Spend any amount of time talking to your fellow makers about the best filaments to use for 3D printing, and it won’t be long before the age-old Esun vs Hatchbox debate rears its head.
On the face of it, this is hardly surprising.
Both are incredibly popular Polylactic Acid (PLA) filament options. Both offer good value for money, and, most importantly of all, both prove to be excellent choices for a wide range of 3D printing projects.
Yet when faced with two extremely good filament choices, it’s not always so easy to determine which one is the best fit for you, your printer, and your upcoming makes.
Below, we’ll take a quick look at both PLA filaments before putting them head-to-head to see how they fair in all of the things that really matter:
Cost, color options, finish, and more.
What is Hatchbox Printer Filament?
It’s doubtful that there’s a 3D printing enthusiast in the world who hasn’t at least heard of the name Hatchbox.
The company is one of the industry’s most widely-known and highly-regarded brands, earning their enviable reputation on the back of high-quality filaments that are ideal for a whole range of print projects.
The unique blend of polymers that make up their PLA filaments affords it a level of malleability, which makes it ideal for printing smaller items, while the environmentally-friendly biodegradable plastics ensure that all those makes you create have minimal impact on the planet.
Though not the most affordable brand globally, Hatchbox does earn rave reviews for the kind of impressive layer height and smooth finish that their PLA filaments offer.
Hatchbox Printer Filament Specifications:
Filament Diameter: 1.75mm / 3mm
Spool Weight: 2.2 lbs
What is Esun Printer Filament?
Esun may not yet boast the same kind of global brand recognition that Hatchbox can brag about, but they’re certainly making their mark by offering one of the most durable PLA filaments currently on the market.
The company’s PLA comes with lavish amounts of desiccant and is entirely vacuum-sealed, which help to deliver world-class layer bonding and pretty much eliminate any concerns about your printed projects breaking.
Still, while Esun may be an excellent choice for those projects that require superior strength, that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on aesthetic appeal.
The filament produces a nice, glossy finish which adds an attractive look to any make.
Esun 3D Printer Filament Specifications:
Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm
Spool Weight: 2.2 lbs.
Esun vs. Hatchbox 3D Printer Filaments: Head-to-Head Comparison
So far, we’ve established that both Esun and Hatchbox are excellent options for using with your FDM 3D printer, but surely one has to be better than the other, right?
Below, we put each one through its paces to -hopefully- provide a definite answer to that question once and for all.
It’s fair to say that PLA tends to be one of the cheapest 3D filament options out there, especially compared to the highly expensive nylon filaments that are available.
Despite that, neither Hatchbox nor Esun are exactly what you’d call cheap.
While some specialty PLAs can come in at several hundred dollars, most typically cost between $15 – $30.
Both options we’re looking at today fall somewhere in the upper half of that price range. Indeed, it’s rare to find either brand selling their wares at under $20, though you’ll undoubtedly find higher-priced filaments that don’t match Hatchbox and Esun in terms of quality.
With all that being said, Esun technically wins this round as their polylactic acid filaments do come in at a few dollars less than their competitors, though honestly, the difference is so negligible that price alone is hardly going to be the biggest determining factor when choosing which one to use.
While cost may not be a deal-breaker for you, the range of colors available may well be.
Here’s where Hatchbox takes a clear lead.
The brand’s PLA filaments are available in no less than 26 different color options.
These include a range of basic colors such as:
- Light blue
The brand also offers a host of specialty filaments that add a unique look to your finished products. These are available in:
Meanwhile, Esun only sells their filaments in 9 different colors, including:
- Light blue
While rumors abound that Esun is planning to update their range of colors in the near future, for the time being, at the time of writing, it’s clear that Hatchbox is the way to go for sheer variety.
Adding Paint to 3D Printer Filaments
Where Esun starts to claw back a little is in the quality of their white filament.
Though it’s all well and good having a large range of colors to choose from, there may be many occasions when you prefer to add color yourself, either because you can’t find the right shade or tone that you’re looking for, or simply because you prefer the creative process of finishing those models yourself.
Either way, this is achievable by using a white or transparent filament and adding paint.
Both brands offer options for this, but most experienced makers agree that Esun’s filaments are the better of the two, offering a greater level of consistency in terms of finished colors.
Speaking of which…
If you’re new to the world of 3D printing, you may be forgiven for believing that using one type of filament with one 3D printer will produce the same results time and time again.
You’d be forgiven, but, sadly, you’d be wrong.
The truth is that sometimes models don’t always come out the same way.
While the type of 3D printer you use may play some small part in things occasionally going awry, it’s more often the case of inconsistency between one spool of filament and another.
It’s for this reason that one of the best 3D printing tips for beginners we could possibly give would be to look for a brand that offers consistent results each and every time.
Of course, consistency also matters a great deal in terms of how quickly and easily you churn out products that you print on a regular basis.
Since most of the best 3D printers give you the option to store profiles for the different products you make, finding a filament that is constantly consistent means you can be up and ready to print a lot quicker than you would be if you had to fine-tune the printing profile each time.
Both Esun and Hatchbox score high marks in this regard. However, of the two, it’s the Esun Polylactic Acid filaments that tend to deliver the highest levels of consistency from spool to spool.
The impact of our day-to-day activities on the world around us has certainly been a hot topic as of late, so it’s no wonder more and more 3D printing fans are taking a keen interest in how they can engage in their pastime without damaging the environment.
If you’re one of them, the eco-friendliness of your preferred 3D printing filament is more than likely going to be important to you.
It’s here where Hatchbox once again triumphs.
Though Esun has made improvements by recently releasing a new biodegradable filament, this is certainly not the norm for them, and most of their products aren’t exactly the most environmentally sound.
Hatchbox, however, really comes into its own in this regard.
They focus purely on making biodegradable filaments made from renewable materials, making them a much better option for any maker concerned about the planet.
Hatchbox filaments also don’t give off the same kind of fumes that you get with Esun and other PLA filaments, which is another sign of their environmentally-friendly nature, and since they’re often used in products such as children’s toys and medical prosthetics, you can be sure that every element used in their construction is completely safe.
Related: Learn about the unique properties of hemp based filaments
So far, we’ve seen that both Hatchbox and ESun filaments have a lot of good points going for them, but what about the one thing that really matters most:
The final finished product?
Looks-wise, both are highly consistent in offering an exceptionally smooth finish with every printed product. However, the one you ultimately opt for is going to depend on how you want your products to look.
ESun tends to be a better option if you want a shiny, glossy finish, while Hatchbox is the better option for those products that could benefit from a matte finish.
In other words, there’s no clear winner in this round.
Both offer a great-looking finish, both are consistent in doing so, and the only real difference is the kind of finish you’re going for.
With all that being said, we all know that looks aren’t everything.
In fact, sometimes they may not even be the most important thing if you’re printing a product for purely practical purposes.
With that in mind, it’s worth paying attention to the strength and durability of each PLA filament.
Once again, it’s ESun that takes the most points in this round.
Don’t get us wrong, Hatchbox still does a good job in this regard. Their innovative polymer blend lends their filament a great deal of strength which ensures the brand can hold their own against most others on the market, yet even having said that, Esun still does a better job here.
Though the kind of chemicals used in the creation of their filaments and the patented vacuum-packing process may not be the most environmentally friendly, they do ensure that if you buy Esun, you’re getting a super-robust filament with a superior level of strength.
This makes Esun a better fit for those heavy-duty products that are likely to undergo plenty of practical use or even for those fragile products that may be otherwise easily damaged.
Related: Find out how PLA compares to ABS in durability and resistance
As a side note, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Esun also offers PLA+ filaments. As the name implies, PLA plus boasts superior strength to regular PLA.
Since Hatchbox doesn’t yet offer this type of filament, that’s another tick in the win column for Esun.
The good news about both types of filament is that they are equally as well-regarded as the perfect choice for newcomers since they are both easy to manage and offer a high level of consistency and quality compared to other brands.
Hatchbox tends to be the go-to filament for smaller items or those with intricate details in terms of applications. At the same time, ESun is often a better choice for practical products due to its aforementioned high level of durability.
Once again, then, there’s no clear winner in this round, and the one you opt for is going to depend mainly on your printing projects.
At this point, we should probably point out that you could have the absolute best 3D printing filament in the world, but if it’s not compatible with your 3D printer, then it’s not going to do you any good at all.
Fortunately, both brands do well in this regard.
Both the Esun and Hatchbox Polylactic Acid filaments are available in both 1.755mm and 3mm diameters, meaning they’re perfectly compatible with the majority of well-known 3D printers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Hatchbox make PLA+?
Not at the moment. PLA+ offers superior strength to regular PLA, but at the moment, ESun is the only brand out of the two that offers this.
Are Hatchbox and Esun PLAs food safe?
At the time of writing, The US Food and Drug Administration has not approved PLA as a food-safe material.
Is Hatchbox PLA non-toxic?
Yes. Hatchbox uses an environmentally-friendly manufacturing process that ensures its filaments are non-toxic..
Where is ESun filament made?
Esun filaments are made in Shenzhen, China. This helps to keep them reasonably inexpensive but does mean a larger environmental impact in terms of shipping.
Where is Hatchbox filament made?
Hatchbox filament is made in the USA.
Esun vs. Hatchbox 3D Printer Filaments: Which is the Better Option?
Having put both products through their paces in our tough head-to-head comparison, we can only conclude that, in this context, the word “better” is very much subjective.
After all, while both are high-quality, mid-priced filaments that typically produce excellent prints, each has its own strengths that may make it the best option depending on what you consider the most important.
If you value the creative freedom and flexibility of 26 different color choices, the ability to make small intricate designs, and the environmentally-friendly manufacturing, then Hatchbox will be hand’s down winner for you.
However, if you’re not so eco-conscious and you’re prepared to sacrifice color range in favor of super durability and consistency, then Esun is undoubtedly going to be the way to go for you.