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How to Store 3D Printer Filament

Why bother to store these rolls of plastic?

Your idle 3D printing filament that is exposed to the air would absorb dampness from the air around it, and the taking after issues would occur:

  • Filament gettingto be delicate and more inclined to breakage
  • Extruding temperature needed would increase
  • Losingits ductile strength
  • Poor adhesion
  • Rough printout caused by bubbles in layers

If you ever got a brittle roll of filament, you would find that the tensile roll turns to be insanely fragile cuts.

Why PLA Filaments Get Brittle?

Regularly, PLA filaments would get brittle when they are just put aside for some months without proper maintenance. But there are moreover occurrences when a spool of PLA broke quickly after being utilized for fair some weeks. The self-evident sign of such brittleness is the PLA filament breaking into pieces with the smallest contact.

There's more than one contributing cause that makes the PLA filament brittle. But one commonly recognized explanation is hygroscopy. All FDM thermoplastic filaments absorb moisture, when spools of filament are exposed to the air, they would absorb moisture from the air till their moisture saturation. PLA filament may swell up to 40 micrometers while FDM 3D printers pursue tight tolerances and extremely small layer heights. Thus, a spool of filament which is actually aqua-filament can derail a print before it even begins.

The filament itself is brittle. The mechanical structure of PLA or Poly-Lactic Corrosive is known to be fragile, but natural conditions will contribute to its fragile state. PLA is hygroscopic and retains dampness from the air, which changes its mechanical structure making it more fragile.

How to Store Filament?

To store filament properly so that it doesn’t come into contact with moist air, two practical and relatively cheap options are often offered:

  1. Vacuum bags. Store filamentswith a valve for sucking the air out with a standard vacuum cleaner. Place silica gel beads inside the bags to absorb the remaining moisture.
  2. DIY Storage Box.Store your filament spools in transparent plastic storage boxes with sealed lids. Use a cheap renewable dehumidifier to absorb any remaining moisture inside the boxes.

Vacuum Bags

There are many storage solutions available for your filaments but a significant proportion is either expensive, impractical, or too time-consuming. As a hobbyist, you want to keep things as cheap and simple as possible.

Enter the humble vacuum. Or to be more specific; vacuum bags. High-quality vacuum bags provide an air-free environment for your filaments. You’ll want to purchase bags that have a vacuum valve for sucking the air out. Creating an air-free environment in the bags is as easy as using a normal household vacuum cleaner on them to suck the air out.

With vacuum bags, some moisture inevitably remains inside the bag. No vacuum is absolute, although the amount of moisture remaining is often close to negligible. To ensure you get rid of any remaining moisture, use some silica gel beads. Nearly everyone is familiar with these. They come in small packets with goods such as trainers and food products because they are amazing at absorbing moisture. Simply place the packets of silica beads inside the vacuum bags alongside your filament.

DIY Storage Box. (Filament Dry Box)

If you’ve already got a 3D printer, then how hard would making a DIY storage box be?

One great advantage of the filament box over other solutions is the simultaneous storage and readiness for printing with several filament spools according to your needs.

Parts you may need:

Storage only: An Ikea box and several desiccant bags.

Readiness for printing (click here to download 3D models): 

Parts Amount
IKEA SAMLA box - 22L / 6 Gallon
1
M4*16mm Hex Bolt 4
M4*30mm Hex Bolt
4
M4 Washer
8
M4 Nut 8
Ball Bearing 4
Piece of PVC pipe or wooden dowel 1
Reusable Silica Beads 1

 

 3D Printed Parts Amount
Base 2
Backplate 2
Bearing Retainer 4
Lid Clip
4
Drill Jig 1

 

What if the filament has been brittle?

If the filament has absorbed a great amount of moisture, you could hear a crackling noise when the filament is extruded. Also, if it has presented itself with curly pieces...

Drying Filament

To dispel the moisture, you need to dry it.

Just put the spool in the oven and set the temperature to around 100-120℃and leave it there for around 4-6 hours.

An oven? You are a stuff maker which I can make sure, but a food maker? That depends.

Make things easier!

Dozens of spools of filament would be delivered to your garage or your 3D printer farm from different brands or countries. Your multiple needs for different colors for your printouts would also drive you to buy different filaments. Also, you are even not a PLA fan, you would buy different materials to meet your needs. If you are not managing a 3D printing business, I recommend you buy vacuum bags to store your idle filaments.

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