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Tag - 3d printers

Why ASA Filament is Best for Outdoor Applications

3D printing is now widely used for printing various industrial parts, consumer goods, spare parts, and similar products. The new technology has made things easier for manufacturers to create high-quality & durable parts in less time. Ditching the traditional method, industries are now using 3D printing technology to print parts they need.

3D printing filaments make this possible. Using these materials, various parts can be created layer by layer printing using the various 3D printers. These 3D prints are suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications. But not all filaments can be used for printing outdoor parts.

One of the best 3D printing filaments are the ASA filament or the Acrylic Styrene Acrylonitrile filament. It has the toughness of ABS filament with more advanced features that make it an ideal choice for outdoor application. If you are looking for printing heavy-duty outdoor parts, ASA filament is one of the best options.

In this post, you will learn about ASA and why it is the best material for outdoor parts.

What is ASA 3D Printing Filament?

ASA or Acrylic Styrene Acrylonitrile is a durable plastic that is used for 3D printing. It has very similar properties to the ABS plastic with added benefits. It is stronger, more durable and is UV Resistant than ABS, which is why it is considered as one of the best materials for outdoor application.

Here are the advantages of using ASA for printing outdoor parts:

  • High UV resistance

One of the things that make ASA superior is its high resistance to UV rays. Outdoor parts need to be in the sun for a long time. UV rays can be harmful for the parts, and can lead to discoloring. ASA is highly resistant to UV rays and can withstand its effects for a long time. Parts made out of ABS filament has the advantages of a strong UV resistance. This is one of the things that make it an ideal choice for outdoor application.

  • High Chemical Resistance

ASA filament is also highly resistant to chemicals. They can withstand various types of chemicals, such as saturated hydrocarbons, vegetable or animal oils lubricating oils, weak acid and alkalis, and water. If ASA parts are used in an environment where they will be exposed to chemicals, they can easily withstand it. This is one of the reasons why ASA is perfect for outdoor application.

  • High Water resistant

Like high resistance to UV rays, and chemicals, ASA is also highly resistant to water. Parts printed with ASA can withstand water exposure for a long time without any damage. Parts or products that need to be kept outside for a long time can benefit from ASA material.

  • High impact resistance

ASA filament has high resistance to impact too, which is why they are considered perfect for outdoor application. High impact resistance can protect the parts from getting damage in case they fall off or collide with something. This ensures that the parts are protected from all types of damages.

  • Tough and Durable

ASA filament is tough and durable and can last for a long time. Parts printed with ASA are designed to last for a long time. Outdoor parts need to be printed with filament that can withstand a wide range of elements and need to be tough and durable in nature. Along with that, ASA parts also some with good finish and Anti-static properties. You can use them for decorative parts or for covering HVAC systems or car.

These amazing features make ASA the perfect candidate for printing high-quality and durable parts.

Also Read: What Makes PLA the Most Popular 3D Printer Filament for Beginners?

What are the Applications of ASA Filament?

ASA filament is now widely used for printing high-quality and durable parts for industries and companies offering consumer goods. Due to its high resistance to chemicals, water, and UV rays, ASA is considered as one of the best options. Here are some of the ASA outdoor applications:

  • Industrial Covers

Industrial outdoor parts, equipment and machines need protection from various elements, such as sun, UV rays, water, and chemicals. Covers are used for protecting them. ASA is used for printing covers for industrial equipment and machines as they can easily withstand various outdoor elements. Such covers can save machine from damage and keep it well-protected.

  • Protective guards

Protective guards are used in industrial and commercial areas to protect the facility, machines, equipment and employees working. These guards protect people from coming in contact with the parts or machines as they are dangerous. ASA filament is used for printing high-quality, durable and highly resistant protective guards.

  • Outdoor Signage

ASA is used for printing outdoor signage as they can withstand UV rays, water and chemicals. Outdoor signs can last for a long time as they are printed using ASA filament, which is high resistance to UV rays and chemicals too.

  • Sporting Parts

Top brands like Reebok are now using 3D printing for printing their products, such as shoes, soles and sports accessories like helmets and protective parts. Printing these parts need less time and they can last for a long time. ASA is a durable material that can easily withstand impact and exposure to UV rays.

These are some of the best examples to show how reliable ASA is when it comes to printing outdoor parts.

The Bottomline

ASA filament is one of the best options for printing high-quality and durable outdoor parts. They offer a wide range of benefits and have features that make them one of the best options for 3D printing needs. Cost wise, ASA is also one of the best as 3D printing is much faster and doesn’t need dozen raw materials.

Makeshaper.com is your one-stop destination for buying high-quality 3D printing filaments, such as ASA. We have a huge collection of 3D filaments in different colors and sizes to meet your exact needs. Email us at makeshaper@villageplastics.com or you can call us at 1-330-753-0100 for more information.

A Quick Review of the ASA 3D Printing Filament

3D printing is now used for manufacturing products and creating objects of all types. The technology has revolutionized the way things are now created. From commercial production to creative projects, 3D printing has touched almost all types of industries and manufacturing processes. And, the one thing that has made these things possible are the filaments.

There are many types of 3D printing filaments available and each type has its own unique features, benefits and advantages. One such filament is the ASA filament. It is an easy to use, efficient and durable option for printing 3D objects. If you have been meaning to buy 3D filament, consider the ASA filament.

This article will help you decide of the ASA filament is worth your time and money or not.

What is ASA 3D Printer Filament?

ASA stands for Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate is one of the most commonly used 3D printing filaments. It is a high-quality thermoplastic and is considered as a more advanced version of ABS. Since it has high UV resistance, it is suitable for outdoor use than the ABS. Besides, ASA also has high chemical resistance and unlike ABS, it can withstand prolonged exposure to the sunlight.

It has advantages over the ABS material as it can last longer under the UV and chemical exposure. If you need something sturdy and durable for your 3D printing needs, the ASA is the best option.

It is Strong, Durable and Long-lasting

Just like its close cousin ABS, the ASA filament is also a little difficult to print. This happens due to it sensitivity towards heat. However, 3D printed objects using ASA materials are more durable and heat resistance. It is strong and very rigid, which makes it a good option for printing outdoor objects. You can rest assured that your ASA objects will not turn yellow when left outside for a long time. The final printed objects are highly resistant to heat and UV exposure. ‘

It Has Greater Chemical Resistance

The ASA filaments have greater chemical resistance than the other type of filaments like the ABS. It can withstand a wide range if chemicals like the saturated hydrocarbons, vegetable or animal oils lubricating oils, weak acid and alkalis, and water. These properties make it one of the best options for 3D printing. You can rely on the quality, durability and cost-effectiveness. If you are looking for a printing filament that can provide a durable result, go for ASA. You will not be disappointed.

It is Easy to Process

ASA can be difficult to print, but the results are great. With little adjustments, you can easily print the parts and objects you want. However, ASA offers easiest post-processing. You can use a wide range of processing techniques on it to make the final object look perfect. Some of the post-processing techniques are sanding, acrylic painting, gluing, milling, drilling, and cutting. You can also get it dissolve in solvents such as acetone for smoothening. This is one of the best things about the ASA. You get the final printed objects that are higher in quality, aesthetic appeal and efficient.

You can Print A wide Range of Objects

ASA allows you to print a wide range of objects. It is used to manufacture spare parts objects and structures that are highly durable. It is important that you know what you can do with ASA filament before you buy it. Depending on what you want to achieve, you can choose the best ASA filaments.

Here are some of the things you can print using the ASA filaments:

  • It is great for printing 3D objects for outdoor application, such as garden equipment automotive parts and electrical parts. If you need filament for printing specifically outdoor objects, ASA is the perfect choice.
  • ASA has great mechanical properties. Which makes it a great option for printing mechanical parts, such as bumper covers, grilles, dashboard holders, side view mirror and more.
  • ASA is great for prototyping as you can print parts and check whether can last under the exposure to heat, UV and chemicals. This is where the ASA has upper hand as opposed to other filaments like the ABS.
  • You can print some excellent quality tooling objects using the ASA. The result will be durable and high-quality. You can easily print tooling objects like the handles, jigs, tool caddies, fixtures and more.
  • ASA is good for printing lightweight ergonomic tools which needs to be sturdy and long-lasting.

These are some of the thing you can print using the ASA filament. Its application is wide ranging and is quite popular with the 3D printing community.

The Bottom line

This is a quick review of the ASA filament to help you choose the right material for 3D printing needs. It comes with many amazing benefits and has advantage over its counterparts like the ABS filament. You can easily use it with the right printer and get the objects printed in 3D form. You can easily use the filament for commercial as well personal printing needs. Make sure that you buy the best quality ASA.

Buy ASA filament Online at Makeshaper Makeshaper.com is your one-stop destination for buying high-quality ASA filaments at most cost-effective prices. We have a huge selection of ASA filaments in different sizes and colors to suit your needs. Email us at makeshaper@villageplastics.com, or you can call us at 1-330-753-0100 for more information.

PLA Filament Review by Mike Learned

A while back we were contacted by Mike Learned (who runs a successful YouTube channel called NeoPortnoy 3D Printing) to do a review of our PLA filament for us. We sent him a sampling of our products and through a bit of back and forth conversation, we got his printer optimized and printing our filament with successful results. Check out his video for more information on his thoughts and opinions of our products.

PLA

PLA Filament Review by Norbert Davis

I'm not a big review person but I did promise to the MakeShaper guys that I would do one when I purchased my PLA from them a while back and well, here it is.

The Review

I had made a purchase on the MakeShaper site with the 10% discount on the first order special that they have advertised on this site and while there was a problem with the coupon at first, a quick message the MakeShaper team soon remedied that. I am new to 3D printing with only just under 4 months of designing and printing on my Monoprice Maker Select (Wanhao Duplicator i3 clone). I love my machine and have had little problems with it up until recently where I was getting a lot of clogs and jams in the extruder and nozzle. I had from the start ordered Hatchbox PLA filament and have been quite satisfied with the quality of the material and the prints with them. I suspect that I became spoiled by Hatchbox because I noticed that their filament was always smooth. I had ordered some PLA samples and found them to be rough and they did not seem to have the high tolerance for the diameter that I got with Hatchbox. So when the shipment from MakeShaper arrived I immediately broke into it to check it out. There was Grey, Blue, and Neon Green. Colors that I had not have from Hatchbox. I was excited to use the filament. I did a few runs with them and found that I was having some difficulty with printing correctly as it did not want to stick to the bed and was just printing, well, crappy. But again, a quick email to the MakeShaper team and they came back with some printer settings that made things print quite decently. The one thing that I thought was presenting a problem before I wrote to MakeShaper was the fact that the filament was fairly rough compared to the Hatchbox filament. I was hoping that it really didn't matter when it went into the hot end and melted then extruded from the nozzle but in the back of my mind I could see where perhaps the roughness was contributing to any imperfections that I saw in the print. The prints came out decent after the printer setting adjustments and I was fairly impressed with the filament. I did see some things but not every spool of filament is 100% perfect so I will see an issue every now and then but nothing terrible. Then things started getting bad. The printer was sputtering filament whenever I chose the MakeShaper filament and the only thing that seemed to print well was the Hatchbox filament. So naturally, I thought, "Yep, that MakeShaper rough filament is affecting the hot end and making all these problems." And you probably would have thought the same too if when you switched back to a trusted filament that things went back to normal and you got good prints. You blame the new filament. Well, a couple of weeks later even the trusted filament could not print worth a darn to save its life. I started getting clogs, jams, crappy output (if any) and I had to shut things down for a couple of days while I contemplated the right move; replace the nozzle and PTFE tube with the same stuff or go for the Micro-Swiss All Metal Hot End Upgrade for the Mk-10. Well, the total upgrade it was! It was going to happen eventually and so better now than later. So after a few days, the new equipment arrived and I installed it... twice. It seemed that while most everyone else in the world with the MK-10 would not need to use thermal paste to make the new hot end work, I would. OK, new Hot End is in and working fine. So, was my earlier issues with MakeShaper filament because of the filament itself or was it really the hot end's fault (or inability)? Well, as it seems, it was the hot end being temperamental and failing to properly heat the incoming filament and give a good smooth extrusion. So after a few test runs to make sure the hot end was 100% I decided to retry the MakeShaper filament (and because my son chose the neon green for his can holder) to see what it could do. Well after a few prints I was really impressed with how the filament was able to lay down some really consistent layers. They were perfect (from an extrusion sense) and the only real imperfections that happened were due to the machine itself (X & Y) anomalies showing up due to wear and tear on the machine. The filament despite the roughness, or being less smooth than Hatchbox, performed really well. With the new hot end and the updated settings for printing PLA with the new hot end really eliminated stringing and even the overhangs that should have had some real problems did really well. On searching on the internet, the information available calls PLA filament as one of the best filaments to print 3D parts. It is perfect for printing mechanical and computer parts as they are very strong, and durable material. PLA filament is made from natural resources, which is one of the reasons why they are considered as safe and efficient. They are quite different than other plastics. Its reliable as its readily available as compered to other types of thermoplastic. One of the things that make PLA filament guilt-free for many of us is that they are capable of breaking down after they are discarded. This ensure that you are not guilty about using it. Many of us use the filaments for better prints and we also need to consider the pros and cons of using it. Plus, when I print, I don’t really have to worry about the harmful smoke or toxic fumes. One thing I liked about the PLA filament was that it was easy to print. Yes, it’s mentioned that PLA filament can be printed at low temperature without the loss of quality. Right temperature is essential for printing with the PLA filament and its very forgiving filament unlike others that can affect the quality of the prints. My experience with the PLA filament from MakeShaper is excellent. It has helped me print some good quality prints and the results have been satisfactory. I would definitely recommend it and like to buy some more in the future.

The Results

Overall the MakeShaper PLA filament did excellent in the overhang department as well as basic layer to layer adhesion. It extruded really smooth and gave me some really consistent prints. Would I recommend this PLA filament to anyone, a resounding "YES". IT delivers what you expect from a good PLA and the price was good too. I am including some photos of the puzzle and the can holder that I printed with the MakeShaper Blue and Neon Green PLA. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to let me know. Thanks, MakeShaper and I will be back for more. Once the CFO allows me some more filament budget. lol Norbert Davis Elk Grove, Ca Monoprice Maker Select w/ Micro-Swiss All Metal Hot End 0.5mm nozzle can_holder_02, pla filament reviews blue_grip_inside, pla filament reviews blue_grip_macro, pla filament reviews blue_grips, pla filament reviews can_holder_01, pla filament reviews can_holder, pla filament reviews https://www.3dprintingforum.org/forum/hardware/materials/99126-makeshaper-pla-filament-review

MakeShaper Filament Factory Tour!

We try and accommodate customer visits and plant tours as often as time permits. A while back we had Ben visit and pick up some filament (he was a local), and he was nice enough to chronicle his experience you see below.

A few months ago, I went to a 3d Hubs meetup and found out there is a filament company called MakeShaper that's located in Sanford NC, just a few towns over from where I live. Naturally, I was interested - I've been on the hunt on-and-off for a quality American-made filament source, and if that place happens to be right next door - that's a bonus!

One of the gentlemen I met at the meetup who worked for MakeShaper provided me a filament sample and was also kind enough to offer me a tour of the facility (his name is Bob). I definitely wanted to take him up on that, but to be honest, I wasn't expecting much. My inner skeptic was saying loudly that "this is just going to be ten guys renting space in some dirty warehouse with an oversized Filastruder, don't get your hopes up."

...Little did I know.

As it turns out, MakeShaper's parent company is Static Control Components and they are, for lack of more precise details, a pretty big deal. From what I understand, they're one of the biggest companies making aftermarket laser and inkjet printer parts and toners in the world. I'm skipping ahead a bit, but I learned on the tour that they were involved in a precedent-setting lawsuit against Lexmark whose outcome determined that manufacturing printer cartridges with an aftermarket DRM chip was not a violation of the DMCA. There's even a Wikipedia article on it! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexmark_I ... nents,_Inc.) So, definitely not the small fries I was expecting.

Back to my story, my wife and I are driving along and the GPS tells us we're getting close and I'm still expecting ten guys in a dirty warehouse. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for a sign that's obscured by some overgrown bushes or something when suddenly, we realize we're driving toward this huge industrial campus. My wife and I both say, no way can this place be the place we're looking for, but yep! It wound up that that's the place!

Here's what it looked like when they GPS says we're close - definitely "sign behind an overgrown bush" territory:
https://www.google.com/maps/@35.444085, ... 312!8i6656
And then suddenly we burst onto this - quite a difference!
https://www.google.com/maps/@35.44712,- ... 312!8i6656

We go inside after having picked the most likely-looking parking lot - we had at least 5 to choose from and I'm sure more if we kept driving - and get signed in and we meet Bob and a lovely lady from Sales named Erica. Bob asks us "did you have any trouble finding the place?" with a poorly-masked grin. Har har, Bob! I learned that SCC has 12 factories on that campus and employs 800 people. I realize very quickly that I'm totally out of my league, but darn it I'm going to make the best of things anyway while I try not to sound like a complete dunce.

Bob also tells me that they're still in the middle of moving their filament-making equipment into a different building, so we won't get a chance to see any of that today - BUMMER - but we can come back later after they're finished! (You bet your behind I'm taking him up on that offer at the next opportunity.)

They specialize in all sorts of filaments like ABS Filament, ASA Filament, PLA Filament, Elite PLA Filament, PVA Filament, PETG Filament, Nylon Filament, HIPS Filament. For anyone looking for the best filament for 3D printing these are some of the best. The PETG filament is actually getting more popular than the others though.

before_after_tornado

The first stop on the tour is something of a memorial. About five years back, some severe tornadoes came through the area and caused a lot of damage, *especially* in Sanford. A few of SCC's buildings were heavily damaged, and a couple were completely destroyed. They got a call from someone who lived 50 miles away because they found some SCC-labeled microprocessors on their front lawn! Fifty miles! Luckily, since the storms came on the weekend, no one was working and no one was injured. The scrap metal sculpture was a tribute to their employees' dedication to rebuilding, and I'm sure glad they did rebuild, because otherwise I wouldn't have been on that awesome tour! scc_memorial_sculpture

Next was their R&D area. Essentially, it was a cubicle farm with one or two 3d printers on each person's desk - and they were tasked with running OEM and competitors' filaments through each machine and making observations on print quality. They had a pretty good representation there - I saw machines ranging from a low-end Da Vinci machine to a big Stratasys uPrint. I met another gentleman named Stephen (who was also at the 3d Hubs meetup I mentioned earlier) who showed me a Marvin printed on the Da Vinci with some XYZprinting PLA. It was a neat print because it was pretty clear - but it also had some stringing, which honestly I was glad to see, because it made me feel pretty good knowing my printer could do a better job.

us manufacturing, usa filament, american made filament(Side note: I asked Bob if I could take a picture of the R&D area, because I didn't want to accidentally capture something sensitive on someone's desk. We decided to play it safe and not take a picture, but then I found that one in MakeShaper's own twitter feed! Ha! So now Wake Tech is on the hook instead of me!)

One of the things Bob mentioned while on the tour was that they have researchers responsible for reverse-engineering OEM lockout chips. In my head I'm thinking, how on earth do you reverse engineer something that's made up of about a billion tiny transistors? So I try to ask an intelligent-sounding question to that effect, figuring that if I use the words "electron microscope," I might sound at least a little bit informed. Bob tells me that the traditional method was to peel back the chips layer by layer and just examine the traces that you found, but nowadays you'll often see protective measures like specially-designed structures that effectively self-destruct the chip if you try and peel them apart. That was news to me! I figured that reverse-engineering a chip like that would be hard enough by itself, but no, apparently you need physical countermeasures to make it even harder. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised in retrospect, but at the time it blew my mind. Oh and yes, to my question, they also do have their own electron microscope on site. (Bob told me that so casually that I was wondering if that was actually as big of a deal as I thought it was...)

While we were on the topic of chips, Bob mentioned that he sees the 3d printing industry today looking a lot like what the paper printing industry looked like 25-30 years ago. Lots of new players entering the market, and some manufacturers responding by trying to lock down their machines. I think this is the point in the tour where I learned about the DMCA decision, and Bob mentioned that since MakeShaper has the full resources of SCC behind them, they are uniquely positioned to become a significant player in the 3d print market. I hope they succeed - my thoughts at the time wandered to the Da Vinci machines. I didn't bring it up, but I remember reading that if you want to use aftermarket filament in a Da Vinci machine, you have to reflash its firmware - but that also voids the warranty of the machine. It would be great to have a third option; a third party chipped filament cartridge that was compatible would be a welcome offering to those customers, I'm sure.

Some of the best printing filaments are the ABS Filament, ASA Filament, PLA Filament, Elite PLA Filament, PVA Filament, PETG Filament, Nylon Filament, HIPS Filament. Based on what you actually want, you can choose the one that matches your need. There is no doubt that these printing filaments have changed the printing methods and made it better.

Anyway after that, we walked to an area of their testing facility. I can only describe it as an inkjet/laserjet printer farm - rows and rows of desks upon which sat as many printers as would fit, and as we walked among them I caught some more 3d printers sprinkled in as well. We learned that in that building, there were around 2000 printers available for immediate testing, and about 7500 us manufacturing, usa filament, american made filamentmore in storage "just in case." Basically any printer that was marketed in a significant quantity, SCC picked up at least one of them to test with.

While we were talking numbers, Bob also mentioned that they go through an enormous amount of paper - I forgot the exact number, but I want to say it was 1,000,000 sheets per week? A MILLION! (per WEEK!!) - so recycling is very important to them. (This also won a huge amount of brownie points with me)! They print on both sides of every sheet, BUT of course it's not such a simple matter as I would naively assume. After a sheet of paper has been printed on, Bob explains, its properties have changed - it's dirtier, its moisture content is different, for example - and it needs to be reconditioned before its other side can be used for a second test. My take on that is that I'd hate to be the guy whose job it was to clean an endless mountain of paper, but on the other hand they're clearly serious about making sure their products work as advertised, and I'll buy the heck out of their filament based on that alone eight days a week.

We continue on and before long we pass by some windows that look into what resembles (to me) a clean room you might see at a hospital. Bob points at the labels in the corner of the windows and tells us that they're environmentally-controlled rooms - both temperature and humidity. One is set up at around 60F and 15% humidity; the other is at 85F and 80% humidity - I might've gotten the numbers a bit off, but one was supposed to be winter conditions (indoors, obviously) while the other was supposed to emulate the tropics. Anyway I'm sure you can guess, they had printers set up in those rooms too making sure that everything still worked to spec under non-ideal conditions.

As if that weren't enough, the next thing we saw as we walked by were some big electrical panels. They weren't too visually engaging - just some metal boxes with conduit coming out of them - but Bob shared that their function was to generate 220v power, and that each desk in the testing lab had both 120v and 220v outlets. They would test all their printers on both, because it exposes quirks in the internal mechanics - the difference in voltage and frequency has an impact on the behavior of the corona wire, the fuser, the drum, as well as a bunch of other parts that I hadn't heard of before. I did my best to keep everything straight, but the entire tour was filled with so much information that it was like drinking from a firehose, and this was certainly no exception!

My mind wandered back to the paper recycling Bob mentioned earlier and I asked whether or not they did the same sort of recycling/reconditioning with their plastic filaments - and since I was trying to sound smart, I mentioned that I'd heard mixed opinions on filament recyclers because of the extra "stress" the process puts on the filament's "polymers." I don't know if I used all the right words there, but hey! Even if I completely messed it up, I got the spirit of the question across successfully, so score one for me! Bob said I was basically on the right track and took the opportunity to teach us a bit about "heats and heat signature." He said if you get material from a quality supplier, that filament has only been through 2 heats. You then print with the material and your printer counts as another heat, so that's 3 heats total. That's generally the ideal case. If you buy pellets and extrude them yourself, you also wind up with 3 heats in the end - one heat from the supplier to turn the material into pellets, once through your extrusion machine, and then lastly through the printer. And if you're into recycling prints, then you can mix recycled material with virgin material and wind up with fractional heats for the overall blend. MakeShaper, for one, avoids the issue entirely by only testing with virgin material - afterward, the prints are recycled into bottles for the toner part of their business. Smart, I like it!

If you have to choose from the various filaments - ABS Filament, ASA Filament, PLA Filament, Elite PLA Filament, PVA Filament, PETG Filament, Nylon Filament, HIPS Filament – the PETG filament will standout as they are growing very popular with 3D printing business.

We'd been walking while we were chatting and right around this point, we wandered up to another of their Stratasys machines. Bob said he's been noticing a trend where more and more industrial machines like the Stratasys in front of us were starting to show up on 3d Hubs - and I might be fuzzing on the details here, (drinking from a firehose, remember!) but what basically happens is the lease on the machine expires, and the leasing company then sells the machine, where naturally the employees get first dibs. I thought to myself, hmm, might it be neat to own a Stratasys machine? I wonder how much they cost in that scenario... but before I had a chance to ask, Bob shows me a spool of Stratasys filament. It looked like a half kg maybe, and it's then I learn that the cartridge costs A HUNDRED AND EIGHTY DOLLARS! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?! And I know those machines aren't cheap to begin with either, but then they get you on the filament too?! I swear, if those guys at Stratasys aren't swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck and lighting their cigars with hundred dollar bills like in the movies, they are doing something seriously wrong.

So I don't think I'm interested in owning a Stratasys machine anymore. Then again, MakeShaper IS working on coming up with their own compatible filament, so maybe it wouldn't be that bad after all...

Afterward, we headed down to the shipping area. It was neat-looking to me, someone who doesn't get to see that kind of thing every day, but I would imagine it looks like your typical warehouse operation (although probably a lot cleaner). Lots of boxes stacked on lots of forklift shelving units. Bob told us that the forklifts were semi-automated - I didn't fully understand, but he said there us manufacturing, usa filament, american made filamentwere wires run through the floor and somehow the forklift operator has to only do half the work. I think he said that they just drive it to the right aisle and then the system automatically gets the right box from the right shelf location? And I think each space on each shelf was labeled with a barcode so the machine could make sure it was picking from the correct spot. That was definitely something that scratched my high-tech itch, so that's a gold star in my book!

That just about wrapped up the tour. We walked past a photo studio where they had a bunch of professional-looking lighting and equipment and a green screen, but I know nothing about photography at all so it was all lost on me. But I sure did notice the filament sitting in the middle of the room! (They had just taken some pictures of it in preparation for their web store). Bob told us that they do all their own product photos, instructional materials and video editing in-house. It seemed like a small detail, but I think having such a nice studio is one more thing that goes to show these guys are really invested in their work.

After that, we sat down in a conference room where we chit-chatted for a bit and I finally bought the spools I had came for! What really struck me though was the labeling on the filament boxes. I us manufacturing, usa filament, american made filamentimmediately noticed that A.) the label sealed the box, so it would be tamper-evident, and B.) there's a field for Pantone color. Maybe I just haven't bought filament from the right places yet, but I hadn't yet seen anything similar until then. Even before you open the box, the filament feels like a premium product. And then on the backside of the package, the MakeShaper logo is watermarked (maybe that's not the right term... inlaid maybe?) into the cardboard - a nice touch.

Afterward, we said our goodbyes, and my wife and I thanked Bob and Erica for taking time out of their day to show us around. I realized after we left and got into the car that we'd spent an hour and a half walking around their facilities, and that was without even seeing the actual extrusion machines! Time flies when you're having fun I guess! Before we arrived, I was expecting the tour to take 30 minutes, tops. After all, how much can you possibly expect to see from 10 guys in the corner of a dirty old warehouse...

My closing thoughts are that I was completely blown away by the experience (at least that much should be obvious by now). Even my wife, whose involvement with 3d printing extends only to tolerating my addiction to it, really enjoyed seeing all the equipment and learning about the business! My only criticism is that for now, MakeShaper's color selection is very basic - red, green, blue, white, black, and natural are the only colors on offer at the moment. (Although if you've got deep pockets and want to order 18kg of filament, they'll make any color you want!) Otherwise, their filament prints extremely well and is reasonably priced, and I've seen first-hand how dedicated and enthusiastic they are about their product. It's one thing to put a blurb on a website about quality, it's another thing entirely to invite your customers in and bathe them in it.

I know I've probably come across as a cheerleader in this review but I swear I'm not affiliated with them and they didn't pay me to write this. I just had a really fantastic experience, and from now on I'm going to satisfy my filament needs with MakeShaper plastic whenever possible. I think everyone should try at least one of their spools, you won't be disappointed.