3D printing technology in its current form primarily utilizes lots of plastic materials. In a world already clogged with plastic waste, using newer eco-friendly materials to phase out, replace and reduce the dependency of plastics from 3D printing is essential for its sustainable use in the future. Polymaker’s new PolyTerra PLA is a step in the right direction to achieving this.
PolyTerra is a next-generation PLA Bioplastic filament with some excellent additional features. Its eco-friendly while also being wallet-friendly. How is the new PolyTerra PLA friendlier to the environment, and what are its features, which make it an attractive buy for most people?
Packaging of the PolyTerra PLA
The PolyTerra PLA ships in completely new packaging. The box and the spool are made from 100% recycled cardboard. According to Polymaker, they want to move away from the plastic spool and utilize more sustainable options like Cardboard for their spools.
Most of the filament with cardboard spools on the market today have a problem of not being the most durable and are prone to bending. This is usually because they are generally made from corrugated cardboard, which is not suitable for this application. But the PolyTerra spools are made from solid and rigid cardboard, which works great in an application where you have to mount it on a stand.
Packaging takes place inside a reusable ziplock bag, which is quite durable. The bag usage can be elsewhere once they’re done with protecting the filament from the elements.
The PolyTerra PLA filament
The feature that takes center stage on PolyTerra PLA is that it’s now far easier to biodegrade and breaks down much faster than regular PLA. Hence, achieving this by a new blend of materials that uses 20% less virgin stock. For replacing one can use the organic filler called Ingeo. These special Ingeo PLA pellets are made up of plant sugars, fermented into Lactic acid, which is then processed into Ingeo. This also means that raw materials can be sustainability sourced from plants and grown each year.
Another unique feature of PolyTerra PLA is that it’s formulated to not be brittle at all, and is formulated to reduce warping, even more, compared to regular PLA. It’s tougher than regular PLA and has similar stiffness and rigidity to PolyTerra’s PolyMax PLA.
One Of its best features is the ease of removing same-material supports. You can remove almost all supports using your hand. It gives some of the cleanest interface surface finishes with PLA. Close enough from what you’ll get with soluble supports. This would additionally require your 3D printer to have multi-material capabilities through something like a Palette.
There are multiple color options with four new pastel colors. PolyTerra PLA has a unique satin, matte-type surface finish to it. which looks better than the glossy regular PLA. This Matte surface finish absorbs some incident light and hides the layer lines.
PolyTerra prints on an extrusion-based 3D printer, using standard PLA settings. It operates in a wide printing temperature range, from 190-23°C. Experts say the bed should be in between 25-60°C and printing speed at 30-70mm/s for best results.
Biodegradability of the PolyTerra filament
All PLA Filaments are theoretically biodegradable, but most users don’t know that it needs a very specific environment to breakdown. According to Polymaker’s recommendations, their PLA should use a vessel with natural compost and microorganisms, kept in a dark room at 58°C±2°C for optimum and efficient degradation.
At these conditions, PoltTerra PLA degrades 93.6% after 45 days, compared to PolyLite PLA which degrades only 79.9% after 45 days. As a result, PolyTerra is 15% faster in degrading than PolyLite and their estimated 100% degradation time is <100 days.
This is thanks to the extra organic compounds in PolyTerra PLA. Thus printed parts using this filament disintegrate quicker under the right conditions. To offset the carbon needed to create a spool of PolyTerra PLA, Polymaker has pledged to plant 1 tree for every spool sold, local to the point of purchase. Once the tree hits maturity, it can suck up to 22Kg of Co2 per year, massively offsetting the 4Kg required to create the spool
What are the minor shortcomings of the PolyTerra PLA
The filament itself can withstand temperatures up to 100°C due to the heat treatment given to them. However, printed PolyTerra PLA can only withstand temperatures up to 60°C, as the crystallinity of filaments gets changed during the printing process.
There’s always some tension on the filament during printing. This is from all the greater friction between the carton spool and the spool holder. It doesn’t roll so good. This issue resolves by the usage of a ball-bearing spool stand. It has less layer adhesion and less tensile strength as compared to something like the PolyMax PLA. So for technical parts, use any other material with better mechanical capabilities.
But all its benefits far outweigh the shortcomings.
At $20 per spool, the amount of filament you’re getting is about the market rate for PLA spools. This is nice because this product provides additional features without increasing the base price.
Overhanging, Matte finishes and bridging capabilities are better on this than in regular PLA. The PolyTerra PLA is a feature-packed great value filament at $20. If you’re looking for a product that is easy on nature and on your pocket and if a PLA with superior mechanical properties is not your priority, the PolyTerra PLA is the top recommendation for you. You can also visit more articles on 3D printing like Creality 3D printer and Mosaic Palette 3 and Palette 3 Pro.
All images and technical information are taken from Polymaker’s official website and their Youtube channel.
Harsh Pawar is a student of Mechanical Engineering. Specializes in the Mechatronics domain. Alongside this, He’s an avid runner and an auto enthusiast