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Reusable Spools, Coils, & Desiccants, OH MY!

Today's new product post is a happy one. Happy because it's about helping the 3D Printing user experience, and the wallet. Expect more of these in the future.

Reusable Spools!

This is something we've wanted to do for awhile but we weren't able to justify a laser cutter for the sole purpose of making spools. Now that we have one for...other things, we can move towards what we feel is a better, cheaper, and more sustainable way of printing.

Printing from a coil of Plastic Filament can be a nightmare and in response many vendors (us included) chose to offer pre-spooled plastic. It's great, doesn't get tangled, feeds nicely, stores and travels well. The unintended side-effects however are an increased cost due to the spool; over $3. Increased shipping costs; 12 oz / 300 gram spool for every 2.2 LB / 1 KG of plastic. And once you finish your plastic, you end up throwing away a perfectly good spool.

Reusable spools however allow you to buy cheaper coils with a lower shipping weight, swap out coils before they're done, and reduce waste. Also, they look great.

Look at those and tell me they aren't just a little more eye candy than the generic "I came from a factory" disposable spool. These acrylic beauties ship with parts allowing for spool widths fitting common 1LB coils and wider slats that give them the same width and inner diameter as our 1KG spools.

If acrylic isn't your thing (hey, we understand) we also have the less expensive MDF option. Still looking good and less prone to warping than many plywoods, this MDF spool is also a solid choice. Just make sure to use a dust remover for your filament as wood spools cary the inherent chance of dragging wood dust to your extruder.

Our MDF and Acrylic spools are made in-house, to order.

1 LB Coils

What good are Reusable Spools if you don't have coils to put on them? Well now you won't face that question with these 1 Pound 3mm ABS coils in Safety Orange, Soft White, and Yellow! (1.75mm on the way, we promise!)

1 Pound Coils are great for a couple of reasons. For one thing, they cost less per pound than pre-spooled plastic, have a lower shipping weight, and have the potential to keep much longer.

What? How do they keep longer? For best results, your plastic needs to be dry. This is the reason plastic is stored and shipped sealed with desiccants. Now, should that seal break and rupture during storage or shipment, the plastic will still remain dry for a good while from reduced air flow. Once it's removed from it's packaging however, your plastic is happy to sit on a table and absorb moisture. Many of the time effects go unnoticed. But, if it sits out long enough, or spends too much time in a humid environment one can start to see puffing or spurting out of the end of their extruder. This can cause extruder failure, bubbles and gaps in prints, and in the case of PLA can cause reverse polymerization weakening the plastic.

But how do these coils last longer? Instead of shipping in a individually vacuum sealed bag, we ship all of your ordered coils in a thick, tied off poly-tube bag. Now, instead of throwing away the packaging, you can reuse it and the supplied desiccants, limiting your plastic's exposure to moisture and prolonging its shelf life. Plastic that costs less and lasts longer.

Bonus points if you also use...

Color Changing Dehumidifying Silica Desiccants!

Your plastic and other moisture sensitive items will thank you for keeping their air nice and dry with Silica Desiccants. Not only do they suck moisture out of the air, but as they become saturated, they change colors letting you know its time for a recharge. A short time in the microwave or low-heat in the oven and bingo, they'll be back to their moisture-sponging self.

We have Blue to Pink Indicating Silica and cobalt chloride free Orange to Green Indicating Silica in 50g (~1/4 cup) quantities. Pick some up and keep it with your plastic (especially for PVA or Polycarbonate) or any other sensitive stuff.

Reduced Prices

You might also note that we've reduced prices on most of our 3mm filaments. We're always trying to do our best to keep you in plastic.

Please let us know what other sorts of products you'd like to see us offer, or what you think of our new offerings.

4 Responses to Reusable Spools, Coils, & Desiccants, OH MY!

  • Charles

    Wow... those look awesome! Especially like the MDF reusuable spool.

  • Alan Ford
    Alan Ford on August 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm said:

    Do you know if these reusable spools will work with the spool holder on the back of an Ultimaker? This would be a great way to swap filament colors while still keeping the printer ultra-portable.

  • Alex

    Yes! We've got one on our Ultimaker right now!

  • Justine Haupt
    Justine Haupt on April 21, 2013 at 12:52 am said:

    I notice the acrylic spools have been out of stock for some time and now the MDF versions are gone too. Are there plans to make more of these? I have two of the MDF spools and would like more (preferably acrylic as I worry about water retention in the MDF).