Newbie question

I’ve been spending lots of time printing test models and benchmark tests and have had very varied results. I’ve tried a lot of different settings, built in profiles, and filaments. Some models print near perfect, others lots of bumps, some have some banding that makes some layers look thicker or darker than others.

I want to ask, how much of this is software settings and how much is filament? Meaning, I had pretty good results using the nGen sample, tuned some of the clearance rolls of eSUN PLA to look pretty good, burned thru 4 spools of Hatchbox PLA (various colors) and finally, some MeltInk PLA/PHA and had fantastic prints aside from overhangs. It doesn’t do over hangs, like at…all…

Within the 4 different colors of matchbox, I struggled with their Silver, Black and white printed ok, and had some trouble printing their red all with the same settings. Varying the settings didn’t help much either. As mentioned, I’ve had some materials produce nearly perfect prints even after the not so good ones. Based on that alone, I’d have to say it isn’t a hardware issue. Do filaments actually vary that much even within the same brand?

If that is in fact the case, what are your go to brands of PLA or ABS (haven’t tried ABS yet) to use when you need as close to perfect quality as you can get. I was thinking of trying some other colors of nGen, but it seems somewhat brittle compared to other materials…and it’s not actually PLA, which is fine. Protopasta seems pretty pricey and I’ve not tried any other materials from ColorFabb aside from the nGen. At this point I’m looking for easiest to print consistently so that I can tune my skills and start printing in exotic materials.

Filament quality is a big part of it, especially with complex models. I use quite a bit of village plastics and push plastics abs. Both work great. The way you store Filament can be important too. Blobs can be moisture, etc.