3D Printing Hacks: Best Ways to Store PVA FilamentKen Lambert (SEO)
In recent years, 3D printing has been quite the trend. With more and more variants of 3D filaments entering the market, 3D printing enthusiasts have become all the more active. However, one thing we tend to ignore often is the fact that 3D printing filaments can be sensitive to changes in temperature or the elements present in the surrounding atmosphere. Water-soluble options such as PVA filament, need extra attention when it comes to storage. Here in this blog, we will describe the various methodologies one can opt to store the PVA filament without reducing its effectiveness or the final outcome.
Why is proper storage important?
Dust and humidity can be sworn enemies of the PVA filament spools. While some printing materials might not even budge a bit with the presence of humidity, PVA’s effectiveness can go down substantially. PVA filament tends to be very hygroscopic. Thus, it absorbs moisture at a faster rate. A wet or moisture-laden PVA filament can easily be recognized given the sizzling noise that comes out during the 3D printing process. Plus, the resulting print is comparatively horrible as well.
Then comes dust!
Dust can settle down on your PVA filament & thereby get into your printing nozzle leading to unnecessary clogging. This results in a failed printing job or under extrusion of the printed material. It is especially critical that you store the PVA filament spools very carefully & correctly.
Issues that might ail your PVA filament post moisture exposure
- Filament Degradation
- Increased Brittleness
- Diameter Augmentation
- Extrusion requires a higher temperature
- Hissing Steam or Bubbling Filament in Printer’s Hot-End
- Broken Filament
But before you go ahead and start storing the PVA filament, you need to dry the same. This will seek out any moisture that has already entered the spool.
- Add Desiccant:
When storing your PVA filament inside a box or sealed bag, you need to add a few bags filled with fresh desiccant. This will absorb all the moisture & ensure that your filament maintains its optimum dryness.
- Heat the Filament:
If your PVA filament has managed to absorb way too much in terms of moisture content, you can dry the same through regulated heating. Heat the PVA filament to a temperature ranging between 45 to 55 degrees. Now, place your filament spool inside its primary packaging & place it over its build plate. Next, allow it to dry at this given temperature for a time frame of 2 hours. After you are done, immediately place it within the storage container to avoid moisture from seeping in.
Now that you know the ways to dry your PVA filament, here are some of the methods to store your PVA filament to evade any moisture or dust retention.
1-Use Vacuum Bags:
If you are in need of an in-expensive means to seal-the-deal (Pun Intended!), you can go for the regular-old vacuum bags. Yes, you always have the option to buy those expensive casings made of plastic for individual spools, but who has the time or money for that, right?
You could also create a box on the roof with anti-humidity features to protect the PVA filament, but that’s just too much work. The easiest way to save time and money is to stick with these classic vacuum bags that get the job done with minimal investment. They help keep away various types of filament deteriorating elements such as mildew, odors, moisture, or bugs.
Please Note: These aren’t your Ziploc bags that come with a plain simple seal towards the topside. They might help seal the bag but aren’t successful in removing the existing moisture inside the container. Opt for kits that come with openings that help suck out the oxygen present inside, creating a vacuum-like condition.
Do you remember those small packets with tiny gel-like crystals that you always find inside a new pair of shoes? Yes, these packs help absorb any kind of moisture in the area, thus evading smell from your feet when you wear them. However, they aren’t just meant for your shoes. You can also use them to store your precious PVA filament. Given the fact that PVA filament is used for the creation of support materials, they are easily dissolved in water.
To ensure that your storage box has no unwanted moisture content, silica gel packets can be your friend. Silica gels are available both online and offline in varying sizes and shapes depending on your needs. There are also reusable versions that can be brought back to their original form by drying them inside the oven for the time-frame written in the instruction manual.
If you are in need of silica gel that acts as a hard-core drying agent, you can opt for the ones that come with a saturation indicator for moisture. These indicators can change color from the yellow/orange hue to blue/green one depending on the moisture level in the ambiance.
3-Do Not Store Them Beyond 12 Months:
One thing you need to keep in mind when planning for storage of your PVA filament is the fact that they should never be stored for more than 12 months. Regardless of how good your storage system is, someway or other, moisture or dust will surely find a way to seep in. This is why it is often advised that you use up the spool before 12 months.
In case you are someone who keeps forgetting things, try to prepare a chart or organize the storage space date wise. This will help you get access to filaments that are close to their 12 months’ timeline.
Bonus Tips to Follow (PVA Filament Storage)
- Use the litmus strips for testing the humidity present in the surrounding atmosphere. They can act as a quicker option as opposed to the use of desiccants that change color.
- Always remove the filament from the printer after you are done with the printing session.
- You can opt for 3D printing of your very own filament holder. This will help protect the PVA filament from moisture in a better way. Pick a filament that is resistant to moisture for creating this holder.
- Create your DIY dry box from different “YouTube” videos or internet sources.
- You can also plug-in a dehumidifier within the room that your spool is placed in.
It is true that one cannot enjoy a good omelet without breaking some eggs. The same stands true for 3D printing as well. Experience is what helps you create the best prototypes when it comes to 3D prints. However, with the tips and tricks stated above, you can surely avoid some unwanted storage mistakes and save yourself some unnecessary pain of bad print or moisture-laden filament.
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