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3D Printer Filament Available at Monoprice

We hadn't noticed it before, but evidently Monoprice has been selling plastic filament suitable for 3D printers for months now. 
If you're not familiar with Monoprice, they are a large online retailer of electronic goods, specializing in ultra-inexpensive cables. For example, you can get yourself an HDMI cable as little as USD$4, while you'd pay perhaps five times or more that price from a typical brick-and-mortar retailer. Even better, if you order in quantity you'll qualify for a discount. 
So how do they do with filament? Do their filament prices match their low-cost reputation? 
First, they sell a rather small set of filaments in 1kg spools. Simply choose: ABS or PLA; 3mm or 1.75mm; Red, White or Black. There's only 12 possibilities. 
Each 1kg spool sells for USD$26. You can get a discount if you buy more: 2-9 is USD$25.80 (0.7%), 10-19 is USD$25.1 (3.5%) and over quantity 50 you'd pay USD$24.00 (7.7%) each. These are not terrific quantity discounts, but they are available. 
Checking prices at other common suppliers for 1kg 1.75mm PLA shows (if offered at a weight other than 1kg, we've scaled the prices to 1kg equivalents): 
  • Filaco: USD$44
  • Faberdashery: USD$101 (sold by the meter)
  • FormFutura: USD$37
  • JustPLA: USD$32
  • MakerBot: USD$48
  • MakerGear: USD$46
  • Plastic Web Shop: USD$68 
  • ProtoParadigm: USD$42
  • Ultimachine: USD$46
So it would seem Monoprice is less expensive than many other sources. However, there are a few other things to consider before buying from Monoprice: 
  • Monoprice has a reputation for switching suppliers; the second time you order you may get a completely different product
  • There is no guarantee of safety with their filaments; some filaments have been shown to contain lead for coloring
  • There is no guarantee of consistent specifications; you may find the filament has varying diameter, for example
  • If you need specific colors, Monoprice has a pretty terrible selection
  • Shipping costs may vary considerably
Nevertheless, it does seem like a good price and may be worth an experiment. 

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