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Is Glow in the Dark PLA Abrasive? Here’s the Truth!

Is Glow in the Dark PLA Abrasive? Here’s the Truth! | 3D Printing Spot

Updated by

Craig A Fry

/

March 2, 2021

One of the best ways to get super creative and have a little fun with your 3D printer is to use glow in the dark filaments. Many people say that glow in the dark filaments are more abrasive to the nozzle and internals of your printer, but is it true?

Glow in the dark PLA is more abrasive to a printer than standard PLA. This product commonly contains strontium aluminate, which is a phosphorescent material that produces the glow in the dark effect.  

Do not let the fear of ruining your nozzle stop you from having a great time with this amazing filament. Throughout this article, you will learn how to prevent damage while using glow in the dark PLA and much more.

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Is Glow in the Dark PLA Abrasive?

The truth about glow in the dark PLA is that, yes, it is abrasive. The strontium aluminate is a pale, yellow, crystalline powder that will eat away at the brass nozzle on your 3D printer quite easily.

This material also glows up to 10 times brighter and glows for a longer period of time than other material such as zinc sulfide; therefore, if you’re using glow in the dark filament, then it will most likely contain strontium aluminate.

There is really no way around the abrasive factor if you want to create glow in the dark objects with your 3D printer. The best thing to do is search for a nozzle that is better suited to handle the job!

Upgrade Your Nozzles

Since you really want to use glow in the dark PLA in your 3D printer, it is recommended to buy a better nozzle than the brass nozzle that your printer was made with.

Most 3D printers are manufactured with brass nozzles because the are very affordable and have excellent thermal properties. Unfortunately, brass is not strongest metal alloy, and it can be easily damaged when you use a rougher material, such as glow in the dark PLA.

Luckily, there are other options you can look into when searching for a more durable nozzle for glow in the dark filament.

  • Gemstone Nozzles- These have actual gemstones in the tip of the nozzle while the rest of the nozzle is made of brass. Gemstones that are often used for these nozzles are rubies and sapphires.  The gemstone is extremely hard making it more resistant to the wear and tear that glow in the dark PLA can cause, and the brass allows it conduct heat perfectly.

    While they are the best to use when it comes to working with highly abrasive materials, they also work just as well with more common printing materials.
  • Hardened Steel Nozzles- This is a remarkably close second option to choose from for glow in the dark PLA, and it is the more inexpensive option. They are made of steel and the tip is hardened for durability. This nozzle works well with very abrasive and standard filaments.
  • Stainless Steel Nozzles- Stainless steel nozzles come in at third place when using glow in the dark PLA. Stainless steel is much stronger than brass when it comes to fighting off damage from abrasive filaments. They will last longer than the brass nozzles, yet not quite as long as the hardened steel or gemstone filled tips.
  • Copper Nozzles- Even though copper nozzles come in fourth place, they are still an excellent option to replace our brass nozzle. They are obviously made of copper which means they are stronger than brass but conduct heat just as well.

Buying a new nozzle for your glow in the dark creations is easy and well worth it. It really is a win-win since the brass nozzle your printer came with will have to be replaced after using your printer a few times, anyways.

What Is the Use for Glow in the Dark PLA?

Glow in the dark PLA is no doubt a super cool filament to be experimenting with. 3D printers are commonly used for creating prototypes of much bigger objects, and you would use a standard filament in a case such as this.

You would not really have a reason to use glow in the dark PLA for prototypes.

Glow in the dark filaments are typically used for:

  • Toys
  • Decorative Items (such as glow in the dark Halloween figurines)
  • Safety and Hazard signs or other warning signs

These types of filaments are really just used for your enjoyment, and, because who doesn’t love things that glow in the dark? It’s mostly used for fun.

Is Standard PLA Abrasive?

PLA stands for polylactic acid which is a plant based plastic material made from cornstarch or soybeans. Standard PLA is not very abrasive, so a single nozzle can extrude a lot of it before needing replaced.

Standard PLA does not contain the crystalline powder that glow in the dark PLA has, and therefore is not nearly as abrasive.

If you are planning to use a regular PLA filament, the brass nozzle that came with your 3D printer will suffice.

Is Glow in the Dark PLA Safe to Handle?

When you first see that awesome glow that makes your filament looks as if it just fell from outer space, you may be wondering if you are putting yourself in danger. Is it radioactive or otherwise dangerous?

Despite its “radioactive” glow, glow in the dark PLA is completely safe to handle. The light that is given off by your filament is caused from the phosphorescent material absorbing light and releasing it as a softer light.

So, there is no need to worry about putting yourself in harm’s way by using the glow in the dark PLA.

How Long Does It Glow in the Dark?

Have you ever had a toy or piece of plastic jewelry that glowed in the dark? It would glow for a while, then you would have to take it out into the sunlight or hold it up to a light to “recharge” it.

That is exactly how glow in the dark PLA works.

The longer you leave your object under light source to absorb its energy, the longer your object will glow. It does not matter if the light comes from the sun or a lamp in your house.

The glow will usually fade out after a few hours, so this would not be ideal for something that you want to glow permanently.

Are There Other Types of Glow in the Dark Filament?

If you are wondering, PLA is not the only filament out there that has glow in the dark options. PLA is just the most environmentally friendly because it is plant based.

Other types of glow in the dark filament are:

  • ABS- ABS stands for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. ABS is a popular choice for 3D printing because the material it is made from makes it strong and resistant to higher temperatures. The best ABS glow in the dark filament is MG Chemicals Glow in The Dark ABD 3D Printer Filament.
  • PETG- PETG, which means polyethylene terephthalate plus glycol, is just as durable as ABS and PLA and as easy to use. The best PETG glow in the dark filament is 3D Solutech See-Through Green PETG 3D Printer Filament. This filament is unique because it appears to be see-through on the spool, but when you have completed your creation, it starts to glow very brightly.
  • TPU- TPU, thermoplastic polyurethane, is a popular flexible filament that is strong and durable, like rubber. The best TPU glow in the dark filament is SainSmart Flexible TPU 3D Printing Filament.

Glow in the Dark PLA: A Fun Toy!

There are many options to choose from when deciding which glow in the dark filament to use, even if you don’t want to use PLA.  Whatever you use, just remember to replace your brass nozzle with a something a little more durable and create amazing things that will light up your desk. Happy printing!

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Is Glow in the Dark PLA Abrasive? Here’s the Truth!

Craig A Fry

Craig A Fry

Craig has spent 20 plus years in the custom manufacturing industry as a COO, CEO and Owner of various custom product businesses. His experience has exposed him to all types of manufacturing from die cast, die struck, injection molding, CNC machining, laser etching, engraving and of course 3D printing.

Learn more about the author

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