Tariff Expansion Set to Hit 3D-Printing Right in the Filament

Mere weeks after tariffs were put into place raising the cost of many Chinese-sourced electronics components by 25%, a second round of tariffs is scheduled to begin that will deal yet another blow to hackers. And this time it hits right at the heart of our community: 3D-printing.

A quick scan down the final tariff list posted by the Office of the US Trade Representative doesn’t reveal an obvious cause for concern. In among the hundreds of specific items listed one will not spot “Filaments for additive manufacturing” or anything else that suggests that 3D-printing supplies are being targeted. But hidden in the second list of tariff items, wedged into what looks like a polymer chemist’s shopping list, are a few entries for “Monofilaments with cross-section dimension over 1 mm.” Uh-oh!

That would seem to specifically target the typical 1.75-mm filament that most FDM printers like to eat; however, the line items specifically list the proscribed items as being polymers of ethylene, acrylic, and vinyl chloride. Neither PLA nor ABS, the most popular filaments, fits into any of those categories. The next line item, though, appears to be the gotcha: “Monofilament nesoi [Not Elsewhere Specified or Indicated], of plastics, excluding ethylene, vinyl chloride and acrylic polymers.” This would seem to include plastic filaments of any dimension and made of any polymer other than those listed above, which represents a broad category of products that could include anything from fishing line to spools of weed-whacker line. And, apparently, PLA and ABS printer filament.

But wait; it gets worse. Not only are finished filaments apparently covered by the 25% duty, but the raw polymers going into their manufacture are also covered, with both ABS and PLA getting their own line items in other parts of the list. It’s especially telling that neither of these line items has any sort of modifiers; there’s no mention of form or viscosity or modifying chemistry like there are for most other polymers on the list. That seems very broad, and would seem to give Customs agents wide latitude on slapping the tariff on any shipment of raw ABS or PLA. That’s bad news for US-based filament manufacturers who source their PLA and ABS from China.

Has any of this bad news filtered through the market yet? It appears not; a non-exhaustive search of PLA filament price history on camelcamelcamel shows that the price of Chinese-made filament has been stable over the last few months, so the market has yet to factor in the tariff. With the tariff set to go into effect on August 23, we’d expect that to change soon, though.

As with any tariff, the impact on the consumer’s bottom line is hard to predict. Markets are flexible and tend to adapt to the challenges presented to them by switching suppliers and finding new ways to do business. In this case, many countries other than China make both PLA and ABS, so manufacturers can shift suppliers if it makes sense to do so. But global trade is a complex web of agreements and alliances that don’t often take the little guy into account. So you can bet that this tariff will have an impact on 3D-printer filament pricing. With duties starting in a little less than two weeks, we’ll know how much of an impact pretty soon.

Thanks to [Scott McGimpsey] for the heads up on this one.

133 thoughts on “Tariff Expansion Set to Hit 3D-Printing Right in the Filament

  1. “TARIFF EXPANSION SET TO HIT 3D-PRINTING RIGHT IN THE FILAMENT”

    *crosses-legs* No they don’t. ;-p I’m thinking if anyone would get hit the most it would be commercial 3D-printers. Consumer 3D is a niche.

    1. It is a consumable, and thus mostly deductible from the commercial taxes they would normally pay.
      So only the taxpayers end up losing the capital again.

      The Roaring Twenties predated the Depression too.
      ;)

      1. A new depression was bound to happen eventually, I’d rather it happen sooner while I’m still young anyway given that it’s likely to spark a new round of major world wars.

          1. Not this time poor fella… your team will have to read a real history-book to understand why many educated investors are nervous.

            There is nothing anyone can do about this now — so why worry about something you can’t control?

          1. The Atomic Filament plastic uses Natureworks PLA which is made not only in the USA but also in my home town. How cool is that? I know Natureworks has plants in different places but this is way cool for the local economy considering the Chinese don’t want to buy your corn anyway. I wonder what other Chinese made stuff we could make for ourselves.

      1. In Germany there is a saying: “Germans, buy German bananas!” (Germany being way too cold – still – to grow bananas), demonstrating the absurdity of economic nationalism. Buy American – ok, but don’t expect anybody else in the world to buy your stuff based on the fact that it’s better or cheaper then!

        1. I think people are being oversimplistic. “Buy American” makes a lot of sense when the product can be made viably in America. Otherwise you buy from elsewhere, (like bananas). There is nothing wrong with a nation protecting its own economic interests and nurturing and expanding its own industries. That’s just good healthy commerce. We can use the threat to not do business with outsiders as a barganing tool to help make sure we get a good deal when trading. We only end up with permanant high tarriffs when such negotiations fail. Its a game of poker or chicken, so you have to play it well and not be stupid in the long run. Still, even the best players loose on the ocasional hand of poker, but that’s the game and there’s always another hand in international trade.

          1. Yes. I feel that the tariffs are the start of a lengthy negotiation process. North Korea started with Trump poking Kim in the chest.
            I didn’t vote for the guy but people have to admit that he has had successes where other more political politicians were unable or unwilling to make progress.

      1. this is exactly, maybe over a time, the quality will increase in every aspect of this tariff, because you will need to pay more, but if you do that at least you will buy quality products

      2. It would be easier if the raw material nurdles weren’t covered also. Making the raw material more expensive is just as likely to result in low-quality filament from using questionable plastic to reduce costs.

      3. It won’t. The sole reason quality is higher is because that’s the current market niche for first world filament. As soon as second world filament disappears, there is no need for higher quality. American manufactures can become just as sloppy. Exactly that is what has always happened after import duties were raised. Look it up! I’m flabbergasted that one would have to explain this to Americans, the homeland of capitalism.

        1. Yea, you got that right. “American made” does not equal “quality” although there are many top-notch American products. Laziness and cutting corners is not just something foreigners do. In the 1970’s Door handles were falling off of American made cars and having 7 out of 8 cylinders running was good enough. :-) The formula for quality can be put together in any society where attention to detail, teamwork and hard work are rewarded. My Nissan LEAF, (made in Tennessee) is an amazing example of practical excellence. It has clearly been designed by OCD people and built by those who also value perfection. The car isn’t perfect but it is the best run-about errand running machine I have ever seen.

          The best thing about tariffs on Chinese commodity products is that it not only grows our own industry, it stops our subsidizing China’s raping of its own environment just to be the cheapest mass producer. When we buy a ton of Chinese steel we get it cheap for us and at huge expense to the people who live there. Killer smog in China is very real and our addiction to their under-priced products is part of their problem. I’d be all against tariffs if they had effective environmental and human rights protection, but communist China’s ruling elite doesn’t care about the peasants there and we are enabling those despots.

          1. Although I like the idea of capitalism being born in Scottland, there is the parable of three men who were given the diffent quantities “talents” to invest. That’s capitalism, pure and simple. :-)

      4. IF…
        Back when the tariff was imposed on Japanese cars back in the early 1980’s, how many American automobile manufacturers actually improved the quality of their cars before jacking up the prices $2400?
        American automobile quality did (eventually) improve, but IMO, it wasn’t because of the tariff, but because people kept buying Japanese cars at the inflated prices.

        1. I think we are comparing apple and oranges here. Back in the 1970’s regarding cars, the quality of local products was LOWER than the quality of the foreign products. In such a context protectionism without an effective mechanism to improve quality is stupid. Regarding filament and all commodity products the situation is very different. When we make such products in the USA, it has just as good of a chance if not better to be excellent than the foreign competitor. But the foreign competitor can rape its own environment while producing cheaply and getting the lowest bid on orders. In such a context it is not only good business to put up tariffs, it’s good for humanitarian reasons. The ruling elite in China don’t give a rat’s arse about the peasants who have to choke on the smog and wade about in mercury polluted rice patties. It’s best not to enable such treatment and wean ourselves from our addition to dirt-cheap under-priced products…if we care about other people.

          Also, imagine if a toggle switch, or integrated circuit was actually made in America. We’d get it shipped more quickly and they would match the specs better because we could hold them accountable. I’m so tired of “Chinese Amps” which I swear are about 2x the real ones. Buy a switch from China rated at 20A. Expect it to melt if you push more than 10A through it. That would never be tolerated for long over on this side of the pond.

    1. “But people will take advantage of this to increase prices.”

      Not even “take advantage”. Simple supply and demand. People buying large amounts of plastic from China will look elsewhere to save money. Demand for plastics unencumbered by tariff will rise faster than the supply will increase (if supply increases at all). Result: higher prices.

      1. I don’t think too many companies will raise their prices too much, least not to point where they may be accused of ‘gouging’, and appear shady. They sell what they can produce, business is good, happy customers, maybe expand production? More plants, more jobs? High profits, also are enticing for others to get into the business, specially if there is a huge demand, and limited supply. Not always about price. The whole point of the tariffs, is that we buy more imported goods, than we are shipping out. We buy a lot of stuff off TV and the internet, too cheap to waste time complaining about, and throw it away. So what if it didn’t work as advertised, or not at all, broke days after arrival, or turned out to be just plain useless, it was cheap.

        It’s amazing how many items on the lists of tariffs, are things we produce right here. Can’t imagine why we even need or want imported steel and aluminum, we mine iron and bauxite. We also have tons of scrap to remelt. Funny how we ship that scrap metal overseas, along with the jobs, and profits.

        Part of the reason imported goods are cheaper, is low wages, and no customer support, unless you are willing to fight for it. Mostly, it’s the shortcuts, cheap materials, and questionable waste management. Maybe your okay with other countries pollution and poisoning their own land and people, but we still share the same planet, some of that stink washes up on our shores. Sometimes incorporated into the products we buy from them, since it going to the landfill soon anyway…

        1. We have metal ore and coal mines in the USA that are operating at very minimal capacity or have been shut down for a long time. We’re also for crazy reasons exporting more crude oil and petroleum products than we import. In the past 20 years new sources and new techniques (fracking isn’t new at all, it’s been done for about 50 years) have been found and implemented – increasing American and Canadian supplies of crude oil.

          It’s likely there are untapped supplies of not actually rare at all “rare earths” metals here in North America. The world gets most of them from China because that country is wiling to use the cheapest, roughest, dirtiest methods of mining and extraction.

          It’s time the rest of the world insists China cleans up its industry. The USA and other “western” countries have done as much as is practical. We’re tired of China’s soot raining down on us. Sticking them with big tariffs on stuff produced by their dirtiest industries could prod China to take action to reduce pollution.

          Of course the best market is one where nobody has tariffs and who sells the most depends on the quality of what they make, and how much people are willing to pay. Many will willingly pay more for a product if they know the production of it caused less pollution. Real pollution, forget CO2, did the company recycle and clean any water it used?

          1. Speaking of being environmentally responsible, I just HATE the idea of throwing way failed 3D print jobs (mostly PLA). I’d love to see more examples of reusing the plastic, mainly as filament, but other ideas too. I know we’ve seen filament extruders before, even on hackaday. (I think) But it seems they were consistantly not fully thought through and not fully viable. If there’s a maker/hacker out there that knows of a reliable and affordable filament extruder that we could build or buy, that would be a good thing to bring up here.

          2. The USA has always been one of the world’s most extreme polluters, and that will now only grow.

            But I’m happy they go nationalistic, let the US sit in their own dirt and let’s have the rest of the world finally sideline and ignore them and then they should nicely dwindle into the large hick village they are seemingly meant to be.
            Hopefully all the foreign students and intelligent people that prop up the US will also leave and we won’t have to wait another 50 years for it to pan out.

          3. “The USA has always been one of the world’s most extreme polluters, and that will now only grow.” Then how come almost all of the plastic the floats around in the ocean comes from other countries? Which has cleaner air Los Angeles or Shanghai?, never mind St. Louis. Who has effective emissions standards on delivery trucks and buses in the cities? The US or China? In what countries do they sell the most smog masks? Perhaps you’ve been spending too much time with your head up your “you know what” and have forgotten what stinky pollution really smells like. The US isn’t perfect but we do better at protecting our environment than most countries. The exceptions are little tiny ones too.

      2. “The US isn’t perfect but we do better at protecting our environment than most countries. The exceptions are little tiny ones too.”

        We did, but this administration has been gutting the EPA. There was a time not so long ago when you could light some of the rivers in my state on fire from all the waste we dumped into them. Now you can go ahead and dump coal ash into the rivers, and the EPA is barely enforcing *any* of our regulations. How long do you think it’ll be before we start reeling back more and more of our environmental regulations? Moving enough manufacturing from China to the US will eventually make the US at least as dirty as China ever was. All under the guise of jobs and the mythical version of “the economy”.

  2. If the raw polymers are being hit by this, won’t it increase price on practically everything made of plastic in the US? After all, filament and 3d printing is just one process, what about manufacturers that injection or blow mold in ABS, nylon, or PET? Surely their cost of material is going to increase as well.

    1. Exactly. If the intent of the tariffs are to force corporations to move their operations back to the US, you would think they would impose small tariffs on finished imported goods, with a stair-step plan to raise said tariffs over a period of a decade or so, thereby forcing corporations to manufacture the finished product stateside, while having no tariffs on raw materials as an incentive. However, such a plan would be felt immediately by the voting public, and those currently in power would lose the next election.

      1. What they should have done is applied big tariffs to finished goods (such as TVs, computers, mobile devices, clothes, shoes, homewares, cars and the like) and small to no tariffs on inputs (such as electronic components, plastics, rare earth metals etc). That way the price of finished goods goes up and manufacturers are encouraged to move out of china but inputs remain cheap so manufacturers in the US buying raw materials (such as plastics or electronic components) aren’t hurt so much.

          1. “Or they’ll buy from China and sell to us.” Yes, some of that will happen, but at a cost. Chinese products will be more expensive to us and unless the Chinese are “supermen”, others may be able to undercut them, like, say, India? They would find it very satisfying stealing business away from China and they are much more likely to speak English. You are right, though. “The parts must flow.” But that doesn’t mean the river of commerce won’t configure itself into a better structure. Good heavens, I sound like a Ferengi. :-)

  3. The wide spread range of effects is hard to model, The metal roofing industry could get his hard by the tariffs, but it might boost the sales of conventional asphalt shingle roofing, which is petroleum based. I noted the PVC pipe right under that list, this could cause people to start using metal in their plumbing.
    Look at the up shot of this, I would expect the reclamation and recycling of filaments to become way more popular and building your own has about the same level of complexity as building a 3d printer, maybe even less.

    1. “this could cause people to start using metal in their plumbing.”

      The metal, of course, is probably also under tariffs. PVC is also used for electrical conduit, but aluminum and steel conduit could also be involved in tariffs.

      “Look at the up shot of this, I would expect the reclamation and recycling of filaments to become way more popular”

      I’d think the price increases would have to be pretty high for that to happen, or for the tariff pissing contest to continue and/or worsen for 2-3 more years. If filament cost 2-3x as much, people would definitely start looking at this. But if it’s more like 25% I doubt there’d be much more motivation than there is today.

  4. rofl there are many filament companies state side and all of them make a better filament then you will get from china, hit them with harder tariff’s I use 3d sultech made is USA best filament I have come across yet and priced the same as the cheap shit from china too screw china.

  5. Not very significative, but it could also have an effect in the mentality of printing something without thinking, measuring or designing correctly, then just trashing the unuseful pieces

      1. Obviously, people will be chomping at the bit to start a company only viable thanks to volatile tarriffs and politics. Everyone loves making long term investments that could be obsolete tomorrow, or when the next president is elected.

      1. “Because you’re broke paying off all the tax cuts, right?” <— Nonsensical, sounds like mediacrat talk.
        If I get a tax cut, I end up with MORE money to spend, not less. (What reality were you born in?)

        And if you are talking about the US government, Anyone who thinks the US government is EVER going to pay off its debt is living in Tinkerbelle Land. Not gonna happen. That would take discipline, (and balls too) and those precious commodities aren't found in abundance in Washington D.C. (I suppose we could mint a few dozen 1 Trillion Dollar Coins and distribute them, once everyone who is in the know has loaded up on gold and Bitcoin. It might come to that if there is a "run on the bank" for US Debt. Of course we could just strip the federal government down to strictly what was provisioned in the constitution and nothing more. That would save a buck or two, but that would take discipline and balls.)

        If Chinese stuff gets more expensive, so be it. We can make our own stuff and are best off if we do. Besides doing business with a country that rapes its environment, and pollutes and dominates its own people all in the name of communism and global conquest is both stupid and immoral. Besides Natureworks makes damn good affordable American PLA. "The parts must flow", and flow they will, but they might come from Thailand or the Philippines, Korea, Japan or even the USA. That's all fine with me. We need to keep tariffs low with friends who respect America, human rights and their own environment and crank them up high on the others. That way we can do our part to improve the situation for everyone.

  6. Funny how it’s specified in metric units (millimeters), but incorrectly; a wire diameter would be in millimeters, cross section refers to a surface area, which would be in square millimeters (of square any other unit).

  7. Time to develop a .9mm filament retrofit kit for printers! I see an opertunity for the maker community to just side step this and roll on. No need to complain just roll with it and go.

        1. And giving away the store to your enemies is idiotic. MAGA is not foolish, it’s standing up for yourself. (collectively) Anyone who doesn’t stand for America isn’t American. Our government exists to serve its citizens and the MAGA concept is all about the idea of government actually serving the wellbeing of its citizens for once. We used to have the best federal government money could buy, but unfortunatley way too many foreigners were writing the checks. No more. We need to put things straight, and the whole world will be better off because of it, but America needs to propser first. Then we can, onece again, be a blessing to the world.

          1. Please don’t think this person speaks for all of us here in the states. We’re not all like this, I promise. Some of us actually think for ourselves.

      1. Why!!?? I’m not sure .75mm filament wouldn’t be wonderful. Yea, it would come flying off the roll but the extruder wouldn’t have to work nearly as hard. More distance at less force sounds like progress to me. There should be less oozing for bowden tubes too. I would think it would be more flexible too and consequently less likely to break. A bit harder to get a grip on by the extruder I suppose but that seems managable. With a .4mm print head filament would be coming in 1/3.515625 as fast as it is coming out. That’s wicked fast compared to the more normal 1/19.140625 for 1.75 mm. It would be interesting so see but it takes a huge market force to drive a whole new standard. :-)

    1. I’ve imported literally thousands of items from China, and only 1 package was ever opened by US customs. Chinese suppliers rarely label the customs declaration with what the item actually is, and what it’s sale value is.

      This really only applies to big distributors that import huge crates or full shipping containers loaded with filament for re-sale. This won’t have any effect on the average user that orders a roll or two direct from China through Aliexpress or similar sites.

  8. Maybe some good will come from the tariffs, that they will spur some new research and development into converting some of the most common elements into synthetic polymers using even less energy.
    ABS – hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen
    PLA – hydrogen, oxygen and carbon

    1. Sorry wrong plastics:
      Polyethylene (PE) – Hydrogen and Carbon.
      Polyoxymethylene (POM) – Hydrogen, Carbon and Oxygen.
      acrylic (PMMA) – Hydrogen, Carbon and Oxygen.
      Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – Hydrogen, Carbon and Chlorine
      And 50% of the PVC production capacity in has been shut down by environmental regulations! So the reality could be that China was going to cut exports anyhow.

  9. To those of you whose hair is still on fire: Consider the decline in the value of the RMB since the talk of tariffs began, and see if you are actually getting hurt. In fact, if you also buy Chinese products not on the tariff, how much more are you saving?

      1. Sort of like the plastic part from IBM that said “Assembled in the United States”.
        The “assembly” consisted of applying the label that said “Assembled in the United States”.

        1. Atomic Filament
          Corn raised in the USA, processed in bio-chemical plants in the USA (my home town) to make pellets, shipped to Indianna to be made into filament, shipped out to the paying customer. That’s 100% American made, not just a label.

          1. “Farmer Subsidies” are fictitios when it comes to the actual well-being of the farmers themselves. You need to show more respect for the people who actually put food on your table and help fuel the machines that bring amazon boxes to your door. Every farmer is in economic competition with every other one in their market. Priceds are automatically driven down by that competition to near cost of production. There’s no gravy train for them. They earn every bit of profit they get. Subsidies simply shift the income and cost numbers together and the farmers live (or die) by the difference. Take an economics course.

          2. You don’t pay any of those things Scott. The tiny fraction of a dollar that your income tax input contributes to farm subsidies would not buy one ear of corn.

          3. I could tell a few of those farmer haters out there where to shove that corn. :-) Do a great job feeding a nation and a lot of the world and this is what you get? Disgusting. “I don’t need no stinking farmers. I get my food from the store.” Idiots.

  10. Contrary what Trump conned his MAGA contingent into believing, the tariffs will not bring jobs and production back to the USA. I wouldn’t mind the tariffs if that revenue is used to restore to SS/Medicare funds lost went Americans jobs where exported.That is money consumers would be spending if the jobs had remained in the USA anyway. The DIY,including those who call themselves hacker are consumers like very other segment of the American society, so expect to adjust your expectations. Personally I have never foretasted that 3D printing to be a critical need, so I’m more concerned about power hand tools.Particularly if retainers try to earn a profit on the tariffs.

  11. Hmmm. No problem in the US heartland where I live.

    Right in town with me is a chemical plant that takes in locally produced Corn for processing and is always looking for new markets for their products.
    That plant makes top quality PLA which is the primary 3D printing material. (Natureworks)
    Lately, most of the PLA I have ended up buying has been coming from China because it is cheapest.
    Tariffs on Chinese imported PLA suddenly go up making it more expensive
    Less US produced corn gets shipped to China because of their restriction giving us extra corn.

    Only a moron would fail to recognize the obvious solution for getting 3D printer PLA filament in the USA.

    We don’t need no stinking Chinese PLA. Let them eat their own plastic. We’ll make our own with the corn they used to eat.

    1. Stop the ethanol in gasoline madness that reduces vehicle efficiency and use that corn for plastics. It’s possible to process corn oil into many kinds of plastics, using the same methods used on crude oil.

      There was a project to genetically modify corn to grown small nodules of plastic in its kernels. It got as far as initial results and producing some demonstration items. However the plastic was difficult to extract and the prototype items were brittle.

      Then someone must have said “What if we tried making polymers directly from corn oil?” *forehead smack* End of genetically engineered plastic corn project. Now there’s stuff like polyurethane made directly from soybean oil and other vegetable oils.

      1. Yea, the bioplastics industry is growing nicely as we learn more and more how to do it.

        I beg to differ about ethanol production. A mixture of ethanol and gasoline leads to a higher octane level and helps keep the fuel system clean. It also gives the US a strategic advantage in case we have a sudden surge in need for oil, like a knock-down drag-out war or something. Plus you need to keep the farmers happy. Like mamma. If Mamma ain’t happy, no-one’s happy. Same goes with the farmers. That’s where the goodness comes from.

          1. Yes, old, outdated, and cheap gas engines don’t take well to ethanol, but for the most part it isn’t a problem. I’ve been pumping it into Chevys for decades now, racking up hundreds of thousands of miles, and you know what. Fuel injectors stay clean and I never have to buy those bottles of fuel additive to un-gum-up the fuel system.

            Diverting corn from food production is a valuable strategic ability and keeps the price of the commodity elevated which is vital to keep the production process healthy and consequently rural society prospers where these products come from. It is necessary to keep farmers prosperous because if you don’t, the food/fuel will stop flowing and the barbaric city dwellers who take much and give little won’t be able to get the quick fix they want. Best just to keep the farmers happy. I can see where you are coming from if you don’t care about American strategic security or the Farmers, but I do, like a good loyal American should do. We in America have to stand up for ourselves, because no-one else will do it for us. Those who don’t stand are not Americans.

            Ethanol production is not about being green or saving energy, but it allows us to run our vehicles on natural gas or any other heat source and gives us economic, price stabilizing, wiggle room if petroleum gets scarce or corn prices dip too low. All bi-products associated with making ethanol are still useful in agriculture. Nothing is dumped or wasted. There’s too much of it and its too valuable to waste. Don’t like ethanol? Don’t like America being economically strong and flexible? Tough!! That’s what we’re doing anyway. It’s our corn and we know how to use it to prosper. You can either just sit there and pout about it or get over it and try to enjoy life.

            Also the yale paper you quoted shows few to no real measurements and only “statistics” qualified with terms like “projected” and other words like “likely”. These overpaid, over-respected, pointy-headed, academic types need to get their collective heads out of each other’s you know whats and go look at a corn field, get to know the people who help them grow and see how hard they work and the risks they take. Go to an agricultural chemical plant and get to know the myriad of processes that happen there and the great people who make them run so well, AND CLEANLY!!. This is economic activity and it feeds and empowers people in a very renewable, satisfying way. In the heartland, we make our own food, energy, and even liquid fuel. The people in yale may think they are important, but they are nothing when the store shelves don’t have food on them.

            Out in the country we will soon become even stronger as fossil fuels run out. We’ve got lots of sky and that mean lots of wind and solar. There’s lots of work to building the needed infrastructure, batteries and all, but work brings the best out of us especially when we ourselves benefit from it. Some day my Tennessee-made electric car that I run errands will be powered almost entirely by locally produced, renewable energy and the whole ethanol concern will wane as demand lets up. Still, even Elon Musk has no solution when someone needs to tow a heavy fifth wheel trailer 800 miles in one day. To do that, you need liquid fuel and ethanol can be the carrier of whatever energy source we choose. Good old petroleum works too until it runs out.

            Personally, if you find yourself living deep withing some monster metro area, you might want to lay down some plans to get out into the more rural settings and learn to live as they do. That’s where the future is. Cities that manufacture real products redeem themselves in the utility of the machines they create, but otherwise cities are no good for family, soul, body, or mind. Also, terrorists and despots don’t normally aspire to nuke fields of corn. :-) Come to where the life is, and don’t look back, lest one gets turned into a column of salt. We can keep the lights on, keep our machines moving, and we can fix and build anything we need. The country-land is filled with makers and hackers. We can wield a gun, a welder, and bales of hay with skill. Its good living especially when taking in a beautiful sunset or starry sky after a good day’s work.

          1. Right on the miliage. Ethanol has lower energy density than ordinary gasoline. Wrong on the injectors. Ethanol is a good solvent and helps clean the fuel system as it is used. I’ve got hundreds of thousands of miles of experience to prove it and haven’t needed to buy any of those little bottles of fuel additives. It’s a great way to get the fuel’s octain level close to 90 too without buying that expensive premium fuel. Still, I’d rather be torquing the tires on my electric vehicle, but my solid little LEAF is only good for 100 +/- 20 miles. When I need to go on long trips I’ve gotta power my van with “dead dinosaurs” plus a bit of natural-gas energized corn. :-)

        1. Ethanol is lower density than gas/petrol. A given volume has lower weight and less energy. In regions of the US where ethanol is added in the summer months is a multi-layered ripoff. You get less giddyup per dollar and you are paying to subsidize farming that can not otherwise meet costs.

          If farm machinery ran on ethanol, what portion of a crop has to be used to make fuel for the farming and transport? In the horse age, it was 1/3.

          1. Ethanol use is a STRATEGIC industry. It gives the US a way to stabilize corn prices and represeents a way to turn energy from natural gas into liquid fuel, an option of great value in situations where oil becomes scarce. If we end up with a desperate need for more oil like getting drug into another knock-down drag-out war somewhere, we’ll be ready. If corn prices drop low enough that farmers run a risk of not producing because they can’t make a profit, we’re there to add some needed demand. Ethanol is a tool that solves many problems, but mainly strategic ones. It’s a powerful alternative and alternatives give us choosing and negociating power.

          2. Ethanol is NOT the most efficient option. It’s not even the most green. It is, however, a valuable STRATEGIC option that gives the US economy wiggle room to absorb and cope with surges in both corn and oil prices and availability. If we find ourselves in great need for liquid fuel if oil becomes scarce, its there. If corn prices threaten to drop too low for farmers to make a living, its there. Its value is that it is a viable alternative in a crisis and when negotiating good deals with foreign entities. There are naysayers, but I know from decades of experience that 10% blend ethanol/gasoline mix does a good job at keeping the fuel system clean too. No STP for me. Even less no since my main goto vehicle is an electric Nissan LEAF made in Tennessee. I keep the old ICE van handy for long trips and that ethanol blend helps keep it going and going….. hundreds of thousands of miles. Yea, its less efficient, but its cheaper too and that’s 10% less money for our enemies to spend on IEDs.

  12. Soo, bypassing the taxes by buying cheap chinese raw pellets, extrude them somewhere outside US and China into filament, and import that filament to the US to undercut the locally made product and bypass the tax might be the next big thing?

      1. Yea, just so you can turn a profit while enabling the Chinese rulers to rape its citizen’s own environment. In the mean time, forcing economic hardship on quality domestic producers who do respect people and the environment. That’s noble. (Insert sarcastic emoticon here – In all of Unicode, we need one of those)

  13. My opinion on this (and I buy a lot of filament): this is great. I’ve got a filament manufacturer located a couple miles from me which has almost entirely stopped selling their Natureworks-based PLA because they can’t compete with the Chinese filament, despite being only a few dollars different per kg roll. I expect the volume increase for a lot of the smaller American filament manufacturers will help a lot on bringing down the cost per roll of American filament to the point where we can actually not only compete in the short term due to the tariffs, but continue to compete long term even if the tariffs are removed a few years down the road due to the increased production capabilities. This kind of change is long overdue, in my opinion.

    1. Unfortunately the tariffs are not going to be used to reduce US labor costs and won’t go into the pockets of the people it is impacting. When the cost of goods rises, there is the collective chant, “We need a living wage!” and all costs along the supply and delivery chain rise. The cost of American goods is likely never to drop, we are in an increasing inflationary spiral. Filament prices will only increase, 100% US made or not.

      I paid $14 for a chicken sandwich and a regular size soda today at a counter service place. Not at an airport or theme park, just a run-of-the-mill store. That’s the current price in our inflated minimum wage local market. Pretty much the same price at Carl’s Jr. / Hardee’s.

      1. Obviously I did not express my point particularly well. As an analogy, there were cars before the Model T, but when the Model T came out and Ford produced it on such a grandiose scale, they were able to push the price per car down significantly from what their competition could. The increased production volume cut the per-part cost drastically by allowing for efficiency improvements which are not practical or indeed sometimes not even possible on a smaller scale.

        And that’s also not accounting for how China deeply subsidizes shipping to the US while the reverse is drastically more expensive, so a Chinese vs. an American filament company are not exactly competing on level ground for either American customers or Chinese customers.

        Regardless, I’m looking forward to seeing how the shot-in-the-arm from this impacts my local filament manufacturer as well as the rest of the industry.

      2. It’s probably only going to last a couple more years, if even that. Surprised some Federal Judge hasn’t messed with the tariffs, like everything else Pres. Trump has tried to do for the country. The whole point is that we could/should be producing a lot of this stuff ourselves, and not need to import so much of it. We are buying, a whole lot more from outside the country, than we are shipping out. China is just the Walmart of the world, but there are other places to shop, maybe not as cheap or convenient. It’s best to keep your spending close to home, since it supports your local economy. You need businesses that provide jobs, so there are customers with money to spend. As more jobs open up, wages also tend to increase, since a business needs to be staffed, and would like to hold on to employees. Really think the government should stay out of it, and cut back on the entitlements. Employers have to pick up the tab for a lot more, than just wages these days. The government wants to give out what use to be ‘perks’, as things everyone is entitled to, when the go to work. Lots of folks have no incentive to get jobs, since they do fine on public assistance, and small cash businesses, some a little shady, others illegal.

        Minimum wage jobs were for minimal experienced workers, no education or previous work history required. Could be teenagers, stay-at-home mom, who just needs a few hours a week, or someone who wants or needs more income, than their current job provides. They weren’t the type of jobs considered careers, just something to get you by, until you can get a better job, either after you finish school (improved yourself), or a position opens up on the field you are interested in. Minimum wage jobs weren’t ever meant to support a family of 5. Unfortunately, people got this weird idea that all jobs should be equal, same pay, same benefits. Work is work, if you have to, you deserve all the perks everyone else gets, from the start, not 5-10 years of service later. No real incentive to keep a job, since you can start out about the same, at any job. Why work hard, get fired, no big deal, there are other jobs, that pay the same, after the public assistance runs out.

    1. Maybe we’ll have to “roll your own” stepper motors. You haven’t lived until you’ve been forced to wire wind a motor by hand.
      Still, even at 2x prices stepper motors are high value.

      The tariffs won’t stand forever. It’s all part of a “game of chicken” that is necessary while negotiating good deals for America. The days of bending over any time a foreign country wants to screw us are over and it takes time to re-establish a new kind of order. Once the dust settles, tariffs will come down and it will be smooth sailing international commerce and a few more local options.

    1. Tariffs affect other countries too. The US isn’t the only country to put them up. In fact our new tariffs are, for the most part, responses to long standing tariffs and subsidies that other countries put in place to steal industry away from the US. The difference is that the US no longer has the best government money can buy. Now we actually have the balls to try to stop the theives from robbing the store. Once the theives figure out they can’t do that anymore, it will be regular FAIR business as usual, but there is an inconvienient awkward transition period.

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