Filament Storage Made Easy – No DIY Needed
Looking for a quick and easy way to store your 3D printer filament, without any DIY?
Then you have come to the right place!
This article will give you easy instructions on how to effectively store your 3D printing filament and shield it from degradation due to ambient air humidity. All the items can be bought from Amazon or in retail shops and there is no Do-it-yourself action involved.
Why Write Another Article on 3D Printing Filament Storage?
Most of our regular readers are probably familiar with my first article regarding 3D printing filament storage and the problems of humidity in 3D printer filament, which I wrote in January 2015. In it, I explain why humidity is bad for your filament, that it can lead to a lot of 3D printing problems, that certain filament types are more hygroscopic than others and that the best way to prevent filament degradation due to humidity is proper storage.
I also describe a simple and extremely cheap solution on how to store your filament easily, namely through the use of vacuum-bags, where you create a vacuum in which the spools are stored (no air means no humidity).
According to some feedback that we received, not everyone likes the DIY approach that I suggested. They are looking for an even easier and painless way to store their 3D printer filament, which does not involve the recurring use of a vacuum-cleaner or having to build a Do-It-Yourself moisture saturation indicator.
So, due to popular demand, I will give you easy to follow instructions, on how to store your 3D printer filament, hassle-free and with no DIY needed.
An Alternative Filament Storage Solution
I always want be able to easily and quickly access my filament, while still being able to store it humidity- free if I don't use it for a certain time. Therefore I decided to store my filament spools in plastic file boxes or storage boxes. But not every box is suited for this, as you will need a very specific kind of box in order for this storage solution to work.
The specs of those boxes are as follows:
- they need to have sealed lids and snap-tight latches or buckles. Search the web for "weathertight" or "weathershield" type of boxes.
- they need to measure roughly 14.5 X 10 X 10 inches (37 X 26 X 26 cm) (larger is OK, but not smaller).
- they should be clear-walled (i.e. transparent).
- they should ideally be stackable.
Selection of sealed lid boxes © Amazon.com
Why those specs you may ask yourself? Well, proper filament storage is all about atmospheric control. As these special boxes have sealed lids, we do no longer have to worry about new moisture getting inside of the box from the outside. I will address the issue of the remaining ambient humidity in the box a bit later in the article. Please note that sealability is to be considered a mandatory specification. All the others are optional, but will make your life easier.
Detailed view of a seal of a Ziploc weathertight storage box © Amazon.com
The measurements specs of the box will enable you to vertically put a minimum of 5 standard spools of filament vertically next to one another. Depending on the height of your model of box, you may even be able to add one or two spools horizontally on top of the vertical ones. My assumption here is that you are using 750g-1kg filament spools with the standard 7.87 inches (20 cm) diameter.
A clear-walled or transparent box will also make your life a lot easier, as you can easily recognize what filament you have stored in which box, without having to open the lid. Alternatively, opaque boxes can easily be tagged with the respective filament types stored inside of them.
Detailed view of a snap-tight latch of a Ziploc weathertight storage box © Amazon.com
Stackability is pretty self-explanatory. This should only be considered if you have a lot of filament to store.
A quick serach on Amazon turned up two very promising candidates for our little project. If you only need one or two boxes, have a look at the Iris weathertight clear file box. If you need more boxes, have a look at the Ziplock Weathershield Storage Box, which comes in a pack of four.
If you got the cash and want to go to extremes, you could also consider buying a Pelican case. Pelican cases are the "nec plus ultra" when it comes to cases and storage - they all come with atmospheric control valves, are nearly indestructible and come in many shapes, fitting all of your needs.
Personally, I consider these cases to be simply too expensive to stock filament. They are great for storing camera equipment, weapons or other valuables, but are too elaborate for basic filament storage. But if you have the cash and want the ultimate storage solution, go ahead and buy one. You should note that you will need to buy cases out of their "Large case" selection, starting out around model 1560 (not with the camera dividers) or bigger, in order for multiple filament reels to fit. Also note that Pelicases are not transparent, so you will need to put tags on the outside of the box.
Pelican 1560 storage case © Amazon.com
Getting Rid of Ambient Humidity Inside of the Storage Box
Now that we have the perfect container with atmospheric control, we now need a means to lower the humidity which is contained in the ambient air in the box. As the DIY-option is a no-go, we will have to buy a (desiccant) dehumidifier.
The best dehumidifier currently on the market, which is renewable and absolutely hassle-free, in my humble opinion, is the Eva-dry E-333 Renewable Mini Dehumidifier. I have been using a couple of these for the last few years and I never regretted buying any of them.
Eva-dry E-333 Renewable Mini Dehumidifer © Amazon.com
They are compact, are 100% renewable, need no power to operate and are specifically designed for small spaces. Each unit comes with an indicator window - a transparent plastic behind which you can see the silicagel beads (desiccant) and their respective moisture level. The silica beads change from blue (dry) to pink (moist). A great feature is that all the adsorbed moisture cannot leak or spill.
Saturated Eva-dry Dehumidifer needing to be re-newed.
Once you see that the beads are pink (i.e. moisture saturated), simply fetch the Eva-dry moisture absorber, plug it into a wall outlet, and let it "re-new". The unit will heat up the silica beads which will turn from pink to blue. As soon as they are dry (blue), put the unit back into your box and close/seal the lid. Considering that each unit adsorbs around 8 to 10 ounces of moisture and that you are in an closed environment (i.e. the sealed box), you should be set for quite some time, before having to renew it.
Eva-dry E-333 Dehumidifer ready to be plugged into wall socket.
Currently, a single unit retails around 22 $, and a set of 2 around 39 $. You may disagree with me, but I consider that this price is quite OK for the great quality you get, especially considering that you can renew your dehumidifier indefinitely! It may get a bit pricey if you are storing a lot of spools (30 or more), as buying 5 of them may amounts to around 100$, but most people will be happy with 2-3.
Notwithstanding this, I do consider that these dehumidifiers to be worth every cent. I have had a lot of problems with humidity in my house and the Eva-dry have been the best dehumidifiers I have found and used so far. And believe me, I tried to come up with quite a lot of solutions before discovering these very portable mini dehumidifiers.
This last step can be considered as being optional, but it will make your life a lot easier. If you are storing your filament for longer time or if you consider that reading the relatively small indicator window on the Eva-dry Renewable Mini Dehumidifier is too laborious and complicated, you could consider adding a humidity gauge inside of the box, which can be read from the outside.
If you only have one box in which you are storing filament, you could consider buying a digital hygrometer. Hygrometers are instruments used for measuring the moisture content in the atmosphere. The problem seems to be that none of them seem to really satisfy the customers expectations (according to the different Amazon reviews I have read, not owning one personally). I don't use this solution, considering that with the multiple storage containers I am using, at around 15$ a piece, it would just become too expensive.
AcuRite 01083M temperature and humidity monitor
A nice alternative to digital hygrometers are humidity indicator cards. These are cards on which a moisture-sensitive chemical is embedded, so that it will change color when a certain level of humidity is exceeded. They are mainly being used in industry, in order to instantly verify visually that your humidity-sensitive product's integrity has not been compromised.
They come in handy packages of 10 or 25 cards and are relatively inexpensive at 10$ for 25 cards. For our purpose, it it not relevant whether you buy the 1 dotted, 3 dotted or the 6 dotted cards.
Different humidity indicator cards
Simply put them against the clear wall of your storage box and verify the cards color from time to time. Once the point(s) on the card start to turn pink (or green, depending on the model you bought), it indicates you that you will need to re-new the Eva-dry Dehumidifier as soon as possible.
After the renewal process, put back the dehumidifer into the storage box and the moisture card will turn to blue again. Et voilà, you have a very easy and painless way to effectively store and protect your 3D printer filament from moisture.
As for the photo below, you can clearly see that there are 6 spools in the box, together with the eva dry dehumidifier. There are unfortunately no moisture indication cards, as I still need to buy some of those. I'll try to update the photo once I got some.
3D printer filament storage box for 6 filaments and dehumidifier
If you know any other smart way to safely store your filament from moisture that you would like to share with us, please feel free to comment below.
Have you seen the Bunker on Kickstarter? It’s a smart filament storage. Angus from Makers Muse interviewed the company behind it on his channel.