Guidelines for filament storage. How to store 3D Printing Filaments?
3D Printer Filament Storage
Commonly used 3D printing filaments such as PLA, ABS, PET-G, etc require dedicated storage considerations for high-quality printing results. Being a pioneer in the 3D printing industry in Pakistan, Grit 3D feels proud to share the knowledge gathered through years of experience. Our goal is to facilitate individuals and companies owning a 3D printer in their routine operations and mobilize them towards excellence in this emerging industry in Pakistan.
The type and quality of 3D printing filament play a major role in the success or failure of a 3D printing job. The type of filament can either be PLA, ABS, etc., which is generally fixed due to the applicable nature of the 3D printed part but the quality can be controlled by using products of reputable brands. However, proper care is required even when using high-quality products.
The most common factors to be considered in filaments’ storage is the prevention of humidity, dust, and other particulates. Out of the mentioned factors, humidity is the most critical property.
What is the problem and why is it serious?
Materials used in FDM 3D printing are generally hygroscopic. ‘Hygroscopic’ is the term referred to the materials that absorb moisture content from the surroundings. The presence of moisture content drastically reduces the print quality. Such materials are prone to accepting moisture even at very low environmental humidity levels.
The other constituents i.e. dust and other particulates come in contact with the filament and get along with the filament to the nozzle; resulting in nozzle abrasion and clogging.
How do detect the problem?
Moisture-containing filament can be generally detected in a couple of ways. Firstly, when such a filament is used for printing, the layer adhesion of the print is affected resulting in gaps and poor surface finish. Secondly, when the filament is extruded, a crackling sound can be heard due to boiling moisture content.
What is the remedy for most filaments?
Absorption of moisture is not a chemical reaction thus moisture contents are not chemically bonded with 3D printer filament. So, the filaments can be dried using food dehydrators and low-temperature ovens.
What are the ways to prevent filament issues?
With the increasing acquisition and usage of 3D printers and advancements in technologies in Pakistan, Grit 3D offers and suggests multiple storage and processing solutions to prevent quality issues in 3D printing filaments. As far as the risk of dust particles is concerned, any air-tight box or bag can prevent particles from coming in contact with the filament. However, dealing with humidity for hygroscopic materials is often challenging. So, here are a few commonly available product types that can be used for filament dehydration.
a. Products for purchase
Since the issue is very common for everyday users, major filament brands as well as other related equipment manufacturers have developed numerous products to solve this problem. Most of the products provide both corrective actions like drying up a filament that has already absorbed moisture as well as preventive measures like keeping the filament warm when it is being printed. Here are a couple of commercial product types that can be found in stores.
- Dry box products (single filament)
- Dry storage cabinet products (multiple filaments)
b. Desiccant based DIY methods
If you are a hobbyist or tight on budget then there are several DIY methods as well to cope with this issue and satisfactory results can be achieved. The process is really simple. In order to remove moisture from a hygroscopic material, another hygroscopic material is used known as
- Air-tight plastic bag
- Air-tight plastic box