Part of the Green Production Range
Poly L Lactic Acid (PLA) Properties
Poly L Lactic Acid (PLA) is different than most thermoplastic polymers in that it is derived from renewable resources like corn starch or sugar cane. Plastics that are derived from biomass such as PLA are known as Bio plastics. Poly L Lactic Acid is biodegradable and has characteristics similar to Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene (PE), or Polystyrene (PS). It can be produced from already existing manufacturing equipment (those designed and originally used for petrochemical industry plastics). This makes it relatively cost efficient to produce.
Thermoplastic materials become liquid at their melting point (150-160 degrees Celsius in the case of PLA). A major useful attribute about thermoplastics is that they can be heated to their melting point, cooled, and reheated again without significant degradation. Instead of burning, thermoplastics like Polylactic Acid liquefy, which allows them to be easily injection molded and then subsequently recycled. By contrast, thermoset plastics can only be heated once (typically during the injection molding process). If you tried to heat a thermoset plastic to a high temperature a second time it would simply burn. This characteristic makes thermoset materials poor candidates for recycling.
Poly L Lactic Acid (PLA) Applications
PLA constricts under heat and is thereby suitable for use as a shrink-wrap material. Additionally, the ease with which Polylactic Acid melts allows for some interesting applications in 3D printing. On the other hand, its low glass transition temperature makes many types of PLA (for example, plastic cups) unsuitable to hold hot liquid. PLA is classified as a “thermoplastic” polyester (as opposed to “thermoset”), and the name has to do with the way the plastic responds to heat.
* This product is part of the Green Production range.