Thursday, 1 February 2018

DIY Heated DryBox for 3D Printing filament - under $20

DIY Heated DryBox

In this blog post and Video I'm showing you how to make a simple heated drybox for your 3D printing filament that you can use whilst 3D Printing.

With just a few basic items from eBay (or similar) and some 3D design files to print (links at the bottom of this post) - you can make a drybox for both storage and in use while 3D printing.

An overview video of the heated drybox (including a #MasterSpool update) can be seen below and over on my Youtube channel here.

For an overview and background to this project, do take a look at the video, I'll dive straight into the main components in this blog post below - 

Polymaker Polybox - spotted at the recent TCT show.

During the TCT show in October last year, I had a chance to take a quick look at the Polymaker polybox. It's a neat enclosure, but I quickly realised that it is just an enclosure, that's all.

I pack all my filament in sealed zip-lock bags with desiccant. That's usually good enough for storage, but some materials do require drying or heating before use.

For some time I have been planning to build a dry heated storage box. 

Now that I know the Polybox just monitors temperature and humidity I decided to build my own, but with a heating capacity installed too.

It's surprising how simple it is to make a heated dry box with off-the-shelf components and a little 3D printing.

The polybox has a number of bearings that polymaker filament spools run on, I didn't want to do that because I use a lot more different types of materials, some use cardboard spools, and having the spool edges run on bearings, just creates cardboard fluff.

Other spools are very small (Taulman Nylon), they simply would not reach across the bearing points.

I decided to keep it simple and allow spools to be mounted on a standard sized spool mount. Different diameter mounts could then be printed as required.

As a minimum I wanted a box that would fit 2 x 1kg spools of filament and allow both to feed independently if required.

This one is a straightforward build - you should find it quite simple to print out the required 3D printed parts - assemble and make up the rest of the heated dry-box. Any questions - just ask.

The main component I used for heating is a simple flexible reptile heater - you can find these on eBay for just a few USD - Search for '15*28CM Adjustable Temperature Reptile Heating Heater Mat' 

The other main electronic component is the temperature and humidity monitor device, I opted for a round module, but you can get square and also ones with separate temperature sensing probes etc.

For the above temperature/Humidity sensor just search eBay for 'Mini LCD Celsius Digital Thermometer Hygrometer Temperature Humidity Meter Gauge'

Three 12mm cable glands make up the power in and dual filament out ports - just a simple 12mm hole will allow these to fit perfectly.

I bought a pack of 100 of  these way back in 2010 - so I have been finding uses for them ever since :)

Print out the 3D printed parts - I used FormFutura ReForm rPET filament for the above.

The printed spool holder uses a section of M8 threaded rod and two M8 nuts.

Lastly bags fg 50g desiccant can be fitted under the heater - they can easily be removed or changed at any time.

The reptile heater just slides in the grooves in the 3D printed parts.

Cable goes out of the back  of the box - allow yourself some slack cable so you can lift up the 3D printed parts to insert desiccant.

Optionally you can print out a seal for the lid - I made the above using ColorFabb nGen Flex - it has just the right level of flex, but not too floppy to easily seat onto the top of the box.

Fit the remaining two cable glands and use oversized tube to allow filament to feed out of your dry-box.

That's it. It uses 7w while being on, and does not take long to get to a stable ~30 Degrees C temperature - humidity will quite quickly drop to under 14%.

It's really useful for any type of dedicated support material - being able to be used while still inside the heated dry-box. It will also be great for Nylon, wood filaments, CF, PolySmooth and many other materials that are sensitive to moisture.

Bonus device - 

I also have a little bonus invention for monitoring your filament coils while they are in Zip-Lock-Bags - here is the SpoolCheck sensor.

It uses exactly the same thermistor and humidity sensor, and a small packet of desiccant as the heated dry box project.

Just pop it in the centre of any 'standard' filament spool (or a loaded MasterSpool ) - and pop it all in a zip-lock bag.

You basically end up with a way to monitor filament in storage, and see if any is not in tip-top-condition :)

Even overnight you should see a drop in humidity inside your 'drybag'

The files for both the heated drybox and the SpoolCheck sensor are up on -

Please do let me know if you make a heated drybox or find the SpoolCheck sensor useful - best to catch me on Twitter usually.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.


Please join me on Twitter @RichRap3D

My profile and posts over on Google+

Files and designs shared on YouMagine

Files and designs shared on Thingiverse

Files and designs shared on GitHub

Files and designs shared on Repables 

My Youtube channel is here, all 3D Printing in Hi-Def video content.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

MasterSpool - A proposed standard for 3D Printing filament supply without a spool


*Edit* - Updated Jan 28th 2018 - The Original STL files for MasterSpool had a few problems for some people - the final export was a little messed up, sorry about that.

I have now simplified the design and added the new V2 files up on YouMagine and Thingiverse - Links are at the bottom of this blog post - thanks.

We, as a community and industry, are making good progress on the use of sustainable filament spools. Cardboard is slowly becoming more common and even recycled plastic or eco-friendly spools are starting to be used.

Left to right - ReForm by FormFutura / 'MasterSpool' / Standard plastic PC spool / Cardboard by Proto-Pasta

For quite some years I have also wished for a no-spool based filament delivery system, MasterSpool could be a way to achieve this.

A filament roll of ColorFabb nGen - 750g of filament and another ~280g of almost 'bulletproof' Polycarbonate spool.

The MasterSpool standard is a concept idea for a way to deliver 3D printing filament to users without a spool.
The main concept is for manufacturers to provide a material refill system to users who can then use their own 'MasterSpool' in their 3D printer.

Here is a quick overview video of the MasterSpool proposal showing how it works - 

More of my video's over on Youtube here - all in HD.

I had the idea for MasterSpool when I spotted a small two piece filament spool over on Thingiverse by User 'Dingoboy71'  The original 2-piece Filament Spool by Dingoboy71 can be found over on Thingiverse -

Benefits should include a lower weight of transportation - Empty plastic spools often weigh around 250-300 grams. Smaller and less packaging for material and no empty spools for the end user to recycle or dispose of.

Most often, users of 3D printers do not want to use un-spooled filament. Winding filament onto a spool is also not a good idea, because it can encourage breaking and tangles. It also takes a lot of time for the user.

Having a 'cartridge' of wound filament that can be simply loaded onto a two-part spool allows for super quick setup and use of materials.

The two part spool, could be traditionally manufactured, to a defined standard - similar to what we already use now - ~200mm diameter spools with 750g or 1kg capacity.

The MasterSpool could be 3D printed - it easily fits on a LulzBot TAZ6, but it will also print on a standard Prusa i3 MK2/3

The 'MasterSpool' could also be 3D printed, customized and generally tweaked to accommodate various 3D printers.

Ideally a single MasterSpool standard would be used - then we may also start seeing more 3D printer manufacturers allow a defined space for these spools. At the moment far too many different spool sizes and mounting methods are available for a machine manufacturer to choose one single method of filament spool management.

Their will be problems that filament manufacturers will have to overcome to do this - 

Wind spools of filament onto a cardboard or stiff paper form - with an ability to secure the coil in place after winding - maybe using tie-wraps or adhesive banding. 

Remove the wrapped coil and pack into a simple box or vacuum sealed bag for shipment.

Manufacturers will still want to brand the filament coils and maybe add key information like print temperatures or material properties etc. This can be achieved on the card/paper support for the filament coil.

This was my very simple cardboard template to hold the coil - it works just fine, tie-wraps / zip-ties help secure the coil - a sealed vacuum bag would also be a perfect way to ensure the coil stays intact before use.

Hopefully the manufacture of a coil without a spool is possible to work out. I can see that vacuum sealing the coil would really help keep it in good condition for transport and have the usual bonus of protecting from moisture etc.

The concept 'MasterSpool' design files can be found over on Thingiverse and YouMagine

I tested the new V2 files in various slicing programs - so you should not have any issues 3D printing the files.


Simplify 3D


Quite a few people asked about the critical dimensions for MasterSpool (750g version) - so here they are -

Outer spool diameter is 202mm
The inner ring diameter for the filament coil is 102mm
The mounting hole size is 52.5mm
For the 750g Spool the width of the filament coil is 46.7mm

For a 1Kg or 500g filament coil the width (46.7mm) is the dimension you would change to make a different, but compatible MasterSpool for other weights (that will not stay true for very heavy filaments like copper, bronze etc.)

If you are a Filament manufacturer that likes the idea and may wish to explore it further, then please contact me. I would be very happy to help with any testing, trials and promotion of the idea / standard to the wider 3D printing community.

If you are a user, and you have feedback or want to get involved, then talk to your current filament supplier, see if they are interested in an idea like this. 

And if you have any feedback at all, do leave a message, comment or discuss it with me over on Twitter. Feel free to use the hashtag #MasterSpool - lets see if this idea has a future for 3D printing.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.


Please join me on Twitter @RichRap3D

My profile and posts over on Google+

Files and designs shared on YouMagine

Files and designs shared on Thingiverse

Files and designs shared on GitHub

Files and designs shared on Repables 

My Youtube channel is here, all 3D Printing and Hi-Def video content.

Friday, 19 January 2018

3D Printing advice for materials. Tips & tricks - Advent 2017 review of models

Review and overview Video of the December 2017 advent calendar - modular Christmas tree
3D Printing advice, tips and tricks.

For every day of December 2017 I 3D Printed a part of the 2017 Advent Christmas Tree.

For the background and introduction - Day #1 Post click here

Christmas Advent 2017 Download on Thingiverse here - designed by Tom Van den Bon  With some help for each day by the South African Makers team.

Below is an overview video that will help you pinpoint any specific materials you may want to know more about. Printing advice, tricks and tips are included on each blog post during December 2017.

You can also watch this video in full HD, and many more from me over on YouTube Here

For a quick jump point and an overview of each day, see the list below -

Quick jump index For Blog posts each day and video times -
Day 1 –
2:48 - Fireplace - Designed by - Shaun Nadan

Day 2 –
3:33 - Mini Spool - Designed by - Tom Van den Bon

Day 3 –
4:46 - Christmas Rubber Ducky - Designed by - Andries Smuts

Day 4 –
5:26 - Christmas Lollipop - Designed by - Tom Van den Bon

Day 5 –
6:02 - Christmas Robot - Designed by - Lelanie Smuts

Day 6 –
6:30 - Christmas Stocking - Designed by - Candice Howe

Day 7 –
7:17 - Water Bottle Rocket - Designed by - Andries Smuts

Day 8 –
7:53 - Beemo - Designed by - Rick Treweek

Day 9 –
9:12 - Trumpet - Designed by - Candice Howe

Day 10 –
10:10 - Manger - Designed by - Michael Scholtz

Day 11 –
10:33 - Potjie - Designed by - Megesh Govender

Day 12 –
11:51 - Christmas Raptor - Designed by - Gerhardt Breedt

Day 13 –
12:40 - Crate of Beer - Designed by - Andries Smuts

Day 14 –
13:09 - Lego Block - Designed by - Tom Van den Bon

Day 15 –
13:24 - Severed Foot - Designed by - Thomas Torr

Day 16 –
13:40 - Mistletoe/Holly - Designed by -Candice Howe

Day 17 –
14:04 - xmas Poo Emoji - Designed by - Shaun Nadan

Day 18 –
14:31 - Popsicle (Ice Lolly) - Designed by - Tom Van den Bon

Day 19 –
14:53 - Jeep - Designed by - Gerhardt Breedt

Day 20 –
15:31 - Benchy - Designed by - P.J Prinsloo

Day 21 –
15:51 - Abstract Apple - Designed by - Mohammed Hassen

Day 22 –
16:17 - xmas Scene - Designed by - Shaun Nadan

Day 23 –
16:45 - Heart Box - Designed by - Chris Venter

Day 24 –
17:27 - The Grinch - Designed by - Shaun Nadan

Day 25 –
17:41 - Christmas Star - Designed by - Tom Van den Bon

Very special thanks to Tom Van den Bon and the South African makers team

Completed Advent 2017 tree 

The original advent calendar from 2012 is on Thingiverse - designed by Peter Leppik.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.


Please join me on Twitter @RichRap3D

My profile and posts over on Google+

Files and designs shared on YouMagine

Files and designs shared on GitHub

Files and designs shared on Repables 

My Youtube channel is here, all 3D Printing and Hi-Def video content.