How to Properly Store Filaments for 3D Printing

Published on March 21, 2024 by Madeleine P.
Filament Storage

FDM/FFF 3D printing is becoming increasingly popular, especially for private use. Whether at home or in the office, 3D printing with filaments can not only be a handy way to create everyday objects, it also gives free rein to creativity and is fun and enjoyable for everyone – young and old! But that does not mean that there are not challenges. This includes proper filament storage.

The selection of filaments required for printing is extremely broad. Various manufacturers offer filaments made from a wide range of plastics. These days, the range extends from conventional plastics such as PLA, ABS and ASA to PETG, nylon and high-performance plastics such as PEEK and PEKK. But as different as the filaments may be, they all have one thing in common – they must always be stored correctly in order to achieve optimum printing results. In this guide, we will show you the correct way to store filaments for 3D printing.

Photo Credits: Cults

Why Is Filament Storage Important?

First, it is important to clarify why filaments for 3D printing need to be stored correctly. Each material has different properties and characteristics, so some plastics such as nylon and PVA are more sensitive to environmental influences than others. Incorrect storage of the different materials can lead to faulty and unsightly printing results.

This can lead to extreme stringing and extremely brittle and fragile parts. Blobs on the component surface and regularly clogged print heads can also be signs of incorrectly stored filament. According to data, the strength of the material is reduced by as much as 33% if the filament has been stored in a damp environment. In order to avoid this in the future, it is important to keep some tips and measures in mind for storing your filament correctly.

As already mentioned, not every material has the same characteristics, so the “correct” storage method differs depending on the plastic. However, it is important to mention that every filament, regardless of the material, changes its printing properties under unfavorable conditions. However, there are plastics such as ABS, PLA and PETG that are more resistant and incorrect storage is therefore less noticeable than with some other sensitive materials.

Best Practices for Storing Filaments

Freshly purchased filament should be used within 12 months if possible in order to achieve an optimal printing process, otherwise care should always be taken to store it correctly in order to protect the filament. The filament should always be stored in as cool a place as possible; the optimum temperature for storage is between 15 and 24°C (59 to 75°F).

Another important aspect of storage is humidity. All plastics absorb humidity over time, but the difference lies in the amount. Plastics are divided into two categories in terms of their absorption of moisture in large quantities – hygroscopic and non-hygroscopic plastics. While less hygroscopic materials such as ABS, ASA, PETG or TPU should only be dried before use to ensure optimum printing results, certain hygroscopic plastics such as PLA, PVA and nylon absorb a particularly large amount of moisture. These do not fully regenerate after drying and are more prone to faulty and problematic printing results.

Filaments can be stored in airtight boxes (photo credits: Printdry)

Some measures can therefore be taken to protect the filaments from the effects of moisture. For example, it makes sense to store the filaments in airtight containers, ideally with desiccants. Small bags filled with sodium silicate beads are often used as desiccants. These are able to bind the resulting moisture and thus keep the filaments dry.

However, vacuum bags can also be used to store filament without any problems. There are also dedicated solutions that can be bought which are geared towards proper filament storage. If you keep these things in mind, materials that are not dry enough will no long be an issue in your 3D printing!

Have you already had experience with a brittle and fragile filament? What did you learn about filament storage? Let us know in a comment below or on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly newsletter here, the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

*Cover Photo Credits: Xometry

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