I have been printing the same model once with Verbatim PLA and once with an ABS material from Switzerland. For both I was using two brand new 1 kg spools of filament. I was printing both at the same speed, same additions, same infill percentage, solid layers, solid wall count, etc. Literally everything the same except temperature.

Simplify3D indicated 300 g for each print, however I already realized that all of Simplify3Ds estimates for time and material are - unlike Cura - very poor. However I was still kinda surprised when I checked the two spools after printing. Originally they had the same diameter of material and same depth. After the print the ABS spool looked almost the same as before the print, in terms of diameter it shrank less than 5 mm, however the PLA roll was definitely at least 1/3 empty. The difference was also confirmed by a scale. ABS only consumed like 220 g, while PLA was using a bit over 300 g. ABS surely did not look like more than 20 %, but maybe its inner diameter is larger than the PLA spool.

Since I can order ABS considerably cheaper than PLA I was wondering if this is a common phenomenon. Googling for that leads to a million of pages outlining the differences between ABS and PLA where 999'999 of times it says that ABS is more prone to warping than PLA and the other one is about dimensional accuracy, but I could not find anything about material usage.

  • $\begingroup$ PLA is good for dimensional accuracy when you want things to be rigid, but it breaks easier if you bend it. ABS and, even better, PETG work if you want objects that bend. PETG doesn't warp as easily as ABS, but often sticks to the bed too well. $\endgroup$ – Perry Webb Oct 22 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ Volume: no (unless the filament diameters differ). Mass: yes. $\endgroup$ – 0scar Oct 22 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ Note that you can specify filament density in the "Other" tab in your profile if your want accurate weight estimates. $\endgroup$ – towe Oct 23 at 5:48

I’ve never actually printed anything other than PLA, but...

Searching the web for filament density, I found this article , among others, that indicate that PLA is nearly 20 % denser than ABS, on average (1.24 vs 1.04 g/cm3). This indicates that a 1 kg reel of ABS will have 20 % more volume (therefore length) than a 1 kg reel of PLA.

This does not quite explain the difference you see as 300 g vs 220 g is 36 % but maybe your measurement is off or the particular PLA mix you’re using is slightly denser.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ True, the volume consumption is the same, but the weight consumption is different. $\endgroup$ – Perry Webb Oct 22 at 12:40

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