Aug 20, 2015 | By Alec

Though revolutionary in many ways, 3D printing technology (and especially FDM 3D printing) is at times beset by practical issues that are fortunately, one by one, being solved. And now a Kickstarter project has just launched that seeks to tackle a common problem in humid areas: how do you prevent your filament from absorbing humidity and affecting printing quality? Well the solution is quite simple and is called the 3D Printer Filament Storage Stand, a container platform that holds up to six rolls of filament and that has been expressly designed to fit right under your 3D printer.

This surprisingly simple, but compact solution was developed by Tim Wakefield and the team of engineers and experienced 3D printers of ODIN Manufacturing and Design Consultants. They are a spin-off organization of the more well-known ODIN Hunting Products that have regularly used 3D printing to develop accessories. However, this latest (non-hunting) project was foundedly precisely because of issues they typically suffered from. As Tim explains, living and working in a humid climate affects 3D printing. ‘We just launched a KickStarter to help combat the issue of wet filament.  Based on our testing and use we are finding it helps with print quality as well as allows us to turn up print speed,’ he says. ‘3D Filament is sensitive to moisture absorption so we created a storage system that keeps your filament dry while you print.’

And they make a very good point, as people are often complaining about the quality of FDM 3D printed objects, but little things like proper storage go a long way towards preserving quality. While you could obviously just store filament in a bin or something, they have added an extra dimension that looks cool and is practical – a stand that will help you to quickly and efficiently switch spools. ‘If you switch spools often you may have noticed how moisture in your filament can ruin print quality.  So we started testing enclosure designs that not only would help keep the filament dry but also help hold the filament spools so you can use them,’ Tim explains.

Therefore, they came up with a Storage Stand that is exactly big enough to fit underneath the most commonly used MakerBot Replicator 2 (or 2X), while also perfectly accommodating smaller 3D printers as it has a dimension of 16" deep x 19.5" wide x 12" tall. ‘We have an outlet on the top of the unit that has brushes to clean your filament, as well as help keep the chamber sealed. The unit holds 6 - 1kg or 2lb spools (spool must be under 8.75" diameter to fit into chamber),’ Tim adds. The structure itself consists of power-coated aluminum to ensure a long life. The filament can also be fed into the machine from the container.

But you might be thinking: why purchase this if I can just store filament in a plastic container? Well, that’s because this is more than a container – it also includes heating options and moisture-absorbing materials. ‘The heater plugs into a standard 110V outlet and draws under 10watts.  By adding heat we are able to keep the air moving throughout the chamber ensuring that the moist air and filament is moving.  The moisture absorbing material can be recharged as needed depending on your specific use (roughly once every 3-6 months),’ Tim adds. In fact, this option works so well it doesn’t just prevent moisture from forming, it also absorbs it – something they proved by drying out soggy pretzels. Sounds a lot better, doesn’t it?

If you’re interested in getting your hands on one of these Filament Storage Stands, there’s some good news. In fact, all of the design and iteration work is already done and the prototypes are showing excellent results. ‘With our prototypes and production units we have documented that our chamber maintains at 10% relative humidity (or below) while the room  measured above 50%RH.  We also average about 3 degrees Fahrenheit above the room temperature,’ Tim adds.

The product is therefore completely ready for production, which is to be funded through Kickstarter. Even vendors and suppliers have already been chosen. The only downside is that these storage stands are relatively expensive – the early bird options have already been chosen, and the current cheapest option is $300. However, as an investment in printing quality, this is still an excellent option for more professional users and startups. Check it out on Kickstarter here



Posted in 3D Printer Accessories



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