How to Dry a 3D Printer filament? PLA, ABS, PETG, PVA, Nylon and TPU

In my opinion, moisture is the most overlooked and biggest challenge to getting high quality 3D prints. 3D printing newbies don’t realize how bad moist filament can be. Moisture deteriorates print quality over time. There are times when we do not use moist spools of filament, resulting in a loss of money. Do not worry, here’s a comprehensive guide on drying your filament and preventing it from absorbing moisture.

How to dry a 3d printer filament?

Dry 3D printer filament is necessary for good quality print. Various methods like using a filament dryer, oven, food dehydrator, or desiccant packs can be used for filament. Each of the methods has its merits, and the choice often depends on convenience and filament type.

Why Drying Filament is necessary

Print Quality: Moisture in filament can drastically affect the print quality. When you heat the filament during the printing, any trapped moisture turns into steam. This steam creates bubbles or voids in the printed object, leading to pores in the structure. For instance, imagine your perfect design ending up with tiny holes, compromising its sturdiness and aesthetics.

Filament Strength: Wet filament doesn’t just ruin the aesthetics of a print; it weakens the 3d print too. Think about printing a tool handle with moisture filled filament. The handle might break easily under pressure, making it a wasted print.

Smooth Extrusion: For a print to come out just right, the filament needs to flow smoothly. Moisture can disrupt this flow, leading to inconsistent extrusion. This inconsistency can result in uneven layers in your final product. Imagine aiming to print a sleek vase but ending up with a rough finish.

Signs Your Filament Needs Drying

Hissing sound: If you hear a hissing sound during printing, it’s a clear sign of moisture in the filament. It’s the sound of moisture converting into steam due to heat and then escaping from filament.

Rough Surface: A print that feels more like sandpaper than silk might be the result of wet filament. If you’re aiming for a smooth 3D print but it feels gritty, moisture might be the reason.

Stringing: Thin strings of filament connecting different parts of a print are a one the sign of moisture. For example if you’re 3D Printing a miniature Eiffel Tower, but instead of clean lines, you get tiny filament strings crisscrossing.

Methods to Dry Filament

Filament Dryer: Filament dryer is a specialized device designed to dry 3D printing filaments. It works by heating the filament to a specific temperature, ensuring that any moisture in the filament is evaporated. Using a filament dryer is beneficial for hygroscopic materials like Nylon, PVA, or PETG, which tend to absorb moisture from the air.

MaterialTemperature (°C)Drying Time (hours)
PLA454
ABS602
PETG653
Nylon706
PVA454
TPU504

Note: The above temperatures and times are general recommendations. Always refer to the filament manufacturer’s guidelines for specific drying instructions.

Oven Drying: Using an oven is a straightforward method. Set it at a low temperature, place the filament inside, and let it dry. But caution is necessary. If the temperature is too high, the filament might melt. For example, if someone’s trying to dry a spool of PLA filament, setting the oven above 45°C might deform it.

Desiccant Packs: These are small packets that absorb moisture. By placing a filament spool in a sealed bag with a few of these packs, the moisture gets drawn out over time but it’s a slow process and might not completely remove moisture from filament. 

Food Dehydrator: Food Dehydrators are designed to remove moisture from food to keep them preserved. As it acts as a moisture absorber you can use it to dry your filament. They offer controlled temperature settings, ensuring the filament dries without melting.

Rice: Dry rice can also help you to dry your filament. By submerging the filament in a container of dry rice, the rice acts as a natural desiccant, pulling out moisture. But it is the least efficient method to dry the filament 

Materials That Require Special Attention

Certain filaments are like sponges, soaking up moisture:

Nylon:This material is well known for its moisture-absorbing properties. Even a slight amount of moisture can alter its printing characteristics. It’s like a sponge, soaking up any available moisture in the air.

PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol): Used mainly as a support material, PVA is extremely sensitive to moisture. It’s like sugar, which clumps together when exposed to humidity.

TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane): While TPU isn’t as moisture-sensitive as Nylon or PVA, it still can absorb some. It’s like wood, which can warp if left in an open moist environment.

Preventive Measures

Storage: Store your filament spools in a cool, dry place. Using sealed bags with desiccants is the best option to keep your filament moisture free.

Regular Checks: Just like one would check on plants to see if they need water, time inspect your filaments. If they’ve been kept in the open or exposed for long, they might need drying.

Purchase Quality Filament: High-quality filament is less prone to moisture-related issues. High quality filament might be expensive but it’s an investment that pays off in the long run, much like buying a good quality pair of shoes.

Conclusion

Drying 3D printer filament is crucial for achieving high quality print. By identifying the signs of moisture and using effective drying methods can enhance both the quality and durability of your 3d prints. Regular checks and proper storage is the first step to keep your filament moisture free.

FAQ

What is the easiest way to dry filaments?

  • The easiest way to dry your 3d printing filaments is by using a filament dryer. Filament dryer is designed specifically for this purpose and can dry any filaments effectively at controlled temperatures. You can also use a food dehydrator to dry your filaments.

Does 3D printer filament need to be dry?

  • Yes, 3D printing filament needs to be dry to get the best 3d printing results. Moisture in filament can cause many problems like poor bed adhesion, surface finish problems, bubbles in print and can even lead to nozzle clogs.

How do you get moisture out of PLA?

  • To remove moisture from PLA, you can use a filament dryer, food dehydrator, or an oven. Set the temperature to around 45°C – 55°C and leave the filament in it for about 4 to 6 hours. 

Can you dry PLA with a hair dryer?

  • Using a hair dryer is never recommended to dry PLA as it will not provide consistent and complete control over temperature and the hot blowing air. & it’s not practical to dry the entire spool of filament using a hair dryer.

Can you remove moisture from filament?

  • Yes, you can remove moisture from filament by using a filament dryer and in case you don’t have a filament dryer, you can use a food dehydrator, or by baking it in an oven at required temperature. It is important to follow the recommended temperature and time to protect the filament from damage.

What is the cheapest way to dry filaments?

  • The cheapest way to dry filaments is using an oven. Assuming you already have an oven or microwave. Set it to low temperature according to filament material, place the filament inside it for a few hours, and make sure that temperature is set according to material to prevent the filament from deformation.

What happens if filament isn’t dry?

  • If your filament is not dry then it can lead to poor print quality and many other issues like rough and bubbly surface finish, weaker layer adhesion, brittleness, and in some cases, it can clog the nozzle. It’s always recommended to store your filament in a dry box.

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