When it comes to 3D printer filament, it is not the cheapest item to purchase. It can be quite expensive, and as a result, you will need to ensure that you are storing it correctly.
If it is not stored correctly this will affect how well it works, and it may even need to be thrown away. Thankfully, there are a number of easy and inexpensive ways to correctly store your 3D printer filament.
In this article, we will be discussing everything you need to know, from what 3D printer filament is, to the best storing tips we have. By following these tips you will be able to keep the filament safe and prolong how long it will last for.
What Is 3D Printer Filament?
3D printer filament is what is used to create 3D printed designs. It is made using different types of thermoplastic. This plastic is heated up to a high temperature and is printed into the shape you have selected. Once it prints, it dies quickly and becomes a solid 3D object.
There are a few different types of 3D printer filament to choose from. The main two types are ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and PLA (polylactic acid). These tend to be the best options to choose. It can be molded and shaped easily which makes it the perfect type of plastic to use for 3D printing.
Why Is It Important To Store Printer Filament Correctly?
When thinking about printer filament, you may assume that it is an easy item to store. While this is true in some instances, it is also incorrect in others. While plastic is typically easy to store, you need to be very careful with printer filament. If you leave it uncovered and exposed, this can cause issues and damage quickly.
If the 3D printing filament is not stored correctly, the polymer that is an important aspect of the melting and molding process cannot work correctly. If this becomes weakened, this means that the filament is not going to solidify correctly, and the 3D printing will be affected.
The printer filament is very sensitive and will be damaged by a number of things, such as water, being exposed to the air for too long and heat. As a result of this, you need to avoid these elements as much as possible, and protect the printer filament from this.
All of these elements affect the breakdown process, which is called hydrolysis. Wet printer filament does not have the shine it is supposed to have, which will affect its overall finish.
How To Store 3D Printer Filament
As we have discussed, printer filament is surprisingly sensitive. Given this, you will need to ensure that you are storing it correctly. This will not only help to prolong its lifespan, but it will ensure that the printer filament is not damaged.
Here are the best ways to store 3D printer filament:
Vacuum bags are by far the best storage option to consider when you are looking to store 3D printer filament. They are not too expensive to purchase, and they help to keep the filament suitably protected from the air and water.
Vacuum bags allow you to suck out all of the air from the bag, which helps to prevent any potential left over air being exposed to the printer filament. They also help to save space when compared to other storage options such as boxes.
We would recommend placing a small bag of silica gel beads into the bag before sealing, as this will soak up any potential moisture that has become trapped in the vacuum bag.
Storage boxes are a useful option to consider, but care will need to be taken. They do not provide as much protection when compared to vacuum bags, but they are still a useful option to consider.
They are inexpensive to purchase, and can be purchased in bulk which is useful. When using the boxes, we would recommend hard, clear, plastic boxes as you will be able to see inside them with ease. They need to have a lid that seals well, to protect the filament as much as possible.
You can use vacuum bags for the filaments and then store them in storage boxes if you want to keep the printer filament as safe and protected as possible.
If you have a larger set up, it is worth considering dry boxes. They are cabinets that are specifically designed to hold printer filament, and ensure they are protected from the elements.
The humidity in these dry boxes is minimal, making them a great place to store the filaments. They are also dark, and there is a specific dehumidifying system to ensure the filament is as protected as possible.
Dry boxes are not the most ideal set up for the majority of people, but if you have a 3D printing business, they are certainly worth investing in.
Does PLA Filament Go Bad?
Yes, PLA filament can go bad, especially if you are not keeping it in the correct conditions. This is why it is so important to store 3D printer filament correctly to prolong its shelf life.
On average, good quality PLA filament should last for around 2-3 years before the quality starts to deteriorate, and it is no longer good enough to use.
We hope you have found this article useful. As you can see, there are a number of different ways in which you can store 3D printer filament. The option you choose will depend on the type of storage space you have and your budget.
While a dry box is the best option, this is not always possible for everyone. As a result, we would recommend using vacuum bags where possible. They are easy to acquire, and they are not too expensive to purchase.
Alternatively, good quality, plastic storage boxes can be used. The most significant thing to remember is that printer filament needs to be stored in a cool, dry, and airtight environment. This helps to prevent it from being damaged.
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