First and foremost I am a big fan of this site! Secondly, I am working on a project that requires some feedback in regards to PLA properties. If the spool is opened and not stored in a climate controlled environment, does the quality of the PLA degrade?
Short answer - yes, as with any filament, it will degrade over time.
Long answer - it depends on the filament, climate, storage method, etc. I have had some PLA that was left out for a,week that started to print poorly. Then we had some 3 year old filament sitting in our storage room (fully open, not in a container) that printed fine properly. My recommendation is to do whatever you fell like doing and if you have issues, bake the filament to dry it back out. To do this, set your oven to the lowest temp it goes to, ideally around 40c (mine goes to 170F). Place the filament into the oven on the top rack and leave it for approximately 3-5 hours. Pull it out, put it into a sealed bag to cool
Alt option - if you have a food dehydrator those are way more reliable than an oven (less likely to melt the spool)
Though I have a hunch if you’re in the US you could conceivably just stick the spool of filament in a car left outside all day this week. (historical context - it’s hot)
Car is probably too hot
PLA when its warm will warp and deform. PLA is very good in tensile strength but also brittle so don’t use it for anything that will have to endure impact. I only use it for things that are for looking at or things that have not impact on them like limit switch brackets. And even for those I mostly use hips as its cheaper and has lots of other benefits. (like impact resistance and it does not deform in a hot car), For some things TPU is better (like tires) and for some PETG or ABS or Nylon. It all depends on what the target application is. The first thing that degrades on most filaments is the die - so the color. And all plastics will degrade sooner or later due to UV exposure (sun light) But that holds true for the plastic and not the manufacturing process so an injection molded part will degrade as much as a comparable printed part made from the same material.
If you want to use PLA for mechanical parts get HTPLA which is usually a PLA/ABS mixture and has a higher melt point and better impact resistance. You might also be able to print PETG if you got a heated bed if you want to do ABS,ASA, HIPS, NYLON then an all metal hotend on top of the heated bed is a good ide
I use an air fryer in dehydrate mode, an instant pot vortex pro. Picked one up cheaply from a auction that does Amazon returns because of a broken handle.
The filament we use in the lab is not kept in any climate controlled environment and it’s been there for a year or two. We haven’t noticed any problems with printing from the filament.
as long a it hasn’t been in too much moisture, you’re fine. just try to keep the spool in its original packaging until use
I leave mine on the floor of my
closet maker space
Seems to work just fine
Different types of PLA have slightly different properties. Plain-color seems to work the best for me
I also have purple sparkle PLA and it seems to have trouble with supports and rafts sticking too much
My advice, get one of these:
Best $100 I ever spent.
Unless you live somewhere with like 0% humidity, odds are your filament will absorb moisture, which tends to degrade print quality. PLA and Nylon are especially vulnerable to this, and it’s important to keep them dry when storing them for extended periods (though the length of time before you start having issues will vary depending on your climate).
Load one of these up with whatever filament you’re using and you can even dry it while you print with it. Add some old desiccant packs to the tray and the spools will stay dry longer, even after turning it off (dryers like these can also “recharge” desiccant packs).
There are other solutions out there too, but of everything I’ve tried, these have been the most reliable and consistent. In theory you could use an oven or similar appliance too, but often the temperature regulation on such devices is not as accurate and can result (speaking from experience) in melted spools (plus, I personally have no desire to have plastic cooking in my food oven), so it’s better to have something made for purpose IMO.
I use eSun PLA+ and have kept it indoor outside of a sealed container for months, without issue.
Please check out Ninjatek Armadillo. it’s a rigid TPU that’s very durable and fairly easy to print as long as you follow the instructions. it prints a lot slower than PLA does but is very durable.
So far all of your input has been great and super helpful, would you all be so kind as to fill out this quick survey!
In my classroom, which is about 3miles from the beach, the AC is not always running. So the strand of filament that runs from the spool to the feeder motor always gets brittle after a couple days. On an Ender 3 that gets frustrating because the filament will snap RIGHT before the feeder, and the remainder in the tube stops being pushed… and you can’t tell its broken for several minutes, when you see the “air” being printed.
Highly recommend removing filament that is not in use from machines and storing the spools in a low humidity environment.