Only european PLA

I got a 3D printer and so I searched for a reputable filament supplier.

All of them stated “this PLA has European origins”, or “the pellet used for this filament doesn’t come from China, but from Europe”, as if this is a mark of quality. This is why this doesn’t mean anything.

The cost of raw materials

The most popular plastic for 3D printing is NatureWorks PLA 4032D. A 20 kg box costs 140 dollars, 6 euro for each kg. If we order a ton, wholesale, the price is much lower!

This is the price in China:

“Chinese” PLA, chemically identical to the “European” one

22 yuan for 1 kg is around 3 euro, to which you have to add shipping fees. You can’t get shipped 20 kg of plastic pellets with the UPS, or you will pay 300 euro to get 60 euro of raw material! You have to make a LCL (less than a container load) shipping by sea. For my personal experience, shipping 1 cubic meter with LCL, costs around 1000 euro with all various fees.

A cubic meter of PLA weighs 1250 kg, so you have to consider that you’re paying 80 cents for each kg, for shipping.

The “chinese” PLA, is industrially made and it’s absolutely identical to “european” PLA, costs basically the same! They use european PLA, because it’s cheaper and more accessible!

Plastic is cheap, and shipping it between continents is very expensive.

How the filament is made

Moreover, it depends how the filament is made

Which one is better, a  “Made in Italy” filament, made by an amateur in his garage, pulled with a $300 Filastruder, or a “Made in China” filament, pulled in an expensive high-tech factory?

They seem to imply that “made in Europe” equals to say that “it’s premium”, but it doesn’t mean anything.

Personally, I trust more a Chinese factory that has a daily production of thousands of rolls, and so has optimized the process, than a roll “made in Italy” by an unknown entity, without knowing how they make it…

What about a traditional investment?

Five years ago, a family friend, business owner, wanting to retire, having no sons, asked me to take over his company for 25000 euro.

Taking a look at the account book, the balance was very good, but including taxes, wages of many employees, the fact that I had to give up my job, it was a commitment too big for me.

In addition, at the time I was “full retard” from Forex, and all I thought was “well, if I had this money, I’d invest it with some EA, in a year I would be a millionaire” and “anyway in a few years I will be a millionaire, it’s useless to waste time” .

The years have passed and, because of his health, the company has been resized. Now the production is run by a part time employee. He doesn’t search anymore for new customers, in order to work more slowly and he has sold nearly all the machinery, leaving only one production line. Requiring less space, he stopped to rent his commercial space and moved into a tiny room in his property, saving thousands.

Instead my Forex investment, had a positive but very small return on investment, not the millions I dreamed in the beginning!!!

On Friday he invited me to see how his business works.

Starting from the raw material, the machinery, semi-automatically the product with the customer’s specifications. Customers, who are producers of furnishings, integrate it into their solutions and sell it to the public.

So he has a dozen clients, who make large orders once a month: he doesn’t make thousands of Euros, but also he works a few hours a day, I could easily fulfill orders in my spare time.

In a week his last employee will go away, so he told me this proposal: I would rent his room, including machinery and customer base, with a long-term contract and then manage orders by myself, keeping the earnings.

I am a bit scared of making a long-term contract and also on the bureaucratic side, but it is enticing to me.

What to do?