A common problem among makers with a 3D printer is that some filaments are prone to getting wet. The filaments of PLA, PVA, ABS and Nylon are hydrophilic and absorb moisture easily. At first glance you cannot tell if a coil of filament has become damp, but at the time of printing problems will appear that will confirm our suspicions.
In this article we explain why this problem occurs and how to prevent the filament from absorbing moisture
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Moisture, enemy of the filament.
When the filament in bad condition is heated to melt, the water particles contained in its interior evaporate suddenly, generating a small burst. Parts printed with wet filament presentan worse mechanical properties and printing errors. Besides these filaments tend to warp and clogging the extruder and nozzle.
We have to assume that whatever we do to keep our filaments safe, they are going to get wet. But there are some tricks that will allow us to extend its useful life as long as possible.
How to prevent the filament from absorbing moisture?
It is not advisable to have a coil of filament stored for more than one year. Must buy only the filament that we need. The filament should not be left mounted in our printer and exposed to the humidity of the environment if we are not going to print for a long period of time.
Must save the coils of filament in containers the most hermetic possible. Thus avoiding ambient humidity. In these containers we can put silica gel desiccants. This gel comes in the form of granules that we can buy online. Surely when you have bought some electronic equipment you have asked yourself what a small bag that came inside the box was for. That sachet contains Silica Gel.
We can also store coils in valve bags. Once closed you can extract air with a vacuum cleaner domestic.
We can even store our coils in a controlled humidity cabinet.
Commercial solutions to avoid humidity.
How could it be otherwise, several are the manufacturers that have brought to the market more professional solutions to keep our filament spools in the best conditions. let's list some of them:
Bunker is a humidity-controlled watertight compartment, with capacity for two coils. From this receptacle we can directly feed our printer through one of the protected openings it has.
The equipment has a motor that rotates the coil facilitating the extruder's work and controls humidity at all times through sensors.
Inside receptacle there is a packet of silica gel. It is made so that we can heat it in the microwave when it has become saturated with moisture.
Even iWi-Fi included and through an APP notifies us of filament condition, remaining quantity and moisture level.
Cost: € 200, but since they have not been able to finance themselves by kickstarter, we will have to wait and see how the company reacts.
Filabox is a methacrylate box, sealed with silicone gaskets, with capacity for a spool of filament. Includes an exit hole for the filament to the 3D printer, a hygrometer -humidity indicator- and a moisture absorbing cylinder inside. Simple and effective
Cost € 60
If until now all the solutions proposed to avoid humidity, now we are talking about some intrepid people who dare to go one step further.
PrinDry is a heated dryer for our 500 gram or 1 kg filament spools, whatever the diameter of the filament.
With this device it is as simple as opening the lid, lay the filament, close the lid, select a temperature and wait the time necessary to ensure that the filament has released all its moisture. It can set the temperature between 35 and 70º, according to each filament and quantity of filament. It can even be used to dry the plastic filament while printing, as it has a roller that allows the coil to move freely to feed the extruder of the 3D FDM printer.
Cost: 70 €
AD-20 Auto Dry Box
And for the end we have saved ourselves to Eureka Dry Tech, un manufacturer that is dedicated almost exclusively to making self-drying cabinets. Makes cabinets Of all sizes and focused especially on professional public you need to store large quantity of filament spools. However, searching in its catalog we also find a product that can satisfy our domestic needs. As the AD-20 Auto Dry Box
Cost: € 100