For people who 3D print on a regular basis, running out of filament is a frustration that happens all too often. You know what would be great? If there were a way to make sure you have a steady supply of filament delivered to your door on a regular basis, so that you always have plenty of material without worrying about remembering when it’s time to reorder. Like a filament subscription service!
Subscription boxes are becoming more popular and commonly offered in the 3D printing world, with recently introduced services offering monthly shipments of maker tools and/or filament samplers, as well as just fun 3D printed stuff. They’re great services for people who want to try out a variety of materials, explore different things they can do with 3D printing, or just get surprises in the mail every month.
A new company called ThreeD Materials is offering a slightly different subscription service, aimed at serious makers and professionals who know what kind of filament they need, and know that they’ll need a lot of it. The FilaBox Subscription allows subscribers to choose what they want from the wide variety of materials offered by the company, and on the first of each month, two rolls of their selected filament will be delivered to their door.
“FilaBox is really designed for makers, engineers, product designers and schools that are doing a good amount of 3d printing and they know they’ll need a couple of rolls every month,” ThreeD Materials’ Zach Lichaa told 3DPrint.com. “It’s made for convenience.”
Lichaa, who used to run business development for 3D Hubs, launched ThreeD Materials for two purposes: selling filament and helping schools to implement 3D printing in the classroom. Just in the first half of this year, the company has set up dozens of high schools, middle schools and even a few elementary schools with 3D printers, filament and plenty of onsite training for teachers.
“Schools want 3d printers for a variety of reasons, but the bottom line is they want them,” Lichaa told us. “What we want is for them to get the most use out of 3d printing as possible so their classes are even more engaging and students can learn through this new technology. If there’s a long term value proposition for them, that’s good for us.
“We find that engineering, art, history, entrepreneurship and science classes are the most common areas where 3d printing is applied in schools. We always tell schools to think about how they’ll use their new 3d printing tech before they purchase with us, and if they haven’t thought of it already, we help them do that.”
ThreeD Materials’ services include educating teachers on the important technicalities of 3D printing, such as extrusion temperature, as well as what kind of printer, filament and software products meet their needs. If needed, their team will return to work with the teachers onsite in person. Many teachers are completely new to 3D printing, Lichaa says, and ThreeD Materials wants to ensure that their incorporation of the technology is as smooth and stress-free as possible.
The other half of ThreeD Materials’ business – filament sales – is also booming. The company offers a huge selection of materials that include their own filaments as well as several from outside manufacturers such as taulman3D and Proto-pasta. The variety of materials ranges from basic PLA and ABS to more advanced and specialized filaments such as metallic and carbon materials. They do try to stay away from “gimmicky” filaments, Lichaa says, sticking to useful materials that have a broad appeal.
The FilaBox idea arose when ThreeD Materials noticed how frequently their customers, which include not only schools but engineers, creative agencies, and individual makers, were coming back to restock. The company asked several customers if they’d be interested in an automatic filament renewal service, and the answer was a definite yes. Customers generally seemed to need about two rolls per month, so that’s what ThreeD Materials went with.
“A lot of our educational customers will purchase filament for the entire year, but some prefer to test the waters first to see how much they’ll need. FilaBox fills the gap for institutions doing a lot of printing but don’t want to order 40 rolls at once,” Lichaa told us. “We’re really proud to offer an innovative product for 3d printing users. We’re constantly trying to figure out ways to make it easier for people to engage with 3d printing and we’re hoping that FilaBox serves as a means to that end.”
A monthly subscription ranges from $54 to $65 per month, depending on what kind of material you order. You can choose from ABS, PLA, nylon or a combination of any two. The service, which Lichaa compares to Netflix, has been tremendously popular so far. If you’re interested in a subscription, you can get set up here. Discuss further in the Monthly Subscription for 3D Printing Enthusiasts forum over at 3DPB.com.