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Manufacturing Technology

The 5 deadly sins of filament storage

Sin number 1:

Tangling up your filament. 

While using a spool and a filament you must always make sure that you restrain the movement of the filament when you’re done using it. Under no circumstances should you let go of the end of the spool and let it dangle around, as storing it without the end clipped in is a recipe for disaster. Let’s say you’ve already messed up and your filament is now tangled. You would need to properly rewind the part of the spool that has the filament crossed over but instead of unwinding it normally, which would just shove that part further onto the spool, you have to unload a couple windings off the side of the spool. Then pick it up and carefully work the filament over to the side, several windings at a time. This will also push whatever knot you might have been building on the spool up over the edge and give you a nice, clean surface to start rewinding the filament. Keep it nice and tight and you should end up with a perfectly usable spool again.

An example of a moisture locking container, Filament Holder- Fillock by Fracktal Works.

Sin number 2:

Exposing your filament to moisture. 

Moisture to filaments is like David is to Goliath. Although, different filament types are more or less sensitive to moisture, we can all agree that exposing your filament to moisture regardless of what material it is, is not the greatest idea. Some Nylons can go bad in less than a day if you leave them out in the open. PETG and other co-polyesters as well as ABS also have issues with moisture absorption, while it is not quite as drastic, both will produce weaker and less crisp prints than fresh and dry materials. PLA, on the other hand, does also absorb ambient moisture, but usually doesn’t degrade as noticeably as the other materials. In order to protect your material from moisture, you could always place it in a filament/spool holder or airtight storage container.

 

Sin number 3:

Leaving the filament and spool in reach of a pet or a toddler. 

This is a sin that needs no explanation. Like kids, pets are curious, and if they see a shiny colourful spool just lying within paws reach you’d best believe they’re going to pounce on it. The most obvious solution would be to place all your filaments at the top of a of a shelf or in a closed/locked cabinet (this will also prevent it from being exposed to moisture).

Sin number 4:

Using a damaged or bad spool holder. 

Of course, it’s awful when there’s a lot of friction and the spool can’t turn uninhibitedly, but on the other hand it’s also not the best thing if your holder is excessively smooth and gives the spool

a chance to spin unreservedly. It can effortlessly pop off the side and turn out to be loose to the point that you’ll get a knot similar to what happens when you let go of the filament end.To add a bit of friction, it can often be enough to just add a zip tie somewhere and leave the end to rub against the spool. Or you can add a small piece of cloth somewhere that basically does the same thing. Breaking your spool and putting it back together yourself isn’t a great idea either. Leave the fixing up to the professionals.

Sin number 5:

Baking your filament is a stupid idea and you should feel stupid for doing it.

While this one isn’t entirely related to filament spools, knowing it still can’t hurt. Basically, when you leave your filament in a heated hotend, it gradually breaks down into unextrudable carbon flakes. The hotter the hotend and the longer you leave the filament in there, the more likely you will keep running into issues when your on your next print. This also severely damages your hotend which could be extremely difficult or troublesome to fix. It’s always a smart idea to change the hot-ends according to the materials they are most compatible withSo don’t leave your printer lounging around heated up for long periods of time. Baking your filament in an oven to dry it after it has been exposed to moisture is also not the smartest idea and you will end up melting the filament.

 

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