If you enjoy 3D printing, you most likely have several spools of filament lying around. However, it turns out that lying around may not be the best place for it. While PLA filament is not as sensitive to moisture as some other types, storing it in humid conditions can harm the quality of your 3D printing.
Fortunately, there are numerous methods for protecting your spools. Here are some helpful hints for storing PLA filament.
Why Is PLA Filament Storage Important?
PLA filament is a type of hygroscopic material. This means that it attracts and retains water from its surroundings.
PLA filament can become saturated with moisture if not properly stored. This can cause the filament to become brittle or stringy, causing issues with your prints. While PLA is not as susceptible to moisture as other 3D printing filaments, proper storage can reduce the risk of excessive moisture absorption.
PLA Filament Storage Instructions
PLA filament can be stored in a variety of ways. The options you select will be determined by the humidity of the room in which you store your PLA filament, as well as the length of time the filament will be stored before use.
Zip seal bags
Zip seal bags are a good choice for a cost-effective way to store PLA filament that will help to reduce the risk of moisture.
Although these bags cannot create a complete vacuum, they will slow the movement of moisture. Before sealing the bags, try to get rid of as much air as possible. Zip-seal bags can be made more effective by including a desiccant, such as silica gel, in each bag.
Zip seal bags aren’t ideal for storing PLA filament over time, but they can provide useful protection at a low cost in the short term.
Plastic cereal boxes are made to keep moisture out of your cereal, making them an excellent choice for storing PLA filament. most of these plastic boxes have a seal to keep them airtight.
The most difficult part is finding boxes large enough to hold your spools of filament. Most cereal boxes are large enough to hold a single spool. Individually, these boxes are relatively inexpensive, but the cost can add up if you have a large number of spools to store. As with bags, adding desiccant to the boxes can help to keep the filament moist for a longer period.
If you have a lot of filaments, you might want it close by. Many people prefer to store their PLA filament spools on shelves or in hanging racks. Storing your filament in this manner without any additional protection is acceptable as long as you are not storing it in humid conditions and intend to use the filament within a relatively short timeframe. Moisture is likely to become a problem if it is left unprotected for months on end.
Consider combining storage racks with one of the above-mentioned methods.
If you have hanging racks, for example, why not seal your spools in zip-sealed bags before hanging them? If you have shelving, you could put each spool inside a sealed cereal box and place it on the shelves.
The more you protect your PLA filament, the better your printing will be.
How to Determine Whether Your PLA Filament Is Too Moist
Many of the storage methods on this list will provide some short-term protection, but moisture will eventually become a problem. How can you tell if your filament has gotten too wet?
There are several tell-tale signs that your filament may be too wet to use effectively.
When your PLA filament absorbs moisture, it swells. While not always visible to the naked eye, measuring with callipers may indicate that your PLA is too moist.
One of the most important reasons to keep your PLA away from moisture is that it makes it brittle. If your filament snaps like dried spaghetti, it’s most likely due to a buildup of moisture.
Popping when printing
When printing, one of the most obvious signs that your PLA filament is too moist is that you hear clear popping sounds. This is because the water in the filament heats up, expands, and vaporizes. Steam from the melt zone may also be visible.
Poor Adhesion Between layers
If you notice that your layers aren’t bonding well, moisture in your PLA could be the culprit. If your layers are separating or splitting, your filament may be the culprit.
Print Surface Quality Is Poor
Moist PLA filament can also harm print surface quality. If your print surface is noticeably worse than usual, it could be due to too much moisture in your PLA filament.
If your filament appears to be overly moist, all is not lost. To improve the quality of your 3D printing, you can dry out your filament.
Drying out your filaments
There are several methods for drying your filament. Using a dedicated filament dryer is one of the most effective.
You insert your spool into the device, select your desired setting, and the filament dryer begins drying out your filament.
If you don’t have a dedicated filament dryer, your oven will suffice. PLA dries best at temperatures ranging from 105 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Preheat your oven to the desired temperature and leave it to dry for about five hours. Make sure to thoroughly ventilate your oven afterwards.
Using a 3D Printer Correctly
Learning how to store PLA filament using items you may have lying around the house is a useful hack that can keep your 3D prints in top shape.