CREAT3D handy 3D printing tips: Storing your filament

13 August 2015  |  Sabina Gonzalez-George
Storing 3D printing materials correctly

How to store your 3D printing materials correctly

Have you ever printed a model successfully and then used the same file and settings a week later only to find the print has failed? More often than not, this can be due to the incorrect storage of your filament.


Read on for our handy guide about how to store your 3D printing materials correctly.


The filament problem

A number of popular 3D printing materials such as PLA, PLA/PHA, XT, ABS, PVA and Nylon are hygroscopic. This means they naturally absorb moisture from the air around us which can affect the performance of the material during printing.


The moisture absorbed by the filament can cause one or a combination of the following symptoms: 


  • Brittle: affected filament can easily break in the filament feed tube or the extruder gear. This is particularly problematic with 1.75mm diameter filament due to its thinner cross section


  • Increased print temperature: the additional moisture means you must use a higher printing temperature to achieve the correct flow and avoid under extrusion


  • Bubbles and holes: as the moisture is heated in the nozzle and escapes under pressure after extrusion, your may see bubbles and holes across the print


  • Sporadic under extrusion: as the moisture becomes steam inside the nozzle, this affects the pressure within the melting chamber, causing the flow of filament to fluctuate. This is often coupled with the effects of bubbles and holes as above



3D prints with under extrusion

Prevention is better than cure

It's always best to try to avoid moisture absorption into your filament in the first instance. 


As part of our training sessions we talk about filament storage to get the best out of your 3D printer, particularly when swapping between colours or materials, or for when not printing daily. 


The other option is cartridge-based 3D printers such as the CubePro and Cube 3 from 3D Systems, which are specially designed to store filament in sealed cartridges, prolonging the life of the material.


Top tips for storing 3D printing filament

Here's our top tips for storing your filament correctly:


  • Remove the filament from the machine when not in use

If you are not using your 3D printer for more than a day or so, unload the filament and store it away. PVA and Nylon should be removed immediately after printing as these can absorb moisture with a matter of hours


  • Store the filament in an air tight container

A resealable freezer bag or a plastic sealable container work well


  • Use a desiccant pouch

A silica gel pouch or similar desiccant will absorb any moisture that is inside the air tight container when sealed


    Filament storage is just as important as accurate calibration, good 3D modelling and proper maintenance of your 3D printer. We always recommend you use good quality 3D printing materials and then look after them to keep your 3D printer performing at its best.


    To help with filament longevity the CREAT3D Care Kit includes resealable bags, desiccant pouches and a number of other useful tools for everyday 3D printing.


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