The 3d printing industry has a problem, a really big problem and it's one that almost nobody knows or talks about.
Let’s rant here for just a moment about this situation. Slant 3d operates one of the largest 3d printing farms in the world. We purchase thousands of pounds of filament every month from a number of different suppliers. Over the entire history of the company, there has been one problem that has continuously been an issue with every single supplier that we have worked with, it's color.
this is the exact same product, these are multiple spools of the same product with supposedly the same color but anybody can see this is not the same color. This is a giant problem if we are producing tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of products. Our clients expect them to all be the same color and we expect all the spools to be the same color. Filament manufacturers are not generally driven to make the same color.
Here's the reason for this and we kind of half understand it. The vast majority of filament on spools that are purchased in the industry is purchased by individual consumers who have a printer in the garage. Someone in the garage who's making a few items for Etsy or just hobby items for the around the house. They will not notice that one spool of green is slightly different from another spool of green. Since those people do not notice and they are the fundamental industry driver for buying spools of filament, the manufacturers of filament are not incentivized to really create high levels of consistency across their material. Some manufacturers do just implicitly or at least say they do.
For example like Prusa or Color Fab, those kind of guys works very hard to make sure that color is consistent across the process, using lean principles and a colorimeter at the end of the extrusion line. This is to make sure that colors are consistent. Most anybody else is eyeballing it and these are people ranging from somebody who started by making just cord and is now making filament to professional filament makers who are consistently producing colors but know that no one's going to notice that it's a variation. Up into even very large multi-billion dollar companies produce inconsistent colors because it just doesn't matter in general. somebody buying one or two spools will not notice or will not care. We understand at slant 3d that we're in the minority of clients. We buy huge amounts of filament we're not necessarily the highest margin customer or even the highest component of market share for many of these suppliers but here's the thing the industry in order to continue to grow and in order to legitimize itself against other manufacturing processes like injection molding or machining those manufacturing processes have exceptionally tight quality control. They are able to make a thousand or billion legos that are all the same color of yellow very consistently. The 3d printing industry is currently not meeting that standard. This is preventing large-scale production of parts like the slant 3D print farms and other print farms like it from consistently producing reliable results for clients. There are times even when we do an exact Pantone match and order that color specifically that the filament maker will not be able to mix consistently or monitor it consistently. The intensity of color varies up and down.
This is a huge problem because it is preventing 3d printing from being as massive of an option to all other forms of manufacturing as it could be. This is something that Slant 3D does not control exclusively, we are dependent upon suppliers for this. Suppliers are dropping the ball this is why we manufacture a good portion of our material in-house and we'll continue to expand that because this is unacceptable it is not difficult to make sure that color is consistent it simply requires the will to make the color consistent. Yes, the consumers will not notice but it will lead to a much larger market opportunity down the line. As giant printer farms or Slant 3D itself continues to expand and other companies like it, who need to produce millions of parts, at least need the same color. Eliminate this variable, it's very easy. This is just a letter to suppliers to reliably produce your material and do your job. This is a huge problem for the industry that most people don't notice or know about but it is hurting the industry.
Hope everybody has a great day. Let us know what you think down in the comments. Let us know if you've run into this before. If you've noticed it in orders of filament that you've gotten before. What kind of suppliers caused issues. If you know suppliers that are really good and reliable or if you are a supplier, please reach out to us because we're happy to speak to you and buy a couple of pallets of material from you if you're able to make colors consistently. Thank you everybody have a great day.
Happy 3D printing!