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I've seen conflicting advice on the correct printing temperature for Microcenter's house-brand Inland PLA+, particularly after a supplier change announced in April 2018.

There's an official post from Microcenter, where they state that their PLA+ from both the suppliers they use prints best from 215-225 °C. (The label on the spool specifies 205-225 °C).

However, I've run a series of Benchy prints with recently-purchased white inland PLA+ at different temperatures (with a Lulzbot SL toolhead and 0.1 mm layer depth, slicing by Cura LE 3.6.10 after repairing the STL with Microsoft's repair tool, movement 30 mm/sec), and my experience is very different:

  • 220 °C has very severe stringing and blobbing, including blobbing on top surfaces. The text on the base is not visible at all.
  • 215 °C has substantial stringing and blobbing, particularly on inside surfaces, but not on the roof of the boat (except the prow). The text on the base is partially visible.
  • 210 °C looks very good; there are some tiny blobs on the nameplate and the inside door, and no stringing. This was the first one that didn't require a razor blade to remove from the PEI surface. The text on the base is very clear.
  • 205 °C looks great.

Is something wrong with my equipment, such that it's printing with a higher temperature than it reads? Is Microcenter's advice off? Could I have a batch that behaves differently than is expected for the same filament in general?

More to the point -- what advice do others have to get good results with Inland PLA+?

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  • $\begingroup$ Not every printer is the same, the temperature you read from the display might differ from the actual temperature, unless you measure it with a calibrated sensor you'll never know. Therefore it is advised to find your own optimum for your printer. $\endgroup$ – 0scar Jun 29 '19 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ What are your retraction settings? Without knowing this it's hard to know whether you should simply expect stringing. $\endgroup$ – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE Jun 30 '19 at 5:28
  • $\begingroup$ I started with Lulzbot's profile for PolyLite PLA, which specifies 1mm of retraction at 7 mm/s speed, and haven't modified that as yet. (1mm isn't much, but I understand lower values are needed for direct-drive extruders). $\endgroup$ – Charles Duffy Jun 30 '19 at 12:21
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Even as PLA+ contains some additives, each printer is different. We usually never know what the actual temperature of the printhead is, but if your printer prints good at 205 °C, despite the manufacturer claiming you should use a little more temperature, use it. It might be the perfect combination of temperature and speed for your printer. Your printer is not the benchmark machine the manufacturer of the filament used, and we have no idea what speeds they used if they had an enclosure and what style of hotend they used.

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  • $\begingroup$ FYI -- the main reason I'm not as yet accepting an answer as yet is that I've invited MicroCenter customer support to chime in; if they did add an answer describing their test platform settings, that would be invaluable. (The Lulzbot Mini is among the printers they sell, so I'd hope they include it in testing their house-brand filament!) $\endgroup$ – Charles Duffy Jun 30 '19 at 12:25
  • $\begingroup$ @CharlesDuffy Did the CustomerSupport come back at you? $\endgroup$ – Trish Feb 21 at 8:28
  • $\begingroup$ No, they didn't. However, what did happen is that Lulzbot determined that I had a bad thermistor; they replaced it, and I haven't seen the issue since. $\endgroup$ – Charles Duffy Feb 21 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ ...which is to say that this answer (pointing to potential for printer-specific differences) was spot-on. $\endgroup$ – Charles Duffy Feb 21 at 14:40
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A portion of information missing from the manufacturer's specifications and in the question is the print speed. You could have slower speeds than the manufacturer used to perform the tests, which requires lower temperatures to reduce the "flow rate" of the plastic to an acceptable level.

In some cases, I use as low as 20 mm per second print speed, others can be as high as 60 mm per second. At the higher speeds, I will increase the temperature five degrees C to ensure that the hot end can keep up with the increased filament extrusion. Alternatively, slower speeds need lower temperatures. The variation may not be larger as described for your system. You've already experienced a substantial difference based on your posted numbers.

It would be unrealistic to collect others' experiences with a specific brand unless color choice, print speed, printer model/hot end model, etc are also collected. Let's include part cooling fan settings as well to complicate the task even more.

You can consider to check the great Thingiverse library for temperature test models. These files are used to print various segments at different temperatures. Due to the above noted factors, you may find your result can be clustered or may find they cannot, based on color, manufacturer, age, etc. It is a valuable resource to improve your printing results, however.

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