Filament

Care and Handling of Filament

When you receive new material it will be vacuum sealed from the material supplier. Over time, all plastics will absorb environmental humidity, which then degrades the printable qualities of the material. Some materials, such as Nylon, will exhibit significant decrease in printing performance if left exposed for even just 1-2 days, while PLA or PETG might not noticeably degrade for a month or more. All materials will benefit from being stored in a dry, air-tight environment, such as a reclosed factory vacuum bag or sealable storage bin with desiccant packets or other dehumidifier.

Proper handling of your filament spool is also important to avoid kinks and twists in the filament that might cause print failures later on. Most filament spools have small holes along the outer rim for locking off the loose end of the filament. It is very important to always keep the filament locked off to avoid allowing the end of the filament to hang free. If the end of the filament is lost amidst the other windings, the filament might get caught under other loops and will eventually cause a kink that blocks proper extrusion.

If the end of your filament is lost, it may be necessary to unwind a significant length to find the overlap and straighten it out. Never pull filament over the sides of the spool, always allow the spool to roll and unwind the filament. Similarly, when rewinding the filament always roll the spool up and never wind the filament by moving your hand around the outside. Unwrapping or wrapping in this manner will put a twist into the filament that can cause kinks or filament breakage later on.


Loading Filament

When viewing the machine from the front, Nozzle 1 (marked N1 on the top extruder cover) is on the left side of the print head module, the corresponding filament feed, Feeder 1, is on the right side of the X-bar. Conversely, Nozzle 2 is on the right side of the print head module, while the corresponding Feeder 2 is on the left of the X-bar. It is important that the filaments properly crossover in an X pattern, otherwise the printer will not function properly.

  1. Ready your filament spool by placing the spool on the rollers of the filament holder, with the end of the filament coming from underneath the spool
  2. Bring up the SETUP menu on the printer and select FILAMENT. The print head will now re-position itself.
  3. Choose either FILAMENT 1 or FILAMENT 2
  4. At the back of the X-bar, insert the end of the filament in the corresponding hole for the desired filament feeder
  5. From the FILAMENT 1 or FILAMENT 2 sub-menu, select INSERT FILAMENT. The filament will now pull through the feeder tube up to the print head module. The feeder will attempt to move the filament immediately. Ensure the filament is properly inserted into the back of the X-bar before selecting INSERT FILAMENT.
  6. Once the function completes, check that filament is visible and flowing smoothly at the nozzle.
  7. If filament is not visible at the nozzle, from the FILAMENT submenu, choose MOVE FILAMENT. Slowly turn the control dial to feed additional filament through, ensuring that filament is feeding smoothly through the print nozzle.
  8. If filament is not feeding, cannot reach the nozzle, or the extruder motors make any clicking or knocking sounds, please refer to the Troubleshooting section of the manual for help.

For more information about the controls and options within the printer’s FILAMENT menu, please check the Menus section from the Printer Overview page.

Please see our Filament Loading video on YouTube for a video description of the filament loading process.


Filament Testing

All filaments can vary slightly depending on their production batch, the manufacturer’s specific chemical ingredients, and the properties of any dye additives used for coloration. Even slight variations in filament diameter can cause significant changes to extrusion levels at the nozzle. It is important to test new filaments before expecting completely optimal results.

Filament can vary in diameter by manufacturer and batch. Before loading a new filament, it’s best to measure the filament diameter at a few locations along the spool. To properly measure your filament you will need a caliper measuring tool. Take at least three measurements from different locations along the filament at least 1-2 feet apart. It is also common for filament to have a slightly oblong, and not perfectly circular cross section, so you should take measurements at different angles as well. Once measured, average up your measurements and use this value in the print software for filament diameter to achieve the most accurate extrusion levels.

For more specific information on different types of filament, please check out our 3D Printing Materials Guide.