How Long Does 1KG Filament Last? (We Calculated It)
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A factory-fresh spool of filament promises possibilities, but eyeing it up doesn’t really give you a sense of how much you can print with 1 kg of filament, or how long it will last. Should you make the most of a multi-spool deal, or settle for one 1KG roll?
As with most things in 3D printing, your mileage will vary – everyone has different printing plans, and uses different settings that can affect filament use like infill density.
But, in an effort to give you a better general understanding of how many projects you can print with a single spool of 1 kg filament, we’ve penned this guide.
- Factors That Affect How Long Filament Lasts
- How Long Does a 1KG Roll of Filament Lasts?
- How Much Can You Print With 1kg filament?
- Factors That Affect How Long Filament Lasts
- Infill Settings
- Downsize and Print Selectively
- Filament Quality and Maintenance
Factors That Affect How Long Filament Lasts
Whether you’re partial to printing full-sized Master Chief helmets, furnishing your friends and family with adorable flower pots, or churning out batches of miniatures for tabletop gaming, we’ve got you covered. First things first, how long does a 1 kg spool of FDM filament generally last?
How Long Does a 1KG Roll of Filament Lasts?
Based on a 3D printer usage of 7 grams of material per hour, a 1 kg spool of filament will last 4.5 weeks if used for 30 hours of 3D printing per week. Running the 3D printer 24/7 will use up a 1 kg filament spool in 143 hours, or roughly six days. For casual users who only use their 3D printer once a week for five hours, a spool will last 28.5 weeks, or a little over six months.
As the above highlights, there’s no clear cut answer to how long does a 1 kg of filament last – it depends on how frequently you use the printer, the size of the prints, and what settings you dial into your slicer software.
As such, the key is using averages, which in our case brought us to 3D printers using 7 grams of filament per hour.
We took several common prints and their estimated gram usage and print time in Cura:
|Model||Filament volume used (grams)||Print time (hours)||Filament volume used per hour (g/hr)|
|Square Pencil Cup||63||9||7|
Taking the average of all three STL files’ gram usafe per hour estimates, we get 7 g/hour. Obviously though, filament usafe varies depending on settings like infill density, wall thickness, and print speed.
But, it gives us a solid starting point to estimate how much filament is used in 3D printing, and how long a 1 kg roll of filament will last the average user.
From there, we can calculate how long it will take to use up a 1 kg spool of filament:
|Printing time||Filament used up on average|
|1 hour||7 grams|
|10 hours||70 grams|
|24 hours||168 grams|
|100 hours||700 grams|
|1 week||1,176 grams|
To summarize, a 1 kg spool of filament can last anywhere from a week to six months, depending on how often a printer is used.
Naturally a higher g/hour consumption reduces how long a 1 kg spool of filament lasts, with larger prints like tabletop terrain, cosplay parts, helmets, and large vases getting through the filament much faster than smaller parts like miniatures and small household items.
How Much Can You Print With 1kg filament?
With 1kg of filament, you expect to print roughly 63 3DBenchy test prints of approximately 16g of filament each. Other example models you could print with 1kg filament are 4 large flower pots, 16 pencil holders, around 166 miniatures, or 4 large Darth Vader busts.
You also have to factor in errors and failed prints, so it’s advisable to lower these estimates a little, especially if you’re starting out in 3D printing or are partial to experimenting with settings.
Breaking this down, we can see how this works based on the gram per model consumption established above:
- Benchy – 16 grams per model or 63 models per 1 kg spool of filament.
- Large Flower Pot – 221 grams per model or 4 models per 1 kg spool of filament with some material left over.
- Pencil Holder – 63 grams per model or 16 models per 1 kg spool of filament.
- Miniatures – 6 grams per model or 166 models per 1 kg spool of filament.
- Darth Vader Bust – 236 grams per model or 4 models per 1 kg spool of filament.
Put another way, 1 kg spool of filament offers roughly 140 hours of active printing, not factoring in interrupted prints, errors, failures, layer height, varying print speeds, higher infill densities, and so on which can alter gram/hour and how long the printer has to work to complete a model.
Should you want an estimate more suited to your particular model, settings, and printer, we recommend loading it up in your slicer and slicing the model. This will give you not just a print time estimate, but also how much filament in grams is required for the print. Though numbers can sometimes be a bit off, they offer a solid estimate to guide you.
Factors That Affect How Long Filament Lasts
When trying to understand how much you can print from a 1 kg spool of filament, it’s crucial to understand that several factors are at play. Estimates are great for getting a general understanding, but for more specific figures, it’s important to consider the following.
Support structures are a vital part of 3D printing, especially when creating more ambitious prints with lots of overhangs and rich details.
However, they use up filament, which when the print is fresh off the bed is effectively useless, confined to the trash can. The more supports you use, the less mileage you’ll get out of a 1 kg spool of filament.
The key to mitigating wasted filament is to be economical with supports – only use them where necessary and don’t over compensate for a particularly complex print. Manually adding supports where needed generally uses less filament than auto-support wizards and tools found in most slicing software.
The same applies to skirts, brims, and rafts. They are vital tools for purging and priming the nozzle and to fend off first-layer adhesion issues, but, again, cost filament.
This isn’t a huge amount generally, but if you’re a heavy user that depends on these regularly, you’ll use quite a bit of filament over time, reducing how many prints you’ll get per 1 kg spool of filament.
To reduce unnecessary filament waste, cut down on the number of layers, the width, and infill density of brims and rafts, and reduce the number of lines that form a skirt.
Infill settings arguably have one of the biggest impacts on filament consumption. By reducing the infill density percentage, you can significantly extend how many prints you’ll get from a 1 kg spool of filament.
While 20% infill is a common standard in most slicer software, for many prints you can get away with lowering this by a few percentage points, even as low as 0-5% for decorative prints that won’t be subject to wear and tear or functional applications where the extra structural integrity granted by a higher infill percentage is a must-have.
Similarly, infill patterns use different amounts of filament, with those relying on less material solid options for stretching out a 1 kg spool of filament.
If you’re after the most economical patterns, options like Line, Lightning, and Zig Zag tend to use less filament than other patterns, but if you’re looking for a balance between material consumption and strength, veer towards infill patterns like Hexagon.
Read more: the best infill patterns for every type of 3D print
It’s also worth using settings like gradient infill to instruct the printer to use a higher infill density on the outer edges of the print, while reducing it as it nears the center.
Downsize and Print Selectively
Though large prints are certainly impressive, they aren’t always necessary, especially when it comes to non-functional decorative items. If you’re intent on conserving filament, then consider downsizing your print. Dropping the print size to 80%-90% won’t have a major impact on the visual appeal of the part, but will save you vast amounts of filament over time.
In the same vein, be more selective over what you print. All makers are guilty of printing all manner of parts and models that most often end up sitting on a shelf or in a workshop serving no purpose whatsoever. This filament could have been put to better use.
In that spirit, it’s worth really thinking about whether you need an extra flower or really need a fifth bust dedicated to your favorite blockbuster franchise. Cutting back where appropriate can greatly extend the lifespan of a spool of filament.
Filament Quality and Maintenance
As tempting as it is to buy the cheapest filament, it often comes with downsides, whether that’s a shoddy formula, poor manufacturing, or an approximate diameter, length, or weight – not all 1 kg spools actually weigh 1 kg.
In other words, get your money’s worth by spending a little more on better quality filament. Doing this goes a long way to mitigating print failures linked to filament issues, which in turn means you won’t lose filament to errors and poor quality prints.
For more on this, check out our guide to the best PLA and other filaments.
Another important part of conserving filament is to store and maintain it properly. One of the biggest issues affecting filament is moisture absorption.
To avoid this, we recommend investing in dry boxes or even a filament dryer. These convenient solutions do all the heavy lifting to keep your filament in top condition, or give it a new lease of life if it has absorbed too much moisture.
With these, you’ll get more models per 1 kg spool of filament, generally improve the quality of your prints, and avoid layer adhesion and other issues linked to filament condition and quality.
How Long Will 1KG Pla Last?
Taking an average 3D printer filament consumption of 7 grams per hour, a 1 kg of filament can last upwards of 140 hours of active printing. If you’re a heavy user, this could stretch to 10 to 14 days. For an average user, using their printer for 30 hours a week, a 1 kg spool will last 4-5 weeks, while the occasional amateur may get upwards of six months out of a spool using their printer for around 5 hours a week.
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