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What happened to the coffee, beer, hemp and garbage filaments?

To put it bluntly, the realities of supply and demand happened. 

These unique composite materials, while cool-sounding, don't provide any sort of mechanical or performance benefit. For the filaments to be 3D printable on standard 3D printers, the particle size has to be pretty small. So it creates a cool-looking material, but that's about it.

These materials are wickedly challenging to manufacture, too. Every batch of material that we would get from our compounder would be different. This isn't a huge surprise - these are agricultural waste products at the end of the day and depending on the season they'll be different.

Hemp, for example, would have different oil content levels and coloring which would cause havoc for our manufacturing process. Extruding PLA filament is pretty straightforward and consistent but once you add in the bio materials like hemp or coffee, the temperature settings on the extruder were different every single time.

That lead to a lot of wasted time and material getting things dialed in to have a consistent diameter. The material wasted was expensive, too. By the time we had material delivered by our compounder, it cost 5x what virgin PLA resin cost. And then we had to consider the opportunity cost of running these materials.

If we chose to run Wound Up coffee filament for a day, we'd lose 2 hours on startup getting things dialed in, we'd have a higher than normal scrap rate, and we were missing out on producing something like Tough Pro PLA+. That's a product that runs reliably, has a consistent demand, and has a mechanical advantage over standard PLAs.

I haven't even mentioned the day that we would lose after a production run of a bio composite material. You can't simply purge out a coffee, hemp, or beer material and start running PLA after it. You have to pull the screw and completely clean it and the barrel, the die, and so much more.

This all lead to a very high retail price point that we had to charge. We'd have some customers try a spool or two, for the novelty of it, but then never come back to purchase more.

All of this to say - we've permanently discontinued these composite materials until/unless someone commits and prepays for an annual amount so that we can run it all in one go from one large production batch.

In the meantime, we'd really appreciate it if you'd check out any of the 30 other materials that we now offer through our combined 3D-Fuel and Essentium production partnership!

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