Dockwell Filament Review: Rock-Bottom Prices From A Reliable Source
Dockwell is a good brand of filament that is easily overlooked. It isn’t a very impressive looking filament, but the quality is not bad. This is a good secondary choice if your preferred brand isn’t available.
- Business Type: Online retailer, manufacturer (unconfirmed)
- Location: California
- Founding Date: 2015
- Deals and Perks: Buy one spool, post a review, get a free spool
- Customer Service: phone number, email, and contact form on website. Responds well and replaces defective spools.
- Website: www.Dockwell.com
Dockwell filament is one of those 3D printer filament brands that is small enough that customers easily overlook it in the ocean of other filaments and printer brands. Yet, somehow, it is in the top 50 filament brands on Amazon, and its customers really love it. Maybe it’s the super low prices, maybe it’s maybelline. We’re not sure. But customers definitely like this filament. Especially Dockwell glow-in-the-dark filaments. Customers are saying that this is great filament, that it prints smoothly and that the blueish glow is much more fun than the standard green glow. One customer noted that it does glow really well, so well in fact that after charging up their printed item, it was still slightly glowing 7 hours later! You read that right. 7 hours. Now THAT’S a glow-in-the-dark filament.
So naturally this is a filament brand worth checking out. You will notice immediately that Dockwell 3D filament is a no-frills, super budget-friendly option. It’s not the sort of filament that you might expect to be blown away by. And for the most part, that expectation is correct for most customers. The regular colors of PLA and ABS perform well, with not too many significant issues.
Sure, the spools have small center holes, so the winding is a bit tight towards the end of the rolls, and the printed pieces are a bit more brittle than many would like. But the colors are on point, and the tolerances are mostly in the standard +/- 0.05mm range (except for one spool of ABS, which we’ll talk about later). And for such a low price, at just under $18 for a roll of regular PLA or ABS, most customers are very willing to overlook these minor issues. In fact, besides Inland, Dockwell is the best 3D filament brand for prices under $20 per spool. Let’s get into why.
But first, here is a table of some of their most popular products:
Who Owns Dockwell?
Behind every successful filament brand is an experienced manager. Dockwell is managed by Reed Lombard, who is the 3D Printing Specialist and Operations Coordinator at www.pcRush.com. This is an ecommerce website owned by Atman, inc., and it is aimed at providing a wide range of both consumer and corporate technology at the lowest prices possible. Dockwell is a side project aimed at capitalizing on the recent boom in cheap filament companies. In keeping with pcRush.com’s focus on low prices, Dockwell prices vastly undercut many competitors. And even though they claim to be a filament manufacturer on their website, we think that this filament comes originally from China due to the price and quality, but we can’t be sure.
Where Can I Buy Dockwell Filaments?
Surprisingly, you can’t actually buy Dockwell filaments on Dockwell.com. But Dockwell has done a good job of connecting with various retailers to become the main source of cheap 3D filament across a few major online marketplaces. Look for Dockwell filaments on Amazon, Ebay, Walmart, Kmart, and pcRush.com. Each platform offers different deals and return policies. But all platforms offer free shipping.
The Filament: Price, Quality, and Color Range
Dockwell aims to provide a budget-friendly PLA and ABS alternative to anyone looking for a deal. And it is largely successful. Its regular PLA and ABS filaments are pretty good and well worth the low prices. The ABS could improve a little regarding consistent tolerances from one spool to the next, and the PLA is a little brittle. But these are strong filaments and are very easy to work with on many different prints. The color range isn’t very large, but the colors Dockwell offers will cover 85% of a beginner’s printing needs. The best part about this brand of 3D filaments is that if you are okay with paying a little more, you can get a very good glow-in-the-dark blue filament.
Most Dockwell PLA and ABS filaments cost just under $18 at the time of this writing. That is one of the lowest prices for 3D filaments in the industry. However, the Glow In The Dark filaments cost around $25 at the time of this writing, and other specialty filaments, such as Wood and Nylon, cost around $35 for a 1kg spool.
Dockwell offers a small range of colors. The product line includes around 5-12 colors depending on the type of plastic (ABS, PLA, Specialty filaments). Most of these colors are in the ROYGBIV range, with white, black, gold, silver and a few others thrown in for good measure. This is fine for a cheaper filament brand that is intended to be your go to filament for everyday projects. But for special projects that need a specific color filament, chances are that Dockwell won’t have it. The nice thing is that the colors that are available translate really well into the prints and the color tones are as advertised. So you won’t have to worry about being disappointed with the shade of the colors you buy.
Prints are generally good for such a cheap filament. All filaments print well with some defects here or there. It’s definitely not Hatchbox or SainSmart quality, but the prints are pleasing, and the colors translate well into the finished pieces. Some of the PLA prints can be brittle so just make sure to print extra support for thinner sections. Most prints came out strong though, and the plastic is hard.
Quality and Materials
The filaments are good quality for the lower price. They are not as good as higher end filaments, or even middle range filaments like 3D Solutech. Tolerances are off and the flow is sometimes uneven, but you get what you pay for. If what you are looking for is just a good filament for experimenting without breaking the bank, then Dockwell is a good option for you. It is easy to work with and will get the job done for most simple projects.
A few quick points about the quality:
- Dockwell filaments are very easy to work with, so this is a good choice for beginners.
- The resolution of smaller details on prints, such as decorative inlays or designs, might not be very high.
- The filaments aren’t super glossy, but they are smooth. Finished prints can benefit from post-processing, such as sanding or painting.
- Purity seems to be fairly high with these filaments, which means that print temperatures are pretty low.
Dockwell PLA filaments are solid filaments for beginners and anyone looking to load up on some cheaper common filament colors. They are easy to work with and the print temperatures are very straightforward. Many customers find that printing at 190-193ºC did the trick. Blue painter’s tape and PVA glue work very well, but you can use most other kinds of bed adhesives . The nice thing is that Dockwell PLAs are very cheap on Amazon with free shipping, and if you don’t like the filament that you get, you can always return it or contact Dockwell through the website for a replacement spool.
Generally, the Dockwell ABS filaments all print well. The one major area that needs to be improved is the consistency of the tolerances for various spools. The diameters on a spool of White ABS was well beyond the +/- .05mm standard. This meant that a few customer’s prints failed completely, with clogging and a snapped feeder tube. But a they only ran into this problem with a handful of spools. Dockwell is aware of the issue and is working on fixing it. The best prints come out after extruding at 230ºC. The best extrusion temperature for pure ABS is usually around that temperature, so this ABS is likely very pure.
For some reason, Dockwell has decided to sell its wood filament at around $35 across all platforms. The product picture that Dockwell decided to use for the wood filament also looks very messy and gives the impression that the spool is not wound well. From the picture, it is also hard to tell what color the wood filament is. Is it white? Gray? And why would anyone want a grey wood filament?
The filament itself, however, is not terrible. It smells like wood when it prints and is easy to post-process by sanding or painting. The major issue with it is that it is more of a greyish-tan, and doesn’t look as much like wood as other available wood filaments.
Glow In The Dark
The Dockwell Blue Glow In The Dark is a great glow-in-the-dark filament, and for the price, ranks as one of the best glow-in-the-dark filaments available. It prints well and glows brightly for a long time. Also, you can charge it quickly in a well-lit room. Many customers really like the blue color tone of the glow because most glow-in-the-dark filaments green, red and yellow. The one problem with this filament is that the prints are a bit brittle. This is true for a lot of the Dockwell PLA filaments, but it was more of an issue with the glow-in-the-dark filaments for some customers. That being said, it isn’t a deal-breaker at all. You will generally be very pleased with the way this filament printed, and we give it high marks for ease of use.
The Nylon filament from Dockwell is good quality but there is a major flaw with it. Just like Dockwell Wood 3D filament, the Nylon 3D filaments are priced at around $35 right now. However, Dockwell does offer a few good colors of nylon beyond just black and white. In fact, Dockwell offers about five different colors, such as Red, Green, and Yellow. If they lower the price, then they could become a more competitive alternative to some of the other leading nylon brands out there.
Website, Packaging, and Spool Design
Overall, the actual branding side of things is a bit lacking. Of course, having great branding isn’t necessary when you are trying to keep things cheap so that you can keep prices low. But there are certain cheap, small improvements that could be made which would have a large impact on the ability of the brand to find and retain new customers. For instance, having a basic e-commerce website and social media presence would help. Also, putting labels on the spools is a very small courtesy that customers may or may not notice, but will convey a sense of branding consistency and extend the brand’s reach. How these changes will affect Dockwell’s bottom line, we don’t know. But if these things can be done while keeping the low prices, then customer experience will improve.
Dockwell has a very minimal website and web presence in general. Many things about the overall web presence could be improved if the owners want to grow this brand. For now, Dockwell seems to be relying on its retail partnerships with Walmart, Kmart and others for sales e-commerce. But if the Dockwell team does decide to begin selling through their standalone website just as many other successful 3D filament brands do currently, they will need to update their website and launch full blown social media pages.
Here are some basic flaws that could be fixed immediately:
- While customer service is good through the website, responses to questions on retail platforms are in broken English. Customer service has possibly been outsourced to India.
- Logo and header image on website has poor resolution and major editing mistakes; for instance, the spools in the header image have warped edges.
Packaging and Spool Design
The packaging that Ddockwell uses is standard. The spools come in the standard vacuum sealed plastic wrapping with a desiccant included inside to prevent moisture from affecting the quality of the filament. The cardboard box it comes in is also well labeled.
The most common Dockwell spool is made of a hard, white plastic. These spools have an outer diameter of 160mm and a width of 85mm. They also have smaller center holes than usual, at around 32mm, so many filament holders might not be able to hold them. If you run into this problem, head on over to Thingiverse and print yourself a universal spool holder.
Recently, Dockwell has started using a hard black plastic spool that is becoming the industry standard. This kind of spool, which Dockwell is calling spool type B, has a regular 2-inch center hole. So look for these Dockwell spools to avoid issues with your spool holder. You can find them at www.Walmart.com.
One last minor annoyance you might have with the spools is that they aren’t labeled! Unlabeled spools is a pet peeve for many makers because it makes it harder to identify the spool among others in your workspace. You might want to label it yourself with a piece of masking tape and sharpie.
Important Note about the Center Hole:
Because the white Dockwell spools have a smaller center hole, you should watch out for tightness toward the end of the spool while printing. The spools tend to get a little tight because of the natural tendency of smaller diameter windings to require more force to spin the spool. This might lead to a break in the flow of filament through your extruder and a failed print. So watch out!
Recommended Printer Settings
Most customers find these filaments to be relatively easy to print with. The purity is high so no extra considerations need to be taken regarding extrusion temperature. You will probably have success with various infills and layer heights. But it is recommended to opt for a smaller layer height and higher % infill due to some brittleness especially with Glow In The Dark and ABS.
- Print Temp. for PLA = 193ºC
- Print Temp. for ABS = 230ºC
- Print Temp. for Nylon filament = 220ºC
- Heated printer bed = optional. Try 50ºC for PLA, 60ºC for ABS
- Fan = ON
- Adhesion materials = blue painter’s tape, PVA glue
- Print Speed = 50-60mm/sec for PLA, 30-50mm/sec for Nylon, 30-90mm/sec for ABS
Some filament brands claim to offer the best 3D filaments at the lowest prices. Very few actually do that. But Dockwell comes close. Many customers don’t expect much when they buy a spool of Dockwell filament because its rare to find a good filament brand that charges less than $20 per spool. So you will be generally impressed with the quality that Dockwell PLA and ABS filaments offer. They are not perfect. The ABS has some problems with inconsistent tolerances, and the PLA and Glow In The Dark filaments can be a bit brittle. But for filaments that cost under $18 at the time of this writing, you will be happy with what you get out of them.
Dockwell is a good brand to start with if you are a beginner and you don’t want to spend too much money while you learn how to use your printer. For more seasoned 3D printer owners and operators, Dockwell filament is also a good alternative to other budget brands if you are looking to stock up on certain core colors or make a disposable model for a larger project. The color range is limited, but you can find all of the most common colors that printers tend to use. We recommend trying out the Glow In The Dark, too. Check it out on Amazon. You won’t be disappointed.
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