A Comprehensive Guide on Drying Filament: Techniques for PLA, ABS & Nylon

As you may know, the process of 3D printing necessitates extreme precision in every aspect, especially when it comes to the filament. Moisture can pose a significant threat to the quality of your prints, potentially causing issues like popping, stringing, and problems with layer adhesion. However, there’s a solution - drying filament.

But how to dry filament? The process involves the use of dry filament and meticulous drying techniques to restore the filament’s optimal qualities, which subsequently leads to superior printing results.

This article will delve into effective methods of drying various types of filament, such as PLA, ABS, and Nylon.

But before we delve deeper into this topic, let’s first understand the phenomenon of moisture absorption.

What is Moisture Absorption?

Most 3D printing filaments are hygroscopic, which means they take moisture from the air rapidly.

This absorbed moisture can cause many issues during printing:

  1. Popping: During printing, moisture pockets within the filament rapidly evaporate, and that results in popping sounds and irregular extrusion.
  2. Stringing: Stringing occurs when stored moisture in the filament cools and forms stringy fibers between different regions of the print.
  3. Layer adhesion: Moisture can weaken the binding between layers, which results in delicate and easily damaged prints.

Drying your filament effectively removes moisture, which can help to avoid these problems and ensure smooth, high-quality prints.

And there are some excellent strategies for dealing with dampness.

Drying Techniques

There are several methods for drying filament that can be helpful during the process:

1. Oven:

To begin with, the oven is a conveniently available choice for drying filament very close to you. However, it’s critical to keep an eye on the temperature to avoid surpassing the filament’s glass transition temperature, which can cause distortion or damage.

The suitable temperatures that you need for each kind of filament to dry are as follows:

  • PLA: 40-45°C
  • ABS: ~80°C
  • Nylon: ~80°C

The Simple Steps To Follow:

  1. Set the oven’s temperature to the desired setting.
  2. Set the filament spool on a baking sheet or pan that can withstand and bear the heat.
  3. Bake the filament for four to six hours at least, or as directed by the manufacturer.
  4. Pay close attention to the temperature during the procedure, otherwise it can be a mess.
  5. Before utilizing the filament, allow it to cool fully after finishing. There you go!

2. Food Dehydrator:

This is another method of drying filament that is gentler when using a food dehydrator. They are perfect for delicate materials because they function at a lower temperature than ovens.

Suitable temperatures for the filaments that you need to know are:

  • PLA: 40-45°C
  • ABS: ~80°C (or the highest available temperature)
  • Nylon: ~80°C (or the highest available temperature)

The Simple Steps To Follow:

  1. Set the filament spool on a spotless tray inside the dehydrator carefully.
  2. Now, it’s time to adjust the temperature to your preferred/desired setting.
  3. Dry the filament for four to six hours, or as advised by the manufacturer.
  4. Keep an eye on the process’s humidity and temperature so that you won’t have any problems.
  5. Before using the filament, allow it to cool fully after finishing.

3. Filament Dry Box:

The best and most practical way to store and dry filament for a long time is with a specialized dry box.

With the option to eliminate moisture from the filament, these trays can be heated to produce a controlled environment with low humidity.

And since these boxes are made for drying the filaments at different times, they always give you the desired results and they have lots of benefits.

Benefits You Need To Know

  • It does its job really well in regular drying circumstances and has comparatively fewer issues than most available options for drying.
  • It prevents moisture absorption by filament along with the entire process of drying.
  • It shields and protects your filament against dirt and dust and gives you the perfect results every time you use it.

Now you might ask, there are so many brands that sell filament dry boxes in the market, which one should I go for and how would I know that it’s best for me?

Well, here is the answer.

Our new product Space Pi would be your first choice, which is pretty popular among its customers because of its simpler usage and the perfect results.

Let me tell you a few more tips that can help you dry filament and can save you from the mess:

Sticking to Drying Temperatures:

  • Different filament materials have different qualities and moisture absorption rates. Following strictly the drying temperature and time specified by the filament manufacturer is super-critical to make sure that the filament is dried properly without compromising its structural integrity or anything.
  • Depending on the type of filament (e.g., PLA, ABS, Nylon), drying conditions may differ significantly. Excessive heat or continuous heat exposure might cause filament degradation, therefore it’s very important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Using a Filament Drying Box for Best Results:

  • A filament drying box is a high-quality specialized equipment that maintains completely controlled drying conditions for filaments. It prevents moisture absorption during storage and keeps the filament in prime and good condition for 3D printing.
  • The box usually maintains a consistent temperature and perfect humidity level to prevent filament breakdown during the process. This is especially significant for hygroscopic fabrics that collect moisture from the air, such as nylon.

Checking Filament for Damage After Drying:

  • Following the drying process, inspect and check the filament for evidence of damage or degradation. This involves inspecting for slight discoloration and textural changes that could impair print quality.
  • Print failures, nozzle blockages, and other difficulties might result from the slightly or completely damaged filament. Checking the state of the filament regularly guarantees that only properly dried and undamaged filament is used in the 3D printing process.

Hot FAQs about How to Dry Filament

1. What is the best way to dry filament?

The best way to dry filament is by using a filament dryer. This device is designed to heat the filament to a specific temperature that removes moisture without melting the filament. You can also use an oven set at a low temperature, but you need to monitor it closely to prevent the filament from melting.

2. How long should I dry my filament?

The drying time for filament can vary depending on the type of filament and the amount of moisture it has absorbed. However, a general guideline is between 4 to 6 hours. Some types of filament may require longer drying times, up to 12 hours.

3. Can I still print with filament that has not been dried?

Yes, you can still print with filament that has not been dried, but the quality of the print may be affected. Moisture in the filament can cause issues such as bubbling, inconsistent extrusion, and weaker prints. Therefore, it’s recommended to always dry your filament before use, especially if it’s been exposed to a humid environment.

Final Verdict:

Well, now you know the different methods of drying the filament easily. You understand that there’s one way to guarantee reliable, excellent 3D printing and that is to give your filament enough time to dry completely.