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Ultimaker Tough PLA

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Together with the Ultimaker S5 we are launching a new material called Tough PLA! It’s as tough as ABS, but as easy to print as PLA. ABS has always been a popular filament to print with, regardless of its challenges to print reliably like delamination and warping. And these challenges are emphasized on a build plate as big as the Ultimaker S5.


Let’s start with the basics. Why is it called Tough PLA? Its called Tough PLA because its base material is PLA and acrylic polymer are added to it which gives it better impact resistance.


We hope that from today on we’re able to provide an attractive alternative for some of your projects with this filament.

Ok, so tell me more about this ‘Tough PLA’! Tough PLA has a much higher impact strength compared to PLA. With its properties, delamination and warping don’t have to be a problem anymore. It also works great with PVA (like PLA and unlike ABS), and therefore you also have more design freedom.


Sounds good right?


Hopefully it will help you make an informed choice next time you choose your material, and you might give Tough PLA a chance when heat resistance of 60 ºC is sufficient!


We conducted tests to quantify the properties of Tough PLA. Tough PLA, ABS and PLA have all been tested with standardized tests. Some of those tests are known as ISO 527, ISO 178 and ISO 1183. These tests show that Tough PLA is less brittle than regular PLA, has similar impact strength to ABS but has a higher stiffness compared to ABS. It looks more matt than PLA, which I personally also like.


Some more information about these tests. ISO 527 is a tensile test, which quantifies the deformation of the test sample at a certain force, also known as a stress-strain curve. ISO 178 is a 3 point flexural test. ISO 180 is an impact test which gives us an idea about the energy absorbed by the (notched) test sample during impact.

The outcome of these tests gives us:

  • Tensile and flexural modulus; the resistance required to deform a material, i.e. stiffness.
  • Tensile stress at yield; the force required to reach the limit of a materials flexibility
  • Tensile stress at break; the force required to reach the breaking point of a material
  • Elongation at yield; the ability of a plastic to resist changes of shape before it deforms irreversibly.
  • Elongation at break; the ability of a plastic to resist changes of shape without crack formation.
  • Flexural strength; a stress at failure in bending.

The objects subjected to these tests were 3D printed by us on Ultimaker 2+/Ultimaker 3. Which one exactly? That is listed with each material. It may also be good to note that we purposely created profiles which resemble your material profiles, and we did not craft special profiles aimed for the best lab-results. We wanted to give a realistic reflection of what these materials can do.


The settings we used for Tough PLA were on an Ultimaker 3: 90% infill, 0.1 mm layer height, 0.4 print core and 205 ºC 60 ºC build plate temperature.

For PLA we used an Ultimaker 2+, 90% infill, 0,1 mm layer height, 0.4 mm nozzle, 210 ºC and 60 ºC build plate temperature.

For ABS we used an Ultimaker 2+, 90% infill, 0.1 mm layer height, 0.4 mm nozzle, 250 ºC and 80 ºC build plate temperature.


We tested some materials on an Ultimaker 2+ when we did not have an Ultimaker 3 yet for example. When necessary or relevant, we’ll update the tests and documents.


We also measured the shore hardness of Tough PLA. We do this with a durometer in type D scale. This test sample was a 7mm thick square printed with 100% infill, 0.1 mm layer height, 0.4 print core and 205 ºC 60 ºC build plate temperature. PLA scored 83, ABS 76 and Tough PLA 79.


Hopefully,  this information helps you understand why Tough PLA is a great choice! If you would like to know anything else, feel free to ask below! And if you have tried it yourself, I would love to hear how it worked for you!


Technical Data Sheet PLA

Technical Data Sheet ABS

Technical Data Sheet Tough PLA


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Hoi Sander,


Have you also tested if, and how, this material does change after a long time, after a year or so?


Regular PLA (Ultimaker) and PLA/PHA (colorFabb) do get harder and more brittle after a year. For example snap-fit mechanisms that work well when freshly printed in PLA, get too hard and break after a year if you try to lock/unlock them. The PLA does not crumble, it just gets too stiff to flex.


Also these snake clamps (see photo below) get so hard that they are likely to break when I remove them now. While in the beginning they easily snapped around the bowden tube and cables (this is colorFabb PLA/PHA). Also the tube-couplings tend to break when getting older. I believe this effect is due to a change in crystal structure (=getting more crystaline over time), and hydrolysis (=break-down of molecules due to water absorption), but I am not a chemist.


How does the new tough PLA behave in this regard?







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Hi @geert_2 , interesting question! Although this was not particularly researched in any of the tests, there is a suspicion from our material engineers that due to the additives in Tough PLA the crystallization over time will be less and therefore won't change that much over time.

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Most plastic materials become more brittle with time due to UV radiation. A pretty easy trick is to apply a layer of UV protecting lack. You also might keep in mind that Tough PLA does not have an increased temperature resistance.

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I have learned over the years that when fresh PLA breaks very fast, over time (many months ... years later) it becomes even more brittle. So it was with all my original Ultimaker materials. Nevertheless, I was able to process the aged materials almost without problems. Partly, this material was left open in a room climate, the humidity was almost always between 60 and 65 percent.


However, I have PLA and HT-PLA from other vendors that can lie open next to the machine for months without any noticeable change in material properties. The objects printed with these materials also remain constant in their properties over the long term.


And I do not want to say that it is a question of price. Rather, the positive insight comes from the purchase of PLA from different suppliers / manufacturers. I never guessed that PLA is so different in so many ways.


By the way: There is a very simple non-scientific bending test, which gives at least with new filament something forward-looking information about an expected material quality. Of course, at least one material sample must be available for this. So hurry to the nearest printer shop and kindly ask 🙂


Honestly, I know very little about Tough PLA so far. My first thought: why was it named exactly like the same-named product from Makerbot?


Especially this HT-PLA mentioned by me has in the first layer exactly zero adhesion, so shit like ABS, so it helps unique and extremely effective to print the very first layer with normal PLA. But then you will be rewarded with un-seen precise objects and positive ABS properties, which almost no post-processing required. And more, because overhangs succeed much better, so that the cost of additional support material are much lower. And deformation begins only in the area near 90 degrees Celsius.


So what kind of experience can I get from Tough PLA?

Maybe a bit lower warping and better overhang quality compared to PLA? For example, when I think of PVA as a support material, I get sick on a regular basis ... It's relatively expensive and you just flush it away.


The general development should definitely go in the direction of reducing the warping, and the almost total elimination of additional trash (support material) ...

Edited by mnis

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On 5/21/2018 at 12:28 AM, mnis said:

Honestly, I know very little about Tough PLA so far. My first thought: why was it named exactly like the same-named product from Makerbot?


Hi @mnis , thanks for the input! I don't think it is specifically named after Makerbot, but in the industry it is an acknowledged term for PLA with these characteristics. Besides MBI, you can find many vendors who have 'Tough PLA'. I suppose, because the name makes sense, more vendors have chosen this title. In this case, it is a good thing to share the same name because you know what you are getting as a user. 


There is a very clear difference between Tough PLA and HT-PLA, which probably also caused your problem with lack of adhesion; is the glass transition temperature. Tough PLA is very similar to regular PLA, while, I believe, HT-PLA is closer to ABS. Tough PLA actually adheres really, really well to the glass plate. Therefore we even recommend to add a thin layer of glue stick, for easier removal. 


You should expect no/minimal warping from Tough PLA  🙂 (as you would from regular PLA)

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Hi and thanks @SanderVG
That's good news. I'll definitely give Tough PLA a chance. In general, I am very curious how it will progress in the development of biopolimers. I have recently heard that intensive research is being done to extract from the whey (... the by-product of cheese production) a compostable packaging film for the food industry. It should be ready in about two years. And then, I think, it will definitely give whey filament for FFF / FDM machines 🙂

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1 hour ago, Tafelspitz said:

"Ultimaker Tough PLA can be printed on Ultimaker S5 and the Ultimaker 3 family printers." (Source)
I guess, as it is "as easy to print as PLA", it will also print perfectly on an UM 2+ 👻

All ya gotta do is look at the compatibility matrix on the product page....



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Well, if Tough PLA is actually as easy to print as normal PLA, then there will not be much experimenting ... But you should be careful with the first layer as it should stick even better 🙂

Anyway ... Unfortunately, some things can not be done with the material because it starts to deform like PLA near 60 degrees Celsius.




On the pictures: A housing for heating elements, made of PLA-HT, printed on Ultimaker 2 (with first nozzle). Only the first layer is made of ordinary PLA (printed with second nozzle) because otherwise nothing sticks well enough on the platform.


Edited by mnis

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