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Does PLA Need a Cooling Fan To Be Printed?

Depending on what material you’re using in your 3D printer, you may need to use a cooling fan with it. PLA is one of the most popular printer materials, so you’re sure to use it at some point. If you want the best results, you’ll need to make sure you know whether to use a cooling fan or not.

PLA does need a cooling fan during printing. Cooling is essential for your print to turn out when using PLA, and you need to set it at 100%. The material needs to cool down quickly to solidify before the next layer prints. You’ll get the best bond this way.

PLA isn’t as strong as other materials, so you want to get the best possible bond. Cooling is the most important factor when printing with PLA because of this. I included everything you need to know in this article, so keep reading to learn more!

Why You Need a Cooling Fan With PLA

Having an excellent cooling system in place is essential when printing PLA. A 3D cooling fan can make a significant difference in how your finished project turns out. The hot plastic needs to cool as quickly as possible, or stringing and blobbing will occur. 

You’ll need to check your cooling settings before working with PLA. You’ll want to implement specific changes during the print, or the PLA will melt too quickly. Many printers allow you to alter the fan settings during the printing process.

When You Need a Cooling Fan the Most

Cooling fans are necessary when creating overhangs, bridges, and thin layers with PLA. These areas can sag or droop very quickly if it doesn’t cool. Hitting them with a cooling fan at 100% speed will cool them quickly, ensuring you get the shapes you want.

Fans cool the PLA enough to ensure the filament solidifies and forms a strong base for the next layer to sit on. Without a cooling fan, the print can easily sag and turn out with many issues. If you’re wondering what went wrong with a previous print, it could be that you didn’t have the cooling fan on.

Overall, you’ll need the cooling fan the most when working with thin layers of PLA material. Your final project will turn out smoother, and you won’t have to sand it down as much. Anything less than 100% fan speed won’t give you the cooling you need with PLA.

Benefits of Using a Cooling Fan

A cooling fan is essential to achieve high-quality prints with PLA. Running a cooling fan can also give you these benefits:

  • Eliminating stringing
  • Reducing the odds of defects and warping
  • Helps with temperature control
  • Making the final object more durable
  • Giving you a smoother finish with the piece
  • Reducing burning plastic smells and fumes

While there are many benefits to using a cooling fan with PLA, you won’t want to use one with every printing material that you encounter. For example, it’s not good to use a cooling fan with ABS. ABS can crack when cooled too quickly and won’t form strong bonds between layers when using a fan.

For many people, it’s worth using a cooling fan with PLA. You’ll notice a significant difference in your projects when you take the time to adjust your cooling fan settings. If you’ve never changed them, make sure to check out the settings in your slicer program.

Steps To Take During Printing

  1. You’ll want to start with the cooling fan set to low, then turn it up to 100% after the first two layers are already on the printer bed. These two first layers need to be hotter so they can meld together and give your print a strong base.
  2. After the first two layers are out, turning the fan up to 100% will give you the cooling that you need. That way, you can avoid a stringy, messy final print. Plus, you won’t have to worry about warping, and you’ll have a stronger print.

Some printers come with unique cooling settings. When printing smaller portions of the object, the machine slows down, giving the PLA more time to cool. This process significantly improves the print by fully solidifying the layer before applying the next one. Some slicer programs do this automatically, so you won’t have to worry about it.

Overall, cooling is very important when working with PLA. You’ll need to take some time to consider and prepare the steps you’ll need to take. It’s an easy process, even if you haven’t printed with PLA before.

Can I Print PLA Too Hot?

It is possible to print PLA materials too hot. Using a fan can avoid this, but you should change the printer’s temperature settings before starting. PLA gets weak and flimsy when printed too hot. It will warp and look very messy, so it’s best to know what settings to use.

The average temperature settings for PLA fall between 374 and 428°F (190 and 220°C). It’s best to choose a temperature that falls in the middle of that range. Going too high above it will melt and burn your plastic! You’ll smell it, too- PLA releases toxic fumes when burned.

In short, you can print PLA too hot. Using a cooling fan can lower the temperature of freshly printed PLA. However, it’s still best that you adjust the temperature of the extruder and nozzle. Every 3D printer is different, so you may need to check your manual to find the settings.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, PLA does need a cooling fan during the printing process. If you don’t use one, the material won’t solidify between layers very well- leading to many problems. Plus, it’s good to use a fan when printing small layers, so they’re strong enough to hold the following layers.

Overall, make sure that you use cooling with PLA! You won’t need a fan with every material, but it’s a must when using any PLA plastic. You’ll get much better results this way.