How Much Filament Is Used in 3D Printing?

3d filament

3D printing requires precision through estimation to get your money’s worth and reduce plastic waste. There are numerous factors to consider when approximating filament usage in your projects. Some of them are the scale, type of printing filament used, quantity, density, mistakes, and number of hours, amongst other things. 


Estimating How Much Filament You Will Need

When estimating how much filament is needed, you need to calculate not only for your 3D printed models but also the possibilities that come along with it. Moreover, you must consider test prints, failed prints, errors, infill, etc.

Use a Filament Calculator 

Estimating how much filament you will need needs some mathematics. This means you must solve using formulas with a volumetric approach. You can do this by calculating the geometric volume, conducting a Fermi approximation, or doing conversions to get the estimated weight of your prints. 

However, there is an efficient alternative that does not require you to manually estimate. You have to use a filament calculator. If you are not confident in your mathematical abilities, a filament calculator can estimate projections.

Estimate Using Your Slicer

Another is relying on your slicer. The “slicer” is software that converts a 3D model from your STL file and gives precise instructions that the printer can follow using G-code. 

Most slicers can automatically estimate the weight of your 3D print based on your filaments and present you with the nearly perfect ratio needed for a particular project.

Check Similar Projects

If you are still unsure whether your filaments are enough to get your projects done, you can search the internet for pieces similar to your print idea. You can use them as a basis for your estimation.

How Long Is a Spool of Filament?

The length of the spool will vary depending on the filament type, diameter, and density.

Most high-quality filaments for 3D printing usually come in two diameter sizes: 0.07 inches (1.75 mm) and 0.11 inches (2.85 mm), with a filament density of 1 to 1.20 grams per cubic centimeter.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

  • 1kg spool in 0.07 inches: 400 meters
  • 1kg spool in 0.11 inches: 150 meters

ASA (Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate)

  • 1kg spool in 0.07 inches: 390 meters
  • 1kg spool in 0.11 inches: 126 meters

HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene)

  • 1kg spool in 0.07 inches: 390 meters
  • 1kg spool in 0.11 inches: 146 meters


  • 1kg spool in 0.07 inches: 385 meters
  • 1kg spool in 0.11 inches: 145 meters

PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate and Glycol)

  • 1kg spool in 0.07 inches: 330 meters
  • 1kg spool in 0.11 inches: 123 meters

PLA Filament (Polylactic Acid)

  • 1kg spool in 0.07 inches: 335 meters
  • 1kg spool in 0.11 inches: 126 meters

PMMA (Polymethyl Methacrylate)

  • 1kg spool in 0.07 inches: 352 meters
  • 1kg spool in 0.11 inches: 133 meters

Polycarbonate/ PC Filament

  • 1kg spool in 0.07 inches: 347 meters
  • 1kg spool in 0.11 inches: 131 meters

PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol)

  • 1kg spool in 0.07 inches: 350 meters
  • 1kg spool in 0.11 inches: 132 meters

TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)

  • 1kg spool in 0.07 inches: 347 meters
  • 1kg spool in 0.11 inches: 131 meters

How Much Filament Do You Need Depending on the Print Volume

Small Scale Projects

For small-scale projects, the average filament would only amount to 50 to 150 grams. 3D filaments are usually sold in 500 grams or 1-kilogram spools. 

So, when working on small pieces, 1 kilogram is more than enough to complete other small-scale projects on a “now and then” basis. 

Large Scale Projects

Large-scale projects are those pieces that are bigger than what can fit in the palm of your hand. Weight, length, and thickness play a significant role in approximation.

1 kilogram of the filament may be enough to complete one large piece. However, if you plan to make multiple large pieces at a time, then you may opt to buy a 3-kilogram spool.

What to Do If You Run Out of Filament During Printing

If you own a 3D printer with a built-in “filament run-out sensor,” the nozzle will automatically stop printing, and you can easily swap the leftover filament with a brand new spool. However, if your printer has none of these features, you might have to take some creative liberties and invest in alternatives.

One of these alternatives is to buy a filament run-out sensor, which you can install in your 3D printer. However, if you do not want to spend the extra cash, occasionally check on the printing process and observe the amount of filament left. If you notice that the filament is running out, you can pause in the print settings, swap it with a new spool, and reposition the print head back to where it left off.

What if you find yourself in a situation where your printer continues printing despite expending all the filament? At this point, it is too late to manually pause the printing process to swap filament spools. 

The solution is to manually measure what is left of the unfinished piece and edit the 3D model from your slicer software so it will print the incomplete section only. After printing it, you can glue the pieces together, sand them, and make repairs.

Before printing, a great tip would be to create custom supports using carbon fiber to minimize the amount of filament consumed. Therefore, it lowers the chances of it running out.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with leftover filaments?

You can use leftover filaments to print small models, fix some imperfections or errors in finished projects, and attach broken objects or pieces of material back together. 

Aside from a 3D printer, a 3D pen is also available for use, and it is much more efficient when using up leftover filaments. However, if you do not need to build or do anything with the excess, then you can take it to a 3D store to be recycled.

How long will 1 kg of filament last me?

It would depend on the scale of the project, quantity, type of filament used, and frequency to expend all 1 kilogram of filament.

With an FDM (fused deposition modeling) printer, a 1-kilogram spool could last up to one to two months if you are printing small-scale objects. However, it may last only a few weeks when you are working on batches or large-scale models. 

How Much Filament Is Used?

Do you need more filament? Are your filament purchases enough to last the project? The question of how much material you need for particular projects is a tedious one. Moreover, there are a lot of attributes that can waste your stock of spools, such as margin of error, filament loading, print speed, and other possibilities that are sometimes unavoidable.

However, filament calculators and most slicers help calculate the amount of filament needed and make your estimations easier.