For all the people who have asked about filaments, here's my list, spread across 8 different posts. This list includes over a hundred filaments, with pictures, measurements, and impressions. All are 1.75mm. Please don't read too much into my opinions, there's a lot of variation in filament and printers, and my opinions apply only to the spools I have on hand. I try to be objective with these opinions, but my preferences and biases affect my opinion, so keep that in mind when browsing this list. Also be aware of the date, some of these filaments may no longer be available, or may be different from what is currently available. I sometimes describe how I use and print some filaments just to provide another data point, it's likely that your optimal setup will be different from mine.
Diameter - Diameter readings are taken at several angles, across a meter or more of filament, at whatever part of the spool is currently accessible. Sometimes the filament diameter variation is the result of variations in roundness, and may not have a significant impact on printing performance. I've noticed that I've become less tolerant of filament diameter variation as printers get more precise, inconsistent layers or banding tends to overshadow filament diameter fluctuation. One exception is with transparent filaments, where irregular layers aren't very visible.
Color - It's hard to know the exact color, transparency, and texture of the filament when you're buying online. I'm hoping these pictures along with the descriptions will help you know what you're buying. All the pictures were lit with the same basic setup (unless stated otherwise) so the colors should be somewhat consistent across different types and brands. I have my monitors calibrated, and I try to adjust the pictures to match the actual filament as accurately as I can (which is not very accurately). I don't put the same effort into the example photos or photos that contain multiple spools.
Transparency - Transparency makes a big difference in how these filaments print, but it's one aspect that I hard time getting reliable info on. I'll use the following terms when describing the spooled filament. This info is subjective, the surface finish of the filament will affect the perceived transparency, but it should give you a rough idea.
- very high - Perfectly clear as far as I can tell, ignoring any color.
- high - It's translucent, with a significant amount of fogginess or haziness.
- moderate - It's opaque enough that it doesn't appear to be transparent, but light shines through it fairly easily. If you press a bright flashlight against the spool of filament, about half of the spool will light up. Infill is usually visible through one or two shell layers.
- low - It's opaque enough that you probably won't see your infill showing through, but transparent enough to deemphaasize layer lines. If you press a bright flashlight against the spool of filament, you will see a large halo of light around the flashlight from the light filtering through the filament.
- none - Completely opaque. If you press a bright flashlight against the spool of filament, you will see very little if any light bleeding through the filament.
Printers - I use a Eustathios Spyder v2 and a Rigidbot, both running E3D v6 Hotends. The Rigidbot uses Printrbot gear head direct drive, the Eustathios uses a short bowden setup with a Bondtech extruder (160mm from gear to nozzle). Both are fixed gap, symmetric grip, high torque extruders, so for the most part, all the filaments listed feed without jamming or clogging, (there are a few exceptions, like running metal powder filament through a 0.3mm nozzle or trying to print with cleaning filament). I also used to own an Afinia H-Series Printer (US version of the Up! Plus), only a few of these filaments work well with that printer out of the box. All the example prints have been printed on these three printers. Keep in mind that filament isn't the only factors affecting print quality, choice of printer, experience, print settings, choice of slicer, etc. can have a bigger impact than the filament.
Environment - I'm not sure how much the ambient environment affects printing, but I live in San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA. Temperature and humidity is moderate, indoor temperatures range from a low of 45°F / 7°C in the winter to a high of 80°F / 27°C in the summer with normal temperatures around 65°F / 18°C. None of my printers are enclosed.
Links - There are affiliate links in this list, I may receive a small percentage of the total if you place orders soon after using the links (at no cost to you). I've marked all affiliate links with an asterisk (*). Many thanks to all who have been using these links! Normally I only link to products I'd buy again, but for convenience and completeness, I'm linking all the filaments I can find a reputable source for (even the really bad ones, so read the description). I usually link Amazon* when possible, unless I know of better sources for that particular item.
- Very low warping, works well with large prints
- Strong, very hard plastic.
- Good performance with overhangs and bridging (if cooled).
- Good selection of colors and transparency available.
- Can be used without a heated bed (though I’d still recommend using one).
- Smells good when printing.
- Most FFF printers are designed to work with PLA.
- Lower printing temperatures means less energy, faster warmup times, and less stress on the printer.
- Theres a large variety of formulations, including high impact and high temperature versions.
- Brittle and can break easily when parts are small or thin, that includes parts with a low number of outer shells and sparse infill (less brittle formulations are available and becoming more common).
- Low glass transition temperature (around 60°C / 140°F), can deform in a hot car.
- Tends to creep under tension.
- Surface finish is usually more glossy than ABS (not as glossy as PETG), but it depends on the resin.
- More likely to jam while printing due to heat creep.
- Harder to use in designs where the plastic needs to flex as the plastic is less elastic.
- Harder to sand than ABS or PETG (and a low glass transition temperature makes it hard to sand with power tools).
- Does not hold threads very well.
PLA is a good general purpose plastic and one of the easier ones to print with (as long as your printer is designed to handle it). I tend to use it for large prints, decorative prints, and prototyping. The plastic can be fragile with smaller or thinner parts, but impact resistant formulations are available. I usually avoid using pure PLA for functional / structural parts because of the low glass transition temperature, creep, and brittleness. Not that it won’t work for those parts, but I usually find one of the other plastics is more suitable. I prefer prototyping in PLA, even if the final part will be printed in another plastic since PLA is cheap, smells good, prints reliably, and uses less energy.
- Hotend Temperature: I most often print at 200°C, but sometimes down to 185°C – 190°C for a less glossy finish, or up to 210°C for better layer adhesion and increased strength. With transparent PLA, I’ll often increase temperatures up to 240°C to increase transparency. The lower temperature range is usually constrained by stringiness or poor layer adhesion. At higher temperatures, PLA turns very liquid, which affects print quality.
- Bed Temperature: Almost always 60°C. If the parts have don’t have enough of a base to make decent contact with the bed and have a high risk of being knocked over, I may increase the temperature 5-10°C, going above the glass transition temperature of the plastic but it seems to improve adhesion.
- Bed Adhesion: Aquanet hair spray on glass is easy to use and works reliably for me. I’ll occasionally use Suave or glue stick in some rare instances where the part has very little contact with the bed and is at risk of being knocked over.
Diameter: 1.68 – 1.74 | Transparency: Very High | Origin: USA
Very transparent, very pure red filament, looks slightly more saturated than the Colorfabb equivalent when compared directly. I didn’t really need more transparent red filament, but the Atomic clearance prices are hard to pass up. The was put on clearance for having air bubbles, which you can see in the picture and it seems to be more oval than their regular filament. Neither seems to be an issue, the filament works very well.
Diameter: 1.69 – 1.75 | Transparency: Very High | Origin: Netherlands
Pure red color, very vibrant and very transparent. Does not come vacuum sealed so may require drying before use.
Diameter: 1.71 – 1.73 | Transparency: None | Origin: Netherlands
Slightly warmer and less saturated than the traffic red version, but the difference is very subtle. Free sample from Printed Solid.
Diameter: 1.74 – 1.79mm | Transparency: High | Origin: ?
Significantly less saturated and less transparent than the Colorfabb version. Claims to be made in the USA.
Diameter: 1.70 – 1.75 | Transparency: None | Origin: China
Only slightly darker than a pure red (it’s a nice color and probably not as dark as in the picture). It works well, one of the better spools I have from Honeycomb Drone.
Diameter: 1.68 – 1.76 | Transparency: None | Origin: USA (CA)
An attractive dark red color, darker than the honeycomb drone red filament. This is the color I was looking for when I bought the Cinnamon Red filament. The diameter variation on this spool is a lot larger than I’ve seen on any of the Atomic Filament spools I’ve seen (and I have a lot of them). Fortunately it’s almost entirely due to the filament being out of round (which probably doesn’t matter) and not from a change in volume over the length of the filament (which does matter). I haven’t used it much, but it’s been working well so far.
Diameter: 1.72 – 1.75 | Transparency: None | Origin: USA (CA)
Dark brownish-reddish color (not my favorite color), but it prints well. I should have ordered the dark cherry red color instead, it was the color I was looking for.
XYD PLA | Orange | 2015
Diameter: 1.68 – 1.74 | Transparency: Low | Origin: China
Filament has a nice textured surface, very bright, saturated orange color.
Diameter: 1.68 – 1.72 | Transparency: High | Origin: USA (California)
Strong orange color, very transparent. Print at higher temperatures to increase transparency. Use lower temperatures for a lighter appearance and a more matte finish. Looks good when printed at 100% infill. Significantly more transparent than the transparent orange PLA from 3D Supply Source. Spool donated by Atomic Filament.
Diameter: 1.69 – 1.72 | Transparency: High | Origin: China
Attractive transparent orange color, looks good printed at 100% infill.
Diameter: 1.71 – 1.73 | Transparency: Moderate | Origin: China
Nice subdued yellow-orange color. Slightly pearlescent sheen and slightly transparent (enough that you’ll probably see the infill through the shell). As with most transparent filaments, it’s sensitive to underextrusion, which will show up as light colored streaks along the layer lines.
Diameter: 1.73 – 1.77 | Transparency: None | Origin: Portugal
A rich yellow-orange color. This was a sample from a trade show. I haven’t used it much but it works well so far. Seems to exhibit more die swell than other filaments which is interesting, I’m not sure if there are any benefits to this.
Diameter: 1.71 – 1.74 | Transparency: None | Origin: Netherlands
A darker and more orangeish shade of yellow, not quite a mustard color but more in that direction. I initially had some problems with this filament, but I think it may have been a problem with moisture during transit as it works well now.
Diameter: 1.65 – 1.77 | Transparency: Low | Origin: China
Nice warm yellow color, significantly more orange than their ABS equivalent. This spool prints with very irregular layers, the diameter variation here isn’t the result of the filament being out of round. I’ve run the same gcode with this filament and compared it to other colors from this same brand and this spool is just defective.
Diameter: 1.74 – 1.80 | Transparency: Low | Origin: USA
Similar in color to the Honeycomb Drone Yellow, but very slightly less orange. Layers come out more irregular than I like, but I prefer the color and finish of this plastic over the eSun yellow filament. Layers come out better with the eSun filament though.
3Dom PLA | Daffodil Yellow | 2015
Diameter: 1.68 – 1.77 | Transparency: None | Origin: USA (ND)
Nice slightly warm yellow color, very opaque. The poor diameter consistency results in uneven layers. It comes with a small diameter graph on box showing what looks like an average diameter of 1.75mm +- 0.01mm and an average ovality of 0.008 over the length of this spool (see picture), but I don’t know how they got those numbers. Maybe they’re averaging out all the spikes, because I’m seeing a lot more variation over a meter of filament than they claim for the entire spool. PLA filament spool is brittle and cracks easily.
Diameter: 1.72 – 1.73 | Transparency: None | Origin: USA (California)
It’s nice to see a filament that doesn’t have saturation cranked up to 100%. This yellow is slightly desaturated without appearing muddy, which results in a mellow slightly warm yellow. It’s good for those days when I want to deviate from the fisher price color palette.
Diameter: 1.69 – 1.73 | Transparency: Low | Origin: China
Neutral saturated yellow color. Works well.
Hanbot PLA | Yellow* | 2014
Diameter: 1.75 – 1.79 | Transparency: Moderate | Origin: China
Semi-transparent yellow. It’s darker and less saturated than the other yellow filaments.
Diameter: 1.75-1.79 | Transparency: None | Origin: Netherlands
Very bright chartreuse color. Sample filament provided by Printed Solid.
MakerGeeks PLA | Sun Punch Yellow-Green | 2015
Diameter: 1.73 – 1.88 | Transparency: High | Origin: USA (MO)
Spool arrived broken, has bubbles in the filament, filament is oversized and the diameter inconsistent. Transparent filaments hide irregular layers so it’s not very noticeable, but it makes printing at 100% infill more challenging. The plastic itself is very nice, and has a nice finish when printed. This was purchased at the beginning of their production and is a color they don’t make any more, hopefully they have improved their quality since then, but I haven’t tried them since.
Diameter: 1.74 – 1.78 | Transparency: Low | Origin: China
Bright green-yellow color, prints well.
Diameter: 1.71 – 1.72 | Transparency: Very High | Origin: USA
Very transparent, very bright fluorescent green filament, reminds me of a green highlighter. It’s a pretty color, one of the most visible colors of filament available. Prints really well so far, diameter consistency is as good as I’ve measured. The filament glows under UV light which can make it harder to photograph reliably with a flash. Filament provided by Atomic Filament.
Diameter: 1.76 – 1.79 | Transparency: None | Origin: Netherlands
Attractive dark green color. Sample filament provided by Printed Solid.
Diameter: 1.70 – 1.76 | Transparency: High | Origin: Netherlands
Dark transparent green color. Sample filament provided by Printed Solid.
Diameter: 1.71 – 1.73 | Transparency: Very High | Origin: USA
Very transparent turquoise filament. It’s a very attractive color that reminds me of tropical beaches and glacier ice. Prints really well so far with excellent diameter consistency. Filament provided by Atomic Filament.
Diameter: 1.68 – 1.75 | Transparency: None | Origin: China
Mid-tone cyan color.
Diameter: 1.67 – 1.77 | Transparency: None | Origin: China
Medium to light blue color, much lighter than the picture on Amazon. Filament diameter and print quality is worse than most of the other Honeycomb Drone filaments I’ve tried.
Yasin PLA | Transparent Blue | 2015
Diameter: 1.70 – 1.72 | Transparency: High | Origin: China
Closer to cyan when printed. I haven’t used it very much but the diameter seems very consistent. I bought this spool at a trade show.
Diameter: 1.68 – 1.72 | Transparency: High | Origin: USA (CA)
This is a spool of discounted filament that failed Atomic’s QC. There were a two blobs in the filament so far (up to 2.47mm in diameter) but they are rare and easy to spot on the spool. I wouldn’t use it for a really large prints since those blobs wouldn’t have made it though my printer, but for most normal sized prints, it works well. Just check the spool before starting a print. Deep blue color.
Diameter: 1.70 – 1.74 | Transparency: None | Origin: USA (California)
This filament is a medium shade of blue with some kind of reflective component mixed in. It’s kind of a metallic look, similar to the paint you see used in cars. It looks good printed, and it’s a nice change from the fully saturated darker blues that are more commonly available.
Diameter: 1.72 – 1.74 | Transparency: Moderate | Origin: China
Semi-transparent, darker and less transparent than the Atomic Sapphire Blue. Appears cyan when very thin, turns more of an indigo color when thicker. Works well.
Diameter: 1.68 – 1.73 | Transparency: Moderate | Origin: USA (CA)
This is a spool of discounted filament that failed Atomic’s QC, but I have not seen any issues with it, even after printing 1.5kg of it. I’m guessing the diameter wasn’t up to their usual standards. It’s a very pretty filament, semi-transparent dark purple filled with silver flecks, I like this color a lot. Printed color can range from deep blue to purple, depending on the extrusion density, but it’s too dark to really appear transparent.
It looks like the filament is now available as regular stock.
Diameter: 1.72 – 1.74 | Transparency: None | Origin: USA (CA)
I really like this color, it’s the first one I’ve seen from Atomic that I’ve seen listed as pastel, and I’m hoping there will be other pastel colors coming. It prints well, has very good diameter consistency, and is completely opaque.
Diameter: 1.69 – 1.74 | Transparency: High | Origin: China
Violet color, looks good, especially at 100% infill, has a nice surface finish.
Diameter: 1.70 – 1.72 | Transparency: High | Origin: USA (California)
Deep transparent purple color, darker but more transparent than the transparent purple PLA from 3D Supply Source. Similar to the color of amethysts as the name implies.
Diameter: 1.72 – 1.74 | Transparency: None | Origin: Netherlands
Prints well and has a nice satin finish. Not as glossy as pure PLA when printed. Less brittle than pure PLA.
Diameter: 1.70 – 1.75 | Transparency: None | Origin: China
Prints ok, but it’s more glossy than I like and the glossiness doesn’t seem very consistent
Diameter: 1.68 – 1.74 | Transparency: None | Origin: USA (CA)
Prints with a very nice matte finish if you drop the temperature a bit, I usually use 190°C. Attractive neutral color, very consistent layers. One of my favorites.
Diameter: 1.68 – 1.74 | Transparency: None | Origin: China
It prints fine, but it’s too glossy for my taste. I don’t mind glossiness as much with some colors, but I really don’t like it with grays and blacks.
Diameter: 1.73 – 1.75 | Transparency: High | Origin: ?
It has a yellow cast from the natural PLA that doesn’t go well with the gray. Other than that, it’s similar to the transparent black ABS, but not as pretty (yellower and glossier). Fortunately the yellow cast is less noticeable after printing.
Yasin PLA | Gray | 2015
Diameter: 1.71 – 1.73 | Transparency: None | Origin: China
Fairly neutral medium to light gray color. Have not used it enough to form much of an opinion.
Diameter: 1.71 – 1.73 | Transparency: Low | Origin: USA (California)
I was expecting the standard plastic metal look, the kind that reminds me of the interior of my car, but this filament’s different. It seems like they started with clear filament instead of gray filament, which results in a lighter, brighter silver filament. It’s slightly transparent when printed thin, which might make for some interesting effects.
You might notice the filament may looks very different from one picture to another. Most of my pictures are taken in a light tent, which has very flat lighting (like an overcast day). Under more directional lighting (on a sunny day or under indoor lights), the filament gives off a much more metallic feel.
Diameter: 1.72 – 1.74 | Transparency: Low | Origin: ?
Good white color, neither too bright nor too dark. Just enough translucency to make layer lines less visible, but still looks opaque. eSun white PLA is more opaque, HanBot white PLA is darker, a bit grayish.
Atomic Filament | Impact Modified White | 2016
Diameter: 1.72 – 1.75 | Transparency: None | Origin: USA (California)
Opaque white color without any hint of transparency. It has impact modifiers so it’s noticeable less brittle than regular PLA, but it will still shatter if hit with a steel hammer. This is an older version of the impact resistant white filament that Atomic sells, I assume the newer “ultra impact” version is even more impact resistant but haven’t tried it.
Diameter: ? | Transparency: None | Origin: China
This is a very opaque white. I made the mistake of respooling some of the remainder of the spool on another one with the same core size, and it shattered into dozens of pieces. I have spooled Ultimachine filament on much smaller cores without any issue, but the Ultimachine filament started off unspooled.
Diameter: 1.71-1.76 | Transparency: Moderate | Origin: China
Prints well, but significantly more opaque than other brands of natural PLA so it doesn’t work for making transparent windows. It has the standard natural PLA yellow cast. I prefer the Ultimachine or Taulman natural filaments as they can printed fairly clear (they’re also more expensive).
Diameter: 1.71 – 1.73 | Transparency: High | Origin: USA
Clear PLA filament, this is the most neutral color cast of the clear PLA filaments I’ve seen. Stable at higher temperatures (at least up to 250°C) where it appears more clear, prints with a frosted white appearance at lower temperatures.
Diameter: 1.72 – 1.78 | Transparency: High | Origin: USA
On the spool, it looks like it has an almost purple cast to it, but it’s more neutral when printed. I like the way it looks when printed, it’s hard to describe, but it has a nice sheen to it. I frequently print it at 240°C and it doesn’t have any issues at that temperature.
Diameter: 1.72 – 1.74 | Transparency: High | Origin: USA
It has the standard yellow cast found in PLA, but it’s much more clear than the eSun natural PLA. It needs higher temperatures (around 240°C) to print clear, at normal PLA temperatures it comes out much more translucent.
Diameter: 1.74 – 1.78 | Transparency: Low | Origin: China
Glows brightly, has a good amount of glow powder in it. Filament has started to break on the spool and I had to remove 260g of filament in a dozen pieces to get to access the unbroken part of the spool. The broken filament might have been caused by too much pressure on the spool (the clear spools have large holes that can create pressure spots on the filament). I think it’s less likely to be an issue with the solid black spools.
Diameter: 1.73 – 1.76 | Transparency: Low | Origin: Netherlands
I haven’t used this filament, but it’s slightly more brown and slightly more opaque than the eSun glow filament. With the lights off, this filament is significantly dimmer than the eSun glow filament, it appears to be half as bright (I’m talking about perceived brightness, not actual light levels).
Diameter: 1.70 – 1.73 | Transparency: None | Origin: USA (California)
A nice dark metallic brown color. Print at a higher temperature to get a glossy, more metallic appearance. Seems to print darker on vertical surfaces and lighter on horizontal surfaces which could be used for some interesting effects.
Notes on filament brands:
Atomic Filament - They target 1.72mm as the average diameter of their 1.75mm filament (according to their FAQ) so that's usually a good default diameter for their filament, their PLA is usually consistent enough that you don't have to measure each spool. All their filaments are made in California (moved to Indiana in 2017) and they help support this site.
Colorfabb PLA/PHA* - The extra flexibility of PLA/PHA is great for thin, small, or flexible parts that would be too fragile to hold up with regular PLA. It also prints with a satin finish that looks better than the glossy finish I usually get with PLA. Despite the PHA content, I classified PLA/PHA with the other PLA filaments as these differences are fairly subtle and it prints with similar settings.
eSun* - eSun filament is sold and sometimes rebranded by a lot of different sources and I don't know if there are differences between them other than the different spool styles. For this list, I assume they're the same. Microcenter's Inland filament is currently eSun filament and the cheapest place I've found for it (if you don't account for shipping). They also sell Inland* filament on Amazon with free prime shipping. Most of the eSun filament in this list is from Intservo*, who sells on Amazon, but I have also ordered from Microcenter* and Prototype Supply*.
Inland Filament* - I assume all the Inland filament is from eSun (see eSun above) and I've mostly linked to Inland spools because it's cheaper and I prefer the solid black spools.
Honeycomb Drone* - Some spools are advertised as 3lb spools, but are standard 1kg spools. Prices fluctuate on Amazon, I've seen prices under 10 and over 40 USD. The spools I ordered were between 9 and 14 USD.
3D Solutech* - Proudly claims that "All our materials are purely grow and made in the USA", but the spools and the labels under their stickers are identical to other filament I own that came from China.
Places to buy filament:
Amazon* - One of the best places to buy filament, I believe they even accept returns if you don't like the filament (I haven't tried that myself, that's partially why I have so much of it).
Printed Solid - They only sell the good stuff (Colofabb, Taulman, Fenner Drives, Polymaker, etc.), and are kind enough to send me some samples to try occasionally. They sell filament samples which are great for trying out some of the more expensive filaments. They also have a store on Amazon*.
Microcenter - Good place to order eSun (branded as Inland) filament if you have a store nearby or are ordering large quantities (Shipping where I'm at starts at $6 and increases by $1 per spool). They also sell on Amazon* with free prime shipping.