3D filament is just as important as the 3D printer itself. There are a lot of brands offering 3D printing filament of various quality for various prices but how much does 3D filament cost on average?
3D filament costs on average between $11 and $335 for 1 kg depending on the type of filament and the quality. Low-quality PLA filament can cost as little as 11$ while high-quality Nylon (PA) can cost multiple hundreds of dollars.
Here is a table that compares the most often used filaments and how much they cost on average at different vendors.
|PLA||26.99$ – 29.99$||18.99 – 30.00$||20.87$ – 57.00$||11.00$ – 25.00$|
|ABS||26.99$||16.99$ – 30.00$||20.87$ – 52.00$||–|
|PETG||29.99$||16.99$ – 35.00$||21.98$ – 57.00$||–|
|Nylon (PA)||82.99$ – 85.99$||32,00$ – 59.99$||58.00$ – 335.00$||–|
|ASA||29.99$||29.42$ – 39.85$||39.99$ – 58.00$||–|
|TPU (Flexible)||34.99$ – 44.99$||24.99$ – 73.00$||28.99$ – 55.00$||–|
How Expensive is 3D Filament?
The price of 3D filament can fluctuate quite significantly depending on the type of filament and its quality.
For example, PLA is generally the cheapest type of filament while Nylon is generally the most expensive one.
PLA will generally sell for around $25 on average while Nylon (PA) will be sold for around $60 to 100$.
The quality of the filament will also affect the price quite significantly.
For example, regular PLA costs around $20 to $25 while PRO Series PLA, which is of higher quality, can cost around $35 all the way to $190.
You can see prices right here on Matter Hackers if you want to compare prices.
And if you are wondering if cheap filament is bad or not then consider watching this video from my Youtube channel where I compare cheap filament to medium-priced filament to answer that question.
Why are Different Types of Filament Differently Priced?
There are a lot of reasons why filament types of filaments are priced so differently.
Different types of filaments are priced differently because the prices of raw plastic are different. PLA plastic is cheaper than ABS or ASA. PLA is also easier to work with than nylon for example. All of these factors influence the prices of 3D filament.
There is also effect filament like multi-colored filament, glitter filament, wooden filament, silk filament, and so on that are harder to produce. Which is why they generally cost more.
Another factor is the availability and broad use of the different types of plastics in the industry as a whole. PLA, ABS, and ASA are used a lot to produce all sorts of household items, toys, and more.
So it is quite easy to get a hold of the raw plastic materials to make 3D filament with.
But nylon, glow-in-the-dark plastic, and similar aren´t as broadly used and as such generally more expensive and harder to come by.
There are other factors that can influence the price of 3D filament like the availability of the filament, how hard it is to produce, and how easy it is to sell to the end user.
ASA, for example, isn´t nearly as often used to print as PLA. So demand is lower and as such selling it will also be harder. Producing ASA in high volume is riskier than producing PLA in higher volumes.
As a result, ASA is simply more expensive in general than PLA.
Does the Quality of the Filament Really Matter?
The quality of the filament does matter. High-quality filament has a tighter diameter tolerance than cheap 3D filament. This will result in cleaner prints, a lower possibility of clogging the nozzle, and a smoother finish overall.
Cheap filament often has a diameter tolerance of +-0.05 while high-quality filament has a tolerance of +-0.02.
But what does diameter tolerance even mean?
The diameter is a straight line passing from side to side through the center of the filament.
The industry standard is 1.75 mm filament. Meaning filament with a diameter of 1.75 mm.
If you look at your filament spools then you will find a diameter tolerance that will tell you how much tolerance was allowed during the manufacturing of the filament.
Cheap filament often has a tolerance of +-0.05 mm. This means that the diameter of the filament can be between 1.70 mm and 1.80 mm.
This is bad for printing because the slicer software assumes that the filament has a diameter of 1.75 mm. This means that the amount extruded and the speed of the print head are all calculated assuming that the filament is 1.75 mm in diameter.
But if the filament is off by +-0.05 mm then too much or too little filament might get extruded during the printing process which will in turn result in small surface imperfections.
High-quality 3D filament has a much lower tolerance than low-quality filament. Good 3D filament can have tolerances of +-0.02 mm.
This tighter tolerance will drastically reduce surface imperfections and generally produce higher-quality prints.