What Happens if 3D Printing Filament Gets Wet? | PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon, Wood

Using a 3D printer is expensive, so keeping all of your equipment clean and dry is very important. Filaments like PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon, and Wood need to be treated with care and stored well to prevent them from getting wet.

When 3D printing filament gets wet, the printing process and the final result get messed up. When the filament comes out of the tip, there can be inconsistencies like bubbling and stringiness. These are indications that the filament is too wet, and the filament needs to be dried before being used.

If 3D printing filament is wet, then all you need to do is find a drying method that works for your type of filament and dry it. Then, you just have to remember to properly store your filament so that it doesn’t get wet again.

How to Know if Filament Is Wet?

To test if the filament is wet, run the machine and look at the nozzle where the filament comes out. If you see it has bubbles and pockets of air in it, then it is wet and won’t perform well. If you don’t see that, you can also turn off the machine after it has warmed up and see if the filament stops coming out, or if strings are oozing out of the nozzle. If you see the thin strands of string, then the filament is wet.

If you do not see any of those issues after trying those tests, then your filament is not wet and should perform well. If it still doesn’t perform well, then there is a very small amount of moisture in the filament and you can decide whether you want to store it better or dry it out.

Drying filament takes about 4-6 hours, but if your filament has only a small amount of moisture, then you might want to try 1-2 hours at first. That way you do not over-dry the filament. Overdrying your filament can cause the plastic to become brittle and it won’t stick to itself well. So, be sure to exercise caution when drying your filament.

When drying out filament, some methods work well, but always use caution. Having wet filament is bad, but having filament that is too dry is bad too. You don’t want the plastic to become brittle, and we want to avoid stringiness. Heat could also melt or warp some types of filament, so be aware of that.

Why Does Filament Get Wet?

Filament gets wet because of the way the plastic is formed. The structure of the molecules and the materials used in filament attract the moisture out of the air and can cause the plastic to underperform.

If your filament is wet, it can also be bad for your 3D printer. It can get jammed with melted filament plastic, and it will give you bad products.

Some people never have wet filament, and others always worry about their filament getting wet. This is because of location. Some places have more humidity and moisture in the air than others. So, depending on the weather in your location, you may or may not need to be more careful about how you store your filament.

Wet filament makes 3D printing a mess. The plastic comes out with air bubbles and can mess up the straight and clean lines that 3D printing makes. It can also cause the 3D printer to have strings. If you have used a hot glue gun, then you should know how it looks after you lay out the glue and pull the gun away, forming a string. When you pull away from the gun, the string gets longer and thinner. This can happen to filament as well when it is wet.

Making sure your filament is properly stored is the best way to prevent moisture from ruining your filament. But if your spool does get wet and doesn’t work properly, then there are some methods you can use to dry it out again. That way, you can keep using your spool of filament and you don’t have to buy a new one.

How to Dry Filament

To dry filament, look at the different processes that work for the type of filament you have. Decide on a method you can perform on your filament type and follow the instructions. Be sure to read the directions or watch a video before performing any drying process on your filament so that you know what you should be doing. Plus, this way you can avoid mistakes.

When drying filament, just be careful that your temperatures are not too high. The charts listed below give you the right temperatures for drying different filaments. When the temperature is too high, it will melt the strands of filament together, which can ruin it.

Different filaments draw different levels of moisture out of the air, which makes some filaments wetter than others. Similarly, some filaments can dry faster than others. So, when you dry your filament, be sure you check up on it to ensure that it doesn’t get ruined.

The methods below are the most commonly used, and they offer great results. You can dry your filament at home, or you can buy a filament dryer. No matter the method, they all are proven to work, and there are numerous videos online of people testing them. So, before you try a method out, read below and maybe watch a video so that you are prepared and know what to do.

Oven Method

gray gas range oven in kitchen
Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.com
PLA104-112 degrees Fahrenheit
ABS176 degrees Fahrenheit
PETG160-180 degrees Fahrenheit
Nylon176 degrees Fahrenheit
Wood95-160 degrees Fahrenheit
Oven Temperature for Filament

The oven method works for drying PLA, ABS, PETG, Wood, and Nylon. You simply heat the oven to the directed temperature and let it dry for 4-6 hours.

Be sure to heat your oven fully before putting in the filament. Placing the plastic in too early can melt the strands together. Also, to make sure you aren’t going to melt the plastic, you can leave the end of the strand pointing up, and if it falls then it is too hot in the oven.

You can dry the filament in sessions too. If keeping your oven on for too long is hard to do, you can dry the plastic in 1-hour increments until you reach a total of 4-6 hours. For some people, this works better with their schedule.

Filament Dryer Method

A filament dryer is a product that is specifically made for drying out filament. This method should have a setting for drying any type of filament. But, before you buy, double-check that it is compatible with the type of filament you have.

If you want to purchase this tool, you can look at the place you got your 3D printer and look for a filament dryer. This is not necessary, but people like it because they can trust it and it is always on hand.

To use it, all you have to do is follow the setup instructions that come with the product. Then use the instructions to turn on the machine and set up your spool of filament in it. All you have to do after following setup instructions is to let the machine work. It is super easy, so if you have the budget for it, you might consider getting yourself a filament dryer.

People tend to go for this option last. If there are cheaper at-home ways to dry filament, then people tend to try those first. But some people do not trust themselves or their at-home equipment to do the job right, so buying the filament dryer is no problem. Depending on you and your likings, you can choose whether to go for this product or not.

Food Dehydrator Method

If you have a food dehydrator at home, this method is easy to use. You can also use this method for any type of filaments such as PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon, and Wood. Dehydrators operate at lower heating temperatures to slowly dry out food like fruits. But, you can use it to dry out your filament as well.

PLA104-112 degrees Fahrenheit
ABS176 degrees Fahrenheit
PETG160-180 degrees Fahrenheit
Nylon176 degrees Fahrenheit
Wood95-160 degrees Fahrenheit
Food Dehydrator Temperature for Filament

For this method, make sure you can fit your filament spool in the dehydrator. Then, preheat your dehydrator to the desired temperature according to the chart on the right. Once the dehydrator is fully heated, you can place your spool of filament in. Let the machine run for 4-6 hours, and to be safe, check on the filament every hour.

Checking on the filament hourly can help you see the progress and you will be able to spot if the filament is melting together or not. Because it can’t use high temperatures, the dehydrator shouldn’t be able to melt the filament.

If you notice that any of these drying methods start to melt your filament, then pull out the spool. After you have taken out the filament, you can try the method over again, but be sure to make adjustments to the process you used. If you used your oven, chances are that the oven did not keep the heat at the right temperature. So, make your adjustments or try a new method.

How to Prevent Filament from Getting Wet?

Filament gets wet depending on the air in different locations. If you live in a humid place, or if it gets humid over the summer, then you have to cover your filament. If you live in a dry place, you should cover your filament, but leaving it out on a table for a while shouldn’t harm it.

You should take into account where you live, and see how it affects your filament. Depending on how wet the air is where you live, you may need stronger containers instead of simply using a plastic bag.

If you have never noticed a problem with your filament, then keeping it in a plastic bag or plastic storage bin should work fine for you. That way you can keep all moisture out, keep all your spools in the same spot, and make sure that your workspace stays organized and clean.

Filament needs a dry place to protect it against moisture. So, at least having a plastic storage bin or a plastic sealable bag for it is a good place to start. But more importantly, the place where you store the filament should be where there is little moisture. For example, a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room would not be good for storing filament. Instead, try using a storage closet or place close to where your 3D printer is. That way it is away from moisture and it is close to the 3D printer.

If you have a craft room, that would be an amazing place for storing filament. Just be sure to keep items like room humidifiers away from where your filament is so that you can keep it dry. As long as your filament is covered and stored away from potential moisture, then it should be fine. Over time the filament can draw moisture out of the air, but it shouldn’t harm the way the plastic comes out of the 3D printer.

If you need a stronger barrier to protect your filament against moisture, then you can consider other methods for storing it. Some airtight containers and bags can suck the air out of the container you have for the filament. Depending on how humid your area is, you may or may not need a secure airtight place to keep your filament.

The main tip you can use to prevent your filament from absorbing moisture from the air is to always put it away after using it. Keeping the spool out in the open is what causes the plastic to take in moisture. So, if you at least put your filament away in a simple plastic bag or container, then you will be protecting it and making sure it lasts a long time.

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