It’s standard practice to perform adjustments to the print settings whenever you switch between filaments, as each distinct filament type has different requirements for an optimal printing process due to the differences in the chemical compositions of the plastics.
On the other hand, a lesser-known fact is that the variants of a filament will also often require you to perform a specific configuration, as the components added to the base material will cause the filament to have different values for properties such as melting point and glass transition point.
Today, we will be talking about configuring the print settings as optimally as possible for an exciting PLA variant, known as silk PLA, which is primarily used for the unique shiny look (which is where the name “silk” comes from) that it brings to your 3D printed models.
So, what are the most optimal print settings for printing with Silk PLA filament?
Below, we have listed the optimal print settings for printing with Silk PLA specifically:
- Nozzle (Print) Temperature – 180 to 220 degrees Celsius
- Bed Temperature – 60 to 80 degrees Celsius (or no bed heating)
- Print Speed – 50 to 100 millimeters per second
Moving forward, we will dive deeper into the process of configuring print settings for silk PLA, find out how to create specific configurations for silk PLA in popular slicers such as Cura and PrusaSlicer, and finally, take a quick look at the optimal silk PLA settings for the Ender 3.
What Are the Most Optimal Settings for Silk PLA?
As the variants of a filament, such as PLA+ and silk PLA, have distinct material compositions (which is why we call them variants), it’s only natural for them to require a specific set of configurations that do not precisely match what you would use for standard PLA.
Across the many different brands of Silk PLA filament that we have researched the specifications for, we have found the average print temperature range to be 180 to 220 degrees Celsius, the average bed temperature range to be 60 to 80 degrees Celsius (no bed heating is also acceptable), and the average print speed range to be 50 to 100 millimeters per second.
As it’s possible to find Silk PLA in both 1.75 mm and 2.85 mm filament diameter variants, ensure that you purchase the variant compatible with your 3D printer, as incompatibility in filament diameters will mean that you won’t be able to print with that spool.
Finally, since these figures can show slight differences based on the brand of Silk PLA you’re using, we highly recommend referring directly to the manufacturer’s specifications to find the most optimal values whenever possible and only using the averages if there is no specific data available for your filament.
How to Configure Silk PLA Settings in Cura?
Even though it’s entirely possible to load the default PLA profile and perform the necessary adjustments for silk PLA whenever necessary, creating a separate configuration that you can load back on demand makes a much better experience.
To start the process, we have listed the steps you can take to create a custom Cura material profile for silk PLA, which will contain the material-specific configuration:
- Navigate to the Prepare tab.
- Click the pane in the middle to bring up the Material settings menu.
- Click the Material dropdown and choose Manage Materials from the dropdown.
- Click Generic PLA from the list on the left, and click Duplicate.
- Choose the newly created material from the list on the left.
- Switch PLA with Silk PLA for the Display Name and Material Type inputs.
- Navigate to the Print Settings area.
- Fill the values you will use with the Silk PLA into the corresponding inputs, such as the print temperature.
Now that the silk PLA custom material is ready, it’s time to create a custom profile that carries the non-material settings you can use in conjunction with the custom material you have added.
Below, we have listed the steps for creating a custom Cura profile that will contain the print settings for printing with silk PLA filament:
- Navigate to the Prepare tab.
- Click the pane on the right to bring up the Print Settings menu.
- If you see the Custom button, click it; else, skip this step.
- Click the Profile dropdown, and select Manage Profiles.
- Duplicate a profile you would like to use as the base and name it Silk PLA.
- Activate the newly created profile.
- Make the necessary modifications through the Print Settings section of Cura.
- Click the Profile dropdown, and choose the “Update profile with current settings/overrides” button to save the current settings into the profile.
With both the silk PLA custom material and custom profile ready to go, you can activate the two whenever you intend to print with silk PLA filament, which will prompt Cura to load the settings you have configured automatically.
How to Configure Silk PLA Settings in PrusaSlicer?
In PrusaSlicer, custom configurations for a particular purpose are saved through the preset system, allowing you to preserve all the configurable settings you can find in PrusaSlicer and load them later.
Here is a step-by-step guide you can follow to add the specific configuration you have performed for silk PLA as a preset in PrusaSlicer:
- Click the Filament Settings tab located on the top of the PrusaSlicer window.
- Click the floppy disk icon, which is the Save button.
- Type Silk PLA into the input box, which will be the name of the preset.
- Modify the parameters such as Filament Diameter, Filament Density, Filament Cost, Spool Weight, Nozzle Temperature, and Bed Temperature accordingly.
- Click the floppy disk icon again, but click the OK button without making any changes to the name this time to save the current settings to the custom preset you have created.
Once you save the silk PLA preset, you can locate it in the Filament dropdown under the Plater tab of PrusaSlicer, and clicking it will cause PrusaSlicer to load all the settings you have configured earlier automatically.
What Are the Optimal Silk PLA Settings for Ender 3 (Pro/V2)?
As the Ender 3 is the most popular 3D printer on the market right now, there are many Ender 3 owners who are looking to quickly find the optimal settings that would work with their printer.
Below, you can find the Silk PLA settings that we recommend using with the Ender 3, which are the values that we have arrived at through our testing:
- Nozzle (Print) Temperature – 200 degrees Celsius
- Bed Temperature – 60 degrees Celsius
- Print Speed – 50 millimeters per second
As your mileage may vary, even when the 3D printers are identical, make sure to test these settings before moving forward with a complete printing process.
Even though silk PLA is PLA at its core, the modifications performed to add the silky finish change the filament’s material composition, causing the temperatures it will print optimally at to be different than standard PLA as a result.
To quickly recap, these are the optimal settings that you can use for conducting the 3D printing process with Silk PLA:
- Hotend Temperature – 180-220°C
- Heated Bed Temperature – No bed heating OR 60-80°C
- Print Speed – 50-100 mm/s
As the exact optimal values for your case can differ based on factors such as the brand of filament, the 3D printer you’re using, and the purpose of the model you’re printing, we highly recommend running some test prints with different values for the purposes of experimentation and fine-tuning.
Mike started his 3D printing journey with the Anet A8 when it first came out back in 2017, and has been obsessed with 3D printers ever since. Nowadays, he primarily uses his Ender 3 to print functional parts that make his life more convenient whenever possible.