Making your own filament vs buying factory filament


Making your own filament at home is now possible with desktop filament makers. You essentially buy in the raw materials typically found in the form of pellets, which are run through an filament maker to create filament. Making your own filament comes with many benefits for those willing to put in the time, but do those benefits outweigh just buying in pre-made factory filament? I want to give a by the book fact vs fact how do the two way up against each other.

 

Cost

So, I know what you're thinking, factory filament has come down in price a lot recently, you can buy 1kg of filament for about the same price as pellets. However, this is only true if you buy non-branded filament and if we are only looking at ABS and PLA. Ultimaker, MakerBot and all the other big brands still sell their ABS/PLA filament for a lot more, and good luck trying to find cheap rolls of nylon, carbon fibre infused and any of the flexible TPU materials.

Pellets are used in the injection moulding industry, a much more well established and competitive industry for plastic. Therefore, the price of plastic pellets such as ABS and PLA can be bought for anywhere between £5-£10 per kilo.

So, in terms of cost Pellets are still cheaper (especially if you recycle old plastic into pellets)

1 point for pellets

Pellets: 1 filament: 0

 

Ready to use

Filament comes straight out the box and plugs straight into your printer, no fuss, no faff. Pellets require you to put it through a plastic filament maker and extrude it into filament obviously, this takes time. In the case of Strooder it will take about two hours to get a full 1kg roll of filament. This is obviously not two hours you need to be sat staring at it as the process is automated, but still, it is two hours more than filament.    

1 point for filament

Pellets: 1 filament: 1  

 

Materials

The filament material is always expanding but it is still yet to catch up with the pellet material range. To be honest it probably won’t ever catch up, filament is only used in FDM printing while pellets have been used in injection moulding. This is just a bigger and more well established industry; with more demand for a wider variety of materials. Also when you consider additives there is almost an unlimited number of combinations you can try, such as; wood, carbon fibre, copper and other metals to list a few.
So for now this one goes to pellets.

1 point for pellets

Pellets: 2 filament: 1

 

Colour

Filaments can be bought in a variety of colours; pellets, however, can be bought as natural plastic and dyed with masterbatch. Both have their advantages; filament is guaranteed to be a fixed colour of a specified shade while masterbatch allows for variance and more than one colour on a single spool. It depends on what you are trying to achieve which one is better, so I will call this one a tie.

1 point for pellets and 1 point for filament

Pellets: 3 filament: 2

 

So in our opinion pellets have come out on top, what do you think which has the advantage?

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