Filabot Filament Review: The Cheapest Environmentally Friendly 3D Printer Filament Around

If you care about the environmental impact of 3D printing, you should know about this company. Filabot specializes in filament and filament extruders so that you can recycle your own plastic into filament at home. These Vermonters are so dedicated to environmental friendliness that they have even sell their waste filament for a few dollars per spool. That’s probably the best deal in the entire filament industry.

Introduction

One of the most important trends in the 3D printing industry is the trend towards more green, sustainable and environmentally friendly ways of producing plastic products. Many people are interested in finding low emissions plastics and recycling their own plastic waste to make filament.

This is where Filabot comes into the picture. Filabot is a small, young company from the Green Mountains in Vermont that is still finding its footing in the 3D printing industry. But it is one of the only filament producers almost completely dedicated to environmentally conscious 3D printing and 3D printer filament.

Filabot SPL1 Filament Spool
Filabot Graphite-Infused Filament with ABS Base, ABS Based, 1.75-mm Diameter, Black
Filabot FB00096 PETG Filament, 2.85 mm Diameter, Clear
Filabot Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotube Filament with an ABS Base, 3-mm Diameter, 1-lb. Spool, Black
Filabot NPLA1 Premium PLA Filament, Dimensional Accuracy +/- 0.05 mm, Natural Off White

Filabot sources all of its raw plastic from Natureworks, a plastics supplier known for producing environmentally conscious plastics. Filabot also aims to propel 3D printing into the next phase of fully personalized production by giving customers the ability to produce their own filament from recycled plastic products found at home. While home filament production has been criticized by a few respected members of the reprap community, Filabot’s mission is to make home filament extrusion the industry standard.

Filabot does this by offering a range of filament extruders and spool winders for individuals and businesses to allow them to make their own filament. You can use these extruders to grind up old milk jugs, make filament out of old plastic toys, TV remote controls, most kinds of plastic containers and disposable plastic objects found around your home.

Filabot also offers its own in-house filament and will test any plastic you send to them, including all recycled materials, to see how well you can print with it. The nice thing about Filabot filament is that it is dirt cheap, at less than $15 per spool. And if you are feeling adventurous, you can find filament for as low as $4 – $8 per spool from the Filabot bargain bin. Filabot doesn’t offer many colors and isn’t focused on producing the range of specialty materials that other filament companies provide. But if you are trying to reduce the kind of waste and pollution that plastic products are currently known for producing, and save a few dollars while you are at it, then Filabot might be the answer to your needs.

Who Owns Filabot?

In 2013, Tyler McNaney launched a successful kickstarter campaign to raise around $32,000 for what would become Filabot. This wasn’t quite enough funding, so he kicked in about $20,000 of his own money to get the whole thing up and running. But now the company is humming along and improving every month. Tyler and a small team of young engineers are quickly becoming leaders in the home filament extruder industry.

Where Does Filabot 3D Filament Come From? Where Can I Buy It?

Filabot is based out of Barre, Vermont, in the Green Mountains. The team works out of a warehouse production facility and ships nationwide. You can purchase Filabot filament and Filabot extruders on Amazon as well as on the Filabot website. Amazon has a good range of their products for low prices. The Filabot website also has great deals on filament and other Filabot products.

The Filament: Price, Quality, and Color Range

The best thing about Filabot filament is the price. Filabot filament often goes for less than $15 per spool which is incredible considering how small the company is and the fact that they are local US producers, not a large Chinese manufacturer. The amazing prices of Filabot filaments and high quality standards put them in strong competition with other budget Filament companies such as Inland / Micro Center filament. Right now, Filabot doesn’t have the color range that other filament producers offer. But that will changing in the future. Importantly, because Filabot is a smaller, more flexible company devoted to research and development of environmentally friendly filament, you can expect that the quality of their filaments will be improving and the color range expanding over the next few years.

Price

At less than $15 per spool and sometimes as low as $4 to $8 per spool if you’re looking in The Bargain Bin, Filabot makes some of the cheapest filament available on the market today. In fact it’s hard to say whether there is a cheaper filament that is as easy to work with out there right now. Granted, The Bargain Bin is a bit of a gamble but sometimes you can find good stuff. But Filabot will often have sales on other filaments for a limited time, which brings the price of more reliable Filabot spools even further below $15. So if MicroCenter / Inland filaments just aren’t doing it for you and you want to try something a little bit more environmentally sustainable, give Filabot a try.

Color Range

Filabot is still figuring out its color range. They offer a good number of different colors of PLA filament but color tone isn’t their focus right now. That being said you can still find most of the colors you would want to print with. And although there aren’t too many specialty colors, the colors they do make are pleasing and exactly what you would expect. You can find all of their colors on the website and most of them Amazon as well. Not all colors are available all of the time since they are made in small batches. But all colors are available for pre-order.

Prints: Strength and Texture

 Print strength and texture are very good. Filabot is constantly trying new plastics and experimenting with different properties including print strength and surface texture. They recently upgraded some of their plastics, including a new type of PLA that has higher strength and durability. The prints that can be made with it tend to be pretty much what you want from a PLA with a little bit more strength than some of the cheaper PLA plastics available. The other types of filament they offer are also very good including the PETG, which is quickly becoming a customer favorite.

Quality and Materials

You might be wondering if the quality of a small batch filament producer like Filabot would stand up to the consistency and manufacturing expertise of larger filament producers. The answer is that Filabot is a good quality filament producer.  Due to the fact that Filabot makes its own extruders, it has perfected the engineering of filament extrusion. As a result, the quality of the filament Filabot makes from the raw plastic pellets from Natureworks is high. The quality of its filaments is also very important for selling its extruders and vice versa. The quality of their filament indicates the quality of the extruders they make and the quality of the extruders they make indicate the quality of their filament.

PLA

For the past few years, Filabot has been selling two types of PLA from Natureworks. But just this summer, Filabot phased out its 4043D grade PLA filament for 3D850 PLA grade filament, which has better strength, color, and higher heat deformation point at around 144ºC. This is a great improvement for Filabot and signals that they are taking their filament sales as seriously as their desktop extruder sales. One thing that Filabot does that a lot of other filament companies don’t do is offer their imperfect filaments for sale in their bargain bin. You can find a lot of spools that didn’t meet the standards for sale for one reason or another but that are perfectly fine to print with. Usually the problem is something inconsequential, such as the fact that filament isn’t quite the right color or the spool isn’t wound well. But the PLA is still perfectly good and you can print whatever you want with it. The best part is that, being in the bargain bin, these spools of PLA will be discounted heavily.

ABS

The ABS from Filabot is a great ABS filament. It meets all the standards of other filament producers and it’s cheaper by a mile. At less than $15 per spool, this is probably the cheapest ABS you’ll find anywhere on the Internet or otherwise. It’s strength and color are very pleasing and when it comes to abs on a budget you find anything better. Now the one thing to keep in mind is that because it is so cheap it might be lower quality than other ABS filaments. But the low prices make up for it. And like makergeeks, Filabot comes from a small shop and is a generally good filament.

PETG

Filabot PETG is a nice addition to their filament line up. However, it’s not always as cheap as their other filaments. Their popular filaments are definitely PLA and abs, so the PETG is not produced as consistently available. That means that you might need to be a bit persistent in order to get it. Look for PETG on their website and Amazon. However they do take single batch calls and also large orders. It will take Filabot around 4 days to fulfill the orders. All of that being said, the PETG from Filabot is great and like all PETG filament, it has the benefits of both ABS and PLA. It is strong like ABS but doesn’t have the smell. It is as easy to print with as PLA and great for making functional parts like light switches or gears.

Website, Packaging, and Spool Design

Filabot gets the website, packaging and spool design right. They are still playing around with some aspects of the packaging and spool design in order to find more eco-friendly options. But the Filabot website is very effective. It’s easy to use with a nice design. Customers can find all of the best Filabot filaments and products. You can even see videos and tutorials. You can also visit the Filabot YouTube channel to see even more videos and get a sense of how Filabot produces all of their products. If you’re really interested, they do have a Kickstarter page from when Tyler first launched the Filabot project. On the kickstarter page Tyler provides a really nice video of the early beginnings of the Filabot extruder and gives a good explanation of the environmental mission behind Filabot.

Website

Filabot website is very pleasing and easy to use. Some people don’t like the garish green color finding it to be a little bit too intense. But most people find the website design fun and enjoy the fact that all the products are right there for you to consider. The Filabot website also has several tabs for all of their different products. You can see videos and tutorials. These videos are done by Tyler and his friend and explain exactly how Filabot filament is produced. They also explain how they make extruders and how to use these machines to make your own filament at home. There are deals on the website that you can’t find on platforms like Amazon or Ebay. One of the best parts of the website is The Bargain Bin. In The Bargain Bin you can find filament for between four and $8 depending on the type and the day. Check there often to see if you can find a deal for yourself.

Spool Design And Packaging

Filabot packaging is pretty standard. All spools are shrink wrapped with a desiccant included. There have been no complaints or otherwise unsatisfactory remarks from customers about Filabot packaging. The packages are well labeled with the Filabot logo and information about what type of filament is included. If packaging is a concern for you don’t worry about it with Filabot.

Filabot is an environmentally friendly company focussed completely on making the 3D printer industry more sustainable. It makes sense that spool design is an important aspect of Filabot experimentation. Often, empty spools get discarded and/or pile-up after use. This is one of the problems with 3D printers right now. Wasted spools is also one of the main problems that Filabot is trying to tackle. Empty spools and wasted plastic negatively impact the environment and contribute to the degradation of ecosystems in the long run. Tyler has been interested in exploring different types of spools that are more environmentally friendly for a while now. Filabot played around with ideas for different materials such as cardboard and better biodegradable Plastics. However, due to the fact that cardboard tends to give off microparticles that clog extruders, Filabot will most likely stick with plastic spools.

 

QUICK TIP – EMPTY SPOOL WEIGHT: Filabot spools weight about 13 ounces. This is nice to know because if you put your spool on a scale while you’re printing, you can watch how much filament is being used. When you get down close to the 13 ounce weight, you will know that you are getting closer to the end of your spool

 

The Take-Away

Filabot is an environmentally friendly filament producer that strives to bring 3d printer community closer to an environmentally sustainable future. While the core of the business is built around manufacturing home desktop 3D filament extruders, Filabot also sells cheap, good quality filament for absurdly low prices. You can often find spools of Filabot filament for under $15. While the range of specialty materials that filament sells isn’t as extensive as other filament producers, you can still find PLA and ABS, as well as PETG and a few other nice materials to work with. And since the prices are rock bottom, you can be sure that filabot filament won’t break the bank.

Filabot is a great filament supplier to start with if you are learning how to use your 3D printer or just looking to support and environmentally friendly business. Click here to get your first role of Filabot filament through Amazon.com.

Be sure to check the Bargain Bin on the Filabot website where you can often find discarded spools that are perfectly fine print with but just not necessarily up to the standards of the rest of the sale quality Filabot filament. Usually something small is wrong like the coloration is off or the spool isn’t wound as nicely as they would like. But the filament itself is still extruded to the standards of the rest of the company’s filaments and it is super cheap. In the bargain bin, you will sometimes find spools for as cheap as between $4 and $8. So if you are interested in a quick cheap filament spool of film and not necessarily concerned with getting the perfect color or the best wound spool, definitely look there for deals.

 

Similar Filament Brands You Should Try

 

  • MakerGeeks
  • SainSmart
  • Hatchbox
  • 3D Solutech
  • eSun

 

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