Research that Consumers Digest has conducted over the years makes us believe that the significant flaws that exist in the posting of a substantial majority of customer reviews taint the value of the reviews (see “Beware of Consumer Reviews”). However, the customer reviews that are associated with one product category seem to have worth. The category: the materials that are used in 3-D printers.
Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates, which provides advice regarding 3-D printing, says hundreds of brands exist for 3-D-printer materials. He isn’t surprised that he’s unfamiliar with most of those brands and that the materials that are associated with them can be of low quality, given the tendency that companies have to jump into a new category and glom on to a new revenue stream. “They might be buying materials from a supplier that they think is good but, maybe, is not so good,” he says.
How do you put yourself in the best position to purchase quality 3-D-printer materials? Wohlers’ recommendation that you consult chatrooms and blogs so you can learn 3-D-printer users’ insight strikes us as worthy of note, despite our generally dubious opinion of customer reviews.
“It’s not a trivial exercise” to operate a 3-D printer, Wohlers says. “Chances are others in [a consumer’s] area might also own a 3-D printer, and they can talk and find out what brands of materials they’re purchasing.”
Asked to cite a brand of 3-D-printer material that he’s found to be of good quality, Wohlers notes NinjaFlex. “There are some popular brands out there, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re quality materials.”