Ultimate 3D printing guide for PLA Silk filament



Numakers™ Silk PLA is a unique filament that combines the strength and durability of PLA with the luxurious appearance and feel of silk. This filament is made from a blend of PLA and silky fibers, resulting in a material that is easy to print and produces stunningly beautiful prints. This filament also has excellent layer adhesion, resulting in strong and durable prints.

Here are some of the key benefits of using PLA silk filament for 3D printing:

  • Beautiful finish: PLA silk filament has a beautiful, satin finish that is both eye-catching and durable.
  • Easy to print with: PLA silk filament is relatively easy to print with. It does not warp or shrink as easily as some other filaments, such as ABS.
  • Versatile: PLA silk filament can be used for a variety of applications, including functional prototypes, toys, and home décor.

How to print with PLA+ filament

  1. Prepare your 3D printer: Make sure that your 3D printer is properly assembled and calibrated. You should also clean the print bed with rubbing alcohol to remove any dirt or grease.
  2. Choose the right settings:  Silk PLA filament requires slightly higher printing temperatures than standard PLA. The recommended extruder temperature for silk PLA is 215-230°C, and the recommended bed temperature is 60-70°C. When the model is printed faster (ex: ~100mm/s) the temperature used should be around ~220C to ~225C for best results.
  3. Load the filament: Make sure that the filament is properly loaded into the extruder. The filament should be fed through the extruder gears smoothly without any resistance.
  4. Start the print: Once the print is started, monitor the print closely. PLA silk can be more difficult to print with than standard PLA, so it is important to be on the lookout for any problems.
  5. Troubleshooting: If you encounter any problems during the print, such as stringing or layer adhesion issues, you may need to adjust the print settings. You can also try slowing down the print speed or increasing the bed temperature.

Here are some additional tips for printing with silk PLA filament:

  • Use a high quality filament: Silk PLA filament can be expensive, but it is worth it to use a high quality filament to get the best results.
  • Store the filament properly: Silk PLA filament should be stored in an airtight container with desiccant to prevent it from absorbing moisture.
  • Clean the print bed regularly: It is important to clean the print bed regularly with rubbing alcohol to achieve good bed adhesion.
  • Use a brim or raft. A brim or raft is a small extension of the print that helps to increase the surface area of the print that is in contact with the bed. This can help to prevent the print from lifting up.
  • Calibrate your extruder. Make sure that your extruder is calibrated properly so that the correct amount of filament is being extruded.
  • Experiment with different settings. Every printer and filament is different, so it is important to experiment with different settings to find what works best for you.


    General tips on printing temperature  

    Finding the right printing temperature for any filament is a compromise between visual looks and strength. Lowered nozzle temperatures can help to reduce oozing, stringing, and improve bridging and overhangs. However, they can also weaken the print by reducing layer adhesion.

    The best printing temperature for any filament will vary depending on the printer, the filament, and the desired results. A good starting point is to use the middle of the recommended temperature range and then adjust the temperature as needed. To get the best results, it is important to experiment with different temperatures and print settings. A temp tower is a great way to test different temperatures and see how they affect the print quality. You can find numerous temp towers on Thingiverse, such as this one.

    With patience and tuning, you can achieve both good visual looks and strength with the right printing temperature.


    How to get PLA Silk filament to stick to the bed

    Most bed surfaces respond well to PLA+ adhesion. Here are some tips to get PLA Silk to stick to the bed:

    • Use a clean and level bed. A dirty or uneven bed can prevent the filament from sticking properly.

    • Use a heated bed. A heated bed will help the filament to melt and adhere to the bed. The recommended bed temperature for PLA Silk is 60-70°C.

    • Use a bed adhesive. A bed adhesive, such as glue stick, hairspray, or Magigoo, can help to improve adhesion and prevent warping.

    • Use a PEI sheet. A PEI sheet is a great option for printing with PLA Silk. PEI sheets have a non-stick surface that is compatible with a variety of filaments, including PLA Silk.


    General tips on bed adhesion/leveling   

    These are some general tips for achieving proper bed adhesion and leveling when 3D printing. The most important rule is to always ensure that the first layer of the print is perfect, with no gaps or overlaps. This can be achieved by adjusting the distance between the nozzle and the bed, which should be neither too close nor too far apart.

    Different filaments may require different levels of squishiness against the bed for optimal adhesion, with PLA Silk usually needing more squishing than PETG. If you experience warping during printing, check for drafts or low temperatures in your surroundings and consider using an enclosure. For complex prints with intricate details, it's recommended to lower the first layer printing speed to 15-20mm/s to ensure a good first layer.

    If extra bed adhesion is needed, you can increase the hotend and bed temperature by 5-10°C and use a brim. By following these tips, you can improve the overall quality of your 3D prints.


    General tips on improving visual quality of your 3D prints    

    Slower print speeds result in better-looking prints. You'll almost certainly obtain better results and higher visual quality if you lower your print speeds, regardless of the printer you use. Of course, there will also be a reduction in layer heights. A layer height of no more than 0.15 mm and a printing speed of no more than 50 mm/s are advised for excellent visual results.

    Tune your retractions' rates and lengths to eliminate stray strings or blobs for even better visual quality. If the issue persists, try decreasing the nozzle temperature by 5°C steps.

    Make sure that the part cooling fan is tuned and functioning properly. Cooling can significantly enhance the visual part quality and is necessary to address overhangs and bridging.

    You can turn on "ironing" in your slicer software to provide your top layer a nicer surface polish; this will notably help PLA Silk prints.