Can You Leave Filament in a 3D Printer?


There are many factors that people think about when it comes to 3D printers, but leaving the filament in your printer isn’t usually one of them. It’s just a thing that clicks in your mind, which also happened to me, so I went and did some research to find the answers.

You can leave your filament in a 3D printer if the environment isn’t too humid or hot, otherwise, you can start to notice a decline in filament quality. Filament has a tendency to absorb moisture in the air, especially Nylon & Polycarbonate, so measure your humidity and try to keep it in a low range.

Even though many people leave the filament in their 3D printer without worrying it can negatively affect your 3D printing experience.

This article aims to inform you about what you can do to fix moist filament, storage options and other useful tricks.

Do You Have to Remove Filament After Printing?

Most people experience no serious problems after leaving the filament in the extruder.

However, there can be a few exceptions too. Whether to remove filament immediately or let it stay overnight, basically depends on the filament type. Several particular plastics such as Nylon will absorb moisture rapidly and get spoiled.

However, most others won’t go that bad so quickly. Hence, preferably in the case of Nylon, it is better that you remove it once you know you have finished using it for the day.

On the contrary, many people using other filaments do leave it overnight and face no issues, so maybe it isn’t as important as we think. I think you would start to see a gradual decline in print quality the more moisture your filament absorbs though.

Will Leaving Filament in a 3D Printer Damage It?

A 3D printer melts the plastic filament that has been loaded to create objects. Leaving filaments loaded inside a 3D printer for an extended amount of time will not necessarily harm the printer.

It may compromise the quality of the objects the printer will produce with that filament.

Leaving filaments loaded for a long amount of time will result in them turning brittle and producing low-quality objects, especially if they are hygroscopic (absorbs moisture).

Nylon is a type of filament that turns brittle quite fast whereas ABS can stay loaded for weeks and there won’t be a noticeable amount of physical change.

Hence, it depends on the type of filament being used and how long it stays loaded but not utilized. The finest option is to always secure your filaments in a vacuum bag after you have finished printing.

How Long Can You Leave PLA Filament Out?

Some filaments need storing away from moisture because they tend to absorb moisture. It results in them not printing well due to the high heat that the filament has to go through.

It can actually create air bubbles and lead to a popping sounds, which is common when you are 3D printing in a humid environment.

Most commodity filaments including ABS, PLA and also PETG do not suffer from this problem as such. According to some users, PLA can absorb moisture as well, however, in my experience, no such thing happened.

I basically believe that the physical conditions of the environment you store your filament in matters the most. If you cautiously keep your filament away from humid and moist environment nothing will get it ruined. It also depends on the filament brand you’re using.

According to most users, even with 40% humidity, their PLA filament was alright for up to 4 days. The filament might become a bit brittle but overall it is not very risky to leave it out there.

If you feel your filament is getting too brittle or unsuitable for use, you can always seal them up once they cool down in ziplock bags as they are vacuum-sealed.

Apart from that, comparatively PLA filaments are safer to leave out. PLA does not degrade as quickly and as noticeably as compared to other materials.

How to Fix PLA Filament Popping

This is a common grievance of most people especially who are beginners. If you notice popping or bubbling while printing, this is mainly because your machine is heating up too much and is boiling the plastic literally.

There are specific working temperatures for specific print materials which you shall carefully observe. If you firmly follow the working temperature guidelines, you won’t face this issue quite as much.

Moreover, the popping can also be a sign of moisture absorption. If the filament has absorbed too much moisture making it unfit for printing, you might notice popping there as well.

To solve this problem you just need to follow a few basic steps. For PLA filament popping, just make sure your working temperature should be in the range of 190-220°C.

You can also clean and check your nozzle. In addition, you also might want to try taking a closer look at your filament’s condition. If it’s too brittle, you can bake it at 60°C in the oven.

Also, if your filament is out for too many days and has absorbed moisture, you must replace it. Try changing the filament type or brand as well.

What Oven Temperature Should I Use to Dry Filament?

Different print materials have different bake temperatures. For ABS, it is suitable if you set the oven to about 65°C. Moreover, materials like PLA, the optimum temperature is around 50-60°C.

For PETG it’s advised to use the oven with the temperature around 65°C. However, for Nylon it’s better to have a bit higher temperature of 70°C.

How Do You Store 3D Printer Filament?

To keep your printer’s filament in a better and durable condition, you must avoid its contact with air so it doesn’t absorb moisture. It is better not to leave it overnight or out in humid air. You can also store them in a ziplock bag once the filament has cooled down.

You can opt-in for an airtight container which has desiccants to absorb the moisture from the air. Some people get humidity sensors which tell them the level of moisture in the air within the container, so they have good gauge on the storage conditions.

How to Unload/Remove Filament From 3D Printer (Ender 3)

The simplest way to remove filament from your 3D printer is to manually pull it out while pressing down the extruder lever to loosen the grip. You can take the PTFE coupling from the extruder end to make removal a little bit easier.

It’s a good idea to first heat up the hotend then pull after it has reached temperature so it doesn’t get stuck within the nozzle, making it harder to properly pull out. If you get a blob that makes it hard to pull through, this is where you can take the Bowden tube off.

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