So you think your high priced fancy-schmancy filament is the the best?

This post aims to create awareness that many filaments are not different from one another, encouraging smarter purchases to drive greater competition and potentially lower costs. Wouldn’t it be great if other could run similar test below on two other brands to see if they get similar results?





I’ve often criticized filament makers for their marketing tactics. Most brands, except perhaps one, use similar tactics, trying to convince us their product is superior when they all come from a few factories in China with only different packaging. I posted an example of this in another thread(link), recommending a low-cost PC filament marketed under different brand names but yielding good results.

My contention is that unless you have verified it yourself, don’t get suckered into marketing hype.

In my quest for the elusive $10 spool, I’ve had varied experiences on Amazon. Thanks to Amazon’s liberal return policy, I return bad spools if I can’t calibrate the filament, sometimes after using 10% of the spool.

The other problem

Some of you have stated that you stick with one filament maker for convenience of not having to worry about calibration. This is understandable, but is it worth spending 2X on a spool? Consider how much you use and decide if you’d prefer the convenience or twice the number of spools.

However, I’ll quickly admit that buying on the open market based on price can create problems if you need to split a print between two manufacturers. If the filaments are not identical, you’ll see the difference when you change spools mid-print.

Here’s what two filaments SUNLU and Overture with spools changed in mid-print look like.

I’ve been testing ways to identify filaments from the same factory with different labels. I’ll share my technique and proof that they are the same for at least two different makers on my example. See the link I posted above for my example on PC filament.

The scenario is this, I was running out of Overture PLA Black which I had just purchased for $14. I simply do not see why I need to spend more than $15 these days but after the one-time promotional price, Overture jacked the price again back up to $18(list is $24). Buh-by!!! Next!!! Link to filament on Amazon

Don’t get me wrong, that filament is high quality and it prints well. But why should I overpay. So I go back out to Amazon and start searching for other suppliers. Both SUNLU and JAYO were discounting their products to $13. I only needed one spool but the two looked almost identical in the ads so I decided to purchase both and do a side by side comparison.

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Note: I have purchased from both before, and JAYO has been my choice the last three times I needed PLA Black. However, I primarily buy based on price and delivery. Both products in this example were next-day delivery and the same price.

Comparing two ‘different’ brands that look the same.

Methodology to determine factory of origin between SUNLU and JAYO are the same.

I used the same methodology as I did with my PC filament report that I did in the previous (link) post above.

Click on images to zoom in.

Outer Carton: Same size, same shipping address and same carton design with the tab in the same location.

Identical spools:


From the back, you can’t even tell them apart.

Same vacuum packed bags with same heat seal and dual ziploc seals.

Same Desiccant bags with complimentary filament retaining clip.

Spooled tightly like they were made on the same machine.

The real test. How do they look on the same print when switching mid-print?

So this is really where it makes a difference doesn’t it? Are these two similar enough to make a difference in the print? Well my testing methodology was crude but I will let you decide. Here is the testing methodology.

  1. Use default Bambu Basic PLA filament profile so neither spool has an advantage. This is so others can perform the same test if they wish to.
  2. Use a Cylinder and Cube Primitive shape scaled to be 25.4x25.4x50mm as the test model.
  3. Set the print to Pause at midpoint 25.4mm and swap filaments mid-print. This will simulate the same issue as having run out of filament in the middle of a print.
  4. Perform the same test by unloading and reloading the same filament spool to simulate changing spools while keeping the brand the same.

Results: Two models were printed using two filaments, while the third was printed with the same filament. At the midpoint, you can barely see where the print was paused. But can you see a difference in quality, shine, or pigment between them? Can you spot which model used a single filament or had the filament changed?

Click on Spoiler to reveal

The one in the middle was the one printed with only one filament brand.

So you think now that all brands are all that different or if it’s just the price?

At the end of the day, in my view and with this test, you can see why I do not trust anything I read unless I tested it myself. As an example. PLA+ Really??? Until the industry uses a unified standard of what constitutes PLA+ I call B%llsh*t!!!

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Ya, I think no…it’s the one on the far right… :grin:

I’ve had a similar experience. I have been using the same brands (except Jayo) and for PETG. Nevertheless, I am less prone to take risks with more technical materials. I am unsure why; maybe the higher cost and more demanding troubleshooting make me use well-known brands. I recently bought PA-CF from eSun for about 40€ to see if this approach is valid for all material types.
Do you have experience with “low-cost” filament for engineering-grade materials?

Edit: when I know that the filament is good, I tend to buy larger quantities at discount times instead of always looking for new ones. Also, colours are something that force me to buy from specific filament manufacturers and disregard the price.

I appreciate the write up showing how those two brands are identical. I’ve purchased both and I noticed they seemed very similar, but never took the time to do the comparison as you have. I do know that some of the more expensive brands try to make sure that their quality is the same from batch to batch and if you are running a business, that may be something very important.

I’m honestly not all that picky when it comes to PLA. I have stuff from Bambu, Jayo, Sunlu, Inland (Microcenter), Polymaker, Hatchbox, and MakerShaper. Anything I print with PLA is either for testing, for fun, or a toy. So I don’t usually care where I source it from as long as it prints. My X1C doesn’t seem to be bothered what I print with, as long as it’s dry and not brittle.

When it comes to my more technical filaments like ASA, PC, and Nylon, I stick with Polymaker. Not sure if they are better than anyone else, but I know their products have always done well for me and they are about the only ones with detailed filament material data which I haven’t seen anywhere else.

In your swap test, I’m curious if both filaments have the same calibration profiles? I’d be inclined to just do a Slot-swap (did I just giggle at that) in Studio/Orca so both halves carry their unique calibration.

I’m in the process of churning to another local supplier who buys in from China, is reliable with stock and shipping, bonus is he’s cheaper than the comp. In doing this I’ve noticed no discernible performance or quality differences. Win/Win in my book. I’m like you and sceptical of naming conventions, though I do think there are certain quality materials or additives involved in the higher specs (or I hope so) to justify extra $$. I can “tune” any material to my needs IF it is a consistent quality, which so far I’ve yet to have a bad spool in all my purchases so far (am I lucky or stubborn?).

I used the default Bambu PLA Basic to give neither filament an advantage and allow for anyone else to reproduce the same experiment with their printer. However, also note, that unless you have an AMS, you can only have one printer profile applied to a filament. In my case I simply paused the print midway and manually swapped out the filament. There is no mechanism short of maybe writing custom Gcode that would have allowed changing parameters mid stream.

No I do not. Is there even such a thing? To me spending over $25/spool is too much. I haven’t found a use-case yet were using a CF or GF material was needed for my applications. The most I’ll go is PC.

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I get what your saying and agree mostly. When I had my bedslinger I would shop cheap and more often than not I got what I paid for. That was fine cause I was either printing parts for the printer or trinkets and “cool” (using that word lightly) stuff.

I still used that stuff after I purchased the P1P (later upgraded to an S). The cheap stuff was fine. I can’t knock your thoughts nor anyone that goes that route. I prefer the BL filament now though.

See I want to print. I don’t want to spend time chasing some idea of “better”. One thing I like is I get consistency using the same filament every time. Say what you want about default settings but if it isn’t broke I’m not about to screw with it.

ABS, PTEG, PLA, ASA, and all the CF/GF flavors have never given me a fit, never let me down. In addition I don’t have to tell the AMS what color I have (yeah, I’m lazy…what of it) and can do what the thing’s made for…print.

My opinion is that if I wanted to dick around with filament settings chasing some mythological dream print I would give up the BL and buy something that takes all my time and energy to “tune”.

Your findings though aren’t surprising. I do think BL is the best filament FOR ME. Keep rolling though, this is a service to some, no ill intent meant.

Nothing wrong with going with Bambu’s filament, as you can get some really good prices when you buy them in bulk and you get the benefit of their filament profiles and RFID stuff. I will say though that I can pop any of the mentioned Jayo or Sunlu filaments into my X1C and just use the Generic PLA profile and hit print with no issues. I’ve yet to tune any filaments and just let the printer do it’s thing.

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Depends on what you print. I also love to print cheaply. PLA and PETG acquisitions are always made when the price drops and rely on Amazon, except if looking for colours and a better look, e.g. BL PLA-CF looks fantastic.

I forgot to ask, but is the print speed the same in your test?
One thing that I believe BL PLA is superior to is the Melt Flow Index ( or rate). I am not a fan of the hyper-speed printing, but in the first week, I tried to print same items with BL PLA Basic and with Sunlu PLA+ (not the high-speed one) in sport mode, and there is a noticeable difference, as I could only finish the prints with BL PLA.

PC is excellent and “cheap”, and I agree with you that if PC works, there is no point in using higher cost materials. However, it doesn’t work for everything.

Mine is the same. It complains about moist filament and is (maybe was) a little picky about high-content (>40%) wood.

I am also a fan of Polymker for the technical filaments. ASA, unless I find a 10 €/kg spool, I would never think about any other brand.
I tried different brands, but always high-end ones, e.g. BL PAHT and PET-CF, and they are pretty good. But somehow, I never looked for cheaper ones, and most people seem to do the same.

Good to know. I also believe that if you can and are satisfied, do not try to change.

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I tried quite a few materials over the years and even more suppliers.
Unless you need a special filament no one else can provide I just say any will do fine.

For example:
I found a seemingly new shop on AliExpress, offering a 1kg spool of PLA for just $12AU if you order in bulk, otherwise $18- dirt cheap.
With nothing to loose I ordered 15 rolls of PLA in 8 different colours and 3 different finishes.
In case you wonder: I fell for it because it came with Free shipping for orders above $15 in value ROFL
All rolls went through the machine with the same calibration settings and no hickups.
I only had to adjust the temps a bit for the silky and matte stuff.

On the other hand I ordered a few rolls of sparkle and temperature sensitive PLA from a big brand and at over $50 per roll.
Looked great in the pics and in my prints - IF the prints worked rather than the nozzle blocking or the layer bond still failing at print temps of over 230 degrees Celsius…

The times of cheap filament being cheap, nasty and causing more trouble than what it is worth are long over.
There is actually only a few big manufacturers out there supplying the big brand filament shops.
And it is not that one only serves one as it is all demand based.
Even those NOT relying on those few main suppliers can do without the raw materials.
As you have guessed, they all come a few select companies in China LOL
YES, there is still some seemingly independent filament manufacturers out there, mainly for specialised filaments.
For bulk volumes though nothing beats China.
Give them the colour code and material properties you are after and all you have to do is upload the artwork for the packaging.
Did you that in bulk quantities a roll of PLA can be yours for under $5US ? :wink:
The profit margins are still good enough to justifying selling a roll for under $15US, so why bother with your own machines and labour costs ?

I remember the nightmares when all we had was 3mm filaments - we have come a long way since then…

Yes. I did not modify anything in the test. All speeds where the default speed using the default 0.28 profile for the P1P. I should have mentioned this. The goal in my experiment was to introduce only one variable, that being the filament alone. All other parameters were set to default.

I agree about Sport Mode. Even with high-speed filament, I don’t see the benefit. I often use Silent Mode for refined or precision parts. If I’m printing overnight, it doesn’t matter if it takes 4 or 8 hours; I prefer the precision of slower printing. For prints longer than 6 hours, it’s a different story.

Agreed. For high-temp applications, I use PETG, which I can consistently get for under $15, often $13.

I’ve never paid more than $15 for PC, often getting it for $13. However, PC is not for every application. It doesn’t always print well, but I prefer it for threads due to its hardness, which is good for tapping screw holes with a steel tap. This is often more cost-effective than using brass inserts, although I still use brass inserts for items that need to be threaded multiple times, like a camera mount.

CF and GF filaments are superior for mechanical components. I tested a sampler set and found them precise and with excellent print quality. However, at $25-$35 a spool, they don’t justify the cost for my occasional use. I wish they sold 500g spools, as that would be enough for my needs.

Flashforge is another good choice for ASA. I have Polymaker ASA on my shelf also.

(Be sur to read all…) I will say that Siraya Tech HF TPU is a nice and cheaper than others on Amazon. Just use BBL 95A HF profile.

But DON"t get it. Printed well at first after 24hr or so drying. Then for whatever reason it clogged. Thought it was the Revo HF and put a different Revo in, clogged it as well. Had to plug in but not screw the heatsink onto the head an push the stuff out. Loaded another very cheap TPU and it printed well.

So my foot tastes good.

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I too have seen, that chinese companies are selling the same stuff under lots of different brand names. That is not only true for filament but for almost any products and really an absurdity.
But I don’t agree, that you get all the same stuff and same quality, no matter what you pay. It might not be obvious at first because most people look at printability and aesthetics only. But when you do measurements of physical properties, it is surprising how wide spread the results are. I did a few strength tests myself using a simple force meter in a jig with standardized specimen, mainly for PETG. There the spread between best and worst filament was more than factor 2, closer to 2.5. If you look at the extensive tests done by e.g. CNC Kitchen and others, this applies to many other materials too. E.g. Polymaker even sells different variants of the same basic types. And they are clearly different in their properties as e.g. MyTechFun has shown in his tests.

I’m using PLA for everything that just has to look nice. Here I settled on Polymaker Polyterra just because I love the surface and the color choice. It is supposedly rebranded as BBL PLA matte. I want a consistent stock of colors that I can rebuy, even if that costs me 50% more. The price is second priority.
For more technical materials, which at the moment is mainly PETG and PC, I pay most attention at physical properties. For PETG I have settled on a small european brand even though it is twice as expensive as Sunlu. but it delivers same surface at all speeds, 30% higher tensile strength and that at far better consistency. For me that counts more than the lowest price.
For PC, I have only seen tests for Polymaker Polymax PC, Polylite PC and Prusament PC blend. Since I haven’t seen test results with BBL PC and Polymax PC is almost the same price, I buy the latter.

To pick up the title of the thread, I think, there actually are differences between filaments. I agree that quality does not necessarily correspond to price, but there are indeed reasons not to just buy the cheapest filament.

A very interesting topic. Of course, there are a lot of brands, that have the same manufacturer behind them. I mean, setting up a manufacturing plant, extruder lines, quality control and so on, is a) not cheap and b) you need know-how and skilled workers, to get the best out of it. In that regard, I really like what Prusa is doing.

I do not think, that most expensive = always the best quality. Yet, I have this opinion:
Quality always comes at a certain price. High quality cannot be sold at a cheap price. You need to apply so many different aspects, to produce something in high quality.

What many people dont get: The most important piece in the 3D printing process chain is the filament. If you have bad quality filament, your 3D printer cannot magically printing high quality parts. Therefore, good quality filament comes at a price.

Also, I dont like the mindset, that a lot users have in this community: “I want best quality, at the cheapest possible price.” This is so wrong on so many levels.

I do believe, quality is being reflected in the price. At least to a certain degree.

To add to what you said: Sadly, a higher price does not at all indicate better quality. In my tests, Sunlu, the cheapest filament behaved really nice with apparently very consistent diameter, little stringing, good behaviour at higher speeds and good strength values, although the strength had quite some variance between samples. Same to IEMAI, which was just a tad more expensive.
dasfilament, a medium priced local filament was better in many points, it was quite a bit stronger and very consistent at that and more uniform across different print speeds.
The most expensive, Bambu PETG failed miserably compared to the entire competition (i have tested 5 brands of PETG so far).
And then I have read of other very cheap filaments that have terrible quality.

So it seems like there really is no general rule. I have the feeling that you can’t get the best at the cheapest price, but solid quality can be had for really cheap.

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“To add to what you said: Sadly, a higher price does not at all indicate better quality.”

I do believe it can, under certain circumstances.
I also believe, you can have endless discussions, if this is true or not.

I probably used a bad wording. What I wanted to say is, that there are expensive filaments that are of low quality despite their price tag. And I think you have to spend some amount to get the best quality. That should be in line with what you said, didn’t want to contradict you.

I wonder why the usually reliable youtube reviewers don’t do filament roundups where they buy a basket of different filaments of a particular type from the market and then put them through their paces. Seems like it would be right up CNC Kitchen’s alley, for instance. Is it because the answers are likely to alienate sponsors they’ve already cozied up to? Everybody is buying this stuff, yet without any clear guidance other than the experience we each develop separately on our own through trial and error. The whole topic seems long overdue for a really good critical analysis.

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We need to get Project Farm into 3D printing. He does a fine job of finding whats the best of this weeks subject.

His reviews are great.

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