While it’s not as sexy as talking about 3D printed organs, custom 3D printed jewelry, or 3D printed cars, finding ways to keep our 3D printing filament dry is a necessary evil. The majority of filaments quickly absorb moisture from the air, and once too much of it builds up, we see the results in failed print jobs. Latvia-based 3D printer manufacturer Mass Portal introduced its new professional-grade filament dryer product line for open material printers at the recent TCT Show, and we’ve since had the chance to learn a little more about it.
The company typically focuses on its line of high-quality Pharaoh 3D printers, but recognized the necessity of properly drying raw printing materials to keep performance issues and cosmetic defects in 3D printed parts to a minimum.
“Printing material needs to be properly dried. This is a common practice in plastic processing industry, but so far has been totally ignored by the desktop 3D printing community,” Laura Araja, Account Manager for Mass Portal, told 3DPrint.com.
Mass Portal launched its professional Filament Dryer FD1 last month, a convective rotary desiccant renewal dryer for filaments. The FD1 is compatible with most open material printers currently on the market, and decreases printing defects related to excess moisture, resulting in improved 3D printing process reliability and part quality.
The FD1 comes with custom drying settings, and includes pre-sets for most materials, as well as material pre-heating, cross-winding detection, and front loading. It has both Ethernet and wireless network connection, rotary desiccant renewal drying up to 80°C, and touchscreen control, so users can connect to an online materials database and choose the correct drying process for the material they are working with.
Mass Portal’s FD1 filament dryer is compatible with industry-standard filament spools, in 1.75, 2.85, and 3 mm diameters, up to 1 kg, and even works well with highly moisture-sensitive materials. With most 3D printers, the FD1 has a standalone operation; it can also be fully integrated with the company’s Pharaoh series printers.
The filament dryer uses a two-step process to get filament ready for quality 3D printing. First, it dries the filament, and then it feeds it to the printer, keeping it at a stable process temperature the whole time – you don’t even have to remove the filament from the dryer before the printing process, which keeps out any dust it could pick up from its surroundings.
Canadian 3D printing and scanning company TDL Systems launched a successful Kickstarter campaign last year for a similar product, the PrintDry Filament Dryer, a small appliance that exposes filaments to a consistent flow of hot, dry air that can run for up to 40 continuous hours. PrintDry is trying to fix the moisture problem before it even becomes a problem with its new PrintDry filament containers, now available on Kickstarter.
Anyone who has a 3D printer knows the multiple issues that can arise from a filament’s water content, like partially failed prints and unprintable filament. If 3D printing filament spools are not placed in a dry environment, they are unprotected, which decreases printability because they will absorb the moisture that’s in the air. Obviously, this doesn’t make for a very long shelf life for filaments, which is just a waste of money.
The company is introducing PrintDry Filament Containers, an airtight storage solution for single filament spools that is far better than trying to keep them in Ziploc bags. The clear, plastic containers are very durable, with a wall thickness 10 times thicker than Ziploc, and airtight thanks to four strong clamps and a silicone seal.
Sometimes people try to store multiple spools of filament inside large airtight plastic containers, which is definitely better than storing them in baggies, but it still causes problems with moisture. Each time the container is opened so you can retrieve a spool of filament, moisture-laden air from the outside rushes into the container, which affects the spools still inside; after just a few times of opening the container, the dry air inside is no more. By using PrintDry’s single spool Filament Containers, this problem is eliminated.
Each of PrintDry’s containers are tested ahead of time in order to ensure that there is low humidity inside, even if they are put in humid environments. Each one comes with several small pouches of desiccant, which PrintDry recommends you regenerate or recharge with its filament dryer once a month.
Retail pricing per container will start at about $10, but right now there are still plenty of Early Bird specials left on Kickstarter – you can get a pack of six PrintDry Filament Containers for just CA $48. For a Kickstarter pledge of $168, you can get one PrintDry Filament Dryer, along with a pack of six filament containers, though this reward only ships to certain countries. With over a month left in the Kickstarter campaign, PrintDry has already far surpassed its original goal, so make sure to pledge before all of the Early Bird specials are gone!
To learn more, check out the Kickstarter campaign video:
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.
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