5 ways to ruin your filament (and how to fix it)!

5 ways to ruin your filament (and how to fix it)!

What’s up everyone, Tom here, and have you
ever ruined a perfectly good spool of filament? It’s easier than you think, and while some
of the things I’m about to show you can mess up a spool for good, some can easily
be fixed. So let’s check out my most common mistakes
you can make when handling 3D printer filament and how you can fix them. Number one: Tangling your filament! It’s so easy to do – you unload it from
your printer, set it down for a second and there you go: A spool that looks perfectly
fine on first glance, but is going to choke on itself half an hour into a print. What happened here is that the end of the
filament slipped under another coil, which doesn’t sound too bad, but because that
has messed up the order of the windings, when you use it normally and have the printer unwind
it, the end now gets caught and stops the print dead in its tracks. But thankfully, that’s super easy to avoid! Remember, there are only three valid positions
for the end of a filament spool: Loaded and ready to go in a printer, in your hand after
you took it out or secured to the spool with the holes on the edge or securely taped to
it. Under no circumstances should you let go of
the end of the spool and let it dangle around. Storing it without the end clipped in is an
absolute guarantee for disaster. But let’s say you’re already past that
and have a spool that you just need to babysit and keep from tangling. Well, there’s an easy fix for that: You’ll
need to properly rewind the part of the spool that has the filament crossed over. But instead of unwinding it normally, which
would just shove that part further onto the spool, you just have to unload a couple windings
off the side of the spool. To do that, hold the end of the filament and
rotate the spool to loosen up around 20 windings or so, depending on how messy your spool is. Then pick it up and carefully work the filament
over the side, several windings at a time. This will also push whatever knot you might
have building on the spool up over the edge and give you a nice, clean surface to start
rewinding the filament. Keep it nice and tight and you should end
up with a perfectly reliable and usable spool again. And please make sure it stays that way by
not letting the filament end dangle around. Number two, climate control. There are two things that can degrade your
filament’s printability: Moisture and heat. Let’s start with moisture: Different filament
types are more or less sensitive to moisture. Some Nylons can go bad in less than a day
if you leave them out in the open, but there are blends that are less sensitive. PETG and other copolyesters as well as ABS
also have issues with moisture absorption, it’s not quite as drastic, but both with
produce weaker and less crisp prints than fresh and dry materials. PLA, on the other hand, does also absorb ambient
moisture, but usually doesn’t degrade as noticeably as the other materials. Common moisture indicators are popping sounds
while printing, visibly bubbly surfaces, extra stringing or even nondescript issues like
extruder hiccups or clogged nozzles. I’ve previously shown how to build a drybox
like this that you can use to store filament and directly print out of, but usually, even
just using using any sort of plastic bag, maybe with a bag desiccant in it, the one
that came with the filament is great for this, that is already good enough to store filament
while not using it. rigid.ink include a separate reusable bags
with every spool, and with some manufacturers you can use the original packaging if it has
that zipper part in it. Otherwise, just grab some larger ziploc-style
bags and use those for filament storage. It can sometimes still be necessary to actively
dry out filament before use, and the easiest way to do that would be to pop it in the oven
and letting it bake for a while. However, this is where that second part of
climate comes in. Generally, it’s a good idea to keep the
temperature well below 50°C, that is about 120°F. Many filaments start to do some really
awesome, but weird stuff once they get heated past that temperature. I did a video on the topic of heat-treating
printed parts a while ago, and I’ve often experienced the same thing with random printed
parts as well, where the material properties drastically change once they were heated past
a certain temperature for a while. Generally, what happens there is not great
for raw filament, and if you’ve had a far-east filament spool just shattered into bits as
soon as you opened it, well, that one’s probably been sitting in a top-row shipping
container in the sun for a while. So for drying, one or two hours in the oven
is fine, but if you leave your filament in your car on hot summer day, chances are, you’re
not going to enjoy printing with it the next time. Number 3: Keep your filament away from toddlers. Or cats or dogs. I can tell you, a filament spool can be quite
interesting to the little critters, if you’ve ever seen a cat unroll an entire roll of toilet
paper or your dog chewing up your shoes, well, a spool if filament is just as interesting. So, just keep your stash out of reach or behind
closed doors and avoid turning them into entertaining, but costly chewing toys. Number four, your spool holder on your 3D
printer itself can cause some pretty nasty issues. Of course, it’s bad when there’s too much
friction and the spool can’t freely rotate, but it’s also not the best thing if your
holder is too smooth and just lets the spool spin freely. It can really easily pop off the side and
tighten up there or become so loose that you’ll get a knot similar to what happens when you
let go of the filament end. Just this one will fix itself if you babysit
it long enough. To add a bit of friction, it can often be
enough to just add a ziptie somewhere and leave the end to rub against the spool. Or you can add a small piece of cloth somewhere
that does the same. Another issue that commonly pops up with filament
spools is that the filament path isn’t restrained well enough and will sometimes have your filament
get pulled off sideways, which, again, will have it tie itself around the spool holder. So, easiest fix, again, a zip tie if you have
to, but any sort of guidance right at the spool will keep this from happening. Some spool holders use a short piece of Teflon
tube, but creative and use whatever makes you happy. And number five, cooking and caking your filament. While this one isn’t strictly related to
filament spools per se, it’s still something that knowing about doesn’t hurt. Essentially, when you leave your filament
in a heated hotend, it very slowly decomposes into nasty, unextrudable carbon flakes. This is grossly oversimplified, of course,
but the hotter the hotend and the longer you leave filament in there, the more likely you’re
going to run into issues on your next print. So don’t leave your printer sitting around
heated up for extended amounts of time. The quickest way of turning off the heat is
by just flipping the power switch. Well, wrong, because there is a serious issue
with this, particularly with PLA. Because most modern hotends rely on a fan
to keep their heatsink cool, and the PLA from sticking to the unheated part of the stainless
steel heat break, suddenly taking away that cooling while the block is still hot can and
will most likely get your PLA to stick to the wrong parts of the heat break. E3D v6 clones that don’t use a teflon tube
extending into the heater block are extremely likely to do this, since the turned-down part
of their heat break, which is what’s actually insulating the hot and cold zones, is usually
thicker than the real deal, which means it’s transferring heat into the cold zone more
easily. So for me, the actual quickest way of shutting
down a printer is by using the reset button – that turns off all heaters, but keeps the
cooling fan on as long as necessary, and once the hotend has cooled down enough, then you
can switch off the rest of the printer. So, let’s recap what we learned: 1) The
end of a filament spool should either be in a printer, in your hand or clipped to the
side of the spool. 2) Keep your filament cool and dry. Duh. 3) Pets like cats, dogs and small children
love to play with filament. Don’t let them. 4) Your spool holder needs the right amount
of friction and some filament guidance. And, 5) Well-done is not ok. Don’t overcook your filament in your 3D
printer. And that should keep all your filament nice,
happy, cozy and ready to go. If you have any tips of your own, drop a comment
below or share them in the community forums! Leave a like if you learned something and
if you want to see more content like this, maybe even subscribe! And if you do, there’s that bell you can
check so that you actually get notifications when new videos are uploaded. To directly support this channel, you can
shop through the affiliate links in the video description – that doesn’t cost you anything
extra – or if you want to give a spare dollar or two per month to the cause, the best way
for that for is Patreon. We have monthly hangouts there, which are
an excellent way to get your own questions answered. One more thing, I’ll be at TCT all three
days next week, come say hello if you’re there! You’ll probably catch me hanging out at
the E3D booth, sipping a coffee or something, I don’t know. See you there! That’s it for today, do get subscribed,
and I’ll see you in the next one!

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Love the production value. Makes it way easier to watch compared to a lot of the junk here on youtube.

  2. I really like your videos. They are to the point and on the subject. I got so fed up with technical videos that are talking about how someone feels about things instead about the subject 🙂

  3. Ah, snarls on a roll!
    I agree with the side-dump school to get to clean winding's, but didja know that you side-load to put the filament coils back on the roll?
    OK, side-dump has coils on the floor, proceed to pick up one or two loops at a time, and side-load them onto the roll.
    Side-load? With the spool held steady, just slip the loop over the edge of the spool. Spool does NOT turn!
    One or two untangled loops at a time, and the messy coils get all happy in short order.
    The biggest win with side-loading is you don't introduce axial torsion on the filament!
    The winding you show will almost certainly put a length-wise twist into the filament.
    This is worse than looping-under, as this torsion can make a spontaneous 'birds nest' when passing from spool to extrusion motor

  4. I wonder if Thomas tried to print with the spool of purple filament after the dog was finished playing with it.

  5. I've found that my PLA, when sitting out for a while, becomes brittle. Not sure what is going on but I end up pulling some length off and finding the point where it no longer breaks.

  6. I can hear popping when printing…. filament is also brittle, so most likely need to be dried. Going to leave it outside a bit, since it's about 40C outside and less than 8% humidity. 🙂 Yay, only upside to living in Las Vegas.

  7. My PLA became too brittle and kept breaking off during printing… I believe this is due to the long time it took me to go through this particular spool (almost 2 years) and constant heating and cooling… So I guess PLA does go stale… Has anyone else encountered this?

  8. Im new at this , i ordered a printer it will be shipped soon, my question is , are the large holes in the spools the same size, so i Dont have to keep making holders. appreciate an answer back, thank you

  9. I just spent 3 hours taking my Dremel extruder nozzle apart to remove a clogged piece of filament that was beyond the help of the supplied de-clogger tool. Why? Because I was clueless about the very first thing you explain so well in this video. Thank you so much! Wish it had been part of the basic instructions that come with the printer. You did a great job of explaining it. Thank you

  10. i added a bit of custom g code at the beginning and end of my print at the end it retracts far enogh that the fillament is comletly out of the nozzle and heat breack and at the beginning it gets loaded and and the nozzle is primed

  11. If your ex has a 3d printer hold up a lighter for fast easy and permanent destruction. Or just break their printer. Either one.

  12. Edifying general 3D printing information education entertainment edutainment awesome! Good work Thomas and blessings to your cause of spreading good ideas, truth and useful 3D printing information!

  13. I baked my Pla at about 45°C. When I came back it was set to 100. I bet my sister to set it. I hate her and now I have 13€ less. But nice vid 😀

  14. Oh yes, I had that experience. First roll of filament I purchased from Gearbest is just snapping constantly right off the roll, at the extruder, in the tube… it's just frustrating.

  15. Out of all the videos I have watched on 3d printing I'd have to say your one of the best. Thank you for all the information. Please keep up the good job.

  16. Hi i want your advice on abs filament i had used 245 nozal temperature 110 bed temp letyar0.15 in fill 100% and 100 speed but still my abs print breakup in hand after little push by fingers. Its snap off

    What i do next to make my print stronger

  17. Hi, I'm from Brazil and I have a question about filament conservation. I have a PLA filament roll and it's open and installed in the printer for quite some time. Lately I have noticed that the filament is getting dry and brittle, it is even difficult to install it in the printer, because it breaks easily. What could be happening with this filament? Is it possible to recover it?

  18. I have a Rottweiler pittbul mix and she is a very agresive chewer, she would destroy the filliment in 30 seconds, your dog is gental

  19. Can we pack the whole filament in an air tight box along with silica gel bags as an alternative solution? I have read that industrialists use silica gel as a dehydrating agent…

  20. Hi, have you the STL files of minute 7:04 spool holder? I appreciate a lot if you can put a link in the description. Thanks!

  21. A couple of tips on storing PLA and brittleness: if you leave it unused for a long time stretched out of its spool it can get brittle. Not sure exactly how long this takes but after years it can definitely be a problem. I read that this is because of the stress of being pulled out of shaped for a long time.
    So if you might not use it for a long time it can be best not to leave it threaded through the 3D printer, but put it back on the spool instead. Or if it's already brittle, you can check that only the part that was out of the spool has been affected and break it off.

  22. Wish I would have known that these spools tangle so easily before I started my first ever print, now I have a drink coaster rather than a test dog and $20 less filament

  23. I just went to use some old fluorescent PLA and it was very brittle and wouldn't melt in the extruder at 200. Quite weird.

  24. this fixed my pva right up I never thought about putting it in a green house, this really dried it out, thanks again!

  25. You should wear gloves while handling filament. The oils from your skin can really effect the print quality. I always wear gloves while working with my filament.

  26. Hey…thanks Tom for the information. Just some helpful advice. IF….you could speak a little slower during your videos it would be helpful. you speak perfectly good english…BUT your accent is very strong and when you talk to fast i have to rewind the video a few time to try to understand what your saying because words run into other words. There are some videos where you talk slower and i can understand you just fine….and by the way..your videos are really good. thank you for taking the time to make them for all of us.

  27. 4:40 Solution: Give your pet an empty spool to keep them preoccupied while you print (Don't do this if you use masterspool filament!)

  28. Good advice, and taken to heart, thanks. But NO WAY the amount of tangle on the spool I'm babysitting atm was caused by me. It just keeps going on and on and on.

  29. Love your channel. Great info and presentation but the adding in your dog was icing on the cake.
    Call me weird but little things like that make channels special

  30. My filament keep snapping. I tried the oven it helps for a couple rolls then goes back to snapping. really frustrating, is there any better fix?

  31. I got back into 3d printing after almost 5 years and one of my old filaments breaks like dried pasta lol.

  32. I had a line slip under another. We assumed the filament was sticky not stuck. Because it went for an hour. But then ruined a huge print.

  33. This is funny because i keep all my filament outside in a dog kennel.
    and you tell me to keep dogs away from it, WHOOPS 🙂

  34. #1 and it's almost pulls your fully loaded filament box off the shelf onto the desk below… and like you said, I only put the roll down for a minute 🙂

  35. You talked about not cooking the filament in the nozzle. I am thinking about buying the Prusa mk3 and i was wondering if the printer initiates the cool down by itself, when its done printing?

  36. Toward the end about turning off the machine. How about retracting some filament so it's not in the hot-end? Can do that manually or with Gcode which I don't know how to do on my Ender 5. Now I know whyI keep having problems with my filaments. I've been shutting down the printer too early and/or not retracting filament out of the hot-end. WOW! thanks Tom

  37. In the box my filaments come with, there's a small bag of silica gel included. I leave it in there. (I even staple it to a corner inside the box so it doesn't flop around). It's included to help to keep the moisture levels low inside the box. When the filament isn't in use, I store it in the box with the attached silica gel and I also keep the box closed.

  38. I now know I'm number five-ing my filament a lot. *facepalms

    Thanks for the advice.

    Also your dog has a cat fur pattern. It's your pet, so it's around filament all the time. It's gotta be at least 3 times as interested in the filament than the average dog or cat.

    You could have named it Slic3r. Cause it's slick and has 3 Reasons. *mind implodes :{J

  39. My dad left all my PLA in the shed over the summer where it regularly got around 120F and ruined kilos of filament… gotta love living in Phoenix!

  40. Great vid, for some reason I can't stop looking at your outfit for some reason, must be the colors and the way the fabric is textured, seems really weird at 1080p.

    And has anyone thought of 3D Printing a " flat-end sucker adapter" that when attached to a vacuum cleaner would allow you to suck the air out of the PE bag, so that the filament is stored in vacuum? Or may be a special device can be made, similar to those cheap Chinese food Lamination Sealers?

  41. Ive got an issue with my flash forge adventurer 3…. its only printing a very small amount then it stops with the error msg…. filament error. The filament looks fine, just swapped filaments to have same result…. could it have something to do with stepper motor needing upgrade…? Any advise will be much appreciated thanks

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