3D printers are becoming commonplace and have grown to be important assets for many people. Whether a 3D printer is used in a workshop or used in a home by a hobbyist, understanding how these machines work and their operation is important. One of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the operation and use of 3D printers is how long does 3D printer filament last?
How long 3D printer filament lasts depends on how many objects are printed, the design and dimensions of the printed objects, the printer and printer settings, and how well the print is thought out. Low volume users can use a spool of filament for months. Others can empty a spool in a day or two.
Some 3D printer users have reported using the same 1kg spool for months, while others are able to use an entire 1kg spool in a matter of hours. It all depends on what is being printed and how the print is laid out. Other factors such as nozzle size are important as well. Let’s look at how long 3D printer filament lasts, some of the factors that determine how long it lasts, and how to help 3D printer filament last longer.
How long Does 3D Printer Filament Last?
Most 3D printer filament has a lifespan of about a year, which means that it can be kept for a good while being used.
However, most 3D printer users go through filament in much less time than a full year.
How long 3D printer filament lasts mainly depends on how much printing you do, the complexity and size of the printed objects, and how you plan out your 3D prints.
Most 3D printers use filament at the same rates, but there are some machines that are able to useless, but the biggest determining factor is the 3D printed objects themselves.
If you use your 3D printer to generate small objects such as tabletop figurines, miniatures, small mechanical parts, toys, small gadgets, or trinkets, then a 1kg spool of 3D printing filament may last for a few months.
If your 3D printing endeavors are more complex, larger, or if you print at very high quality, then it is possible to use up a 1kg spool of the same filament in a day or two.
Some 3D printer users report that they are able to print up to 400 small objects with one spool of filament. This includes chess pieces and simple miniatures.
Many 3D printer users who make miniatures and tabletop figurines report that they can print more than 100 miniatures before emptying a 1kg spool of 3D printer filament.
Heavy users who 3D print professionally or users who print very large objects with large extrusion nozzles on their printers have reported that they have used up a 1kg spool of filament in a matter of hours.
However, the trick with 3D printer filament is not necessarily to have it for a long time, but rather to print as many objects as possible with a spool of filament.
With good planning and wise use of filament, a spool may last longer than you expect.
What Uses Up 3D Printer Filament More Quickly?
Many factors may cause a 3D printer user to go through printing filament quickly.
The main factors of using filament quickly are the objects that are made and the number of objects that are produced.
If the object that is being printed requires a lot of structural support material for the printing process, more filament will be used.
If the object is printed in slices, reducing the number of support structures, the filament will last longer simply because less filament is used.
The internal structure of the object that is being printed is also a factor. If the object has a lot of infill or a complicated, dense infill pattern, the printer will use much more filament in the printing process.
Large 3D printed items use more filament than small 3D printed items. Someone who uses their 3D printer every day will use more filament than a person who only prints once a week.
Almost all 3D printers use up filament at the same rate, but there are some factors that cause 3D printers to go through filament more quickly.
Using a large extrusion nozzle will use more filament than using a very narrow nozzle. Using a narrow nozzle takes more time to complete a print, but it uses significantly less filament.
One 3D printer user reported that printing one particular item with a 0.4mm nozzle took 45 hours to print and used 497g of filament. The same object printed with a 1mm nozzle only took 17 hours to print but used 627g of filament.
The nozzle size that is used for the print significantly affects the amount of filament used for the print.
How To Make A Spool Of 3D Printer Filament Last Longer
There are a few ways to reduce the amount of filament that is used for 3D printing, and some ways are more effective than others.
3D printers will use more or less filament depending on how often the printer is used, how many objects are printed, the size and structure of the printed objects, and the printer’s hardware.
Here are a few ways to help 3D printer filament last longer:
Reduce Infill In 3D Prints
A very quick way to use up 3D printer filament is to print an object with a lot of Infill and internal structure.
Infill and internal structures are used to increase the strength and durability of 3D printed objects, but many people use too much Infill or overly complicated infill patterns.
Unless the object is required to be very strong, Infill may not be necessary at all. Most 3D printers have a default infill setting of 20%, but using less may not affect the structural integrity of the object if you plan it well.
Reducing the infill percentage and the infill pattern will drastically decrease the amount of filament used for the print.
Support structures are important for many 3D prints, but they are often overused, and there are usually ways around using supports.
Slicing a 3D print into flat sections makes post-processing more difficult and increases print time, but if you are trying to save filament, this is the most effective printing process.
Print Smaller Objects
To ensure that the printer filament lasts as long as possible, printing smaller objects rather than large ones is the best way to go.
By printing only small objects, a 1kg spool of filament may last a few months, especially if the objects are hollow with a reduced wall size.
Use A Smaller Extrusion Nozzle
Switching to a smaller extrusion nozzle for your 3D printer is a proven way to use less 3D printer filament.
The smaller nozzle size increases printing time, but it has been known to reduce filament use by up to 20% in some instances.
A smaller nozzle can be an expensive upgrade, but if you need to save filament, it is a very effective way to do so.
3D printer filament lasts varying amounts of time from user to user, depending on how much printing is done, the hardware of the 3D printer, and the design and structure of the 3D printed object.
The filament used in 3D printers is usually sold in 1kg spools. A 1 kg spool of 3D printer filament may last light to moderate users a month or two, while heavy users will use up an entire spool in a few days or even a few hours.
Using your filament wisely and planning your prints carefully is the best way to reduce the amount of filament that is used when 3D printing.
The next best thing is to use a smaller extrusion nozzle for 3D printing, as this will significantly reduce the filament used for most prints. How long the filament lasts is less important than how much printing you get from a spool, so plan your prints carefully and be clever about your printing strategies, and your filament may last longer than you expect!