Filament Spool Ends Used Right! :D

Everyone in the 3D printing community know about the issue. Filament spools run out. You want to start a large print, but are unsure if the filament will be enough. A filament sensor may tell you when to change it, but you don´t want to wake up in the middle of the night to change filament. Also if the printer cools down you will find a loose print on your build plate.

In addition to that: What if after 10 hours of printing you make a mistake while changing the filament and the whole print gets ruined?

So usually we take a new spool and keep the other for smaller prints. This usually works out, but then there is the rest of filament, which is not enough for those small prints.

One idea is to slice them together and print some fancy vase you don´t need. Well, the slices may break and again you wasted the filament.

I usually tend to keep any filament longer than 20cm in storage. Just in case I need it! Today was the day.

While developing a new project I needed to print multiple prototypes to see, if that works out and what not. Starting from a simple design I worked my way up to get more and more fancy. Check the objects in the pictures. From left to right you can see the basic idea growing.

I was there sitting next to my computer, so I simply used all filament leftovers I found and stuffed them into my printer, while designing and updating the CAD files.

As you can see on the images I used some red filament left from printing Nintendo Game Case holders, when that ran out I emptied some black filament and so on and on. I could have sorted the colors, but where is the fun in that. Thats why the last part (top right in the images) utilized six filament colors.

Now all the small pieces of filament in my collection are gone and I also emptied three rolls of filament, which my shelf is thankful of.

Since I printed the prototypes using a direct extruder the left overs on each spool are about 2-4cm of filament. Also all those longer pieces are gone now. Used in a nice way. Most of the printed parts will be dumped anyway, as they are useless. I broke some or cut them to fix CAD issues. They are trash anyway, but the filament I used for this already was trash. Why print them with a full spool, when you just invest a little work and save money.

Yes, it is a little more work and you need to check your printer every now and then to manually change the filament, but you will get better and better on doing that. And in the future when you really want a multi color print and need to swap the filament you have tons of experience.

Happy Printing!

Interesting methodology. I don’t use this technique. I do a lot of prep work before beginning any printing, checking the layering and dimensions. So far at least, the majority of my prints come out OK on the 1st attempt. When I have a 2nd printer this might become an interesting alternative.

1 question: obviously you have to keep track of the filament type (PLA, PETG, etc.) and maybe the actual brand, to ensure the hotend and bed temps are suitable. How are you doing that? Do you just throw all bits of PLA into a single container, or do you sort them by color, brand, or some other criteria?

@Geit, I just sent a PM to Irv, quoting your plea and including a link to the post.

So sorry. I am on it.

Thanks Irv.

I am back! :smiley:

So Darth Shapiro managed to free you from the Carbonite. ?

Yes, to return back to topic: I usually only print PLA and ABS, so there is not much to mix. I just left the rests on the spools, even so they were only 20 cm or so. Now I can take the spools to recycle.

Which reminds me to ask first if they have intentions to take them back. Since it is a local company they maybe take them back, even so they do not produce here.

Have you thought of ordering filament without a spool (I forget what they call it: bulk? enviro pack?) so you can just reuse the spools yourself?

Yes and since I do not order filament (which is environment friendly, too), I talked to them in person. They already tried using paper spools, but they are not rigid enough and cause problems when sending around. They need more paper on the inside of the box to avoid breaking/bending the spool sides, so they dropped the idea.

I considered filament without a spool and they told me that they are thinking about it. If should not make a huge difference in manufacturing as they only need to remove the spools after fabrication and add cable ties. I guess the main issue is currently that they cannot produce the filaments on stock, because of the small market share those spools have. I will talk to them again, if it would make sense only produce the most common colors like black and white without a spool and go from there.

I wonder if they’ve considered the Master Spool proposed by Richard Horne (RichRep) in his YT videos. It seems like such a great idea that I’m amazed it isn’t in common use by now, yet somehow it failed to get traction.

The version were you empty a spoolless spool directly from the bag is nice.

You poke a hole into the bag, cut the cable ties and peel the end of the spool out. Then you put the bag onto a rotating platform. The advantage is that you can seal the bag again with a stripe of tape.

No need to print a spool for each filament.

Not speaking German I can’t follow the video, but the idea is interesting.

Well, the pictures speak for them self. :slight_smile:

BTW: Another good way to spend the rest of spools is to print bed leveling pattern. :smiley:

His idea is quite good enough, but i would prefer printed two pieces spool for refill filament replace.

I tend to agree. A break apart spool would be compatible with all the existing equipment.

Yeah, but there is the flaw in the system.

Do you want to print spools for all your filament? Just check how many spools do you have right now. That is the minimum number of “break apart spools” you need. It does not matter if you print the spools or buy special spools for that matter. Once you added the filament to a spool, it sits there until the spool is empty.

That´s why the printing from bag mechanism in the video above is so elegant. You print the holder once. Maybe two or three if you have more printers that you want to use at the same time. That´s all. You also don´t need special containers for your filament, as the filament is still in its bag. You just need a small piece of tape to reseal it.

Also the filament cannot hop sideways from a new spool as there is no spool and all sides are bag :smiley:

I don’t quite understand. Once I have a number of master spools, I can just reuse them over & over. I don’t need a master spool for every spool of filament I have, because I have duplicates, which don’t need master spools.

But if you have 20 colors of filament you need 20 master spools. And if one spool has only 200g left and you need 250g of the same color for a print and don´t have the time to change filament. You need a second master spool for the same color. Just count up all the plastic you need for that compared to that simple bag rotating system you only need once.

There is another way…