Home Materials Make 3D printing filament yourself: Does it pay off?

Make 3D printing filament yourself: Does it pay off?

The highest cost factor when using a 3D printer is the cost of materials. With an FDM printer, a kilogram of filament costs 20 euros and more. At the same time, the same material in pellet form costs only a few euros. This raises the question of whether producing your own filament pays off financially. We look into this question.

If you want to produce filament yourself, you have to buy an extruder that can process pellets into filament. In the past, there have been repeated crowdfunding campaigns for such machines, which promised low-cost production, such as DNA extruders from Protea Design, Felfil Evo, Filastruder or Strooder. However, such projects were often quickly discontinued. Petamentor, an open-source system for filament production, is also available.

3D printing expert and YouTuber Dr. D-Flo has shown in a video how he produces filament with an extruder system from the US company Filabot. In the 30-minute clip, he explains the steps that need to be taken and considered during production.

3D printing filament cost in home production

Dr. F-Flo calculates the costs for one kilogram of PLA filament. The cost of the pellets, the cost of dyeing and the price of electricity are added together. Dr. F-Flo arrives at 7.88 US dollars per spool.

While energy prices in Europe are on average higher than in the U.S., the energy consumption in the video is given as 0.43 kWh and 2 kilograms of PLA material can be extruded in two hours. Thus, the main cost is for the pellets, which vary from supplier to supplier. However, it can be assumed that one can assume about 8 euros per kilogram.

The invoice does not include the company’s own working time or the acquisition costs of the extruder setup. The devices used in the video cost 16,662.95 euros. You can get 1 kilogram of classic PLA filament for about 20 euros. In larger quantities or with special offers, the price is even lower. On average, you save about 12 euros per kilogram of self-produced filament. This means that you have to process over 1300 kilograms of PLA to recoup the costs of the setup.

Financially, producing your own filament does not pay off in most cases. Purchasing such an extruder setup might pay off for fablabs or for users who want to create their own material blends. For commercial resale, a different setup is needed for more efficient production.

It has to be considered that there are also much cheaper extruders available. Here the savings would be calculated differently.

The whole video from Dr. F-Flo

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