Keeping filament dry is an issue that I realized was important for 3D printing, so I wanted to share with you guys 4 awesome methods that 3D printer users implement to keep their filament dry.
Filament is best kept dry in vacuum bags, a dry box or cabinet or a specialized 3D filament box. You can put it in a food dehydrator or an oven to dry it. A moisture-free environment is ideal for keeping your filament dry. Using desiccants in an enclosed area is the best method.
This article will guide you on the most popular filament-drying products and DIY solutions that people are using successfully to keep their filament dry. Keep reading on to figure out why keeping your filament dry is wise, as well as the best methods in more detail!
Why Do I Have to Keep Filament Dry?
Far too many times I’ve seen forum posts, comments and articles talking about producing poor quality 3D prints, but not being able to figure out the cause behind it.
The answers provided aren’t usually about keeping your filament dry, but in many cases, that was the solution that fixed the poor quality. Most filament have the tendency to absorb moisture in the immediate environment.
This phenomenon is known as being ‘hygroscopic’, and even the most popular filament PLA suffers from this. Some filaments are worse than others, so you should make an effort to keep your filament dry.
PLA or ABS can easily absorb around 10 grams of water in the drying process.
One of the worst filament for absorbing moisture has got to be Nylon, which can start producing poor quality after only a few hours in a moisture-rich environment.
If you don’t follow the right precautionary measures to protect your filament, the moisture can cause the breakage of filament due to getting brittle. It can also cause stringing, as well as bubbling or steaming of the moisture as it gets heated up by the hotend.
You can actually hear a popping or cracking noise in some instances, and if you do, you’re most likely being affected by filament with moisture.
At the worst point, a moisture-filled filament can become the reason your hotend gets clogged up, which can be quite troublesome to fix, and even might need replacing completely.
I wrote an article about How to Fix & Prevent a Clogged Nozzle which you can check out if you want to improve your 3D printing experience.
4 Best Ways to Keep Filament Dry
1. Storage in Vacuum Bags
A vacuum bag is a great option for keeping the filament dry. A good vacuum bag includes a vacuum valve which makes sure to get all oxygen out of the bag using a vacuum cleaner. These bags have the ability to protect the filament from water, odor, dust, and many other micro-particles.
Whenever you keep the filament in the vacuum box, make sure that all the oxygen has been sucked out from the box. Only buy a vacuum bag that has a vacuum valve because a bag without a valve is not as beneficial as it is with having a valve.
Filament that gets delivered also comes in similar packaging, so you know it must work pretty well!
I’d recommend two different options here depending on your preference.
The standard would be the SUOCO 6-Pack Vacuum Storage Bags from Amazon. You’re getting 6 16″ x 24″ bags along with the hand pump to easily compress your bag around the filament, similar to how it’s done before being shipped to you.
- They are durable & reusable
- Double-zip and triple-seal turbo valve seal – leak-proof technology for maximum air expulsion
- Can be connected to a standard vacuum cleaner for speed – the pump is great to use while travelling.
If you think you’ll be using vacuum bags consistently, the premium option are the VacBird Vacuum Storage Bags with Electric Pump.
The really cool thing here is the poweful electric air pump which makes it much easier and faster to draw air out of the vacuum bags. Operation just takes the push of one button to start/stop.
You’re getting high quality, thick BOPA + PE material which is popular due to being extremely durable, and can be reused plenty of times.
Obviously you don’t have to use it for just filament, as it can be used for clothing, towels, linen and so much more. Protect your belongings from dust, bacterial, mold and mildew with ease. You can save up to 75% space for travel and home use also!
2. Storage in Dry Box/Cabinet
Dry Box or cabinet are properly sealed plastic boxes and can be created as a DIY project. A hygroscopic substance known as desiccant is used in it that is well known for absorbing water.
This box is not only beneficial for keeping filament dry but if you equip a spool holder and a coupling for a Bowden tube then this can also be used to directly print from the box.
This can help you more as you will not have to get your filament out of the box and you will have the surety that you are printing with a perfect dry filament.
You can get yourself a perfect sized Storage Container from Amazon. Some people get one large container, while others get a few smaller ones to hold each spool of filament.
It’s a good idea to also use these desiccants to keep your filament dry.
I’d recommend getting the Dry & Dry Premium Silica Gel Packets from Amazon for a great price. They are widely popular and work really well for all your moisture-absorbing needs.
They can significantly reduce the moisture levels in the immediate environment and within the filament, but you’ll need a proper drying solution to take more moisture out of your materials.
This is where specialized filament drying/storage boxes come in.
3. Storage in Specialized 3D Filament Box
A specialized 3D filament box is a great option as it includes a heating and drying mechanism. You just have to set up temperature and heating time and it will dry up your filament properly. These boxes are designed to resist high temperatures which ensure to dry your filament without damaging it.
Specialized 3D filament boxes of high quality can be found easily on Amazon.
These boxes have openable lids on the upper side, you can open it and place your 3D filament inside the storage box. These boxes could be expensive but the best thing about these boxes is that they not only protect the filament from moisture but can also cure it.
The premium option here that I would recommend has to be the SUNLU Upgraded Filament Dryer Box from Amazon. With the item beside you, say goodbye to wet 3D printing filament.
- Can dry filament and print at the same time
- Easy temperature settings adjustments according to filament type, humidity etc.
- Manually set your drying times (the usual is 3-6 hours)
- Compatible with most 3D printer filament out there
- Ultra quiet so it doesn’t disturb your environment
- Comes with a cool 2-inch LCD monitor to display temperature and time
You can really improve your print quality for many years to come with a product like this. If you plan to be 3D printing for long into the future, the SUNLU Filament Dryer Box is a great thing to have.
If you want a slightly cheaper option which doesn’t actively dry, but stores your filament, you can get the Yodelbox 302 Filament Box. It is fully-enclosed to protect from dust & moisture, with roller bearings to reduce friction while printing.
4. Place Affected Filament in Oven or Food Dehydrator
If the filament has moisture just place it in an oven for drying purposes. The moisture will be converted into steam and will be dried by the heated oven.
A food dehydrator is considered a better option as compared to an oven because it has the ability to work at a stable temperature. I’ve seen a video where a guy put his filament in the oven and it slightly disfigured the actual spool, although the filament still worked nicely.
If you haven’t properly checked your oven temperatures are accurate, you might want to avoid this option, since they can run hotter than the set temperature.
While using the oven for filament drying purposes, make sure that the temperature is suitable.
You only want to be putting your filament in the oven after it reaches your desired temperature because some oven can ‘boost’ at the beginning which can cause the melting of the filament
The ideal way to set the temperature is to set it below the glass transition temperature of the filament.
- For PLA, set the temperature at 104°F – 122°F (40°C – 50°C) and keep it in the oven for 4 to 6 hours.
- For ABS, set the temperature at 149°F – 167°F (65°C to 75°C) and keep it in the oven for 4 to 6 hours.
Now what about that food dehydrator? Definitely a simpler process, without having to worry about much.
A cheap option to go with is the Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator from Amazon for your filament drying needs, especially if you don’t want to risk using the oven. One reviwer of the product said that it worked perfectly for his filament after a minor modification.
It’s rated very well and gets the job done, so I would definitely consider checking it out. You can also use it for multiple purposes of course!
The problem though, is it doesn’t have an on/off switch and doesn’t have temperature control options, but it should still work good.
If you print with Nylon, you defintely want a covenient filament drying option like this.
Can 3D Printer Filament Get Too Dry?
With all this talk about temperatures, heat and drying, you can start to wonder whether 3D printer filament can actually get too dry in some cases.
Excessive drying can disturb the chemical formation of your filament, resuling in a weaker filament. Your filament can deteriorate if you repeatedly dry it so you should aim to prevent your filament from absorbing moisture. Small amounts of water actually improve extrusion of plastic.
Since thermoplastic materials melt can reharden in the normal printing process, you would think you could keep on reheating it, but that’s not the case.
Filament can get overdried, brittle and low quality with repeated vacuum-drying and bake-drying with an oven, food dehydrator or specialized filament dry box.
There are special additives in many plastics that can also be affected by the constant heat, but at a much slower pace than the moisture. A few sessions of drying shouldn’t negatively affect it too much, although you want to keep it to a minimum.
The ideal temperatures to dry your filament are given in a section below, but it should be relatively lower to the glass transition temperature of your filament.
Once your filament is dry, you want to take proper storage measures so you don’t fall into a situation where you are always drying filament.
The ideal storage solutions are mentioned above, but just to repeat, should be an airtight moisture-free box, vacuum bag, or specialized filament holder.
Best 3D Printers for Keeping Filament Dry
The best 3D printers for keeping filament dry consist of machines that have an internal filament holder so it doesn’t stay in an environment which is too humid.
The printers below all have these inner spool holders, as well as a whole host of great features that make them loved by thousands of other users.
The Qidi Tech Max has been described as one of the best 3D printers for hobbyists and industrial-use alike. The enclosed element of this machine gives a more stable printing temperature which helps in improving print quality.
You can check the Qidi Tech Max reviews on Amazon and really see how much users love it.
It has a great build size of 300 x 250 x 300mm and has full-metal support which is much more stable than standard plastic. You’re also getting a machine that prints quietly, has air purification built-in, a WiFi connection function and power outage recovery.
Whether you are a beginner, hobbyist or professional, the Dremel Digilab 3D20 is a very reliable enclosed 3D printer with an inner spool holder to keep your filament nice and dry.
The touchscreen interface and high-end printing results are just a few of the reasons why so many people choose this machine.
It is rated 4.4/5.0 at time of writing which is a very respectable rating. Check out whether the Dremel Digilab 3D20 is a good choice for keeping your filament dry and satisfying your printing needs.
Flashforge is a serious candidate for amazing 3D printer manufacturing. They take pride on making printers that you can be proud of and get great print quality from.
The Flashforge Creator Pro specifically, has a very wide filament compatibility, an aviation-level build plate that won’t warp during heating, an enclosed chamber to protect and insulate filament and prints, and so much more.
You can’t go wrong going straight over to Amazon and checking out the Flashforge Creator Pro as a 3D printer to have by your side.
Can You Microwave 3D Printer Filament to Dry It?
The idea of drying filament in the microwave is not so appreciated. The reason behind it is that you not able to control the temperature properly which can lead to the melting of the filament inside the microwave.
Drying your filament in a microwave is similar to boiling it, which wouldn’t be the best idea.
Some filaments such as TPU include dipoles in their formation which allow them to get heated quickly, so drying these types of filament in the microwave would be very damaging to the physical properties.
What Temperature Does Filament Get Dry At?
PrintDry put together a really great table of different filament drying temperatures and times for you to follow. They are listed as below:
|Material||Dryer Temperature||Drying Time|