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donmilne

Spectrum Filament (UK)

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I recently bought some filament from "Spectrum Filament" in the UK, and I promised I'd let you all know how I got on with it. Well here's my report!

First a teeny bit of background. I've had my UM2 printer about a month now, and so far I've found that the most frustating thing is finding a good source of filament. The printer was bought in the UK from www.imakr.com along with samples of several filaments - but it turned out that none of these "3mm" filaments fitted, for various reasons. The only filament I could use was the Ultimaker blue PLA that was bundled with the printer. I'm reluctant to buy any more filament from iMakr - how can I complain that it doesn't meet specs if the site doesn't make clear what those specs are?

I next tried to order filament direct from Ultimaker... but I've said enough about that experience elsewhere. Not something I'll soon repeat.

I then found the Spectrum Filament website. I should probably make clear that I'm not affiliated with Spectrum in any way, I'm just a customer. Spectrum seem to be a new player in the UK market. I was attracted by the fact that they give detailed specs for their filament dimensions, and those specs make them suitable for my UM2 (2.85 +/- 0.05mm). Also they stock a decent range of "ordinary" colors, in fact their website offers to make any custom color you want!. The filament has an "impact modifier" added a la ColorFabb, which they claim makes the filament tougher (less brittle) than pure PLA.

The picture below shows an example of a reel of Spectrum PLA filament. See that it comes on a standard cable type reel, inside a light cardboard box. Note the little "ear" of filament sticking out, I'll be commenting on this later.

gallery_33340_597_45612.jpg

 

 

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First print.

After changing the material in the printer I kicked off a test print of a small DC motor mount that I've been working on. However I quickly aborted the print after noticing that some of the old blue filament was still coming out. Still, that left me with a thin disk of material that was interesting in its own right. I found that while a thin disk of pure PLA would snap if I bent it like this, the Spectrum filament doesn't break. In fact it didn't even make a visible seam until I had worried it a bit, though I did hear cracking noises. I feel safe in saying that this material does seem to be substantially tougher than pure PLA.

In hindsight any color other than black would have been better for photographic purposes, however I hope you can still see what's going on.

gallery_33340_597_41760.jpg

gallery_33340_597_6786.jpg

 

 

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First print Attempt 2.

I was unlucky with attempt #2. A loop of filament left the reel and went into the void between printer and reel, then as it got pulled tight it hooked up on that little "ear" of filament sticking out from the hub of the reel (see first photo). So the filament jammed and the printhead ran out of material.

I didn't take a picture of the jam as I was too worried about the print head overheating. In hindsight when I look at an Ultimaker reel I see the cleverness of their double-walled hub design - nothing sticking out to catch on anything. I've discussed this with Spectrum and they agree that their reel design needs to improve, and they expect that it will in due course.

gallery_33340_597_63018.jpg Ultimaker Reels have a double walled hub design.

Another thing to note is that the Spectrum reel is deeper than an Ultimaker reel, so it would not be possible to get two Spectrum reels on the standard UM2 spool holder at the same time, which would be a problem if and when the UM2 Dual Extrusion Kit comes along, ditto PVA support.

 

 

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First print Attempt 3.

With attempt #3 I finally had a successful print, see pictures below. I would say that the print is of reasonable quality, and any loss of quality is not due to the filament - more likely it's time to level my bed again. I used the standard PLA printing temperature, and the same speed that I've used up to now. I did think I detected that the material was less solidly adhering to the bed than I was used to, hence the excessive glue you see on the glass for subsequent attempts!

p.s. I've boosted the sharpness of these images, so the "grain" would probably be less obvious in reality.

gallery_33340_597_30074.jpg

gallery_33340_597_16711.jpg

gallery_33340_597_13215.jpg

 

 

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Conclusion

Spectrum Filament still have a few teething problems to work through, but they are still the only good UK supplier of filament that I know of, meaning a supplier that knows their product and understands their market, and are not just shifting consumables made by someone else. They have also responded promptly to emails too. I'll certainly be buying from them until further notice.

 

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I have not tried Spectrum, but I can vouch for Faberdashery's PLA it is very very good and the colours have to be printed to believe how good they are.

I have also had a good experience with Colorfabb PLA/PHA and I have 4x2Kg under my desk as i write as I am fed up of running out of it!

 

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I should perhaps have emphasised the point of this thread, which is finding a good local supplier for those of us here in the UK. And, I need a supplier who can verify that their filament is good for my printer. I can buy ColorFabb from iMakr, but the listing shows it as "3.00mm" with no further details regarding the accuracy of that diameter or the specs of the reel. I've had enough of that kind of vagueness.

If you're going to mention an alternative, please at least indicate which reputable UK supplier holds stock.

 

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Conclusion

Spectrum Filament still have a few teething problems to work through, but they are still the only good UK supplier of filament that I know of, meaning a supplier that knows their product and understands their market, and are not just shifting consumables made by someone else. They have also responded promptly to emails too. I'll certainly be buying from them until further notice.

Definetly try faberdashery!!

I'd be very interested in seeing a comparison between those two suppliers...

Thanks for your detailed writeup, very interesting stuff!

How about the strength of finished printed parts? Are they stiff or do they bend / deform easily?

I'm always interested in these kinds of specifications, because I use most of my prints for technical stuff where strength and stability are much more important than nice colors or surface quality...

/edit:

By the way, www.faberdashery.co.uk are based in the UK, and their filament is also made in the UK.

They don't specify anything else than that their filament is "3mm diameter", but faberdashery filament has been tested and loved by many Ultimaker users here in the forums.

By the way, I'm in no way related or affiliated with faberdashery. I'm just a happy customer reporting on a good product ;)

/edit2:

One thing to note, which may be a bit of a drawback:

Faberdashery filament does not come on spools, it's always in loose "coils" of around 50cm diameter. This is very good for the filament - much less stress than tightening it up on a spool.

But it means you have to print some sort of "coil holder" (available on youmagine and thingiverse iirc).

To me, this is more a benefit than a drawback, because of the decreased stress on the filament. But it makes it a bit less convenient to handle.

Also, you can order by the meter instead of just "1kg spool, period". So you can get various sample colors for little money (they also have 10m sample packs).

Makes it pretty easy for Cura to calculate the price of your printed parts accurately ;)

 

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I dealt with the strength of the parts above (see the "thin disk" pictures). The material is stiffer than ABS, but not as brittle as pure PLA. So overall strength should come somewhere between ABS and PLA, which is attractive assuming it doesn't have the shrinkage problems of ABS.

Regarding the dimensions: I don't want to sound like "Mr Angry", but I've frankly had my fill of being burned by "3mm" filament suppliers! I want 2.85mm filament with good tolerances. The exact dimension may be important for print quality. I want the supplier to claim that is what they are selling me, as that gives me buyers rights. So if the seller doesn't publish specs I can hold them to, I'm not interested! :cool:

 

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From the "About" page:

"Faberdashery filament is manufactured to have excellent roundness and unbeatable consistency. We maufacture to ± 0.1 mm (but always aim for better)."

But yeah, they don't specify the actual diameter which is kinda crappy of them. But it IS very nice filament.

 

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True, they should give more information. I can do some measurements if you want me to. Got about 20 different color samples from them laying around. I believe they are 2.85mm +-0.1.

Something to think about: Just because a seller claims that his filament is 2.85 +- 0.05mm, it doesn't mean that this is will be true in every single case. Usually, seller information is mostly BS anyways. I think that faberdashery just go the safe way and don't claim something they can't actually deliver.

 

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Something to think about: Just because a seller claims that his filament is 2.85 +- 0.05mm, it doesn't mean that this is will be true in every single case.

 

Well, it does mean that the seller would be in breach of contract if he promised this and didn't deliver. Whereas, if I buy "3mm" filament (+/- 0.1mm) and it turns out to be 3.1mm then I don't have a legal leg to stand on.

Without a spec the value you measure doesn't mean much, since the value could be different next time.

 

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Without a spec the value you measure doesn't mean much, since the value could be different next time.

 

This is true. But people would bitch about it and word would get around.

And right now Faberdashery is the favorite for british Ultimaker owners. According to my informal poll that has been running on these forums for a year now.

 

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Faberdashery is 2.85. Each to his own but I prefer their method of coiling. Just place it on the floor and come back 4 hours later without any concerns about filament jamming when it un-twirls the wrong way coming off the reel and then tightens.

I also personally consider Colorfabb to be equal to UK companies in terms of delivery time and indeed postage cost is only a little higher

 

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I am UK based and have to admit that I almost exclusively use colorfabb - once you find a supplier where the filament just works I guess you tend to stick to it, and the shipping cost is 'ok' if I buy a few reels at a time (and I do :)) and I LOVE XT - it is my "go to" filament for most things that don't need colour. The email notification and delivery tracking is good.

Personally I like spools - but may try loose at some point.

James

 

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Yes, I noticed yesterday that their website is offline, which is ironic since my current project is a sleeve which fits over the UM2 spool holder to provide a better, smoother ride for the Spectrum reel.

I guess you'll have to try one of the alternatives listed above.

It'll be a shame if they folded already: I think I'll email them to check.

 

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Yes, I noticed yesterday that their website is offline, which is ironic since my current project is a sleeve which fits over the UM2 spool holder to provide a better, smoother ride for the Spectrum reel.

I guess you'll have to try one of the alternatives listed above.

It'll be a shame if they folded already: I think I'll email them to check.

 

I actually spoke to the owner a few days ago as I had order issues before the site went offline. As it turns out he hadn't seen the order and there was some confusion. I got a refund so that's not a problem.

Apparently he was having trouble with the guy that does his site and web hosting and he was being charged ridiculous amounts of money for it, so he had to find another alternative. He said a new site would be up and running soon.

I had quite a long conversation with him and it seems the company is fine, it's just the website. I'll be giving him the benefit of the doubt because their filament is the best for the price I have come across so far.

 

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I've tried quite a few filament suppliers now and still find Faberdashery to be the best by far. I've tried 3 or 4 different colourfabb rolls and althought they're OK... My Faberdashery filament is better. I get a much nicer surface, the colours all seem better... the only thing I have issues with is the loose spool... I always run into tangling problems... But aside from that I wholeheartedly reccomend Faberdahsery, I've bought pretty much every colour they produce and have been using them for over 3 years now.

Cheers,

Troy.

 

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I had quite a long conversation with him and it seems the company is fine, it's just the website.

 

Would that include his email system too? Because he hasn't replied to the email I sent yesterday. He seems like a good guy, eager to help - I hope they're back up and running soon.

 

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I just ordered some filament from ColorFabb (I wanted to try XT, got some PLA filaments while I was at it). To be honest they did make a mistake on my order (wrong color for one of the filaments), however they responded very quickly to my email about it. I see that the spools are perfect for the UM2 - very similar to UM's own, and no adapter needed.

 

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