How Much Does 3D Printer Filament Really Cost?

By on October 18th, 2015 in Corporate, materials

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We got an unexpected glimpse of wholesale pricing from an Asian manufacturer of 3D printer filament. 

At Fabbaloo, we are besieged with emails from all manner of 3D print-related business operations. Correspondence from printer manufacturers, part distributors, suppliers, resellers, sharing sites, print services and much more regularly lands in our busy inbox. But one notice caught our eye. 

It was from an unnamed China-based plastics manufacturer, who produces “MakerBot compatible” 3D printer filament on spools. They explained that they have warehouses in both Europe and the US to provide local distribution and dramatically reduce the cost of shipping individual or small batches of spools across half the planet.  

Their inventory included almost 200 different species of 1.75 and 3.00mm 3D printer filament, including PLA, HIPS and ABS, in dozens of interesting colors. Evidently they have serious quantities of product available: we counted over 5,000 spools in their warehouse inventory. 

Here’s the interesting part: they were willing to part with these 1kg spools for the amazing price of only USD$8 per spool! Even better, they suggested that they’d be willing to discuss lower prices if you require “big quantities”. 

That’s a rock-bottom price, as the going rate for inexpensive 3D printer filament is currently around USD$20 per kg. 

This tells us two important things. 

First, some of the 3D printer filament resellers you encounter likely obtain their products from similar manufacturers at similar rates. Even at USD$20 per kg, they may be making a tidy profit. 

Secondly, it seems there could be price movement downwards in 3D printer filament in the future. If a large Asian manufacturer can produce filament for only USD$8 per single spool, where might the price go in the future as demand increases?

Perhaps we’re heading for a USD$5 per kg filament world? 

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!