A Strategy for Obtaining Great Prints

Have questions? Want advice?
nbart3845
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:00 pm

Re: A Strategy for Obtaining Great Prints

Post by nbart3845 » Thu Mar 05, 2015 11:25 am

Ok thank you, and yeah sorry I have a Taz 5.

Wolfie
Posts: 121
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2015 6:35 pm

Re: A Strategy for Obtaining Great Prints

Post by Wolfie » Fri Mar 20, 2015 11:40 am

You touched briefly on filament storage. From what I have learned so far (which pales in comparison to your knowledge), filament storage is fairly important to get right as well. Moisture in filament can and does affect print quality. I did a fair amount of research on this and I think I have hit the best price point and convenience for storage.

Here are some of the containers I worked through:
Open Storage: Bad. Simply leaving it laying about. Collects dust. Collects moisture.
Storage Bins: Fair. Yes, fair! Unless you get reasonably expensive ones they are NOT air tight! If you are buying ones from Walmart for $5, you are wasting money.
Plastic bags: Decent. While they do work, are prone to failure (holes, failed to seal). Ends of filament tend to poke through them (well, obviously not NinjaFlex :) ) Their downfall is that each and every bag must be sealed tight and must have a desiccant pack in it. They are the cheapest solution
Plastic Buckets: Excellent. They seal air tight. They are reasonably priced. One desiccant pack per bucket. They are convenient in that they easily stack. Downfall is PITA lids, but thats fixable for a little more money!

My choice...5gal buckets.

Home Depot buckets are $2.50. The expensive part is convenience, the screw lid. You can get black ones for $7.25 at Home Depot too. If black is not your thing...
http://www.ebay.com/itm/GAMMA-SEAL-SCRE ... 1094497687

So, basic bucket and lid combo is $9.75 plus tax.

Desiccant packs are stupid EXPENSIVE most places. Yes. I said expensive! From Uline, 10g sized bags in a 600 pack container (6000g or roughly 13#) costs $130. That works out to $10 per pound! Off Amazon, 20 1g packages are $5.50 which works out to $124 per pound. Cheapest I could find at Grainger was 1.7# refill bags for $35 ea working out to $20 per pound. In-Freaking-Sane!

How about I let you in on how to score the exact same desiccant material, silica gel, for a mere $1.05 per pound? Here you go: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Mimi-Litter-C ... s/12018928 and if you can't find that one, then here it is for $1.81 per pound: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Fresh-Step-Cr ... s/10313505 Yep. Cat litter. But don't go and get just any cat litter, you have to make sure its pure silica gel and contains no clay (clumping).

I learned that secret from a guy at the gun range for use in gun safes a couple years ago. I get the huge coffee filters from a local restaurant supply store and make up 2 cup pouches for the gun safes and I throw in the pouches (instructions below) in individual gun cases.

For our need here, you need this: http://www.walmart.com/ip/FILTER-DRIP-C ... K/32559272 or if your work gets a coffee service, yall probably have stacks of them laying around the break room. See if you can score a few for free. I did. Our boxes of coffee come in 100 coffee packs. Yet there are 250 coffee filters in each box. Hot dogs and buns take two.

And you will need a stapler or hot glue gun. I use the stapler as its less mess and cheaper. And I don't have to worry about the staples in the oven when I recharge them. Brain says the hot glue is ok at the 180f recharge temp but I don't want it opening up in the oven. Gut says go with staples.

So for a 5gal bucket (1155in3), I go with 1/2 cup. I am ok with putting 2x what I need in a 5 gallon bucket since 8 pounds of it only ran me $15. You are going to make a pita bread type pouch. Take two coffee filters, lay one on top of the other flat on the counter/table. Fold a little of an edge over and staple, only need 1/8" fold. Rotate, fold, staple. Keep doing that until you only got a couple inches left. Measure out 1/4c of cat litter and pour in your coffee filter pouch. Measure and add another 1/4c and add it. Doing 1/2c at once, I can't manage without spilling it. YMMV. Finish stapling it closed. You will probably use about a dozen staples on the large 12c coffee filters.

Repeat about 100 times until you have used up the cat litter :) No, really. Go ahead and make up a bunch of pouches while you got your stuff out. Also, make up some pirogi pouches too (single filter folded in half with just 1/4c). And make up a few 1/8c. And make up some smaller ones by cutting the filters up into rectangles and putting a tablespoon in each.

Once you got them all made up, heat your oven up to 150-180F. Spread the packs out on cookie sheets or aluminum foil. Bake overnight with the door cracked open slightly to let moisture out. Next morning shut the oven off and allow to cool to the point you can handle them. You can also use a dehydrator if you have one and the packs fit in it.

Grab your cooking scale and weigh each packet in grams. Take that figure and multiply it by 1.3. Using a sharpie, write that figure on the packet somewhere. Each will weigh slightly different unless you were extremely fastidious as to measuring the cat litter and counting staples. I was not.

Why? Knowing when to recharge it! Silica gel can absorb up to 40% its weight in water. So I cut it off at 30% as its effectiveness declines after that. So multiplying the weight times 1.3 (or 130%) gives you a target weight to recharge at. That way you don't have to do the math later, you did it now :) Simply check them once a month or so and if they weigh more than their target weight, time to recharge.

Remember all those extras? Seal them up in ziplock bags or if you have a foodsaver, vacuum pack em. When you need them they will be made and ready. Those half sized ones are good for boxes and pistol cases. The tiny ones I had you make with a tablespoon, those are perfect for spools in ziplock bags. Or if you got a filament spool thats not very happy with its moisture content and you are not in a hurry for it, you can throw one of the 1/4c bags and the spool in a ziplock bag for a week.

Any leftover cat litter, yea, I know you didn't process all 8# did you? Load gallon ziplock bags to about 75% full, seal. Drop that into another gallon bag and seal. Throw all those (mine equated to about 3 leftovers) back in the resealable cat litter bag (Fresh Step bag) and seal it back up. Leave a cup or so scraps in the bottom of the cat litter bag to clean up moisture in the bag before it gets to the ziplock bags.

The 8# bag will be enough for about 36 of the larger packets. Give or take. Just about $0.40 per packet. Even if you go overboard and put 2 in a bucket, you are still under a buck per bucket!

Want to monitor your buckets?
http://www.ebay.com/itm/231416652242?_t ... EBIDX%3AIT

There is a recess in the center of the Gamma lid that these will fit perfectly in. I used my laser cutter to whip out 2.24" holes in the center of all the lids in just a couple minutes. Then put a bead of hot glue on the back of the hygrometer and drop it in the hole. Now you got a bucket with built in meter :)
LulzBot Taz 5

KosmoPi
Posts: 81
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Re: A Strategy for Obtaining Great Prints

Post by KosmoPi » Fri Mar 20, 2015 1:06 pm

Thanks Wolfie, I am about to finally have the problem of too many started filament spools. Sounds like I will be packing and drying cat litter this weekend. Good Stuff.


Questions:
1. Do the Lulzbot 1 kg spools fit in the 5 lb buckets? I use PLA if that matters.
2. If the Lulzbot spools fit, can you store multiple spools in a bucket? (seems like you could stack 2-3 in one? If so would I add a dessicant packet per spool?


Thanks again.

KosmoPi
Posts: 81
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2014 6:46 am

Re: A Strategy for Obtaining Great Prints

Post by KosmoPi » Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:19 pm

To answer my own questions:
Lulzbot spools fit great, and you can fit up to 5 in one 5 gal bucket!

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mhackney
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Re: A Strategy for Obtaining Great Prints

Post by mhackney » Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:32 pm

Thanks Wolfie for a great idea on filament storage. I hadn't thought about the 5gal buckets but they are ideal. Too bad they don't come in clear! But a tip: snip off 3" of each filament you put in the bucket and tape that to a card on the top with the filament brand/type. That way you know the color and contents of the bucket without opening.

cheers,
Michael
Sublime Layers - my blog on Musings and Experiments in 3D Printing Technology and Art

Start here:
A Strategy for Obtaining Great Prints

Strategies for Resolving Print Artifacts

The Eclectic Angler

jebba
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Re: A Strategy for Obtaining Great Prints

Post by jebba » Sat Mar 21, 2015 4:32 pm

Wow, great info about storing filament, thanks! :)

Wolfie
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Re: A Strategy for Obtaining Great Prints

Post by Wolfie » Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:00 pm

mhackney wrote:Thanks Wolfie for a great idea on filament storage. I hadn't thought about the 5gal buckets but they are ideal. Too bad they don't come in clear! But a tip: snip off 3" of each filament you put in the bucket and tape that to a card on the top with the filament brand/type. That way you know the color and contents of the bucket without opening.

cheers,
Michael
If you have a laser cutter...may I direct your attention to my first "thing".
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:693093
I bent a piece of coat hangar wire and wrapped it around the bucket handle near where it attaches to the bucket. I hang these on that improv hook.

Then when I pull a spool, I take it to the printer with me as it has the temps and extruder calibration numbers written on it.
LulzBot Taz 5

kcchen_00
Posts: 1692
Joined: Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:42 am

Re: A Strategy for Obtaining Great Prints

Post by kcchen_00 » Mon Mar 23, 2015 2:36 pm

Great instructions on the cat litter... and nice find on the screw on lids.

I've been meaning to convert to cat litter from for my stash of filament which is already in the paint buckets. But I'm using the cheap press on lids... might need to look for the screw on type.

Found this from Taulman's site a few months ago... but haven't been able to find the source again:

Image
You've been active on thingiverse too... need to post some of your great projects here. :)

Wolfie
Posts: 121
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2015 6:35 pm

Re: A Strategy for Obtaining Great Prints

Post by Wolfie » Tue May 26, 2015 11:51 am

kcchen_00 wrote:Great instructions on the cat litter... and nice find on the screw on lids.

I've been meaning to convert to cat litter from for my stash of filament which is already in the paint buckets. But I'm using the cheap press on lids... might need to look for the screw on type.

Found this from Taulman's site a few months ago... but haven't been able to find the source again:

Image
You've been active on thingiverse too... need to post some of your great projects here. :)
The screw on type are available in the paint dept at Home Depot. SOOO worth the money over the PITA standard lids.

Keep in mind, all the spools I have seen from Taulman are not 1kg. They are about half the diameter and a bit thinner width wise than the mostly standard 1kg spools. You might get 3 taulman spools across in the bucket but I doubt you will get any more than two across of the standard 1kg. Also, you will have to move the shaft down away from the lid to account for the larger diameter 1kg spools.
LulzBot Taz 5

kcchen_00
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Re: A Strategy for Obtaining Great Prints

Post by kcchen_00 » Tue May 26, 2015 3:22 pm

Yeah... The screw in lids have got to be so much easier than the snap on lids. :)

And you're right the taulman spools are smaller than normal spools. Multiple dowel rods in that taulman desin, might get a few more normal spools in a bucket.

Hefty's 18qt container fits 4 or 5 eSUN ABS spools (200mmx70mm) side by side nicely. Need some weather seal to make it airtight, though.

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