To a certain degree, when you first look at 3D printing filament on a spool and handle it, you may think that it is a lot stronger and easier to store than you would first imagine. It is just 3D printing plastic filament on a spool right? No so much. So how do you go about correctly storing your 3D printer filament to keep it as fresh as the first day you bought it? That is what this article is here to cover.
One of the main ways 3D printing filament degrades over time is through exposure to the air whereby the filament (most types) absorb moisture from the air, making it brittle and degrade over time. The effects of moisture from the air can impact filaments differently, for example, something similar to nylon will produce bubbles in your prints if the filament has degraded over time. Outlined below are the different types of filament and how to store each.
One of the telltale signs that your filament may be effect by moisture is in the degradation of your 3D prints. As you can see with the image below, once your filament is exposed to the air and absorbs small amounts of moisture it can lead to a rough surface on your prints and even popping or crackling noises coming from the nozzle as it prints and water evaporate. Below you will find out how to cure this with most of your filaments.
ABS & PLA & ASA
When you order your ABS or PLA filament with us, your filament will arrive vacuum sealed in the main packaging box along with a packet of desiccant or silica gel inside. If you need to store the filament for later use, it is perfectly fine to keep it in the original vacuum-sealed pack until need, at which point we would recommend storing the filament in a zipper storage bag or something similar (that locks creating an airtight seal) along with the desiccant. Storing your ABS & PLA filaments in this way each time will ensure you have great quality 3D printer filament to go each and every time.
Flexible PLA / TPU
To some degree, flexible PLA & TPU have similar characteristics of regular ABS or PLA in that you should, at all costs, avoid water contact or air contact for prolonged periods of time. And although this is true for flexible PLA and TPU, these filaments are not as delicate in their storage needs and so it is possible to store these filaments somewhere dry and out of direct sunlight.
Laywood & Laybrick
These two in comparison to the above is relatively more simple to keep. Most packaging for this filament already exposes the material to open air and so no real out of the ordinary care needs to be taken when storing this type of filament. Simply ensure it is in a dry place, preferably away from direct contact with direct sunlight.
Unlike the first three filaments and due to the composite making up nylon 3D printing filament means that is is very susceptible to absorbing moisture. In fact, over a 24 hour period, it is not uncommon for nylon filament to absorb enough moisture to disrupt your print or project. However, in addition to storing nylon in a similar way to that of ABS and PLA filament (ziplocked bag and desiccant), some users have found it beneficial to dry the filament in an oven at low temperature (200°F) for an hour or so in order to evaporate excess moisture in the filament.
When purchasing this filament, we will pack the unit in an air-sealed vacuumed bag with a desiccant bag to ensure the bag is free of air and moisture. We recommend keeping the desiccant bag and seal the filament in an airtight bag or box of some sort to ensure the filament stays as dry as possible. Zip bags or large container boxes work great for this instance. Remember, as with most filaments, these are water-soluble filaments which means keeping them as dry as possible is a necessity.
I think if you follow the above steps for your filaments you should typically not have a problem. The key to remember is that most filaments are water-soluble and so you will need to consider keeping the items dry and out of sunlight as often as possible to ensure the quality of your prints. You can find out more about our filaments by checking out our filaments page here.