Loose Filament – Problem Solved
Loose filament and re-spooling it has been a problem probably as long as filament has been around. It loves to tangle and snap, which can turn into a headache quickly. Lots of different RepRappers have different tricks and methods for re-spooling loose filament. I have been asked many times, ” How do I put loose filament onto a spool without making a huge mess?”
I decided to toss some effort towards coming up with a quick and simple solution. I wanted to be able to create something using parts that most people might have laying around. I will also add files for those of you that find it to be very useful or you just want to build a very clean looking one.
For proof of concept, I gathered together all the materials that I thought I might need. Some of these parts I used are rather odd but, it goes to show you can make it out of just about anything. For the base I used an outer metal shell from a dismantled DJ light, (yes in my 2nd life I was a DJ.) Realistically you can use anything that you can slide a rod into – the rod will be mounted vertically.
I used a rod that is about 18 or so inches long. An 8mm (Dia) threaded rod is ideal, especially if you want to add bearings to easily rotate your spool. If your base has a large flat surface, you won’t need to add the black plastic that I used. The flat surface on the bottom is used to hold the un-spooled filament during the re-spooling process. A second set of nuts can be used at the top of the threaded rod to hold the empty spool on the top. I printed a set of spool hubs that can be found on Thingiverse by searching for, “Printrbot spool hubs.” If you have spools from different companies, I recommend Thingiverse.
Once you set the loose filament on the lower flat surface, you can cut the zip ties or whatever is holding it together. After that you will find the end of the filament that is closest to the top and thread or tape it to the spool. You can either spin the spool or manipulate the filament with your hands in order to re-spool it. I find that doing it by hand is the easiest.
It may start to tangle when you are re-spooling but, it won’t because of the rod being in the middle of the spool. Sometimes the filament that is sitting on the lower surface may need to spin and should do so by itself as long as there are no obstructions. On occasion you may need to help it along.
Using this setup is both easy and saves your filament from getting broken or tangled. I plan on making a better version but it will function the same. The only difference will be the aesthetics. I will update with the new version as well as files for any printable parts I design.