Does good quality PLA filament have to break the bank – Or, what is a good, cheap 3D filament?

I’ve been printing for a number of months, so have had limited exposure to filaments.  I’ve used five brands so far.  Hatchbox (This seems like the go-to filament for most), Esun (My roll of PETG) AMZ3D, Xperland,  and Zyltech on eBay (inexpensive).  Zyltech is now on Amazon, as well with a whole slew of new colors. Of the three brands I have used, Zyltech is one of my favorite because of the price point. My other favorite, for flat out feel and nice printing, is Xperland. Xperland filament seems to print very close to the quality of Hatchbox, while Zyltech is a bit below.  I can’t comment between PETG and PLA, but my Esun looks beautiful, and prints seem sturdy.

The main reason I created this post was to talk about price and performance of PLA filament.  I’d consider Hatchbox to be the “best” balance between price and quality.  It is not terribly expensive yet has high quality.  On the flip side, Zyltech is a bargain basement material.  At a bit over $13 a roll (plus free shipping) (NOTE: This deal is no longer going on, but they do different deals all the time to keep costs down), it is downright cheap.  I found the filament to be a bit small (1.74mm instead of 1.75) but it was consistent so it was easy to set in my slicer.  My initial purchase was 2 black and 1 blue roll.  I printed a temp tower for both and found that the filament worked best a little hot at 211 degrees.  At this temperature, I have printed nearly an entire roll of blue and black, primarily fidget spinners for my daughter to sell at school.  These have held up great to the abuse, and look good.  

When listening to Angus on his Maker’s Muse channel, he gets the question of what PLA filament is best, quite often.  His go-to answer, is get something “cheap”.  PLA is generally similar quality across the board now, so there is not much of an incentive to purchase high priced filament when the lower cost stuff will perform just about the same as the high price stuff.

Here are my thoughts on different Filaments

Below are actual reviews of a couple of  3D Printer filaments.  Here are some quick links to filaments, and my thoughts on them.

Amz3D : Used to be my favorite.  Noticed prices going up, which means I rarely purchase it. 
MagicSpace: My new Amz3D.  Several color choices, works well.
Dikale: New one.  Just have used 1 roll, seems to hold dimensions well.  Ordered a 2nd roll. This is just Black and White filaments.
Priline: I’ve gone through a roll of gold and silver.  I really like how the silver looks.  Nice filament.  This is quickly becoming my “go-to” filament.
Zyltech: Seems a bit more expensive on Amazon, but another good, solid filament.  I buy this when it goes on sale.

3D Printer Filament Reviews:

I’ve done a couple of 3D Printer filament reviews.  I figured I would link them here since this is my hub to learn about inexpensive filaments.

Dikale 1kg PLA filament: A decent, and economical filament.  

Xperland 1kg PLA filament: For a long time this was my favorite PLA filament.  They sent me a few rolls free, and I ordered several more.  Unfortunately, they are now out of business.  

I have now tried the Amz3D filament from Amazon.  I am using black, and my first print turned out really nice.  I’ve since used black, orange and green.  They have all worked very well.  

MagicSpace is another filament I have discovered on Amazon that is inexpensive.  Since Xperland is no longer selling filament, MagicSpace has taken over as my current go-to filament.  Amz3D used to be my go-to, but they have increased their prices some, putting them in closer competition to Hatchbox.  I generally see MagicSpace prices around $15 to $16.

3D Printers

I’ve  now used a number of filaments with a number of filaments.  They have all worked great no matter what printer I have used it in.  If you are curious about them, here is a list:

Tevo Tarantula: Amz3d, Xperland, Zyltech, Hatchbox, Esun (PETG)
East 3D Gecko: Amz3d
Creality CR-10s: Xperland, Amz3D, Magicspace
Tevo Tornado: Xperland, Amz3D
Anycubic Kossel Linear Plus: Xperland, Dikale, MagicSpace, Amz3D, Priline 
Ender 3: Xperland, Priline
JGAurora A5: MagicSpace, Priline

Inexpensive PLA Filament is the way to go

It seems, at least with PLA, that price does not necessarily reflect the quality of the filament.  PLA has been around for a long time, so the production costs are down.  I have not tried ABS yet, since I don’t have a heated enclosure.  The PETG prints great, and gives me many of the advantages of ABS, if I need them, but it does come at a more premium price.  I highly recommend the filament from Zyltech (on Ebay).  It is inexpensive, and prints great.  I can get 3 rolls (the minimum for free shipping) for less than 2 rolls of other brands.  That is just difficult to beat.  If I need something a bit higher quality, that feels good to the touch, I’d go with Xperland.  When I originally wrote this, I had only tried Hatchbox, Esun PETG, and Zyltech.  Over the past few months, I have added more filaments that I have used, so I have a little more nuanced view of filament.  I have different needs for filament.  If I am making terrain, that will be primed and pained, I don’t care as much about the filament.  I just care that it works.  If I am making more structural  items I tend towards Xperland.  But, I wouldn’t say Zyltech isn’t good, I trust it to hold my very expensive dSLR camera on my printed teleprompter.  

I hope this helps you understand different filaments and gives you a bit better view of lower-end, PLA filaments.  It should help you to make some decisions about what to purchase.  I would gladly use any of the filaments I talk about here, again.  If you are unsure, try one out.  

(Unfortunately, this is a pretty US centric article, because I have only used rolls of filament that are easy to get here.  I don’t know what else is good, and I don’t want to recommend items that may not work well for my readers)

  • Please note, I use affiliate links.  It is rare that I recommend something I have not used, or at least some extremely similar.  As you can see from this article, I have used all of the items listed on this page.