There are a great variety of 3D printer filaments, all with different uses and features. Do you want to make something soft and squishy, or something that is more rigid? Depending on what you want for your creation, you can choose a different filament to suit your needs.
The question is, how much do filaments cost? In his article, we will look at several types of filament and the rough prices you could be paying for each one. In addition to that, we will be looking at some of the features you can expect to see in some 3D printing filaments.
What Is 3D Printer Filament & What Is It Used For?
If you are unfamiliar with 3D printing, you must be wondering what exactly a filament is and what it is used for? In essence, filaments are thermoplastics. This is a type of plastic or polymer that melts but does not burn when it is heated, and yet it can be shaped and molded before solidifying once it has cooled down.
The filament itself is fed into a chamber in the extruder assembly of your 3D printer. This is where it is heated up to its melting point, after this the melted filament is pushed through a metal nozzle. This nozzle traces a path that has been pre-programmed into a 3D object file to create the object which is being printed.
he filament is sold in rolls or spools and are sold depending on its weight. Their size can vary from 0.5 kilograms to 2 kilograms, in addition to having different weights filaments can come in two thicknesses, 1.75-millimeters, and 3-millimeters. Most 3D printers can only take 1.75-millimeter filaments, so unless you have a certain type or brand of 3D printer, you will most likely use the 1.75-millimeter filament.
What Kind Of Filaments Are There?
There are several kinds of filaments, all of which vary in cost and features, all with their own pros and cons. Below, we will take a look at each one, what their pros and cons are as well as how much they could cost you.
ABS and PLA
Acrylonitrile and Butadiene Styrene (ABS) and Polylactic Acid (PLA) are the most common types of filament used in 3D printing. In fact, many 3D printers are designed with these filaments in mind and exclusively use them in their printers.
The strange and long names for these filaments might seem intimidating to you, however, the very same plastic is used in Legos. Products that are printed using ABS or PLA are quite tough and durable, as well as being nontoxic. Overall, great features if you are selling something like Legos.
Some issues with items printed with ABS have a tendency to curl upwards, this is especially the case if you use a print bed that is not heated. In addition to that, ABS releases an unpleasant and strong odor. Because of this, it is recommended that you use a closed frame printer which is in a well-ventilated room.
While PLA has a relatively low melting point between 180 degrees and 230 degrees while ABS has a high melting point which stands between 210 degrees and 250 degrees. PLA is plant-based and biodegradable, which is a great feature if you are environmentally conscious. It is harder than ABS and does not have the tendency to warp.
One of the main reasons that ABS and PLA are so popular is that they are reasonably inexpensive options, meaning that you would save money on what could become your biggest cost in 3D printing. Either one can cost between $15 and $40 per kilogram.
This type of synthetic filament is versatile and has been around since the 1930s. Nylon is a polymer and strong and flexible when it comes to filaments. Its melting point is around 240 degrees Celsius, this is quite a bit higher than most filaments. Because of this, most 3D printers are not designed to use nylon.
As a whole, this is a great filament for people that need something thin and flexible, it is also one of the lower-priced printing filaments. The price can vary, but it tends to sit in the realm of $95 per kilogram.
Also known as Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) is more flexible than many other filaments because of this it is useful for both consumer and industrial use. A product that uses TPU is likely to be durable and are able to withstand temperatures up to 80 degrees Celsius.
In addition to that, TPU products are reasonably abrasion resistant and can withstand many chemicals.
TPU can be quite hard to use while 3D printing, this is due to the flexibility of the product. However, if you want to make products that are squishy and have a high scratch resistance, this is a great filament for your creations. TPU is a reasonably priced filament and can cost about $35 per kilogram.
PET And PETG
Also known as Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is also an extremely common polymer or plastic, some studies claim it is the most popular worldwide. This type of polymer is most commonly seen in water bottles but can also be found in clothing, and food containers.
PET is not often used in 3D printers, but its variant Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol (PETG) is incredibly popular as a printer filament.
PETG is a reasonably easy to use filament with medium flexibility, high durability, and high strength. The melting point of PETG is between 220 degrees and 250 degrees Celsius. It does not tend to warp that often, nor does it tend to shrink.
This type of filament is a good middle ground if you want something that is between ABS and PLA. It is more flexible than PLA and easier to use than ABS, as such this is a great filament if you want something easy to use and strong for your product.
But, how much will this filament cost you? PETG can cost you from $35 per kilogram. This filament is a great fit for you, especially if you need something that does not shrink and is stronger than ABS.
There are plenty of different filaments out that each one might suit a different person and each one has a price range all its own. If you are looking for something that is of professional quality, you will undoubtedly pay more. If you are looking for filaments to create something for fun, then there are cheaper options for you.
It is important to remember that there are different kinds of filament, each one has different uses and features. Because of this, you will need to understand what you want out of your product and make a decision accordingly. Once you have chosen your filament, you will have a better idea of how much you will pay for your filament.
As we have found out, your price can vary greatly from $15 per kilogram all the way up to $40 per kilogram. However, there are more expensive options available such as the Polycarbonate Filament which can cost upward of $95 per kilogram.
In conclusion, the amount you will be paying depends on your budget, what you need out of your creations and what kind of filament your 3D printer can take.