Over the last year I have been able to speak with a number of individuals who have considered purchasing a 3D printer. Their main complaints, usually after doing adequate research, seem to be that the materials, ie. filament, is much too expensive. I have had several individuals, whom I know personally, tell me that the cost of filament has prevented them from buying a 3D printer. As competition heats up within the filament space, you would think we would be seeing a decent drop in prices, but this does not appear to be the case.
The competition, instead seems to be driving innovation, spawning new types of materials which can function in FDM printers just like normal ABS or PLA plastics would. One such innovation we have seen was for color changing filament. Last month MakerBot announced two new Photochromatic PLA filaments which have the ability to change color while in the presence of light. The filament seems like a good idea until you realize that the price ends up being about $70 per kg. That’s a lot of money to blow on a kg of plastic. Not to knock MakerBot, as I have used their filament, and it is of the utmost quality.
This week, however, one company has surprised us all. Based in China, Torwell Technologies has recently announced their all new color changing filament line. Unlike that of MakerBot’s product, this filament is available in either PLA or ABS plastic, and changes color based on temperature, not light. This means that human touch will usually make the material change colors. Best of all, it is priced at a fraction of what most filament manufacturers would charge. The PLA version of the filament is just $20.50 for 1.75mm, and $19.50 for 3mm, while the ABS is even cheaper at just $19.50 for 1.75mm, and $18.50 for 3mm. These prices are all for 1kg spools, and require a minimum order of 8 spools. If ordered in even higher quantities the prices drop even further.
“Torwell Technologies is professional manufacturer in China for three year,” explained Alyssia Zheng, marketing manager for Torwell. “Our products cover ABS, PLA, HIPS, Nylon, Conductive, Flexible, T-glass & Wood filament. New materials are [also] under development.”
Torwell currently has several different color options available. They include, grey to white, blue to white, purple to pink and blue-green to yellow-green. The temperature at which the filament will begin changing is 30 degrees C/86 degrees F. As more heat is applied, the faster the printed objects will change colors. The filament would be perfect for toys, little trinkets, or just conversation pieces you may wish to print out.
The company also offers a variety of other filament types for well under $20 per kg. We are being supplied a sample and will be sure to post our thoughts in the Torwell forum thread on 3DPB.com, on the quality of the filament, as soon as we are able to test it out.
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