Filament Spotlight: Recycled PLA from Protopasta

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Earlier this year, I signed up for the Endless Pastabilities PLA filament subscription service from Protopasta. A big part of my decision to subscribe was the excellent results of printing Protopasta HTPLA samples in Alien3D and Makerbox subscription boxes. My first couple of shipments from the subscription included some very cool HTPLA colors that printed beautifully. However, two months ago, the shipment I got included recycled PLA instead of HTPLA. This post will highlight the results I got from Protopasta’s recycled PLA.

First, a temp tower for each filament.

Three colors of recycled PLA came with the subscription box in question. Those three colors were:

  • Still Colorful Recycled PLA 003 – A sharp red color.
  • Still Colorful Recycled PLA 004 – A very nice blue color.
  • Recycled Matte Fiber PLA – A perfect grey for rock-colored prints.

As always, my first step was to print temp towers for each of these filaments. I printed the recycled matte fiber PLA on an Ender 3 V2 and the other two on Ender 3 Pro’s; all printers have stock hotends. I printed the tower in five-degree increments from 200C to 220C.

See below for a picture of the printed temp towers. All three towers printed great. There was some slight stringing at the top of the matte fiber PLA sample. Plus, all three models were strong. I chose 210C as my hotend temp for the rest of my printing.

Protopasta recycled PLA temp towers.

Still Colorful Recycled PLA 003

I chose to print some Christmas decorations with this sample. First, I printed a bust of the Christmas Chronicle Santa designed by JS-studio. Wow, the figure printed great! It currently resides on my wife’s desk, and I don’t think I will get it back.

Protopasta Still Colorful Recycled PLA 003 print samples.

I also printed Santa and Mrs. Claus and a few ornaments designed by ChaosCoreTech. All of the prints came out great. Santa and Mrs. Claus also seemed to have been procured by my wife.

Still Colorful Recycled PLA 004

I thought this blue would be good to print Bumble, the Abominable Snow Monster of the North, many of us remember watching as a kid. ChaosCoreTech provided a great STL to print Bumble. The print came out perfect! I couldn’t see any layer lines. Bumbles fur printed perfectly, and even the slight flick of hair at the top of Bumble’s head looks great.

Protopasta Still Colorful Recycled PLA 004 print samples.

I also chose to print some other ornaments designed by ChaosCoreTech as well. I even dropped the noel ornament pictured above on my shop floor. It bounced along the cement floor and didn’t break, crack, or even dent.

Recycled Matte Fiber PLA

The two filaments highlighted above are bright and shiny. But this next one is the opposite, and it is probably my favorite of the three. The recycled matte fiber PLA does not have a gloss and has a texture that almost feels stone-like. As a test print, I chose to print a can-holder mug designed by Hex3D. This mug not only looks impressive but also has an incredible rock-like texture. At the same time, it is pretty light. The combination of the rock-like texture and the light weight almost makes it seem like the mug was created using ancient mystical material that no longer exists.

Protopasta Recycled Matte Fiber PLA print samples.

As with the other filaments, I chose to print some ornaments designed by ChaosCoreTech. All of them printed superbly. The texture from this filament hides any layer lines. This is a great filament!

Combining all three filaments

I used all three filaments to print a Captain America bust designed by Hex3D. Wow, this thing came out great!. The picture below shows the finished product. No post-processing has been done to the prints other than taking the supports taken off. The three colors look great together. I need to add an LED inside the base, and this print is ready for sale (although I’ll probably keep this one).

Protopasta recycled PLA print.

The only flaws I see in the model above are my not getting all of the supports off. I would now count this as one of my favorite non-painted prints.

Final Thoughts

I’ve heard that recycling PLA to reuse as filament is technically challenging. Somehow Protopasta has not only been able to recycle PLA, but they have found a way to make it print nicely and look fantastic. I’m not sure what additives Protopasta uses to make this magic, but I hope they keep it up. Recycling PLA would reduce the environmental impact of 3D printing. My hats off to Protopasta for being environmentally conscious and providing a top-quality product.

Song of the Day: Star Spangled Man With A Plan

Today’s song comes from the first MCU Captain America movie. Did I say I really love how the Cap bust turned out?

Bonus Song: You Got Lucky

Speaking of recycling to prevent a dystopian future… This Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers video was always one of my favorite growing up.

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