When looking for filaments for your 3D printer, you may have come across the acronyms PLA and PLA+. At first glance, they seem almost identical. Today we’ll take a look at what differentiates PLA+ from PLA find out the strengths and weakness of both types of filaments.
What is PLA?
Polylactic Acid (PLA) is often one of the first go-to materials for those who are new to 3D printing. PLA filaments are made from organic compounds such as cornstarch and sugarcane, and as such are considered eco-friendly. Because of its ease-of-use, PLA is generally considered the a great option for beginners. Being so widely used in 3D printing means that there aren’t many 3D FDM printers unable to extrude it.
What is PLA+?
As you may have guessed from its name, PLA+ is an improved version of PLA. However, what improvements have been made to the PLA filament can vary greatly between manufacturers and their filaments. Although the improvements that specific brands of PLA+ filaments offer can differ, below we’ll compare some of the commonly seen improvements over normal PLA that you can expect with most PLA+ filaments.
Differences Between PLA and PLA+
|Higher Temperature Resistance||✅||❌|
|Wider Variety of Colors/Styles||❌||✅|
|Slightly Less Expensive||❌||✅|
|Slightly Easier to Print||❌||✅|
PLA+ filaments are almost always stronger than PLA filaments. For example, one of the popular makers of PLA+, eSUN, claims that their PLA+ filament is “several times stronger than PLA” and has superior layer-bonding. Another manufacturer, Duramic, is more specific with their claims and states that their PLA+ filament is “8 times tougher” than standard PLA.
Although PLA+ is stronger than PLA, if you’re looking for strength in your prints, you would be better looking into using ABS or PETG filaments rather than an enhanced PLA.
Another benefit of using PLA+ is that it typically has a higher temperature resistance than normal PLA. This does, of course, come with a higher required printing temperature. For example, Duramic’s listing for PLA filament suggests a printing temperature of 205±15°C,  while its PLA+ filament suggests a printing temperature of 220±10°C. While a higher temperature resistance is usually welcome, the differences between different types of PLA+ filaments mean you’ll need to make sure that your printer can meet the requirements of each PLA filament that you encounter.
A higher temperature resistance helps prevent deforming of prints when they’re exposed to moderate heat sources like sunlight, making PLA+ the better choice if your print is going to see any sort of outdoor use.
As with strength, if you’re specifically looking for temperature-resistant filaments, there are better options on the market, such as ABS and PETG.
Because PLA+ is an enhanced version of PLA, it will almost always be the more expensive of the two. With that being said, the price difference isn’t usually too large. As of writing, Duramic’s PLA+ filaments are only $1 more per kilogram on Amazon. This difference can be larger depending on the manufacturer though, with eSUN’s PLA+ filaments running about $3 more per kilogram. 
Colors & Varieties
Standard PLA filaments are available in a dizzying-array of colors special varieties. Because PLA filaments have been on the market longer and are more wide-spread, there are significantly more colors and special varieties (e.g. glow-in-the-dark, marble, wood textured) of PLA available.
As such, you may have a harder-time finding specific variations of PLA+ than you would finding the same variation of standard PLA. Given the overall superiority of PLA+ though, the number of variations are likely to catch up with PLA overtime. Even now you won’t have any problem finding standard colors of PLA+.
Which should you buy?
Unless you’re on an extremely tight budget or have found a specific colors/style variation of PLA filament that isn’t available as PLA+ filament, I recommend that you go with PLA+.
You won’t regret having stronger prints, and there isn’t much of a difference in skill level required to print PLA+.
If you are looking for an even stronger material to print with though, you may want to consider using PETG filament. Click here to see how PETG compares to PLA