There are a lot of things that can cause a print job to go wrong, but one of the most common issues is moisture getting into filament. PLA in particular is notorious for soaking up moisture from the air and becoming disastrous to print, which is why every time you buy a spool it comes sealed with those little desiccant packets. But there are other, less commonly-used materials that are even worse. PVA, for example, can be ruined within hours in humid locations.
What happens when filament gets wet? Lots of problems, in fact. Materials that absorb moisture from the air are called hygroscopic materials. In environments with humidity greater than 20% – which isn’t even all that humid – water from the air is absorbed rapidly into hygroscopic filament, forming polar bonds with the polymer chain. When the filament comes into contact with the hot end, the moisture expands – boils, essentially – and ruptures the filament. That’s your science lesson for today, but you may have seen the effects already: inconsistent extrusion due to the expanded material, bubbles between layers, poor surface quality and adhesion, and weak mechanical properties.
There are measures you can take to protect your filament from moisture absorption. Keeping it sealed with the desiccant packets when not in use is a good start, and there are also options for drying filament once it has become wet. Ideally, it would never absorb any moisture at all, but this can be tricky when you live in a humid environment and do a lot of 3D printing. Polymaker has a solution, though. The PolyBox is a dry storage box in which you can keep your filament, and it also has holes through which you can feed the filament into the 3D printer, so you never have to remove it from the box once it’s in there.
The PolyBox has large desiccant bags in its base, keeping the air inside dry. A high precision thermo-hygrometer on the front of the box allows the user to monitor the humidity levels inside. Four bearing clad steel rods allow two spools to spin independently for dual extrusion, or one 3kg spool can be stored for long prints or industrial use.
Polymaker’s newest product line, Polymaker Industrial, which launched earlier this year, offers four grades of nylon, another particularly moisture-vulnerable material, and Polymaker itself will be introducing a new nylon material next year. The company carries several especially hygroscopic materials, in fact, including PVA and PolySmooth, as well as PLA, ABS and polycarbonate. With so many materials susceptible to damage, it makes sense for PolyMaker to offer a solution such as this one.
“PolySmooth™, Nylon and PVA support materials are all brilliant new materials in their own right, these advancements in material choice drive the whole industry forward offering high-temperature capabilities, hassle free post-processing or the ability to print more complex geometries with dissolvable support,” Polymaker Marketing Manager Luke Taylor told 3DPrint.com. “The one thing that holds these materials back is moisture absorption. The PolyBox™ is a simple solution to protect hygroscopic materials, providing the best experience for our customers.”
PolyBox is now available from Polymaker for $69.99 or €69.99 worldwide. Polymaker is also attending the TCT Show this week, which is taking place in Birmingham from September 26 to 28. If you’ll be in attendance as well, stop by and visit Polymaker at Booth F43.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or share your thoughts below.[Images: PolyMaker]
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