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When choosing which filament to use for a particular print does the color of the filament have any impact on it's performance, or is it purely a cosmetic choice?

For example, are there any side-by-side comparisons available that demonstrate that differences do\don't exist between different color filaments from the same company\range, such as a particular filament needing a hotter bed because the pigment changes it's properties?

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  • $\begingroup$ It is possible. But the same properties can change from brand name to brand name for the same color, or even from batch to batch from the same brand name. $\endgroup$
    – user10489
    Nov 27, 2021 at 0:40
  • $\begingroup$ Comparing different brands adds an additional complication. It's best to stick to differences within one particular brand. to keep the variables down. $\endgroup$ Nov 27, 2021 at 15:55

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Depending on the pigment size and other additions, the melting temperature and crystalline/amorphous structure of prints vary vastly.

Titanium white, the most common white pigment in the industry, needs to be applied in large doses to get a good coloration. This means that the brighter the white, the larger the percentage volume of the item is made up of the pockets in the polymer structure that contains the pigment, resulting in a more brittle structure.

Carbon black on the other hand is one of the most effective black pigments known to man and can be used very sparingly. It also is an almost perfect UV-absorber, making such prints heat up much more than those of other colors. It also can protect the polymer itself from aging if the polymer chains degrade under UV light. ABS for example does undergo degradation in UV light.

Some polymers also contain some kind of filler to adjust melting temperatures:

I have encountered PLA spools from two different manufacturers in the almost exact same color before printing. However, the one brand printed well already at 190 °C, the other required 200 °C to print decently. The two filaments also looked vastly different after printing: the hotter printing one showed a much higher gloss after printing, which hints that they had a quite different makeup besides the PLA - either something in the one was making melting easier but reduced gloss or something that increased gloss also rose the melting point.

Another thing I found was, that the clear PLA I got from china once printed best at 110 % flow of other PLAs in combination with only 185 °C, making me believe that something in the treatment to achieve the translucent filament also results in altering the flow behavior.

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Yes in some cases it does.

It is widely known in communities which are pickier about properties that white filament requires a percentage of pigments much higher than other colours, therefore white filaments are typically weaker (or significantly weaker) than most other colours.

Another exception is black: ABS is not UV resistant, but if you use black ABS, the UV will not penetrate and, unless the surface is continuously scraped away, the UV resistance of black ABS is better than other colours.

I remember some mentions in the Voron discord chats that red (at least from some manufacturers) is better than some other colours from the same manufacturer, but I don't remember the details. You can join the chat yourself and search (before asking!) in the #filament chat.

I remember reading that pure ("natural") filaments are however not always better than filaments with colours added, but I cannot remember the source. It could be that some little amount of extra additives (the colour pigments) offer the polymer something to "grab", so better than nothing. My guess, but I have no support for it.

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