It is not easy to go beyond the basics with filaments, but every day, new sources and colors are popping up. On today’s Ask Us Anything, Tom and Tracy Hazzard address a question on getting custom colored filaments. Based on experience, they talk about the availability of colors and how filament makers are providing their spools. Customizing colored filaments is a complex skill, and the production of these filaments cannot compensate to the demand, which is an issue that needs to be looked on.
Listen to the podcast here:
Where’s The Color?
This is Ask Us Anything segment.
Almost anything. Our questions came up on our website’s SpeakPipe button.
For those of you that don’t know, go to our website HazzDesign.com to our Ask Us Tab. You’ll see down on that page is a button where as long as you have a microphone on your computer or your phone, you can talk into it and ask us any question.
Our question is from Mara from LA and she’s asking us, “Can you get custom colored filament?” If that isn’t the $10,000 question because that’s what it’s going to cost you.
If it isn’t the 1,000 rolls or spools question.
It’s one of my biggest problems because I want custom colors. I want the color I want.
We’re designers so colors are important to what we do and since we got involved in 3D printing, we’ve been quite disappointed at the availability of different colors of filament.
Based on what Mara put in her profile here, she’s got an issue because she’s working in the wedding business. What bride doesn’t want her color? That makes a lot of sense that she’s looking for custom colors here too. It’s 1,000 rolls. That’s a lot of money.
We’ve been looking into this issue many times as we wondered what does it take. We’ve talked to several different filament distributors and even some manufacturers. At first, they told us it’s going to take 1,000 spool minimum.
It’s not only 1,000 rolls, they also said it would take eight weeks.
The first one was six months to develop the color and eight weeks to approve the color, then you’ve got to run it.
The other problem is they’ll match a color for you, any Pantone or any color chip you have, but they’re going to give you a chip. You don’t even get to test it on your printer to see if it looks good in the filament.
Also, in what you want to print. There are a lot of difficulties in doing it. As we continue to look at other possibilities of this, we’ve got down to the lowest minimum order quantity of 300 spools to do a custom color. That’s enough filament for us to use for the next probably ten years. It’s not feasible on an individual basis.
If you had a big corporate client. If you were designing for Coca-Cola and you need Coca-Cola red, that makes sense. Maybe they would be worth paying for because you have a setup fee that happens with it. In a corporate situation that might work. I don’t think some bride is going to spend $30 a roll.
$30 times 300 rolls, that’s $9,000 or something.
That’s a lot. No one’s going to do that. Maybe a big corporation who knows that they’re going to print these things again and again, that makes it worth it.
I’ll tell you this, Mara. It’s our pet peeve and it’s a mission of ours. We’re continuing to work on this, so stay tuned in the future and we’ll be updating everyone on this.
We should mention that there are some filament makers out there like Filabot, where you can extrude your own filament. The problem with that is we need to explore it. We haven’t explored it enough but my understanding is the consistencies and issues. If you do it once and you have enough and it happens to come out even, then you’re able to print what you need. If you need to repeat it, it’s not always as easy to get the color again.
Not only that, you’re right, we didn’t mention custom extruding your own. There are kits where you can make equipment to do it or you can buy equipment to do it. We haven’t seen that catch on much. It’s highly technical and you have to buy large quantities of the resin. There are issues about properly heating and drying that resin before you use it. There’s a science to making filament and we don’t recommend making that a DIY project.
My background is in color. I’ve done that where you color match at a lab. Getting colors right from time to time and from one batch to another is extremely difficult. That’s where you also will run into trouble with that. We haven’t gone down that road. If anyone who would be capable of it, it should be me and I still don’t want to go down that road.
We’re open-minded. If there are any of you reading out there and you say, “There is a good DIY solution,” and you’ve had good results with it, we’d love to hear about it. Get in touch with us and we’d love to have you on for an interview. We’ll be happy to revisit the issue and we’re happy to have our minds changed on this.
If you want us to test out a product, we’re happy to do that. There are rules about us testing products, we should mention that. We do not accept free products. You’re loaning us the product but we will return it to you. If you don’t want it returned to you, we’ll donate it to a design school. We don’t accept any product. If we love it, we will buy it because we will want to keep it but we don’t do that. It’s part of our process here. Our product review guidelines are on our website as well. You can find that on HazzDesign.com
Thank, Mara. I hope that helps you with your question.
We’ll keep searching for an answer for you.
Thanks for reading and we will talk to you next time.