How Much Filament Is Used in 3D Printing: A Quick Guide

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A red vase printed in pla filament on an Anycubic Vyper 3D printer

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Understanding filament usage is essential for 3D printing project planning and cost estimation.
  • Filament consumption depends on object size, infill density, wall thickness, and support structures.
  • Proper estimation of filament needs helps avoid running out of material mid-print and ensures smooth 3D printing experiences.

3D printing has revolutionized how we create objects, from functional parts to artistic pieces. One crucial aspect to consider when diving into 3D printing is the amount of filament used during the process. The filament is the plastic material used to build your print layer by layer, and knowing how much you’ll need helps in cost estimation and project planning.

Several factors can impact 3D print filament usage, such as object size, infill density, wall thickness, and support structures. 3D printing filament is commonly sold in 1kg spools. To give you a rough idea, a 1 kg spool of PLA filament is approximately 333 meters long, while 1 kg of ABS filament is around 400 meters long.

It’s critical to understand how much filament Is used in 3D printing to help you avoid running out of filament mid-print and budget your project costs.

Let’s explore how much filament your 3D printer uses and the factors that affect filament usage.

Estimating How Much Filament is Used in 3D Printing

Three Spools of filament on a 3D printer bed

Anywhere from 5 to 750 grams of filament is used during 3D printing depending on the object’s size, infill, support structures, and wall thickness.

Knowing how much filament you might use for your projects is essential to better plan your projects and purchases.

Most rolls of filament come in 1 kg packages, regardless of filament type. However, the filament length on a spool varies depending on the filament diameter (1.75mm or 3mm) and material. For example, a 1 kg spool of 1.75mm PLA filament contains about 333 meters (1,083 ft), while a 1 kg spool of 2.85 mm PLA contains around 125 meters (377 ft).

Similarly, a 1 kg spool of ABS filament provides around 400 meters (1,345 ft) of 1.75 mm diameter filament or 150 meters (459 ft) of 2.85 mm diameter filament.

Different materials have different densities that affect the weight of your prints. For instance, PLA has a density of 1.24 grams per cubic centimeter (g/cm³), while ABS has a slightly lower material density at 1.04 g/cm³. Consequently, an object printed in ABS weighs slightly less than the same object printed in PLA.

Three spools of PLA filament on the build platform of a 3D printer

To estimate the amount of filament used for your 3D prints, consider your model’s project size and complexity. Small and simple parts use as little as 5 grams of filament, while more intricate designs might use over 750 grams of filament.

Most slicing softwares estimate material usage, so you can better estimate the amount of filament required for your 3D print. Slicing programs consider the model’s dimensions, infill, and support settings and generate an estimated weight and length of filament required.

In my experience, PrusaSlicer provides closer filament usage and print times estimates than Cura.

Slicing software also estimates the time it takes for a 3D print. So you know approximately how long it will take to print your model.

The best 3D printing filaments provide measurements on the filament spool, so you know exactly how many grams or meters of filament are left on the roll. The estimations ensure you don’t run out of material during your print.

But ensuring you have more 3D printer filament than required before running a print is essential.

You want to have extra filament on the roll than estimated because filament usage estimations are just that – estimates. It’s common for slicing software to under or overestimate the amount of filament used for a 3D print. So always use a filament roll with a bit more material than you think you need, especially when printing in multiple colors.

Factors Affecting Filament Usage

A statue of baby yoda printed in tri extrusion filament on a anycubic vyper

Regarding 3D printing, the amount of filament used can vary depending on several factors. In this section, we’ll discuss some of these factors that directly impact filament usage.

  • Type of 3D printer: Different 3D printers can have varying filament consumption rates. The printer’s efficiency, design, and extruder type all play a role in determining how much filament is used during the printing process.
  • Infill percentage: Infill is the internal structure of a printed object that provides strength and support. Increasing the infill percentage leads to a denser internal structure, which consumes more filament. On the other hand, a lower infill percentage uses less filament but may result in less sturdy prints.
  • Wall count: The wall count determines the thickness of the outer walls of your print. Larger wall counts use more material and produce stronger prints. Thinner walls use less filament but result in weaker parts.
  • Support: If your object has overhangs, you’ll need to use support material to provide a platform for your printer to create the thing. Support structures require additional filament, increasing the amount used during printing.
  • Print volume: The size and geometry of your 3D model play a crucial role in determining filament consumption. Larger prints or complex designs typically require more filament than smaller, simpler prints.
  • Build plate adhesion: PLA and PETG filament often adhere to the heated bed without intervention. However, more complex materials like ABS require additional adhesion techniques to prevent warping and ensure your prints stick to the build plate. Printing with a rim, brim, or raft uses more filament, creating a larger surface area and increasing first-layer bed adhesion.
  • Colors and multi-material prints: If your 3D printer can handle more than one filament color or material, the number of filaments and amount of filament changes affect filament consumption. The hot end purges the old filament each time the color changes during the print to prevent color bleeding. The more color changes your print requires, the more times your nozzle must purge excess filament. The purged filament is discarded or printed into a purge tower using excess filament.

By understanding these factors and adjusting your print settings accordingly, you can optimize your filament usage and make the most out of your 3D printing projects.

How To Reduce Filament Usage In 3D Prints

A matte blue owl printed in polyterra pla filament on a fdm 3d printer

If you want to conserve filament and prevent the excess filament from going to waste, you can make the following changes:

  • Decrease infill density
  • Reduce outer wall count
  • Print without a rim, brim, or raft.
  • Change the orientation of the print to reduce the need for support.
  • Reduce support infill or increase the support angle.
  • Try Cura’s tree supports or PrusaSlicer’s organic supports instead of standard ones.

Before making changes to save filament, it’s essential to consider the trade-offs.

When making changes to your slicer settings, it’s essential to consider how the changes impact your final print. The changes above can significantly reduce the filament your printer uses but also create weaker and less supported parts.

Cost of 3D Printing Filament

Several 3D printed models on an Anycubic Vyper 3D printer

If you’ve read this far, it’s likely because the cost significantly affects your 3D printing. Understanding how much filament costs and how it affects your overall budget is essential.

Filament prices vary depending on the quality, color and manufacture.

Below are some average prices for 1kg spools of filament:

  • PLA: $20 – $30
  • ABS: $20 – $35
  • PETG: $25 – $40
  • TPU: $30 – $50
  • Nylon: $50 – $90
  • PC: $35 – $75

Remember that these prices are just examples; the actual cost may vary.

When calculating the cost of 3D printing, consider not only the cost of the filament itself but also additional factors like labor, electricity, and wear and tear on your printer. Estimating these factors can help you manage your budget and make informed decisions on choosing the right filament for your needs. 

Examples of Filament Used in 3D Printed Objects

A black PLA 3D benchy with a red petg benchy in the background

When you’re 3D printing, it’s essential to understand how much filament might be needed for different types of objects.

  • Let’s start with something small like a keychain. For a simple keychain of about 5cm x 2cm x 0.5cm, you may only need around 2-4 grams of filament. Small objects like this are great for testing your printer’s settings or experimenting with a new type of filament.
  • The popular 3D Benchy test print uses 13g of filament and takes 2.5 hours to print on a standard 3D printer. On a CoreXY printer, the 3D Benchy can print in under 20 minutes.
  • A standard-size phone case, which measures approximately 15cm x 7cm x 1cm, might use between 30 and 60 grams of filament. The amount used can vary depending on factors like infill percentage and intricacies of the design.
  • A slightly more complex example, like a headphone stand, uses around 125 grams of filament, which costs roughly $2.75. You can print around eight headphone stands with a spool of 1kg of filament.
  • Lastly, let’s look at a larger item like a Mandalorian cosplay helmet. The massive print needs around 750 grams of filament, costing about $16.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does 1 Kg Of PLA Filament Last?

A 1kg spool of filament can last between a couple of days to six months, depending on the frequency of printing and the size of the objects.

What Is The Average Filament Usage Per Hour For 3D Printers?

Standard 3D printers use around 6-10 grams of filament per hour, while CoreXY 3D printers, like the Bambu Lab P1P, use 20-25 grams per hour. A faster print speed uses more filament than slow print speeds.

How Do I Calculate The Filament Required For My 3D Printing Project?

Most slicer software like Cura, PrusaSlicer, and Simplify 3D estimate filament usage in grams and length. This estimate considers the model’s volume, chosen print settings, and the material properties of the filament. Use this estimate to ensure you have enough filament before starting your print.

What Is The Typical Weight Of A Filament Roll?

The most common weight for a filament roll is 1 kg. Nevertheless, various manufacturers offer rolls in different weights, ranging from 500 grams to 5 kg. The length of the filament on a roll varies based on the density of the material. For example, 1 kg of PLA filament is approximately 330 meters long, while 1 kg of ABS filament is around 400 meters long.

How Much Filament Is On A Roll?

Most filament manufacturers include a guide on the spool’s side to indicate how much filament is on a roll. But, the measurement isn’t exactly accurate. The best way to get an accurate measurement is by weighing the roll of filament and subtracting the spool weight. You can find the spool weight listed on the roll or the filament’s packaging.

Marcello De Lio
Marcello De Lio

Marcello co-founded 3D Print Mentor to share his love of 3D printing. Marcello used to own an online 3D printing company, where he sold unique designs and customized novelty gifts. After closing the business, Marcello’s new passion is 3D printing replica movie props and cosplay items.

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