Here is a link from a plastics company here in the USA. It provides some insight to consider when choosing your filament provider.
I should state that this is not a paid endorsement, but we have tested the filament that Toner Plastics sells. We have also tested filament from Inland (Chinese made), Design Shop (USA made) and XYZPrinting (Taiwan/Thailand made? They are vague about where the material is made.).
This post will explain what we tested and what we found from our results.
The tests performed:
- Dissolve test - 75mm of material in 1 oz of acetone, 24 hour test
- Print test - cuboid, other prints for internal use
The good, the bad and the ugly. What we found:
- Was the print "stringy"?
- Did the filament "pop" out of the nozzle during the print?
- Were there gaps in the print?
...In the dissolve tests:
- Did the material completely dissolve?
- About what percentage of the material dissolved?
- Why does this matter?
- What does it mean to me
- How will it affect how I use my printer?
The Inland tests were performed about a year ago. After several nozzle clogs and numerous failed prints, we have discontinued all use of the product. Furthermore, the store we bought the Inland product from was printing with the same brand across about 10 different machines, all day long. A few months later, we went to purchase more filament and noticed they had no machines on display, let alone anything printing. When we asked the employees where they moved the printers to, they told us that the filament they were using (Inland) had ruined their displays and that the machines were sent back to the manufacturers for repair. They still sell that Inland product, probably due to the sales, but they have discontinued their own use of this material and have sharply decreased their displays and the prints that the machines print. Bottom line, avoid this material at all costs. It will save you time and money. Believe me, I was your guinea pig.
Now, on to the facts. Let's take a look at XYZPrinting's ABS Black filament. This material is purportedly ABS, however, true ABS dissolves in acetone. So, did it completely dissolve as we would expect it to? The answer was definitely not. Here is a picture of the jar we used. You can see a significant amount of undissolved material in the bottom and the sides. If it were completely dissolved, you would see a smooth film coating the bottom of the jar.
When the material was in liquid acetone, we estimated that 60-70% of the material dissolved. This means that 30-40% "filler" material was used in the production of the filament. When printing with this material we noticed strings throughout the prints we generated. Among the strings were also beads of filament as well as gaps when it finished. Here is another picture showing the calibration triangle program that shipped with our machine.
As you can see, this material didn't print well at all. Full disclosure here, the right side shows the unevenness of my bed before we got out touch probe here in the States. What you need to focus on here are the pin points of light shining through. Each one of these dots are a "pop" in the material. Temperature had no affect on the popping either. As stated above, we used the cuboid test. This means that there must have been air bubbles in the filament during manufacturing.
TL:DR, XYZPrinting filament may be okay for the DaVinci printers, their filament shouldn't be used in your printer. We experienced two failed prints and one clogged nozzle while using this brand.
Next, let's discuss Design Shop ABS which can be purchased from Amazon.com. This material sells for under 20 USD. This material is purportedly "100% USA made" and is considered a premium quality filament. This material is lack-luster at best. It prints so far without any clogs, and we haven't experienced any failed prints yet (aside from the strings and beads we experienced). We have used approximately 25% of the spool. There are noticeable strings and beads when printing with this material. The strings are fewer than the XYZPrinting brand, and the "popping" sound is produced at a reduced rate, but this material is much like the XYZPrinting brand. The dissolve test proved much the same as XYZPrinting. Slightly less undissolved material, but not by much (~10% less, so we approximate that there is roughly 20-30% filler). Below I will include side-by-side comparisons of each of these. Anyway, the gaps in the finished prints using the Design Shop brand were also fewer than XYZPrinting, but still noticeable.
In short, Design Shop didn't live up to our expectations. If you are strapped for cash, it will work for you, but if you can afford it, buy a filament you trust to print well. Which brings me to my final test.
Toner Plastics is a company from The States, Massachusetts to be more specific. Microcenter used to carry this brand and that is how we heard about them. We were looking for a high quality material that was made in the US. The rolls at the time cost us around 25 USD. They have since run out of stock and don't show any signs of bringing them back; again, likely due to the return on investment. You can make a whole lot more money from Chinese brands than American made brands.
Now let's take a look at the facts. The dissolve test proved interesting in that, the material almost fully dissolved as you will see below. It resembles a foggy, gray liquid versus a black, coal-like liquid. There are a few particles in the material that mix up into the acetone but don't fully dissolve. But you can see through the solution, for the most part. This means that most of the filament dissolved entirely. In conclusion, this material proves to be nearly 100% ABS.
Here is the picture of the liquid acetone state with light coming up from below the jar:
I monochromed the image to make the amount of light shining through the solution "pop". Here is that shot:
So the first picture on the left is the XYZPrinting jar.
The middle picture is the Design Shop jar.
The right picture is the Toner Plastics jar.
As you can see, it is really night and day. The amount of light is directly related to how much filler the company used. The more filler they used, the less it will dissolve, the less light shines through, and the more imperfections you will experience.
Should you do this with your materials? It is not necessarily vital or important, but it explains the differences we have seen when finding a material that works (really well I might add) for us. Bottom line? Quality matters. If you find that you are experiencing strings, beads, uneven walls on your parts, wavy sides, etc. By all means, run the Cuboid test, but if you can't seem to get rid of the imperfections, it might be time to switch brands and try something better. The old adage that states "You get what you pay for," comes into play when it comes to what filament you choose to purchase. For example, ZMorph printers aren't the cheapest machines on the market by any means, but, you get what you pay for. The ZMorph system can perform all kinds of tasks. CNC, printing (plastics, chocolate, ceramics, etc), laser cutting and engraving, and they keep upgrading and adding new technologies to their systems. We could have purchased a cheaper machine to do what we do, but having the capability to expand and upgrade our system, that is what makes quality equipment purchases worth the cost.
Finding a manufacturer who produces high-quality product can be rare at times. I hope you find this research useful. It took many man-hours over the course of several months to finally nail down the issues we were seeing. It would be selfish of us to keep this information to ourselves. We felt the community should be aware of the issues, and more importantly, armed with the solutions to combat these problems that are plaguing the industry.