Does FoxSmart’s ultra-inexpensive 3D printer filament make the grade? Apparently, it does!
We wrote a few weeks ago on a new and very inexpensive source of 3D printer filament: FoxSmart, who currently sell 1Kg spools of PLA filament at the rock-bottom price of USD$18. That’s a lot less than half the price of MakerBot filament (USD$48) and cheaper than many other sources.
The question was, is this filament any good? We obtained a full 1kg spool and printed our brains out to determine the answer.
Our first print was the usual 20mm cube. Does the filament work at all? Indeed, it did. A flawless cube rapidly appeared.
More complex designs were attempted, including this stunning print of Virtox’s “Julia Vase #004 – Bloom” (available on Thingiverse if you’d like to print your own). As you can see, the print is near-perfect.
In fact, we printed a great many things. Around a kilo of objects, you might say. We encountered no difficulties at all, as prints continued to occur without incident. The first and second layers you see printed here were quite typical – and beautifully consistent.
We wondered exactly how consistent this filament might be. While a filament manufacturer may spec their product at 1.75mm, is it really that diameter? We checked FoxSmart’s filament by measuring the diameter in two perpendicular directions with a digital micrometer at five different points on a long strand. We found these measurements:
- 1.78 / 1.76
- 1.75 / 1.76
- 1.74 / 1.75
- 1.74 / 1.70
- 1.73 / 1.72
The filament was off by an average of only 0.017mm over the ten measurements, with a maximum of 0.05mm. In terms of roundness (the difference between two perpendicular measurements at the same point on the filament), we found an average of 0.02mm.
Is this good? Oh yes. It’s generally accepted that filament should vary no more than 0.05mm from 1.75mm target diameter (but different if you’re using 3mm filament). So in the case of FoxSmart, it seems they produce very consistently formed filament.
There must be a catch? Not that we could find. The only possible “complaint” we could identify is the diameter of the spool hub is a bit small, around 30mm. Smaller than our standard setup, it caused us to rig up something special to hold the spool. The small diameter also meant the filament was tightly curved toward the end of the 1Kg and we did notice one break when the filament sat idle for a day at this stage.
FoxSmart still sells these 1Kg spools for the incredibly low price of USD$18 each, with shipping as low as USD$4 for a slow truck to points in the USA. Their selection of colors is limited to only white, clear, black, red, blue, orange, yellow and green, which you might consider a limitation.
Our verdict? We’re ordering a bunch more right away.