It’s important to keep your 3D filament dry. Filament with moisture trapped in it can cause quality issues with your prints. I will show you how I store my 3D filaments in low humidity condition.
Moisture in filament is really, really bad for 3D printing. Quality not only goes down the drain, printing also becomes so much harder no matter how you adjust your settings.
When I first started 3D printing, whenever new 3D filament arrived, I would just take it out of the box and start printing right away. Printing quality wasn’t always good and I would blame the quality of the filament. Maybe that was it, but one important thing I overlooked was the moisture in the filament.
3D filament we buy online could have sat in a warehouse for who knows how many years, and possibly in a humid environment too.
It didn’t come across my mind until I started storing all my 3D filaments in a storage box with desiccant. I printed something with the same TPU filament I used last year, which gave me terrible result the last time. Only this time, the print came out beautifully! I swear I didn’t touch any settings, but the quality difference is HUGE!!
I was so ready to bin that spool of filament, but now I know it just needed to be dried.
Drying filament before printing clearly makes a big difference to printing quality, this applies across nearly all types filaments for me, TPU, ABS, PLA… As you can see in this example with TPU, the model on the left that was printed out of dried filament has a much cleaner, shinier and smoother finish.
You can even hear the sounds of bubble bursting as the filament is coming out of the hot end if the filament contains too much water, it’s kind of hilarious.
The simplest and most common way to dry 3D filaments is putting them in the oven with low heat. I don’t really feel comfortable mixing plastic with my food stuff, so I decided to dry my filament the slow way – desiccant in a storage box.
It can take days to remove most of the moisture, but it will keep it dried all the time after that.
Here is how I do it. First, the shopping list:
Get a storage box that is big enough for all of your filament spools. Mine is 20 litres, 480 x 310 x 205mm. Don’t be afraid to get a big one as long as you have the space.
Try to get one that is airtight. If not you can always just get some “foam seal strip” to make it as airtight as possible like I did here, US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2SWgKaJ; UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2TpyVe4
For desiccant, I went with rechargeable silica gel, which can be “reactivated” by heating them up when it loses effectiveness. I bought a tub of 500g, and I only had to recharge every 3 to 5 months.
You can just leave it loosely at the bottom of the box.
However when I took the spools out of the box, I always got a few beads of silica gel dropped on the floor, so I designed a box for it: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3480554. Good for 2mm or larger beads. Makes it tidier as well when you have to take them out for recharge.
Use a digital hygrometer to measure humidity inside the storage box, the cheapest ones would do. With the presence of the silica gel, humidity is normally around 15% to 25%.
Hope that was useful! Happy 3D printing!