New Kids on the Block, touting High Quality
Fresh off an evening of an hour’s less sleep, I bring you the latest and greatest stuff you’ve ever seen. Or do I present a ghastly substance to avoid here and forevermore? Global Solutions Technology 3D (herein known as GST3D) were kind and generous enough to send me two rolls of their PLA+ filament to try out.
What is PLA+ and why would you want to use it over standard PLA? PLA+ is a variation of PLA that has added material to make the filament less brittle, have a smoother surface finish, and less likely to absorb moisture. Think of it like getting the best of both PLA and PETG. So then, join me along my journey into this new material and see if it makes the grade!
Unboxing GST3D’s offering
I can always count on the United States Postal Service to over-promise and under-deliver. GST3D currently uses Priority-Mail flat rate to ship their filament. USPS not only damaged the box but left it exposed to the elements. Rain water-soaked one corner, causing more damage to the packaging of the filament itself. None of this reflects negatively on GST3D. However, I discovered a few issues within their control once I opened the packaging.
I found no vacuum sealing for either roll’s plastic bagging. Desiccant packets were present inside. I noticed apparent issues with the press-moulded spool. Images below show low-quality clean up from the moulding process. Something interesting to take note of was the use of metal bolts and nuts to secure the two halves of the spool to each other. The PLA+ similarly wound around the spool to most other brands – average at best. When you visit their web store, the price seems like a steal. At $8.99 a roll (at the time of publishing), I would stock my shelves exclusively with this stuff. However, further, inspection reveals that shipping costs quickly more than double your cash layout. To ship to my home in North Carolina, the total price per roll jumped to nearly $22! My initial impressions were waning fast.
The Calibration Trials
In one of our news articles, I introduced you to 3DOptimizer. It’s a fantastic bit of cloud software that is in Open Beta. I used it as a fair and consistent way to analyze and calibrate GST3D’s PLA+ on two radically different FDM printers; the Eryone Thinker S and the Artillery Genius. First, I measured the diameter of the filament with my callipers. It was pretty spot on at 1.74mm. Next, I began the series of four standard tests 3DOptimizer runs users through.
Temperature vs Speed
What I noticed was that this PLA+ appeared to print well amid a wide range of temperatures. Because of it’s chemical make-up, the range is slightly higher than standard PLA. Where I find the usual PLA to be happy around 195-200C, the GST3D PLA+ was happier between 205-215C. My tests revealed that 210C seemed to be ideal, but be sure to run your own.
I also noticed that it had great adhesion qualities on both the PEI sheet of the Thinker S and the textured “ultrabase” glass bed of the Genius. This meant that I was able to increase my first layer printing speed and retain the same quality. My typical first layer printing speed is 10-15mm/s. With GST3D’s PLA+, I was able to move to 20mm/s with no problems. Things started looking more positive.
Retraction and Bridging
The jury is still out on 3DOptimizer’s capability to accurately dial in retraction settings. My test results reflected that I only needed 2mm of retraction at 60mm/s. This is almost half as low as my previous setting, which I calibrated a more traditional way using the two-tower method. As a result of the test, I found that GST3D PLA+ is much less stringy than something like Hello3D’s Silk Silver.
I truly learned the most when I went through the bridging test. Before using 3DOptimizer, I had only ever adjusted fan speed to improve bridging. This time, I tested the extrusion multiplier and printing speed within bridging settings. Consequently, I learned that by increasing the multiplier and decreasing speed, I could achieve fantastic bridging results. I’m also confident that the qualities and advantages of PLA+ over standard PLA played a part in my success.
The Verdict on GST3D PLA+
By now, you may realize that using this filament was a far better experience for me than my visual pre-judgments led me to believe I would have. I took measurements throughout my 3DOptimizer tests and after my test print. To my surprise, I found that the PLA+ holds up to GST3D’s boast about being accurate to within 0.01mm! My test print was a fanart creation from Daniel Threedson of the Mandalorian in the style of Little Big Planet. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to snag your copy of a fantastic model.
Another observation I made along the way was that this PLA+ adheres to itself phenomenally well. Unfortunately, during an upgrade to Cura 4.5, I learned that my Start G-Code became corrupted. This caused my Thinker S to try and go “to infinity and beyond!” Immediately after completing a G29 command, the hot end tried to go forever right while the extruder tried to expel as much filament as possible. As you can see in the attached image, my hot end was permanently incapacitated. I share this to demonstrate that GST3D’s PLA+ holds to itself significantly better than standard PLA. I’m still chipping away at the glob in a vain attempt to salvage the hardware.
So, great stuff or ghastly substance? From my point of view, it’s undoubtedly great stuff. But, I genuinely believe you should grab a roll yourself and validate my experience! It’s currently offered in 16 different colours.
Head over to Creawsome MOD for Cura article, Let’s Begin.