TESTED: Filament

Created by MantaBase on Sept. 21, 2014, 7:13 p.m.
  • I was thinking about this yesterday, I'm considering getting a Printrbot and was wondering where on Tested I'd go to find filament recommendations, hopefully people will chime in with their experiences :)

  • Date Purchased: 7/14

    Brand: BuMat

    Color: Clear Transparent

    Type: PLA

    Diameter: 1.75mm

    Printer: Printrbot Simple metal 1403/ 1403 w/heated bed/ 1403 w Matrix 8x8x10 upgrade

    Temperature: 205c first layer, 210-211c for the rest (so its nice and clear with a light gloss)

    Speed: 10-60mm/s

    Street Price: 30$

    Vendor: Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IEZH538/ref=sr_ph?ie=UTF8&qid=1411496027&sr=1&keywords=pla+1.75

    Rating 9.5 (imo) This is really the only filament I been using, Super happy with it. No feed problems or softness issues as I had with the stock printrbot filament, or their replacement rolls. I been using other colors by them as well all transparent. Generally well spooled and not tangled. They recommend 160-180c extruder temp and you can generally go quite a bit lower with it. But it changes the transparency quality. I also print in room that is generally a constant 25c with no additional airflow going through it besides that created inside it by the servers. (which is mild). The size seems to be very true to what is promised. just make sure to break off the end at the start of the roll as its usually brittle due to the heat bending and slightly over size.

    I took all the recommendations about avoiding cheap filament to heart.

  • Has anyone tried NuNus ABS or PLA? That seems to be what Amazon stocks in Europe.

  • Alright, I might give it a go, purely based on the information I got here that going cheapass on filament is not a good idea. Will have to wait a while though! Just finished my first printer (prusa i3) today for the office, that one came with filament. I bought a prusa i3 for myself as well and still have to buy filament for myself.

  • If 10 spools of PLA is your benchmark for a nice lunch you sure have a lot of epic lunches ;)

  • Hey, we do this internally!

    One of our biggest issues with filament (that causes printing quality to suffer) is thickness. So of the ones we tested 3dprinterstuff.com was pretty good, but they are pretty much out of business I guess? We currently use Airwolf 3D filament, It's not cheap at $48 a Kg but it's been of really good quality.

    So one of the things I do is every 3-4 prints I take about an 8 inch sample of filament and measure it's "actual" thickness to give slic3r a better value.

    For example Airwolf sells it at 2.88mm and this is my chart from the sample of yesterday. (all 43 samples where from the same 8 inch piece)

    Previous samples from the same roll have had averages at 2.81, 2.79, 2.84

    It might not make a big difference for some, but we are actually trying to use printed objects instead of a getting injection molded parts made. From a pure cost perspective it will save us a lot because we are such low volume at this time. It's helped us a lot with consistency of prints.

    With filament always cut it in half and look for air bubbles. Cheap filament tend to have bubbles in it.

    For example, here is a sample from a spool ordered by a manager becasue it was less than $20 shipped form ebay. It has bubbles and it prints bubbles. The sample on the right is of the Airwolf3D filament. Air bubbles WILL clog buddaschnozzle style .35 nozzles. A good tell is that it sounds like popcorn cooking while printing. Also notice, the cheap filament has plastic "stress" from cutting it.

    I feel like I've come a long way from when I first started with 3D printing till now, but I think I'm getting decent prints.

    Here is a "first layer" sample. (Note: this was rejected)

    Here is what a top layer fill on a 35% rectilinear infill looks like. (Also a rejected part)

    Most of my printing issues are from trying to push the boundries of wall thickness in the 3D model and inconsitences in how the model is sliced, but every week or so it seems the parts are getting closer to acceptableness.

    Umm... I guess my rant is done, lol.


    Date Purchased: September 2014

    Brand: Airwolf Platinum

    Color: Silver (prints matte grey)

    Type: ABS

    Diameter: 3.0mm (advertised at 2.88 mm, see above this post)

    Printer: Airwolf3D V5.5

    Temperature: 240ºC (Heated bed @100ºC)

    Speed: 60 mm/s

    Street Price: $48 ($6 shipping) 2.2 lbs/1 kg

    Vendor: Airwolf3d.com

    Nozzle: .35 mm

    Surface: Heated borosilicate glass with PET Sheet coating.

  • Boy, the professionalism of that review only made me curious in who 'we' is and what you do! How do you measure the thickness?

  • @General Desire: theres plenty of tools you can use. The Micrometer is probably one of the best and most accurate. But A pair of dial calipers also works well as long as you know how to use them correctly.

    Personally I have found I can't use a 3d printer without a pair of dial calipers. Its helpful in knowing where your slices go wrong, and if your getting dimensional accuracy or not.

  • @TsunamiJuan: Agreed 100%, if nothing else, I have to constantly monitor the average diameter of the filament I use and adjust accordingly (lower the Slic3r settings, and ratchet the extruder tensioner, primarily). From there, tweaking the X and Y scaling factors by measuring printouts is a weekly (if not daily) task... it's tough, but as Adam suggested in his Rule #8, know when tight tolerances are needed, and when they're not.

  • @1stage: I switched Slicing software this weekend I need to get pictures together to make a post about it. But I am no longer having dimensional accuracy problems with PLA. The quality differances for some stuff is so huge that its really hard to believe its the same printer. Haven't spent enough time playing with ABS to have something to compare that too.

  • @TsunamiJuan: And I've worked almost exclusively in ABS. Slic3r hasn't been a problem for me, once I knew what I was doing, but I'm always open to better methods... I just haven't found anyone who DOESN'T use Slic3r (whose opinion I trust), so going to something else, while an option, hasn't been compelling.

    I just ordered a 5-pack of BuildTak (buildtak.com), so I'm going to rework by heat bed this weekend at the same time I clean off the caked-on hairspray over-spray.

  • @1stage: I am with you on sticking stuff out while learning. The big thing that made me look into alternatives was better support generation and support control. The lure of greater path effiency was also a nice beacon of light. I've been printing small parts in the 1" or small range lately that involve tabs seams and snaps. So supports are a requirement.

  • How big is big in your book? cause I have done 8x4ish prints on the standard 6x6 bed and haven't noticeable dimension problems or shrinkage on them. With just blue tape. Though I have had even less problems with the heated bed kit. I haven't tried any 10" prints yet on my new bed but everything has been exceptionally flat.

  • @MantaBase:  Yep, BuildTak works fine on heated beds (according to their FAQ), but I haven't worked with it yet. Let you know.
  • As for predictable shrinkage (TWSS), couldn't you just scale UP in Slic3r?
  • Has anyone used filament from toybuilderlabs.com? They offer prototypesupply.com filament, and I've not had any experience with it yet. Price is good, and they're in Pasadena (close to me).

  • @General Desire: Professionalism and my grammar can't possibly coexist, lol.

    For measuring I typically use a Mitutoyo Micrometer with a very soft ratcheting action. I do have access to an optical unit that is high speed enough for roundness. I have yet to run a piece through it and have it come acceptably close to being "round."

    We are a super tiny quality in manufacturing software company. In the past 2 years we started a tiny hardware division, consisting of, me, lol. Mostly to make data acquisition units. Right now I'm working on a device to push readings over Bluetooth to tablets and cell phones as they replace free standing computers on the manufacturing floor. Also, the current companies left in the field are either selling old units, or freakishly unreliable and hard to use units. It's funny at how low tech some of the stuff I deal with is. Like there is a common Metal stock cutting unit from the 80's that seemingly ever company in Detroit owns. However the dongles to use the readings all died, but the machines still work, so we rig up something to reverse engineer the dongle at every company. http://www.smart-cable.com/catalog?action=Display&key=102 This thing is so 80's and shouldn't cost $150, but it gets the job done. the 25 pin serial port is still very much alive.

  • I've been working with BuildTak (www.buildtak.com) for about four days now, and here are some thoughts (Printer: Prusa 8" x 8" heated bed, 3mm ABS, .4mm nozzle, modeling in SketchUp, gcode from Slic3r, printed via SD Card, part cooling fan NOT used, corner rafts/skirts NOT used):

    - Easy to install, but on my first sheet, it was kinda challenging to work out bubbles, once it had been laid down. I might try using window film installation liquid next time.

    - Despite BuildTak's instructions, I still had to "smoosh" the first layer of ABS. If I didn't, I had frequent corner warping and detachment.

    - Parts seem to be easier to remove (particularly large, flat parts) when the bed is about 75% cooled off.

    - Prints/smears where the hot end "crashed" on the surface were VERY difficult to remove. I have a semi-melted divet beneath the nozzle in the home corner; even though the BuildTak is not melted by the hot end, the divet is made up of very thin smeared ABS that has extruded during heat-up.

    - Pulling up parts near the edges of the plater can lift the BuildTak and introduce bubbles underneath, so try to remove parts from the center of the plater rather than edges.

    - I've been cautious to not use sharp objects to remove parts; the "sharpest" tool I've used is a smooth, rounded-edge letter opener.

    - I clean the BuildTak surface with rubbing alcohol and paper towel to remove skin oil that may have been introduced during part removal.

  • Date Purchased: 07-2013, 10-2013, 02-2014, (multiple purchases)

    Brand: Octave

    Color: Green, Orange, blue, black, red, gray

    Type: ABS.

    Diameter: 1.75

    Printer: Solidoodle3

    Temperature: 205-208

    Speed: The laydown speed

    Street Price: $31(us) per 1Kg spool (free shipping if you order 4 spools mix and match colors)

    Vendor: Octave

    Rating: 7.5

    Comments: Worked better then the $40(us) spool the manufacturer sold me. The only color that seemed to change was the orange it got a little brighter after it was printed. I've ran through 7 or 8 spools of this so far. never had any feeding issues (that were not user error) and consistency from spool to spool (color to color) is good. (Note, I printed on a heated, glass plate with a shot of hair spray on it)

  • Date Purchased: 11/2014

    Brand: Shaxon

    Color: Black

    Type: ABS

    Diameter: 3.0mm

    Printer: Airwolf aw3d XL

    Temperature: 230

    Speed: 50 mm/sec

    Street Price: $27

    Vendor: Fry's

    Rating: 5

    I've printed several items with this ABS now. Despite may reviews on other sites that prints fail, only my first print failed because the filament started slipping in the extruder. I snipped the filament, started at a new piece, and never failed since.

    I've read on other sites that Shaxon filament does not appear to be true ABS. I've read that the filament does not dissolve well in acetone as it should. I have not tested that, but of course the filament feels different than the very good filament that came with my Airwolf printer.

    The actual printing -- ehhhh. The prints come out pretty rough around curves, and there was actually a little warping around one of the curves, same spot on 2 different prints. The stuff did stick to the bed using slurry, so know warping up.

    Will I buy the ABS again? Probably not unless I'm in a total pinch. It was nice to be able to buy filament at a brick and mortar store (Fry's), but I'm putting this filament to the side and only using it for maybe flat prints in the future that don't have a lot of curves.

  • Date Purchased: 11/2014

    Brand: Monoprice

    Color: Blue

    Type: ABS

    Diameter: 3.0mm

    Printer: Airwolf aw3d XL

    Temperature: 230

    Speed: 70 mm/sec

    Street Price: $19.79

    Vendor: DIYinks on ebay

    Rating: 8 -- maybe 9?

    My first couple prints were large items and started to warp on the corners. After I remembered that I had just changed my nozzle and adjusted the extruder to be closer to the bed (I like my first layer to be a little flat), then this stuff printed like a champ. I'd say just as good as the original Airwolf ABS that came with my printer and costs twice as much. I'm not sure what a 10 would be, but this one is up there. At this price, I'm wondering if I should stock up -- hopefully it will stay around this price for a long time. I will definitely buy again. I don't know if these guys have a website, but I found them here:


  • I'm after some filament at the moment. Do you guys have any new recommendations? Or confirmations that some of the old recommendations are still valid?