PLA Plus (PLA+) Optimal Temperature & Slicer Settings

While PLA Plus (PLA+) is a type of filament that we can consider to be one of the easiest to print out of all the options, as it’s not too different than standard PLA in terms of properties, configuring your slicer settings is still vital to ensure that you obtain the highest quality results possible.

In this guide, we will take you through the process of configuring slicer settings optimally for printing with PLA Plus (PLA+) filament and share with you the example generic PLA Plus (PLA+) Cura configurations we have at hand for usage with both the standard Bowden extruder Ender 3 models and the Ender 3 S1.

PLA Plus (PLA+) Optimal Temperature & Slicer Settings

For the purposes of this guide, we will look at the printing temperature, build plate temperature, fan speed, print speed, layer height, retraction, and initial layer (temperature, speed, height) parameters, which will allow you to create a baseline profile for printing PLA Plus (PLA+) successfully.

Printing Temperature

Whenever you’re starting to use a new type of filament for the very first time, printing temperature is one of the main parameters that will require an adjustment, as each distinct filament type having a unique material composition leads to them having different melting points, which in turn makes it necessary for you to configure the hotend temperature accordingly for a successful print.

cura printing temperature


When it comes to configuring the printing temperature optimally, our primary recommendation would be to refer to the specification sheet provided by the manufacturer of the filament you’re using, which you should be able to find either on the manufacturer’s website or the spool itself in most cases and go with a printing temperature value that’s in the recommended range as a starting point for your first test print, which will practically ensure your print won’t fail due to the usage of a printing temperature that’s too high or too low.

On the other hand, if you don’t have access to any data provided by the manufacturer, with nothing regarding the printing temperature written on either the website or the spool itself, our recommendation would be to stay in the range of 200 degrees Celsius to 230 degrees Celsius, which we can consider to be a range that should allow you to print PLA Plus (PLA+) without any glaring issues, and preferably pick a value toward the middle of this range, such as 215 degrees Celsius, which should be a safe value for any brand of PLA Plus (PLA+).

Once you have your test print at hand, if you come across signs such as excessive oozing, drooping layers, and an overall loss of visual quality, it would effectively mean that the printing temperature you’re using is too high, in which case we would recommend lowering the temperature by 5 degrees, running another test print, and repeating this process until you find the printing temperature value that works without problems.

On the other hand, if you come across symptoms such as the appearance of gaps and holes, poor layer adhesion, which can also lead to layer separation in severe cases, and practically any other indication of under-extrusion, it’s highly likely that the printing temperature you’re using is too low to print PLA Plus (PLA+), in which case our recommendation would be to increase your printing temperature value by 5 degrees, run another test print, and repeat this process until you end up at a temperature that works for you.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to get all your testing done within a single print and don’t mind going through an initial setup process to get things up and running for the first time, our recommendation would be to print a temperature tower as your first test print instead of something like a 3DBenchy or a calibration cube, which, unlike a standard 3D model, is split into multiple parts explicitly for the purposes of using different printing temperature values within a single print and observing the effects.

pla plus temperature tower example


If you’re interested in the temperature tower method for calibrating your printing temperature value, our recommendation to get this done in the most convenient and reliable way possible would be to utilize the Calibration Shapes plugin for Cura, where you can find both the 3D model of the temperature tower and the post-processing script that makes it possible to use different printing temperature values for each of the sections automatically.

As there is a slight learning curve involved in getting the temperature tower to work for the first time, specifically when it comes to configuring the post-processing script correctly, we highly recommend referring to the main GitHub page of the Calibration Shapes plugin and the section regarding the PLA+ Temperature Tower module, where you can find more information about how things work and how you will need to configure the script to get your temperature tower going.

Build Plate Temperature

Another parameter that will need configuration when you’re switching to a new type of filament is the build plate temperature, as the material composition will affect the glass transition temperature of the filament just as it affects its melting point, which in turn will require you to adjust the build plate temperature for it to be compatible with the filament’s requirements.

cura build plate temperature


Just as with the printing temperature configuration, our very first recommendation to find the optimal build plate temperature would be to refer to the specification sheet provided by the manufacturer, which, in most cases, should include a recommended build plate temperature range that will point you in the right direction and help you to get through your first PLA Plus (PLA+) test print without any issues regarding the build plate temperature.

On the other hand, in the case where you are unable to find any suggestions from the manufacturer regarding the build plate temperature that you should be using for your spool of PLA Plus (PLA+), our recommendation would be to stay within the range of 40 degrees Celsius to 60 degrees Celsius as a rule of thumb, which should allow you to have a successful print with any brand of PLA Plus (PLA+).

Once you finish up a print with the initial configuration, in the case where you come across signs of the build plate temperature being way too low upon examining your test print, such as warping due to poor bed adhesion, our recommendation would be to increase the build plate temperature by 5 degrees Celsius at a time and to keep testing until you find the temperature where you don’t come across any problems.

Similarly, if your observations point you toward the build plate temperature being too high, with the presence of signs such as elephant’s foot on your test print, you should decrease the build plate temperature by 5 degrees Celsius at a time instead and once again keep running tests until you land at a value where issues aren’t present anymore.

Fan Speed

While it’s hard to go too wrong with the fan speed configuration when printing with PLA Plus (PLA+), as how you set the fan speed value up shouldn’t lead to a print failure in any case, it’s still a vital parameter to adjust correctly for both the mechanical and the visual quality of your printed part.

cura fan speed description


First things first, as PLA Plus (PLA+), just like PLA, is a type of filament that doesn’t suffer from layer adhesion issues as a result of being cooled down too quickly, unlike filaments such as PETG and ABS that require you to keep cooling below a certain point to avoid interlayer adhesion issues, the optimal fan speed value effectively comes down to the purpose of the part you’re printing with no restraints on how high or how low you can go.

So, prints that are purely cosmetic, where the robustness of the part isn’t a point of consideration, which we can consider to be the primary usage area for both PLA Plus (PLA+) and PLA, our recommendation would be to bring your fan speed value all the way up to 100% for the best visual quality possible.

On the other hand, for prints where strength is all that matters, with no concern for visual quality, where PLA Plus (PLA+) does a much better job than PLA despite it still not being the very first choice for such use cases, keeping the fan speed value in the 0-20% range should give the layers to form strong bonds with each other and create a robust part.

Finally, when it comes to overhangs and bridges, maxing out the cooling fan speed or using a very high value is once again the best thing to do since you will want to cool these parts as quickly as possible to prevent sagging, and considering that PLA won’t have layer adhesion issues as a result of cooling down too fast, there’s no limit when it comes to how much cooling you can apply.

Please note that you should keep the initial fan speed value at 0% at all times, regardless of whether you’re using a low or high fan speed for the rest of the print, as applying cooling during the printing of the first layer can create bed adhesion issues as a result of the layer solidifying before it forms strong bonds with the build surface.

Print Speed

Correctly configuring the print speed is another critical part of successfully printing PLA Plus (PLA+), as it impacts the printing process in many ways, whether it’s controlling the flow of filament or determining how accurately your 3D printer can extrude the material.

cura print speed description


Our recommendation as a starting point for the print speed value when printing with PLA Plus (PLA+) would be 60 mm/s for Bowden extruders and 50 mm/s for Direct Drive extruders (Direct Drive extruders are heavier, which makes it more likely for them to cause vibrations), which should ensure that your 3D printer can complete the print without any print speed-related issues.

In a scenario where you come across signs such as ringing and inaccuracy in the detailed parts, which would indicate that your 3D printer is unable to handle the speed mechanically, or under-extrusion, which practically means that your 3D printer cannot supply enough material to keep up with the high speed, our recommendation would be to decrease the print speed by 5 mm/s, test again, and keep repeating this process until the issues are gone.

On the other hand, if you don’t notice any of the print speed-related problems on your test print, you should still keep testing, but this time, in the opposite direction instead, and increase the print speed by 5 mm/s at a time between tests until you find the maximum print speed value where your 3D printer produces satisfactory results in terms of print quality.

While it would technically be fine to stay at the print speed value that has been working for you and not increase it further, as this won’t affect the quality of your prints in a negative way by any means, using the highest print speed your 3D printer can handle without drops in quality is definitely a worthwhile optimization due to the fact that you will be reducing how long your prints will take, which, in the long run, can save you a lot of time.

Finally, one last thing to pay attention to when adjusting the print speed value is the printing temperature, which should ideally also see minor adjustments together with the print speed (an increase of 1-2 degrees per 5 mm/s should do the trick) since the increase in filament flow as a result of bumping the print speed up can otherwise lead to under-extrusion as a result of the hotend not being able to melt the filament quickly enough.

Layer Height

As the layer height value is just as responsible for determining the filament flow, it practically goes hand-in-hand with print speed configuration to ensure that we don’t end up coming across a scenario where the 3D printer can’t keep up with the filament demand due to it being higher than the hotend and the extruder can handle.

cura layer height description


Fortunately, when configuring the layer height value, the rule of thumb to follow is pretty straightforward, which is to keep it between 25% to 80% of the size of the nozzle installed on your 3D printer, as this will effectively ensure that extrusion stays consistent and prevent scenarios where more material than intended comes out of the nozzle, or the amount of material coming through doesn’t fit through the nozzle.

So, as an example, if your printer has a standard 0.4 mm nozzle, the layer height values that would be suitable for usage are in the range of 0.1 mm to 0.32 mm, preferably rounded up or down to match the magic numbers (layer height values that align with the distance that the Z-axis stepper motor travels per step) of your 3D printer.

When it comes to fine-tuning things, the primary benefit you will notice as you approach a value closer to the lower end of this range is an experience in the visual quality of your print, with thinner layers creating a smoother finish with less of the stair-stepping effect, and more detailed top and bottom surfaces.

0.12 mm layer height example


On the other hand, with values closer to the upper end of the range, your prints will become stronger due to there being fewer weak points that reside between layers and, additionally, your prints will take less time due to the nozzle being able to complete the print with less horizontal movement.

0.32 mm layer height example


Alongside the strength & visual quality trade-off, one more factor to keep in mind when configuring the layer height value is maximum volumetric flow, which refers to the maximum volume of filament that your 3D printer will extrude at any given point of the print and as this value is calculated by multiplying the line width, layer height, and print speed, increasing both the line width and the print speed at the same time can lead to a scenario where the rate of extrusion you demand from the printer exceeds that the printer hardware can actually supply.

For instance, if you’ve been printing successfully with a layer height of 0.16 mm, a print speed of 55 mm/s, and a line width of 0.4 mm, the maximum volumetric flow value in your case would be 3.52 mm^3/s.

Now, if you leave the line width stable but push the layer height up to 0.32 mm, and print speed up to 60 mm/s, you will also be increasing the maximum volumetric flow by 7.68 mm^3/s, which effectively means that you’re more than doubling the extrusion demand for parts of the print where the printhead has fully accelerated.

While most 3D printers should be able to handle such a difference with the stock hardware, as this isn’t a high maximum volumetric flow by any means for a standard 0.4 mm nozzle, keeping an eye on this value and making adjustments accordingly, especially if you come across under-extrusion issues after bumping the layer height or the print speed up, should be helpful for a successful print.

Retraction (Distance & Speed)

Retraction is always a vital part of a successful print, as oozing, whether it’s in the form of stringing or blobs, can easily ruin the visual quality of any 3D printed part regardless of the type of filament you’re using for the task.

cura retraction-distance


When configuring the retraction distance for printing PLA Plus (PLA+), we recommend staying in the range of 5 mm to 7 mm for Bowden extruders and 0.5 mm to 1.5 mm for Direct Drive extruders, which should ensure that your 3D printer is neither retracting the filament too little nor too much.

Once you finish up a test print, if you come across the issue of stringing, with the filament oozing out of the nozzle as a travel move is taking place, our recommendation would be to increase your retraction distance value by 0.5 mm, test again, and repeat this process until you find the point where your 3D printer retracts the filament further enough to prevent oozing.

On the other hand, if your 3D printer ends up grinding the filament or clogging up after a retraction, it would mean that the retraction distance value you’re using is too high, in which case we would recommend decreasing the retraction value by 0.5 mm instead and keep testing until you land at a retraction distance value that doesn’t create such problems anymore.

cura retraction-speed


When it comes to retraction speed, the range we recommend using as a starting point is 40 mm/s to 50 mm/s for the purposes of printing with PLA Plus (PLA+), which should allow your 3D printer to complete the first test print without any issues regarding how quickly retractions take place.

With that said, in the case where you come across large blobs on your test print, specifically at the points where the nozzle stops for a retraction, which would practically signify that the retraction speed value you’re using is too low, we recommend increasing the retraction speed by 5 mm/s a time, run another test print, and repeat this process until you find the value that minimizes the size of the blobs as much as possible without causing filament grinding.

On the other hand, if you observe filament grinding, which is more likely to occur as a result of using a retraction speed that’s too high in comparison to a high retraction distance, our recommendation would be to reduce the retraction speed value by 5 mm/s at a time and to keep testing as usual until you find the point where filament grinding doesn’t occur anymore.

Additionally, similarly to the temperature tower we have mentioned in the printing temperature section, you can also print a retraction tower that allows you to test distinct retraction distance and speed values within a single print by using the Calibration Shapes plugin, which is something to keep in mind if you have already set the plugin up and found this method of testing to be convenient, as it can quickly point you toward the optimal retraction distance and speed values.

Initial Layer (Temperature & Speed & Height)

Last but not least, configuring the initial layer temperature, speed, and height as optimally as possible will ensure that you don’t end up having issues with the bed adhesion side of things, and while bed adhesion problems aren’t frequent when printing with PLA Plus (PLA+), it doesn’t hurt to have a strong foundation.

cura initial layer height


When it comes to the initial layer height, our recommendation would be to go with a value that corresponds to 70% – 75% of the nozzle size, as printing the initial layer with a layer height that’s as thick as possible will improve bed adhesion, provide a better foundation for your print, and compensate for imperfections on the bed.

So, for instance, if you’re using a standard 0.4 mm nozzle, the initial layer height value we recommend using would be between 0.28 mm and 0.3 mm, preferably rounded to the closest magic number for your 3D printer to obtain the most optimal results possible.

cura initial layer speed


Next up, when configuring the initial layer speed, our recommendation would be to stay within the range of 20 mm/s to 30 mm/s,

This way, we will be keeping the flow of the plastic stable (or at least not increase it) despite using a larger initial layer height value, which will ensure that we don’t end up demanding more material than the 3D printer can supply during the printing of the initial layer, and also improve bed adhesion at the same time by giving the filament more time to bond with the build surface.

cura printing temperature initial layer


Finally, when configuring the initial layer temperature, our recommendation would be to increase the printing temperature you’re using by 10 degrees Celsius while ensuring that you stay within the recommended range for printing PLA Plus (PLA+), which will increase the strength of the bed adhesion by allowing the initial layer to form stronger bonds with the build surface.

Example PLA Plus (PLA+) Cura Settings for Ender 3 (V2 & Neo & Pro)

Below are the Cura print settings we recommend for printing PLA Plus (PLA+) with a Bowden extruder Ender 3, which effectively includes all Ender 3 models except the Ender 3 S1 series.

  • Print Temperature: 215°C
  • Bed Temperature: 55°C
  • Print Speed: 60 mm/s
  • Layer Height: 0.16 mm (with a standard 0.4 mm nozzle)
  • Retraction Distance: 6 mm
  • Retraction Speed: 45 mm/s
  • Fan Speed: 100%
  • Initial Layer Height: 0.2 mm
  • Initial Layer Speed: 20 mm/s
  • Printing Temperature Initial Layer: 220°C

Example PLA Plus (PLA+) Cura Settings for Ender 3 S1

Below are the Cura print settings we recommend for printing PLA Plus (PLA+) with a Direct Drive extruder Ender 3, which only includes the Ender 3 S1 series.

  • Print Temperature: 215°C
  • Bed Temperature: 55°C
  • Print Speed: 50 mm/s
  • Layer Height: 0.16 mm (with a standard 0.4 mm nozzle)
  • Retraction Distance: 1 mm
  • Retraction Speed: 45 mm/s
  • Fan Speed: 100%
  • Initial Layer Height: 0.2 mm
  • Initial Layer Speed: 20 mm/s
  • Printing Temperature Initial Layer: 220°C

Conclusion

With your slicer settings specifically tuned to print PLA Plus (PLA+), you should now be able to enjoy printing anything you like without encountering unexpected problems that can occur due to the misconfiguration of print settings, whether it’s poor layer adhesion, stringing, or bed adhesion problems.

That being said, as always, the best way to fine-tune your settings and take them a step further to get them as close as possible to perfection is to keep adjusting things based on the results that you observe on your prints, as each spool of filament and each 3D printer will behave differently, and, as a result, require some specific tweaking.