3D printing is a fantastic pastime. I've been doing it for nearly a decade now, and while there have been a lot of changes to the best 3D printers in terms of speed and quality, the basic materials you print with are the same. Most people are familiar with FDM printers -- the type that use long strands of plastic to build layers on a print surface -- and the material used to make models with them, called filament.
Filament comes in all different colors and chemical compositions -- which our best 3D printing filament list explains in more detail -- and ranges in price from less than $20 to hundreds of dollars, depending on what you need. Buying filament in bulk is often necessary, so it's worth seeking out good deals. To save you some time, we've done the legwork for you and found as many filament deals as we can.
Transitional filament, which mixes multiple colors, has been around for a while, but it normally changes a model's color from the bottom to the top. Quantum is actually two colors fused across the width of the model, allowing it to change color from left to right. This results in a mesmerizing transition. I love using it for all sorts of different projects. From vases to giant articulated octopuses, it makes any model look breathtaking.
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If you want to create a huge project or print the same thing over and over, you need a lot of filament. Elegoo's bulk discount makes each roll cost just $10, a fantastic bargain. It's only black PLA, but it's good enough if you're postprocessing it anyway.
Ten rolls of filament for $100 is amazing and if you can afford the initial outlay you'll save yourself a bunch of money.
Unique transition filaments are one of my favorite things. This PETG goes from a deep blue to an almost watery clear blue and back again, giving it a look of ocean waves. It's beautiful. It is PETG, so you'll need to ensure your printer is dialed in, but it's worth the extra print time.
Flexible PLA is on the border of PLA and TPU, but it does print well on direct drive printers such as the Prusa Mk3s or the new Ankermake M5.
I used it to make an amazing 3D-printed Mandalorian helmet for my 4-year-old daughter, so she can enjoy it without fear of damaging it. Any time you can get this on a discount it is worth doing.
This four-pack includes smaller rolls of filament, and it's more of a tester set than a full roll. The glow-in-the-dark colors make it a great buy, but remember that although it will print using the PLA settings, it's abrasive to soft brass nozzles. If you're hoping to print a lot of this, you'll need to buy a hardened nozzle or be ready to replace your brass nozzles constantly.
Sunlu has been making filament for a while now, and it offers excellent quality at a low price. If you're working with ABS and you need to lay in a store of spools, Sunlu is a great option. You can buy this budget filament without worrying about its quality.
TPU is a lot of fun to 3D print with. It prints as a rubbery material, much like a phone case. This particular filament from SainSmart is even more interesting because it's heat-sensitive. When it's cool, the material is a deep orange color, but it changes into a bright yellow as it gets warmer.
TPU is great for applications that need to be tough, but require a lot of give in the material.