mandag 26. desember 2011

PLA Review - Supply3DPLA Autumn 2011 batch

A bit flimsy, but overall good spools.
My Prusa Mendel is really proving itself, and have worked reliable for quite some time now. Having a reliable printer means it eats filament like a hungry hippo, and it was time to stock up. Since I have previous good experience with Supply3DPLA, I wanted to try the colours in the new PLA batch they got in this autumn (was it october/november?).

This post is rather long, so I'll try a jump-cut...



Shipping

FedEx is now their main shipping partner, and it's a great improvement. The order was placed late on Thursday December 15., and I received it December 18.! Granted I was a bit lucky as they ship on Fridays, but it's still very efficient to ship next day. In total I paid €63 (~$82) for shipping to Norway, which is a great deal considering the package weighed over 12kg, and was delivered in 3 days straight to my front door.

Both thumbs up and a big smile from me!


Price

I ordered one 2.5kg spool of each of their new 3mm filament, green, yellow and red. I also ordered a 5kg spool of the red PLA from last batch, since I knew that was high quality, and it was even cheaper.

The small spools was €39 each, and the large 5kg spool was only €49. Since you don't pay EU vat in Norway the total including shipping was €195. I have yet to receive the tax paperwork from FedEx, but including local tax I guess it'll be ~€260. This sums up - for the whole order - a price per kg of €21 (~$27) (!), which is very, very good. Now let's see if the quality holds up.


Packaging/Spooling

The filament came in a big box filled up with packing peanuts, all the spools was individually sealed in saran wrap, and all but the big one was in a plastic bag with a moisture absorbing bag in it. The 2.5kg packages are pre-spooled, and since they are so cheap I was a bit worried if it would come off without tangling, but I've had no problems so far.

The filament on the red spool seems to stick to itself quite a bit though, almost as if it was moved onto the spool while being too hot. So I'll update the review if it turns out to be a problem.


Update Jan.03.2012: The problem got worse as I used more of the spool, and about half way through it sticks very much to itself, the diameter is uneven and oval, and it seems to be more brittle and snaps off from time to time. It still manages to peel itself off the spool relatively good though, perhaps due to the ptfe tube I use? The print quality have dropped a little bit because of this, but it's not a huge issue. I've contacted Supply3DLA, and they are looking into it. Many other customers have reported they have no problems.

No bearing works fine so far.
You can find this simple spool spacer at thingiverse.

I  have previously considered spools an expensive luxury, but it's incredibly handy. Everybody who have tried fighting a big spool of unruly filament, can attest it's not fun at all. The 5kg coil was not spooled, but I knew that, and it was so much cheaper anyway, so I can't complain. A coil this big is pretty difficult to handle though, and you would want to spool it onto something to avoid a terrible headache. It's a bit of a chore to do by yourself, so it's easier to get someone to help you.

The big 5kg coil is not spooled.
Colours

Now onto the good part, how does it look? It's a bit difficult to to get the exact colour photographed, so I have slightly tweaked the brightness and contrast to get closer to how it looks in real life.

Green
The colour is describe as "jade green", which is a good match. It's slightly glossy and not fully opaque, it looks good, but is nothing special. The diameter is pretty consistent between 2.75-2.8mm.

The printed models are my parametric tie, and my minecraft creeper.

You use this where?


Yellow
The yellow is clean and crisp, it's glossy, just slightly transparent and looks great. I measured the diameter to range between 2.8-2.9mm.

The printed model is my super heavy duty OpenSCAD variant of this great spool. I'll post it to thingiverse when it's ready for prime time. Please note I printed this at 150mm/s perimeter and 180mm/s infill to test the limits of my printer, so it's function over form. On a side note I now print at 120mm/s perimeter and 160mm/s infill, as my hot end couldn't quite keep up with the higher speeds.

Fully printable spools ftw!



Red
Now this is it, this colour is awesome! It a very deep, burgundy, vibrant blood red, it's quite glossy, and pretty spectacular. The first lengths of filament has an average diameter of about 2.65-2.75mm.

I highly recommend this colour. It looks especially incredible against black filament, and a black extruder body with red gears would look great on any RepRap.

The printed models are the Prusa Mendel bar clampmy minecraft creeper, and the spindle from the spool mentioned above.

I'm all smiles!


Old "Red"
See my previous review for a description. I measured it to be pretty consistent around 2.9-3mm.

I'm printing with this filament as we speak, and so far it looks like it behaves just like last time. It's very good, though it does look a bit dull next to the other red PLA.


Temperature and behaviour

The filament is quite soft and bendable, but it does snap if you bend it too much, or if it sits under tension for a while. It also has some kinks and bends in it, though this has not made any difference for me.

All the colours extrude fine at 160C through my 0.35mm Arcol v3 hot end, though the green one seems to flow more consistent at 180C+. I've been pushing the speed limit of my printer lately and I've had to up the temperature so the hot end can keep up. When printing infill at 150mm/s or above, I set the temp to 195C, and it's very stable. The filament doesn't boil, smell bad or get discoloured at all. I haven't noticed any bubbles.

I've had trouble with it on a couple of occasions though. If I let the printer stand idle with the heater on, the heat creeps up the filament and deforms it right where the idler wheel on the extruder pushes it against the hobbed bolt. When that happens it'll form a flat spot which jams itself in the cold end, and I have to take off the hot end to unclog it. I don't know if this is because of the hot end design, too high heat, inadequate cooling or too much idler pressure. But since it's never happened before, and this PLA is softer and more bendable than others I have tried lately, it just might be an issue with the filament.

Bottom line
Once again, Supply3DPLA has proven to sell high quality filament. I hear many people bash Chinese filament in general, but I can't see why. I can honestly say this latest batch of Chinese PLA from Supply3DPLA is amongst the best filament I've used. It's easy to work with and looks great, all at a very affordable price.

This PLA from Supply3DPLA gets the highest recommendations from me.

Nice, vibrant colours.

What's next?

Supply3DPLA is getting even more new colours in a month or so, and depending on how much filament I've got left, I just might try them out. I also recently got two small coils of awesome filament from Vik Olliver at Diamond Age Solutions in New Zealand, so I'll write up a review of that when I've tried it a bit more. And just this morning I got a package from faberdashery, with a whole range of nice colours to try out.

Two examples of the many colours Diamond Age supplies.
Faberdashery also have a wide range of funky colours.

I'll keep you posted as I get more experience with different suppliers. Take care! :)

-Nudel