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What can 1kg of PLA filament print?

What can 1kg of PLA filament print?

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Background and Why This, Why Now?

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To start with, here are some of the reasons I took the plunge into 3D printing:

  • Instant access to a multitude of models – both free (from sites like Thingiverse, Cults 3D, Yeggi and MyMiniFactory) and via Kickstarter and Patreon campaigns. No waiting for the postman to finish playing football with your eagerly awaited models.
  • Buy once, print multiples. This not only reduces the ‘lifetime cost’ of the file, but you can add extra value by rescaling and mirroring the files (buy a 28mm file, print a version, then scale it up/down to use at 32/35mm or 15/20mm) instead of buying multiple copies. Mirroring can often make an alternative version that looks like it is a different model – sort of a two-for-one deal.
  • Unattended printing. I don’t mean set it away and leave the house (which you can do, but there have been issues in the past and so the consensus is just don’t), but rather, set it away and go do some other aspect of your hobby. I treat my printers like Santa does his elves (except I’m not Santa and mine behave like temperamental goblins), they print/make, and I assemble, finish and paint. They also don’t need to sleep, and you just feed them plastic. This is very much a double-edged sword. Initially, my workflow was sped up dramatically and I was cranking out table candy like nobody’s business. Now, several years and seven printers later I feel like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and those chopped up broomsticks have become a bit of a rod for my back – they keep churning stuff out way faster than I can handle and I seem to be spending more and more time keeping them running. Talk about juggling balls and spinning plates…
  • There is also one last point that I knew I wanted to get into but also knew it wouldn’t be applicable right from the start – creating my own stuff and 3D scanning some of my old scratch-built models. I will probably cover this point in a separate project later down the line now that I’m starting to do it.

Being most interested in scenery, I started with an FDM-style printer (using spools of filament rather than liquid resin) due to the size of prints I was expecting. So, this is what I’ll be covering in this project – What can a 1kg spool of PLA filament print? I will most likely do a similar one for 1 litre of resin at a later date.

There are, however, some caveats to this. Settings in your slicer (the program used to convert a model file into the code your printer uses to print the finished item) will affect how much filament is used, and so increase/decrease the physical output. Predominantly scale (how big/small the printed item will be), layer height (how thick each ‘slice’ is) and infill (how much empty space is inside the model) are the most significant factors. Also, if you print with a ‘brim’ (some extra layers to help the print stick to the print bed) this will use up a small amount of filament that ultimately gets thrown away once the print is finished. Or not. Stick around to the end of the project for a quick tip about brims…

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