Properly Storing and Checking Your 3D Printer Filament
Properly storing your 3D printing filament is vital, helpful, and will ultimately save you money in the long run. First, there are several factors to consider the moment your filament arrives:
Storing 3D Printing Filament
Always make sure it’s placed in an airtight humidity free container. Humidity is an enemy of filament. In a matter of days, filament diameter throughout its length can increase if left in humid conditions. A good technique in storing 3D printing filament is to use desiccants to help absorb humidity. You can find plenty of disposable or reusable desiccants on Ebay. Users have reported success with Ziploc bags, air-tight paint buckets, large Tupperware, humidity free or electro-static bags, and other assorted air tight containers. Most of them have combined several options together, such as storing 3D printing filament in a Ziploc bag, adding a desiccant, and then sealing it in a paint bucket. This may sound extreme, but it will ultimately save you time, money, and frustration. No matter which technique you choose, always make it a habit to put your filament away after 3D printing.
3D printing filament integrity is important. It ensures model accuracy, smooth extrusion from the nozzle, and will help prevent possible jams within the drive gear system of the extruder/hot end. There are several things to look out for whether you’ve just received your filament or you’ve had it for several weeks:
Randomly measure your filament’s diameter along its length in several places with a caliper. By doing so you can check that the consistency of the filament as it should generally remain within the 1.75mm or 3mm threshold with a low margin of error within +/- .05mm.
Make sure your filament was produced in a round, cylindrical shape. Inconsistent filament shape can lead to extrusion jams midway during your print. As the drive gear advances the filament onward through the nozzle, oval or inconsistent shaped filament will not feed correctly or clog the nozzle.
Another issue to look out for is known as “bulbing” or “bulging”. If filament absorbs excessive moisture, bulbing can occur. This is simply irregular shaping or deformity along its length. You’ll bulbing when the diameter slightly expands and then quickly contracts over a short length of filament. Imagine a section of a clogged garden hose slightly expanding, a portion of the garden hose begins to “bulb” or “bulge”.
Filament that is grainy, dusty, or dirty can also lead to potential issues. Make sure the filament is clean or smooth along the surface. If you notice a grainy sand like surface inside your or around the filament … don’t use it. Especially when purchased from dubious suppliers, this filament may not have been properly manufactured, leading to potential extrusion issues or jams later.
Remember, using good quality filament in your 3D printer will go a long way toward print quality, troubleshooting, and cost savings. Storing 3D printing filament is equally important, and will ensure that you maximize your entire batch of plastic!