amazing temperature performance
  • Easy to use
  • High quality printing

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