Keep Your Filament Dry With These Storage Options

Bad things can happen when filament is not stored in the right environment. Expired filament becomes brittle and even the color is subject to change, thus resulting in failed prints. Investing in proper storage for your materials will end up saying you money in the long run, minimize frustrations and result in a more successful production process. Keep your filament dry.

“Filaments used for 3D printing purposes are polymers, meaning they can be broken down in a process known as hydrolysis. As a result of moisture from the air coming into contact with your filaments when they are poorly stored, the polymer breaks down when it’s heated at the point of extrusion, rendering the filament weakened.

Any parts printed with this “wet” filament will not look as polished or pristine as you want them to. Furthermore, “wet” filament necessitates a higher temperature for proper extrusion. The likes of nylon, polycarbonate, and copolyester filaments are very susceptible to the occurrence of hydrolysis when they become wet and are heated. 3D printing filaments tend to be hygroscopic, which is a fancy way of saying they easily absorb moisture. So, the storage problem comes down to avoiding contact with humid air. The rest of this article focuses on how you’ll achieve this dry environment for your filaments. There are many storage solutions available for your filaments but a significant proportion are 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. Additionally, you’ll need to go for bags with a double-zipper mechanism for maximum impermeability to air. 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. Another bonus tip is to use filament clips when storing your spools in vacuum bags. The end-points of filaments can be pretty sharp and easily pierce a hole in the vacuum bags, exposing the filament to the moist air you’re trying to protect it from.  Filament clips are cheap and not using them would be equivalent to taking a really unnecessary risk.

Another great solution to creating a moisture-free environment for filament storage is a dry box. These cabinets provide the kind of low-humidity environment that is perfect for filament storage. The technology works through a electronic dehumidifier system that constantly dehumidifies the interior of the box. As a result, you’ll limit the contact that your filament has with humid air to practically nothing. For you, this means stronger, more reliable prints.

In terms of size, you’ll want to aim for something big enough to stack a few spools of at least 20 cm in diameter. A good base size to aim for is something of roughly 40 cm in length and 30 cm in width. The height depends on how many filament spools you plan to stack but around 40 cm should be fine.

The one issue with storage boxes is the need to reduce the humidity of the air that remains inside the box once you place the filament in it. To solve this conundrum, you can purchase a dehumidifier. One could forgive you for thinking that this solution already lacks practicality. But fret not; dehumidifiers require no batteries or cords to operate. And they are completely renewable. In other words, they are the very definition of practical.

A good dehumidifier should set you back as little as just $15-20 on somewhere like Amazon. Check out the Eva Dry E-333 for a good example. These dehumidifiers need to be renewed approximately once every month. To renew your dehumidifier, simply plug it into a power outlet when the silica gel beads change color. Most dehumidifiers come with a color indicator that helps you identify when it needs renewing.”

Keep your filament dry and access the full article along with many other storage options here.


Categories: Design & Process