Polylactic Acid, more commonly known as PLA, is one of the most frequently used materials in 3D printing. Its popularity comes from its ease of use, organic nature, and relatively strong mechanical properties. PLA is also inexpensive making it a great entry-level material. PLA is made up of naturally occurring, organic lactic acid chains which generally makes it useful in organic settings such as medical applications. Its chemical nature also makes it easy to recycle and reuse. PLA also boasts strong mechanical properties and user-friendly thermal properties that make it easy to print with. For those looking for a place to start in additive manufacturing, PLA is an excellent choice.
PLA is a great material for applications that require rapid prototyping and strong parts. Its ease of use and low cost make it suitable when a part may be frequently reprinted as is the case in prototyping and architecture. For those who are still learning to 3D print, or for those who are teaching others, PLA is a great introduction to 3D printing. The thermal properties of PLA also make it useful as an alternative to lost wax casting where the PLA is burned away instead of a wax.