If you use FDM 3D printersYou already know that moisture can be your biggest enemy. FDM printer filaments are very moisture-hungry. There is a good possibility that your filaments will deteriorate if they are left out in the elements for more than a few days.
PLA filaments are more vulnerable to moisture damage. It has a low melting temperature so it is crucial to keep it dry to maximize performance.
Failure to keep your filament dry could lead to prints that are damaged or even clogged up your printer’s extruder assembly.
How do you keep it from drying out?
Is there a way for it to be repaired if it becomes damaged? This article will address all these issues and help you prepare and keep your PLA filaments safe.
How to keep your PLA Filament dry for optimal printing
The PLA filament has a glass transition temperature of around 70 degrees Celsius. This means that your filament roll will eventually become damaged if it reaches this temperature.
It is not a good idea to heat the filament directly. Here are some ways to dry your PLA filament so it can print at its best.
1. Place it in plastic bags
There is a saying, “prevention is better than cure,” and it is especially true for PLA filaments. You don’t need to dry your filaments if they are protected from moisture. It is possible to do it if you are careful.
It is easiest to keep your PLA filaments in a container or bag that is airtight. To absorb any moisture that may get trapped, you can also add a few packs of silica Gel. This is a cost-effective way to keep moisture out of the container.
This method is not permanent. An airtight bag is not able to completely stop moisture, but can reduce it significantly.
If you keep your filaments within the bag for several weeks, it will begin to absorb moisture after a while even with silica gel.
Plastic bags can be used to store moisture, but they also open the door to UV degradation.
PLA is not as stable other filaments like PETG or ABSIt is also susceptible to UV degradation, which can be just as damaging as moisture damage.
2. Use a Mylar Foil Bag
As we have said, an airtight plastic bag may not be the best option for long term storage. It does not protect against moisture indefinitely.
You could use boxes specifically made for filaments. However, these containers are very expensive. You can save money by using vacuum-sealed foil bags made from mylar foil.
Mylar foils are made with a thin aluminum layer and a lamination of polyester resin. It is extremely reflective, waterproof, strong, and durable. This material is used almost exclusively for food packaging and as a protective cover on decorative items.
This material has the advantage of being much more resistant to moisture than plastic bags due to its thin aluminum layer.
This makes it capable of keeping your filament dry for longer periods. To be safe, you should still keep a few silica packs in it.
Additionally, the outer reflective layer of Mylar foil protects it against ultraviolet degradation, which is one major issue with plastic bags.
3. Dry your PLA Filaments
If your PLA filaments get damaged by moisture, you can dry them. There are several ways to do this.
A filament dryer is the most efficient but also the most expensive. This device is made for this purpose, but it can be quite expensive. It will easily get rid of any moisture from the filaments.
Simply place the filament roll inside the container, select the drying setting, then turn it on. After a time, you will be able to take the roll out. It should be dry and free of any moisture. It is very simple and intuitive.
If you own a food dehydrator, you can also use it. This contraption can also be used to remove moisture from filament spools, despite being primarily intended for food preservation. This is a great budget option to dehydrate filaments.
The best way to remove water is to use a high quality oven. This job should not be done by a cheap oven.
The oven should be able control the temperatures accurately and must be very precise. If you don’t, you could do more harm than good.
PLA filaments need to be kept at 40 to 50 degrees Celsius in the oven.
If the oven can hold this temperature with the filament spool inside it for 4 to 6 hours, then the spool should be fully dried and ready to use. use with your printer.
How to Recognize Wet Filament
You don’t need to worry about wet filaments ruining prints as long as you follow proper storage practices. To properly identify the issues wet filaments can create, however, you must first understand what they are.
If you don’t know how to recognize a dry filament, you won’t be able troubleshoot a problem with your 3D printers quickly. Here are some common problems you’ll encounter when working with wet materials.
1. Brittle Filament
PLA filaments are slightly elastic by nature. After it absorbs a certain level of moisture, however, it loses some of its elastic properties. The filament can become brittle at some point and snap when it is used in the printer. This is a sign that the filament has become moist.
This is a permanent process that cannot be reversed. You will need to dispose of it. It is important to avoid your filament from becoming brittle. Otherwise, you will be wasting your money.
2. Swollen Filament
The filament swelling is an early sign of moisture damage. It can be difficult to see the changes in the filament with your eyes. You can use a digital micrometer to easily check if the filament has swollen and if it is absorbing water. If you own a 3D FDM printer, it is worth investing in a digital microscope.
This will ensure that the filament works properly. Next, check the diameter of each filament before you use it. But if you keep your filaments in a well-ventilated place, you shouldn’t have to worry about them swelling.
3. Extruder makes a popping or hissing sound
It doesn’t matter if your filament is damp before you put it in the printer. You will notice it when you use it. When the moisture-filled filament reaches the extruder, the heat of the element will transform the moisture into steam.
This reaction will cause the extruder to make popping sounds. You may also see visible steam, which can be an indication of moisture problems.
4. Uneven Extrusion Lines
Even if there is no sound or smoke, you will be able to see the filament flowing unevenly. Your print will be ruined if you see holes in the layers. This will make your printer less durable.
5. Severe Blobbing Or Stringing
The nozzle can be forced to release molten filament from moisture-filled filaments by excessive pressure. This is especially true if the drone must travel without ejecting filament.
It is possible for this to be caused by other factors. However, it is important to check for moisture issues first. You should stop printing if you see this stringing. issues with your 3D printer Until you can identify the cause.
PLA filament is the most widely used type of filament for FDM printing. It is affordable and easy to use. This filament can become unusable if it is not stored properly or careless.
This issue should not be a problem if you are careful and follow the steps in our guide. Even if you do have to deal with it, our tips on drying PLA filament should make things much easier.