PLA (polylactic/polylactide acid) is by far the most popular 3D printing filament. This vegetable-based, bio-degradable plastic material is the default printing filament for most FDM printers because of its excellent printability.

PLA has very flexible printing temperatures ranging from as low as 190°c to around 220°C. What’s more, this is a low warp material. This means that it does not necessarily need a heated bed although you might want to use one to increase adhesion for the first layers. All in all, you don’t need to worry about dialing down to precise printing temperatures with this material.

This flexibility is what makes PLA a great place to start for people who are just joining the 3D printing community. Its incredible print quality is also one of the reasons why PLA is the go-to printing material for most experienced makers too.

Check out our guide to the most popular filaments and their uses here

Black PLA

Natural standard PLA has a neutral translucent coloring that allows you to see the printed model, not it’s color. However, you’ll also find it in spools of all types of fabulous colors and blends ranging from metallic hues to wooden colors.

For this post, I’ll narrow it down to one color that’s increasingly becoming popular among enthusiastic 3D makers; Black PLA. I’ll answer the key questions that might be going on in your mind about it.

1. Will Black PLA Melt in the Sun?

Yes. Printed PLA has a significantly lower heat resistance compared to other filaments. The melting point for most PLA printed models is between 160°C and 180°C. However, the range at which they start to flex can be much lower than this.

Typically, PLA printed models have a glass transition temperature of 50°c and 80°c. Glass transition temperature in filament 3D printing refers to the temperature range around which the printed item moves from rigid to a flexible but not melted state. At this state, the object starts to deform or bend leading to a notable change in shape. Depending on the intended use of the object, this change in shape may affect its functionality with prolonged exposure.

With that in mind, will black PLA melt at a faster rate than, let’s say, white or translucent PLA? The answer is yes. If you put two PLA-printed objects (one black; the other white) in the sun for the same period, you’ll realize that the black model will start deforming earlier.

Keep in mind that black PLA is a standard translucent PLA that has been infused with black pigments. It’s a well-understood fact that black absorbs all light wavelengths making it the hottest possible color. As a result, black PLA models placed in the sun will tend to have a relatively lower glass transition temperature than other colors.

2. Is Black PLA Harder to Print?

Well, I wouldn’t say that printing with black PLA is harder than other materials. However, like most people who are just starting using it, I have to accept that there are some hurdles to jump before getting quality prints.

One of the major issues that you’ll encounter- and what most makers put across in most forums- will be the black filament failing to stick to the print bed. There are a plethora of reasons why the filament may fail to stick, but in most cases, this hints to print bed temperature and flow rate problems. In such cases, your best bet is to play around with bed and extruder temperature settings until you get better results.

3. How do You Make Black PLA Parts Stronger?

Color additives tend to change the mechanical properties of a filament. Occasionally, the quality of the spool itself may be to blame, but in my experience, black PLA models tend to break much more easily. Here are a couple of ways of reinforcing your black PLA parts:

1. Increase interior density– before printing, increase the interior density of your models using the slicer.

2. Interior injection– this method involves drilling several holes into the printed part and then injecting an adhesive material into the holes. Although unprofessional, this method is fast and relatively inexpensive.

3. Metal plating– this is considered an inexpensive alternative to printing with metal. In this method, you immerse your printed part in a solution of water and nickel/copper salts. Next, you pass an electric current through the part to make the metal a part of the model.

3d printer filament black pla model

4. What is the Ideal Black PLA Bed Temperature?

The recommended print bed temperature for PLA is 70°C. However, when it comes to printing black PLA, 65°C seems to be the lucky number for most enthusiast 3D print makers. Keep in mind that no two spools of filament are the same. If this doesn’t work for you, try adjusting the heat bed temperature in the range of 55°-70°C until you get the perfect bed temperature for your prints.

5. Is printing PLA harmful?

No. Actually, PLA is considered the safest 3D printing filament. It’s made from natural and biodegradable materials, including cornstarch and sugarcane. PLA fumes are non-toxic and its products are technically food-safe too.

6. What are the most common black PLA problems?

1. Not sticking

When 3D printing with black PLA, the first layer not sticking to the bed will be one of the major issues. To fix these problems, start by addressing common mechanical issues, such as leveling the bed and cleaning it well, and changing the z-offset. You may also enhance adhesion on your print bed by applying an adhesive– if you’re not doing it. If none of these works, try to adjust some settings on the slicer, particularly bed temperature. On this note, I suggest you start at 55°C and raise the temperature in increments of 5°C up to 70°C.

2. Stringing

Stringing when printing with black PLA happens typically when excess material oozes out of the nozzle as the extruder moves to another print point. The ‘over extruded material hardens into a string between 2 locations of the printed model. You can prevent stringing with black PLA filaments in these 3 ways;


    • Activate retraction– this function is available in most 3D printing slicers and can be turned ON/OFF. When turned ON, the printing material is pulled back into the print head whenever the extruder is moving to another location. Retraction distance is a crucial setting when activating retraction. It refers to how much filament is pulled back. Typically, more filament pulled back results in reduced chances of oozing. If your printer uses a direct-drive extruder, a retraction distance of 0.5-2.0 mm should suffice. Bowden extruders require a longer retraction distance (up to 15mm) due to their design. All in all, try to increase the retraction distance in increments of 1mm add check whether your prints get better.

    • Printing temperature– if retraction doesn’t solve the issue, your printing temperature is the next most likely culprit. Keep in mind that the filament oozes out because it has become less viscous. However, you don’t want it too solid as this may make printing impossible. With that in mind, try lowering your extruder temperature by 5°C-10°c.

    • Adjust printing speed– another way of preventing stringing when printing with black PLA is to increase the printing speed slightly. This will minimize the time that the nozzle takes to move from one print point to the other. But note that if you’ve lowered the printing temperature, the material will be extruded more slowly. Consequently, you may want to lower the speed to prevent issues, such as holes and gaps from forming on your printed objects where the material wasn’t extruded in time.

7. What Are the Ideal Black PLA Settings When 3D Printing?

Like other PLA filaments, there isn’t one bed and hot end temperature level that works for all black PLA brands. However, most PLA materials offer excellent prints in temperature ranges of 180°C-220°C (hot end) and 55-70°C for the heated bed.

8. What’s the Difference Between Black Silk PLA and Black Sparkle PLA?

Black silk PLA has a signature shine that’s obtained by mixing standard black PLA with plastic additives. When used for printing, these additives reflect light to make the object impressively shiny hence the use of the word silk. That means that no silk is used for these filaments. Black silk PLA printed objects are characterized by a shiny metallic finish that brings out all the details, including the curves and bends. You may want to go with this filament if you want to give your objects a metallic outlook without necessarily using metallic filaments.

Black sparkle PLA is infused with glitters that give your printed objects a beautiful ‘twinkling’ finish. This finish makes the objects perfect for art and décor projects.

Top Rated Black PLA