How to Dry 3D Printer Filament

When 3D printer filaments are left exposed, they can absorb moisture from the air and this can affect their properties. Read on to learn how to dry your 3D printer filaments.

Are 3D Filaments Affected by Moisture?

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All FDM 3D printer filaments absorb moisture, i.e., they are hygroscopic. When the filaments absorb moisture, their properties get compromised.

Filaments are generally plastic polymers, which comprise of chains of molecules held together. When the molecules come into contact with water, they become weak and break. This affects the overall properties of the filament.

If you have ‘wet’ filament, you should dry it before printing. Read on to find out how to dry 3D printer filaments.

How to Identify Wet Filament

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Filaments absorb moisture differently, depending on the materials used to make them. Here are some signs that indicate a filament has absorbed moisture:

  • The prints end up having ‘fuzzy’ or textured surfaces
  • The filament experiences excessive oozing, blobbing or stringing
  • Uneven extrusion lines
  • Part strength and layer adhesion are severely reduced
  • Cracking/popping sounds when extruding

If you notice any of the signs above, you should dry out your filament immediately to preserve print quality and strength.

Drying 3D Printer Filament Using a Food Dehydrator

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Food dehydrator can be used to dry a filament easily. The equipment operate at lower temperatures and this makes them excellent for drying filament.

Here are the temperature settings for the different filaments:

  • Nylon: ~80°C (or the highest available temperature)
  • ABS: ~80°C (or the highest available temperature)
  • PLA: ~40-45°C

These appliances usually have removable layers and meshing. If you have multiple spools, you can remove these parts to make space for them.

Drying 3D Printer Filament Using an Oven

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The easiest way of drying a filament is by tossing it into an oven. You have to set the oven temperature just below the glass transition temperature of the plastic and leave the filament 4 to 6 hours to bake. The longer the filament is inside the oven, the drier it will be.

Here are the oven temperatures recommended for the various materials:

  • Nylon: ~80°C
  • ABS: ~80°C
  • PLA ~40°C
Ensure the oven has reached the desired temperature before tossing your filament inside. Generally, when heating up, ovens slightly go past the set temperature. Therefore, if you place the filament early on, it may soften and fuse.

Also, ensure your oven can accurately maintain the recommended baking temperature of the materials you have. If not, the filament may end up melting and fusing together.

Using a Filament Dryer to Dry Filament

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A filament dryer is specially designed to dry filament. These dryers are easy to operate. To use them, simply put the spool inside, select the setting you want and start the dryer. After a set amount of time, you can remove your dried spool.

Some dryers can work simultaneously with your printer, helping you to save time in drying and printing. These dryers are reliable and will help you to dry your filament.

How to Correctly Store Dry Filament

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When your filament is dry, you should store it in a humidity-controlled environment. This can be a commercial dryer box or a vacuum box with desiccant packs. See the best filament dryers you can buy.

Storing the filaments properly can help to preserve and lengthen their lifespan. If the filament gets dry again, you can re-dry it using any of the methods above.

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