Who in your opinion are the largest (in volume sales) manufacturers of filament in

Who in your opinion are the largest (in volume sales) manufacturers of filament in the world.

ESun and Polymaker?

Esun is selling worldwide. From India, I have never heard about Polymaker.

Quote"NatureWorks strive to producing the best quality PLA and are currently the worlds largest producer of PLA" http://www.polymaker.com/polymaker-feature-in-the-natureworks-3d-printing-suppliers-guide/

I personally see more outreach from esun if you count rebrands as well

@Jeff_Dewe ​, NatureWorks is a polymer supplier. Not a filament producer.


@Rob_Palmer NatureWorks makes raw PLA polymer resin (pellets) and sells it through distributors to dozens of filament manufacturers, including Polymaker and Makerbot. NatureWorks doesn’t make the actual filament though. @ThantiK is correct.

@Rob_Palmer might want to check your facts. NatureWorks does not produce 3D printing filament. You may want to check yourself. I did say that they were a polymer supplier. PLA is a fucking polymer. It’s right in the name…POLY…

Thanks & who do you think comes in 2,3,4 & 5?

Wow. No where on earth are people more passionate about filament. Kinda funny, kinda like it.

MakerBot doesn’t make their own filament. They contract through a USA manufacturer, but that data is around s year old so could have changed.

Nature works used to own the market for providing pellets in USA. It’s no longer a strangle hold though, several other players in the game.

Oddly, one of the main uses for pla is carpet. So with the rise of 3D printing, there are a few old school plastic manufacturers that made other things now in the game. It’s a little hard to track though because they typically firm a new company or brand and obscure the parent company or brand under a different name.

This I can say with authority, though: China is dominating in price and many companies over there have improved their quality. It’s incredibly hard for USA to compete with China prices and quality on filament. It used to be true - and tons of marketers have used this argument with me- that you never know what you are gonna get with China the quality isn’t there.

It pains me to say it, but it’s not true if they have been in the game for a while and we all have vetted that brand as good quality.

China has won this round.

One exception is when a company doesn’t have the buying power to make big orders- USA may make sense. And turn around time is typically longer. Boutique manufacturers are another bright spot… Weird nylons, polymers, high end high performing plastics are still dominated by smaller USA shops. If not dominated, at least they bring good value to the table.

@Brook_Drumm Thank’s for the great info.

Well put about the Chinese aspect @Brook_Drumm I remember watching people like Richard Horne talk about finding ball bearings in their filament just a couple years ago. Nowadays I find it almost hard to get crappy filament unless I’m looking at the $10 a kilo shipped crap. I usually stick to Inland stuff but haven’t had any really bad spools out of the 50 or so I’ve run through

@Rob_Palmer - you may want to educate yourself: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polylactic_acid (This is PLA) - Which is a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyester - and the first sentence of that page even states: Polyester is stretchable and is a category of polymers

And no, Natureworksllc does not have spools of plastic that they sell.

@Rob_Palmer , Natureworks is a pellet-supplier. They supply PLA, Ingeo, and other polymers to producers of filament. Suppliers USE Natureworks plastic for their production, but Natureworks itself does not produce filament.

For example, the company I work for - DeltaMaker - uses NatureWorks polymer, and a company called Toner Plastics runs the filament for us. We rebrand, and sell it as DeltaMaker filament, after specifying some things for Toner Plastics to adhere to as far as quality.

Just because they use NatureWorks polymers, does not mean Natureworks is a filament producer. They do none of the actual filament production - they are a chemical company.

PLA is used in all sorts of things - Carpet, Cups, Utensils, etc. Natureworks simply supplies the plastic for production. You wouldn’t say Natureworks is a Spork producer. You wouldn’t say Natureworks is a Softdrink Cup producer. Because they don’t. They merely sell the plastic that goes into those products.

@Rob_Palmer I’m a chemical engineer. You can trust me on this. I think some of the confusion we’re having here is due to the word “polymer” and what that implies to non-chemistry-people.

By definition, a “polymer” is any material made by combining a bunch of small molecule units (“monomers”) into long molecule chains or branches. There can be biopolymers or synthetic polymers. Cellulose is a biopolymer – plants make it from scratch. ABS, PP, LDPE, PET, etc are fully synthetic, because we make them from oil/gas in chemical plants. PLA is actually somewhere in between – it’s really a synthetic polymer made from a biological feedstock (lactic acid).

Bioreactors are used to make lactic acid (the monomer), and then the lactic acid is run through a chemical plant to react it with itself to polymerize it into poly lactic acid = PLA (the polymer). Then it is purified, mixed with additives, turned into pellets, and sold to filament manufacturers. The filament manufacturers take the pellets, add more additives (like pigments), and extrude it into actual filament.

NatureWorks is the largest producer of PLA pellets. Other companies turn the pellets into filament. That’s why we’re saying NatureWorks shouldn’t be in the list of filament manufacturers.

Does that all make sense?

Well done!