[Lab] Filament quality - who has the best/worst and what to stay away from

Paul & Andrea Mumby themumbys at gmail.com
Tue Feb 3 12:36:24 EST 2015

I haven't got any real analysis so to speak, but I can say that from my
experience with multiple filaments over the years.

Common "factors" for lower quality filament (both ABS and PLA):
- Variation in diameter
- Variation in roundness
- Poor consistency (some sections have different melting points)

Some stuff specific to PLA (again referencing "bad" filament):
- Brittle
- Runny (ie: at melting temp, it's too liquid, and results in poorer
quality prints)

Some stuff specific to ABS:
- Thermal Stability (some ABS warps WAY more than others)
- Low adhesion

Never found "perfect" filament, but so far the best I've used is:
ABS - PP3DP (the UP). Their 1.75mm ABS is like magic. It results in some of
the nicest final finish prints I've seen.
That said I haven't used it in a long time, perhaps the others have caught
up. But with theirs I almost never had problems

PLA - Ultimaker. So far compared to the 3-4 "generic" suppliers from the
reprap community and so on. The Ultimaker brand PLA filament is excellent.
It is consistent, and prints nice and even, good quality prints, and with
the printer dialed in, it doesn't blob, or flow weird. But it does have on
downfall. It has a short lifespan. Once opening a sealed spool, I estimate
about 3 months, before the filament starts to degrade. I suspect this is
due to ambient humidity and so on affecting it. But if left sealed it will
keep for years. The final prints don't degrade, just the properties as
above change slightly (for example diameter shifts slightly, melting point
adjusts, and consistency gets worse when left out a long time)

In conclusion. I can definitely agree with you. There is differences in
filament. And while any old filament will print. It boils down to how much
work it is over the long haul. ie:
- Crappy filament will mean a small handful of prints between clearing
clogs, or having to fiddle with dialing things in and perhaps slightly
lower quality prints
- Good filament can mean an entire spool of prints without dealing with
clogs, maintenance, or recalibration, and consistently good quality prints
(as I've experienced with my ultimaker).

Any printer/filament will occasionally clog, and any printer will
occasionally need some maintenance/adjustment. But picking good quality
filament can certainly help reduce it (but the mechanics of the
extruder/drive and so on are also a big factor there as well).

Hope that helps some.

- Paul

On Tue, Feb 3, 2015 at 11:23 AM, Stephen Burke <steve at envirolaser.com>

>   I’ve been having a bit of a discussion with a co-worker about filament
> quality, and that some manufacturers will have a better product than
> others.
> He thinks that all PLA and ABS filament is pretty much the same quality,
> so the best choice will be the cheapest he can find.  I disagree.
> That being said, has anyone had issues with any particular manufacturers?
> Are there any that are consistently good or bad?
> Does anyone know of a recent study comparing various filament
> manufacturers?
> Stephen Burke
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