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Long term costs of cheap 3D Printing Filaments

Not all 3D printing materials are equal, as with most products there are choices and price differences for a reason - bargain filaments will often result in low-quality parts.. One of the biggest frustrations with 3D printing is getting the quality right, low quality parts are sometimes the result of a poorly configured machine or an inferior 3D printer - but a lot of the time, sub-standard 3D parts are the result of low-grade filament or the wrong type of filament used for the job. Sellers that often offer large discounts don’t always store their merchandise properly. It’s not uncommon for consumers who buy low-cost filament to experience popping sounds that result from air bubbles in the filament.

One factor that many forget about when calculating the cost of the filament is wasted time and materials. A failed print costs you in more ways than you may realize. 3D printer filament costs and material options must be made as much a part of your buying consideration as the machine itself, think about costs like electricity, equipment depreciation, software, repairs, 3D printer upgrades, consumables and of course the cost of all those 3D printing failures.


Many 3D printer operators know and understand the problems that can come along with using that no-name filament, using cheap materials can cost less, but in many cases can lead to a jam part way through the print, requiring the print to be restarted and the partial print discarded. This is not including the number of hours before you realize the print has failed or the amount of time it may take to clear the jam. Alternatively you end up with a bad quality print that is uneven, and rough due to bubbles and impurities.


Low-cost filaments are more prone to the inclusion of foreign particles, which can clog the nozzle. If the particle doesn’t melt after a while, you will have to turn off the printer, take the nozzle apart, and clean it. It may take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to clear out, filaments with foreign particles in them can damage the printer by causing abrasions in the thermal isolator.


In case the jam caused by that cheap filament is not able to be cleared, replacement parts will need to be purchased. A jam can even require the total replacement of an extruder or print head. Multiply that by how many hours you spend clearing a jam, replacing parts, and restarting prints.

It’s important to remember that you get what you pay for with 3D filaments, even if the print turns out seemingly ok, it's likely that cheaper filament prints will be weaker and not stand up to rigorous use over time. Purchasing quality filament from trusted merchants is one of the best ways to reduce problems associated with inferior, cheap 3D filament. When stored properly, superior filament is easy to use. Consumers simply insert it into their printer and let the machine build their design. Saving money over the long run requires users to invest in their printer by selecting the proper filaments – quality ones that reduce the chances of moisture or foreign particles causing problems. When selecting filaments, users should keep in mind that the printed objects will only be as good as the filament that created them.

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