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What defines a quality Filament

Posted on January 09 2017

What is a quality filament?

Consistency, consistency, consistency.


Every filament brand, type of filament and 3D printer have differing requirements like temperatures, ideal printing speeds and bed adhesion.  This makes it very hard to gauge the quality of the filament and it is easy to blame the filament for a poor print. 

Having a filament that provides consistent prints is extremely helpful in troubleshooting poor prints. There can be many reasons for poor 3D prints and the site below is really helpful in understanding and troubleshooting them:-
https://www.simplify3d.com/support/print-quality-troubleshooting/


Our guidelines below are what we use to review the quality of filaments:-

What to review

Attribute

Description

Performance of printed object

Strength

The ability for a part to be under load and return back to its original state.

 

Rigidity

The ability to withstand changing a parts shape under load.

Quality of finished product

Surface finish

Is the surface finish the same across the whole print?  Incomplete layers?

 

Feature detail

Is the print accurate to the design?

 

Consistency across multiple prints

Is the print the same every time?

 

Colour

Does the colour look the same when printing over many rolls of filament? 

Process in using the filament

Spool size, shape and mount

Spool supplied vs Coil only

 

Ease to feed into the printer

Poor spooling or inconsistent roundness can cause feeding problems.

 

Post processing requirement

It is easy to remove support material?  What activities does it need to clean the print up?

 

Diameter tolerance

The accuracy of filament in roundness and size

 

Quality of plastic

Does it contain extra additives that can impact the consistency of the plastic?

 

Melt and cooling rates

Are the rates the same for the same print file and machine?

 

Age of filament

Due to poor packaging or filament being very old it can become brittle

 

Customer Service

Is the supplier responsive, guarantees, return policies?

 It is important to note that many problems associated to the above attributes may be caused from other issues not related to poor quality filament.  That is why it is best to troubleshoot any problems you have.

Above all, the key to a quality filament is consistency across multiple prints in these attributes like colour, strength, rigidity,  diameter tolerance, surface finish, feature detail and feed.


Checklist to review before using a new filament:

Setup
Make sure your machine has been setup and tested with standard materials (like PLA).  Level the bed and make sure your nozzle height is correct.

    Filament Specs
    A good beginners guide can be found at: http://nicklievendag.com/filament-guide/
    Get to know your filament; what is it and how to best process the material.  A simple google search will reveal huge amounts of material and how to best process each type.

    Bed Material
    There are several bed solutions on the market, we always recommend and use genuine BuildTak.  However, there are other alternatives so please investigate and test some good bed materials.  It will make a difference.

    Software
    Understand your software.  How to get the most from it and how each setting may affect your final prints.

      Use a consistent test model
      Always use the same model for material testing.  Get to know your material and how it works by printing the same model.  Doing this eliminates model related issues.

      Use the guide we have recommended above for troubleshooting problems:  
      https://www.simplify3d.com/support/print-quality-troubleshooting/

      Slow down
      You can always go faster, but you may need to alter settings to achieve great prints at faster speeds.  Save time, frustration and cost of materials by slowing down your prints.  A print done well first time is always better than a failed print.  A good speed for most prints is usually about 30mm/s. You can always go faster, but you may need to alter settings to achieve great prints at faster speeds.

       

      Recommendation:

      For consistent prints we recommend Torwell filament.  Based on our experience and testing we feel that Torwell filament provides excellent quality at an affordable cost.

      If you don’t feel it provides a quality consistent print, then we would be happy to give you a full refund.

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