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  1. #1

    How much does filament quality affect final finish? And your favorite brands.

    Hi guys,

    Very new to 3D printing but I'm a fast learner. I'm working on a Qidi Tech 1 (FFCP clone). Really happy so far but I see where my limitations are

    I'd like to improve print quality as much as I can and it seems one of the easiest things to do is purchase quality filament. However, I'm really curious as to the true cumulative effect of just using higher quality filaments on my prints. I'm looking for glossy and smooth. At this point I've purchased a couple rolls of PLA and ABS from an american company (supposedly US manufactured but not 100% sure) for about $13/kg. That's pretty cheap. I also have two rolls that came with the Qidi from China.

    I've had pretty decent prints come out of it at 0.2mm layer height but obviously I have a lot of visible lines (particularly with chinese black ABS I've been using) One thing I've noticed (through photographs) is the glossier a filament is the smoother it seems to come out (before any final finish). Is this related to quality of filament purchased (I'm hoping it is to be honest. I'd love some nice glossy filament that sticks to itself really well)?

    So, the question is, will I really get a MARKED improvement in print quality by purchasing higher end filament right now or is it just something I need to make sure I do when I'm getting ready to go into production? I would hate to continually try and improve print settings on something that may look much better just by getting some better filament.

    Also, what's your favorite high quality brand and why? I don't need a perfectly smooth cosmetic finish but I would like to print parts that are used cosmetically without having to go crazy on final finish

  2. #2
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    I've used everything from polymakers polyplus to the cheapest pla I can find on ebay and amazon.
    And while there are definite differences - it mainly effects how much it shrinks, how well it prints at different speeds and temperatures. Appearance - not something i bother with much anyway - is more down to layer height and the filaments initial appearance.
    There are all sorts of filaments out there that give particular finishes. I've got some realy silky and satiny looking filament samples from tct last year.
    (grabs one at random) polyalchemy's elixir has a really lustrous pearlescent like appearance.
    Good size sample too - might make some acorn brooches to see what it's like.
    I've got dozens of samples and as it's much much easier to use small samples on Alexa - I might even try a few of these out before this year's tct in september where I'll load up on a lot more lol

    So appearance while slightly related to filament quality is much more related to filament composition and appearance - which are different to the ease and speed of printing.

  3. #3
    Thanks for all your replies. I do feel I understand better now. I have mostly bottom dollar filament and have had some serious issues dialing in certain settings in S3D. I guess it is more about the settings than the filament quality but I obviously will get certain (maybe better) looks with certain filaments.

    I have another (very long) thread about some print quality issues I've been having and I wondered how much filament may affect this. I did finally get it dialed in much better though.

    At this point I'm very interested in buying quality, glossy filament that adheres better than the average (thereby reducing print lines)

    Any suggested brands?

  4. #4
    I also heard that popping for the first time today. I never thought I would but I guess the filament really is that sensitive. The printer is very close to me and I am an electronic cigarette user so there is regular vapor in the air humidifying everything in a 5 ft radius of me

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by number40Fan View Post
    Since you mention being a vapor, do you have any side effects to the printer fumes? I didn't at first, but then it started getting pretty bad. I used ABS a lot in the beginning and started feeling discomfort in my chest. Switched to PLA for a while and could feel it in my throat. I moved both of my printers into the garage because it was getting so bad that any time I walked into the room I would feel goofy.

    Interesting question. Let me start by saying I'm one of the people that reports almost no smell from ABS. I tend to believe it is a brand issue and so far my super cheap chinese ABS has had just a bit of a smell upon heating and no further smell after (and this was only for about a week. I haven't smelled it in 5 days). I have printed with the black ABS I have for about 9 days straight sometimes up to 10 hours or more a day (intermittently cancelling and restarting the same parts as I was tailoring settings) and have had no ill effects yet

    However, I have been pretty tired lately and my sleeping patterns have been weird. I do have other things I can attribute that to so I am not committing to that being from printing but because you have said something I will be watching and monitoring how I'm doing very closely. My printer sits within 2-3 feet of me almost at all times.

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention. If you make a separate thread for reported symptoms by vapers please let me know as I will gladly take part.

    smoked for 8 years
    7 year vaper, No cigs ENTIRE time
    21 day printer (ABS last 14 days and no experience with high quality or exotic filaments)
    Almost always using 90VG/10PG with my own Lorann flavoring and sucralose sweetener. Same mix for 5+ of the last 7 years
    Build my own coils with silica wick and 26 ga kanthal wire always on a variable wattage mod running about 15-17 watts

    Shoot me a message some time if you like. I'd be happy to bounce stuff back and forth with you on this subject

  6. #6
    But Choosing the right filament brand is difficult with all the different manufacturers out there to pick from. Many filaments out there won't properly extrude and you end up with low quality prints. This usually happens with cheap China made filament, where quality control is lacking. The higher tolerances in diameter and roundness causes issues due to the inconsistent size and amount of material being extruded. If the filament is too thick in areas, the nozzle may jam. When the filament diameter is too thin, the gears in the extruder may lose grip, causing little to no filament to come out of the nozzle.

    Another common issue to be aware of in cheaper filament is the presence of voids. If not careful, during the manufacturing process, tiny bubbles create these pockets of air within the filament. These cavities will reduce the quality of the print by leaving voids in the surface. Loud popping sounds when printing is a good indication of these air bubbles as well. This is caused by the rapid expansion of the air and moisture pushing out through the heated nozzle.
    Thanx for reading.
    For more Head over to: All About 3D Printer Filaments

  7. #7
    Engineer ralphzoontjens's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Tilburg, the Netherlands
    Follow ralphzoontjens On Twitter Add ralphzoontjens on Facebook Add ralphzoontjens on Shapeways Add ralphzoontjens on Thingiverse
    Check out the algae-PLA composite materials made by Atelier Luma.
    They are not on the market yet but the material is very promising!


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