If you’re at all interested in 3D printing as a hobby, you’ve probably come across the advice to store your filaments in dry boxes. This is great advice as most filaments are hygroscopic, or moisture absorbent, though some are more hygroscopic than others. Moisture isn’t the only way to ruin your filaments though, there are other protection measures.
While you don’t want your filament to get wet, you also need to prevent it from getting too hot. Thermoplastics – by definition – change their properties when exposed to heat. This is most noticeable when they’re pushed through a printer hot end by an extruder. It also applies at much lower temperatures.
Leaving your filaments in the sun, in a hot car, or in the oven at a low temperature to dry for too long can all have negative effects. If you’re particularly unlucky in the shipping lottery, a filament near the top of a shipping container can be heated by the sun for too long and arrive damaged with nothing you can do. Of course, cold can also be an issue, you shouldn’t freeze your filaments, but this is generally less.
If you don’t ensure that your filament is properly stored and handled, it can be possible for the end of the filament to slip under another loop and cause a tangle. While this won’t be a problem straight away, at some point, it will catch and either slow or stop your extruder.
Cutting the plastic flow isn’t great for your prints, so try to remember that there are only three valid places for the end of a spool of filament. The end of a filament spool should be loaded into a printer, in your hand before you put it in or after you take it out, or secured to the spool in some way so it can’t tangle.
Keep out of Reach of Pets and Children
Rolls of anything can look like fun toys. We all know of stories of cats, dogs, and kids playing with and unraveling an entire roll of toilet paper. Keep your filaments safely stored away from exploring hands and mouths.
Don’t Just Shut Your Printer Down
Once your print is complete, it makes sense to just shut your printer down. You shouldn’t do this, though. Turning off the printer not only turns off the heater but also the cooling fans. By pressing the reset button instead, the heaters will be disabled, but the cooling fans will be left to run.
Once the printer is properly cool, you can turn it off fully. Doing this helps to prevent the carbonization of any left-over filament inside the hot end. This could lead to clogging and jams or those carbonized flakes getting stuck in your next print.
There are many ways in which you should look after your 3D printing filaments. Thankfully they’re generally pretty easy to manage. Have you got any other tips for properly looking after your filaments? Let us know down below.