It’s a terrible idea to have your 3D filament lying around recklessly. Regardless of the 3D filament you use, it would be best to be careful with how you store these filaments. The reason is that 3D filaments react to certain conditions like dust, humidity, etc.
When you leave your filament out in the open, it reduces the quality of what you print. The filament would also start to break or degrade. Hence, to preserve the life span of your filament, you’ll need to store it safely in a way that it won’t be affected by humidity and dust.
In this article, we’ll show you how to store PLA filament and any other type of filament so you can protect them from humidity, dust, and other factors out to degrade their quality.
The Filament Storage
Filament storage is any container or object capable of protecting your 3D filament material from absorbing water from the air in the atmosphere. It also prevents dust from settling on the filament.
While it’s okay to deal with the dust problem by cleaning the nozzle, that can be time-consuming and temporary. Getting filament storage is a great way to get rid of the dust permanently.
Having high-quality filament storage is necessary for a couple of reasons. First, it prevents dust from settling on your filament when not in use.
It also prevents the filament from bubbling, and it could clog the nozzle. Poor filament storage could also lead to diameter augmentation. You’ll also prevent your filament from being exposed to water.
Your filament doesn’t have to be submerged in water to absorb water. As earlier stated, filaments can absorb moisture from the atmosphere when left out in the open. When it absorbs water, the filament becomes weak and won’t give you the desired result.
When it comes to filament storage, there are many ways to store your filament. If you have a lot of money to throw around, then you can invest in high-quality storage for your filament.
Or, you can create makeshift DIY filament storage. You could also use a dust filter to prevent the effect of dust settling on. But it won’t work to prevent the filament from getting wet.
There are a few filaments storage options that you might want to explore. For starters, some options are readily available at online stores or brick-and-mortar stores.
Some of the filament storage you can buy from an online store includes Polymaker Polybox, eSun eBox, PrintDry Container, Drying Cabinet, Yodelbox, etc.
You can also save up money by utilizing containers you can find in your home. If you’re into recycling, creating DIY filament storage through repurposing, etc., is a great way to recycle some old materials in the house.
Some of the filament storage you can come up with includes Vacuum storage bags, Plastic bags, desiccant and moisture indicator strips, an Airtight roll container, and a heated drying box.
Feel free to add filament storage accessories to your storage mix. These accessories would help you take care of other factors that could ruin your filament. Another common factor that could threaten your filament is dust. Let’s examine how some of these bags protect your filament from moisture and dust.
Related: Overture Filament Review
Vacuum bags are an excellent option for keeping out air. Specially designed for storing filaments, they can suck out air from the bag so that your filament doesn’t get the chance to absorb moisture from the air. It’s best to purchases bags with vacuum valves.
The vacuum valves keep the air out. Your vacuum bags should also have a double zipper mechanism as it keeps the bag free from air. The point of these vacuum bags is to protect your filament from air penetrating it. A vacuum bag can contain at least four filament spools.
The good thing about vacuum bags is that they are pretty cheap. The truth is, regardless of how hard you try to get rid of the moisture in your vacuum bag, there’d still be little moisture quantity in the vacuum bag.
The best way to get rid of the extra water is to deploy silica beads. Toss a couple of silica beads in a vacuum bag full of filament, and it’ll suck out all small quantities of moisture that’s left in the bag.
Dry boxes are perfect for fighting humidity. It’s ideal for achieving moisture and humid free environment for your filament.
Dry boxes have a way of reducing the humidity level in it so that it is good enough to preserve and protect your filament.
With the help of dehumidifier technology, dry boxes get rid of too much humidity that could ruin your filament. With less contact with air, your filament would produce high-quality prints when you use them to print any object.
This box functions both as a filament feeder and a dry box. It keeps you updated on the temperature and humidity level in the container via the live reading on the digital thermo-hygrometer attached to it.
This polybox can only take two spools that are about 1kg. If a single spool weighs 2kg, this polybox would only accommodate a single spool.
As a filament feeder, you can run your filament directly from this box to your printer. That’s what extra ports and neoprene tubing exist for.
PrintDry Filament Storage Container:
Unlike most other storage boxes, this PrintDry filament container only works as a storage box. You can use it to feed your filament to the 3D printer.
This PrintDry box is airtight as a storage container, preventing your filament from absorbing air that turns into moisture. For maximum protection, throw a packet of desiccant into this PrintDry filament.
Related: PLA vs ABS
How to store PLA filament
There are different ways to store your PLA filament as well as other filaments. But this step-by-step process features how to store filaments using inexpensive materials. You won’t need to spend a lot of money to get it done as this is a DIY method of storing your filament.
Here’s what you’ll need.
- Duct Tape
- Gallon plastic storage bags
- Permanent Marker
- Silica gel desiccant packs.
The good thing about silica packs is that you can use them as many times as you want. Since their job is to absorb the rest of the moisture in filament storage, you’ll only need to dry them after using them. You can dry them in an Oven and reuse them again.
Secure the Plastic Bag:
The first step to storing your filament the DIY way is to reinforce the storage bag. In this case, it’s the gallon plastic storage bag. Using two 3-inches duct tape, strengthen to top edges of the bag.
The reason is that, as you extract and return the filament into the bag, the sides of the bag might start to tear. When this happens, air enters it. With the duct tape holding the sides firm, the bag would last long.
The number of plastic bags you need depends on the number of filaments you intend to store. However, if you have up to 10 or more filaments, you’ll be better off with a humidity cabinet. You can either buy one or make one for your filament.
Fill the Plastic Bag:
After preparing the plastic bag with duct tape, fill the bag with one filament. Then, toss two silica packs into the bag. Be careful as you push the filament into the bag.
Seal the Plastic Bag:
Once the filament and silica packs sit nicely inside the plastic bag, seal the plastic bag carefully. Before you tightly seal the bag, stop at an inch and press it down so that it releases the air it might have accumulated. Once you’re sure, the air is out, seal it tightly. Viola! You’ve stored your PLA and other filaments.
Do not forget that this technique is perfect for less than ten filaments you need to store. You can stack these filaments in the bag together.
But you can’t pile too much. The reason is, the plastic pouch has a slippery texture. Hence, when you stack up too much, it would roll off the shelf and fall to the ground. In the process of falling, you might damage the filament.
Bear in mind that this storage method is the easiest method there is. Also, before you use the plastic bag, it’s advisable to mark the lifespan date of the filament roll on the plastic bag. Using a permanent marker is adequate for the task.
The reason you should mark the lifespan date is so that you’ll use the filament before it expires. Generally, filaments can only last for 12months until they are unusable. When you get your filament, deduct 2 months from its lifespan as you don’t know how long it took to get transported to your city and you.
While Moisture is excellent in other contexts, it poses a threat to your filaments. Hence, you must seek a storage solution that eliminates moisture and air. Luckily, there are dozens of filament storage options in the market.
Deploying these storage options opens you to dozens of opportunities on how to store PLA filament and other filaments. Thankfully, you might not need to spend money on some of this storage.
You can transform spaces and containers that you’ve had no idea what to do with them into filament storage. With this knowledge, you’ll effortlessly preserve your filament, elongating its lifespan in the process.