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.
I decided to test out a few different brands as well as different types of filament. I didn’t want to test brands VS brands because it’s been done again and again. Instead I decided to take a few different types of filament from several companies and print out objects much as, “You” the user would. Also I will share my experiences with each company. At our Prototyping lab we have been adding new equipment which will delay some of the filament tests. I will update the last few filaments that are not yet explored ASAP.
So far I will be doing a few different sample prints from: PushPlastic, Extrudables, MakerGeeks and Printrbot. Printrbot may be removed from the tests as I’ve heard that they recently changed suppliers. If I can get a recent sample, I will include them.
I will soon add the (Coming soon) filament tests to this post. I will also be getting some of Printrbot’s filament from their new source. I will start testing as soon as the filament arrives from Printrbot.
I chose to test filaments from these few suppliers because RepRap Squad has had positive experiences with them as a company. They have all proven to be reliable companies that always try to keep quality up while offering affordable prices.
I will be testing out about 4+ different colors of PLA from PushPlastics. Extrudables has some HIPS that will be tested. We will be testing a large variety of exotics from MakerGeeks. We will test the updated filaments as soon as they arrive and add them to the lists.
My Experiences With Push Plastic
Link to PushPlastic’s Store
Push Plastic offers up a good selection of filaments. Shipping is quick and packaging is above average. They take the time to properly pack items for a worry free shipping experience. They are very quick to respond to any questions I had which made for a pleasurable experience.
I started the tests with PushPlastic’s cobalt blue 1.75mm PLA. It looks better in person than on the site. Usually it’s the other way around. I’ve noticed that the diameter is very consistent. After a bit of printing, I can say that the colors are very vivid and that they come out the same color as it looks when it’s on the reel. I’ve ran into a lot of filament that looks nothing like it did before printing but, this is defiantly not one of them.
I printed out several different pieces in the blue. One of my favorite being the 100mm Volkswagen logo. I plan on doing some finish work on the emblem so that it can be mounted on my car. A few pictures of this process will be taken to show how well this filament looks when finishing touches are done.
PushPlastics 1.75mm Yellow PLA
I am running the yellow PLA at the same settings as the rest which is stated above. For a few tests I may slow down the overall speeds to help eliminate overshoot. I have seen great results with the yellow filament. It is very consistent and I haven’t seen any signs of the filament delaminating. I will be testing a few more colors from PushPlastic soon.
PushPlastics 1.75mm Black PLA
•• Coming Soon ••
My Experiences With Maker Geeks
Link To MakerGeeks Store
The guys at MakerGeeks are always a pleasure to work with and they are very quick to answer any questions. They also have a wide variety of filaments including: Laywood, Laybrick, PLA, ABS, Conductive, Carbon Fibre, Nylon and Color Changing – Just to name a few.
They are based within the U.S. and have just about any 3D printer related items you would ever need or want. Shipping is always quick and free within the United States. They often run 10% off deals so check their site often.
MakerGeeks black ABS was printed at 240 degrees Celsius and the heated bed was ran at 105 degrees Celsius. I’ve noticed that there are less oozing issues with this filament. It lays down the first layer very clean and consistent. I’ve had no issues with it delaminating. Overall I am very happy with this filament.
MakerGeeks 1.75mm PLA Color Changing
This color changing filament is very neat stuff and could be used for quite a few interesting projects. Once it gets
above a specific temperature it will change colors. They make several different colors. The one I tested was a purplish black at room temp and changed to an eggshell white when brought up in temperature. The uses for this kind of filament are endless.
MakerGeeks 1.75mm PET
•• Coming Soon••
MakerGeeks 1.75mm Laywood
•• Coming Soon ••
My Experiences With Printrbot
Link To Printrbot’s Store
Printrbot is a company that has steadily expanded over the last couple of years. I have had great experiences with all of the products I have purchased from them, including filament. I’ve had a couple shipping mistakes that were quickly fixed once they were aware of the problem. Their online store has expanded to carry a wide selection of printers and printer parts.
Recently I have been able to get my hands on Printrbot’s new filament. I will be doing some test prints in a few different colors of PLA. So far I plan to test white, green, black and blue.
Printrbot’s new 1.75mm PLA White
I am instantly impressed from the first test print I did. The filament feels smooth and soft out of the package. It also arrived well packed with gel packs to keep moisture away from the filament. I guessed at a starting temperature of 198 degrees Celsius. I kicked the bed temp a little bit high at 70 degrees Celsius. I was amazed how well the first print of a custom designed dual fan mount came out. So far this filament has been easy to work with. I can see why Printrbot changed suppliers as it is a definite improvement. More test are coming soon as I push the limits of this filament.
Below are the very first items I printed with Printrbot’s new filament. I designed these custom dual fan mounts for a custom computer case I am building. They are case or rad mountable and they came out great in this white filament. The white is bright and vibrant.
Overall Experience with Printrbot’s Newest Filament:
I have to say that I am very impressed with Printrbots new filament. It works great one thing I noticed that it is very temperature sensitive. If you have your heat up to high even by a few degrees it starts to get gooey. This problem is easily remedied by lowering the temperature a few degrees. It stuck to the bed well but not too well.
I saw absolutely no delamination at all with any of the prints I’ve done so far. I definitely recommend this film it to any other users. It arrived vacuum packed with the dicassant in the package which helps to eliminate moisture during shipping or storage.
Here are a few of my most recent prints with Printrbot’s 1.75mm black PLA:
Printrbot’s older 1.75mm ABS Black
The Printrbot filament that I have been testing is from a while back. It has been properly stored in a dark container to keep dust and any moisture away. I have heard that Printrbot has changed filament suppliers not too long ago.
Overall I am happy with this ABS. I have noticed that it doesn’t strip on the extruder gear as easy as some of the PLA I first received from Printrbot almost a year ago. I also haven’t had any jams using this filament with my wood direct drive extruders.
Printrbot older 1.75mm Charcoal PLA
I have used a lot if this specific PLA and I absolutely love it. I have printed everything from drag cables to parts for the InMoov hand and arm assembly. It prints consistently and the first layer goes down effortlessly. If you add a heated bed to the equation, it won’t ever get any easier. I’ve pushed the speed well over 170mm s with no issues.
My Experiences With Extrudables
Link To Extrudables Store
I haven’t had much experience with Extrudables as a company because they are fresh onto the marketplace. However I have known the owner through the Printrbot forums for quite sometime now. They are very helpful and stock a selection ranging from FilaFlex to color changing filaments.
He has spent a lot of time helping out others throughout the forums which easily translates into a great customer service experience. The product was shipped quickly and they are based within the U.S.
Extrudables 1.75mm HIPS
HIPS stands for High Impact Polystyrene and is one of the most produced polymers worldwide. It is a flexible product widely used in the food packaging industry because of its strength, hygiene, and ability to retain heat. In the 3D Printing industry it is typically used in combination with a dual extruder setup. HIPS serves as a dissolvable support structure. This is very useful when printing ABS objects with floating sections, long bridged gaps or huge overhangs. It can be dissolved using Limonene after your print is finished.
However HIPS can also be used in a single extruder setting to make all kinds of useful parts that take advantage of its hygienic properties and it’s ability to retain heat. HIPS is soluble in Limonene, a colourless liquid hydrocarbon that has a strong smell of oranges.
I print most of these tests for HIPS at 235 degrees Celsius and the bed between 110-115 degrees Celsius. I printed them on blue painters tape that had been wiped down with alcohol prior to starting the prints. After the print is finished, it is recommended to let the bed completely cool down before removing it. HIPS is very pliable when heated.
I started by printing a set of stands for my portable hard drive. I needed something durable as well as something that would help radiate the heat outward. These pieces work great! I designed them to be a little small so that the part would flex and hold onto the hard drive tightly. Flexibility is a great property of this filament.
Extrudables HIPS is top notch and a breeze to print with. I haven’t used HIPS much before testing this filament and I’m so impressed with how easy this filament is to use. The filament was consistent at a range of 1.73 – 1.75 in diameter. It feed well through my Printrbot wood direct drive extruder. I didn’t have a single jam or misdeed.
•• Coming Soon ••
We are going to dive deep into the wonderful world of possibilities with HIPS. After having this great experience with Extrudables HIPS. I decided to give it a full on dual extruder range of testing. This HIPS is great to work with and has my mind reeling with new possibilities. I decided to do an entire article on the HIPS we received from Extrudables. Soon I will order some Limonene, so I can dissolve away the support structures. Check back soon for the Dual Extruder tests.
I have to say that I’m quite impressed by all of the filaments I tested. Each company seems to have its specialty. Wether it’s the large selection you will find with MakerGeeks or the straight forward customer service with Extrudables, you really can’t go wrong. Filament choices are very personal, to the printer being used, as well as the owner. I’ve found that different people, like different qualities in their filament.
I tested these 4 companies filament’s because of the great experiences I’ve had with each of them. No matter if I bought a little or a lot, each of them gave me: Great customer service, quick responses to questions, quality products, outstanding shipping and an overall great customer experience.
••• (I was unable to find one for PushPlastic)
If your looking to store your filament on a budget – kitty litter with silica is the best bet. It’s effective, cheap and easily attainable. A large bag will last you quite a while. You will want to poor enough kitty litter in to completely cover the bottom of your container.
Another affordable way to keep water out is to collect discussant and silica packets. These are those little white packets you often find in a new pair of shoes or other new items like pill containers. One or two of these wont do much but, I’ve found that if you ask people you know to keep their eyes out for them – you will find a ton in no time at all.
No matter which direction you go, you will want a good container. Rubbermaid seems to work the best and is readily available within the U.S. They also come in just about any size and shape you can imagine.
Another great container idea is a standard, round 5 – gallon bucket. These work particularly well for storing filament that is on spools.
There is more than just moisture to protect your filament from. Other sources that can harm your filament or hotend include: Sun (makes filament brittle after constant exposure) & Dust ( it accumulates on filament and then it’s pulled into the hotend. Overtime this can clog or damage your extruder.)
At RepRap Squad’s shop we use a combination of all of these ideas and techniques. That way we can keep the amount of storage space used low, while making sure our filament is always ready to be used.