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Poly Lactic Acid or PLA is made from organic material, for example, cornstarch, tapioca, or sugarcane. PLA is used in the production of bags, food packaging, disposable utensils, plastic bags, and so on. PLA is used as surgical implants such as anchors, rods, pins, or plates. If inserted in the body, PLA breaks into harmless lactic acid within 6 months to a couple of years. The slow degradation helps the body to slowly take over the role of the implanted structure as it recovers.
Since PLA is made from renewable resources, it is one of the most environmentally friendly materials used for 3D printing. PLA is extruded at a temperature of 160°C to 220°C. Since PLA has a low melting temperature, parts made from PLA can warp under heated conditions. When heated for 3D printing, PLA emits a sweet smell similar to corn. These are not harmful fumes and therefore PLA can be used for 3D printing indoors. PLA comes in most colors including translucent and glows in the dark. PLA cools slowly and therefore some 3D printers install a fan to cool down the 3D printed material. When PLA cools down it is tough but rather brittle. PLA has become a popular choice of material for 3D printing due to its environmental friendliness and low toxicity.