3D printing is an excellent way to use and reuse plastic, but when you finish a long print job, you may wonder what to do with your old 3D printer filament spools. Next time you have an empty spool, don’t throw it out! There are tons of creative ways to repurpose and upcycle them.
Here are 7 creative uses for old 3D printer filament spools:
- String and yarn organizer.
- Filament spool LED lamp.
- Cord and wire organizer.
- Stacked filament spool table.
- Spool organizer.
- Hanging spool shelves.
- Print a miniature spool world.
Let’s explore the possibilities and find the perfect upcycling project for you and your old 3D printer filament spools. I’ll give you all my best creative ideas and teach you how to complete them so that you can finally tidy up your workspace.
1. String and Yarn Organizer
3D printer filament spools are ideal for holding long, thin materials such as yarn and string, and they can keep these fibers organized in some fantastic ways.
If you just want to wind up some rope or yarn on one of your old spools, go for it. However, as a crocheter, weaver, and knitter, I have some other ideas up my sleeve.
Add 3D printed mechanical parts to your spool and make yourself a yarn winder. I’ve used this STL design from Cults 3D with success.
It has a crank handle and tension mechanism, making winding up tangled strings simple.
The best part is, when I finish winding up the yarn, I can stick the old spools on a rod or spool holder and get a simple yarn dispenser with the perfect amount of tension for my crafting projects.
If you’re electrically inclined, you may also want to put a motor on the yarn winder to make it automatic. That way, you can wind things up in seconds!
2. Filament Spool LED Lamp
Spools of all shapes and colors are ideal for making structural models, including lamps!
To make a lamp, all you have to do is adhere some LEDs around the filament spool, then put a lampshade over it. You can print shades from PLA or glue some fabric or paper around the top for a more decorative effect.
When you integrate LED lights, you can even make a programmable lamp. Some LEDs allow you to control the colors and code on your phone, and you can add features like a dimmer or motion-activated switch if you want.
I’ve seen some great lamps made from spools, but the one in this video from Scotland Villas takes the cake:
Feel free to get creative and make taller or shorter lamps.
3D print a base, ornamental features, and so much more to make your light your own. If you choose to go with a one-tier lamp, you could even print a base with some organizers and tool holders for a more functional approach.
3. Cord and Wire Organizer
If you have tangled extension cords, a shop vac plugin that’s become a tripping hazard, or stray wires that need a place to stay, try winding your cables around your old filament spools.
You can wind cables around the spool or make a rotating base with a hand-crank to simplify storage.
Since spools have a hollow hole in the middle, you can feed them through a long dowel or curtain rod for easy-access wall storage.
You could also mount a spool to the bottom of your workbench or a table to keep everything where it should be.
Also, these spools make ideal Christmas-light-keepers, so if you want to avoid untangling your lights next year, wind them around one of your old spools!
4. Stacked Filament Spool Table
Filament spools can hold some hefty weights, making them a perfect table or plant stand base.
Glue them together horizontally to make a solid base for a tabletop if you have enough spools. Just stick them all together, then put something substantial on top. For example, choose a round piece of glass or wood, or make four legs and create a rectangular coffee table.
The possibilities are endless!
In addition, you might also want to decorate the base, which is simple. If you add LEDs inside the spools to make your table light up, it will look fantastic.
My favorite idea is to fill the inside of the spools with fake plants and LED strips, then cover the stack with some clear vinyl. However, this project is easy to customize, so go wild!
Still, if you want your table to bear loads, be sure to add some reinforcements around the outer edges of the spools. I like to drill a hole through each, then run a wooden dowel or sturdy metal rod through them all to keep the table legs as strong as possible.
5. Spool Organizer
One printing project I’ve seen frequently is a spool toolbox and small part organizer.
These organizers are practical, and they can hold hardware such as screws and bolts or 3D printed parts for your other projects, all in a convenient filament spool base.
For an example of how to make and use drawers to upcycle your old filament spool, check out this video from 3D Printy on Youtube:
Although many people opt for drawers, I prefer an open-container design like this Filament spool organizer from Thingiverse user XVavron.
The only downside to making one of these is that it usually takes a whole filament spool to print the drawers. So, you’ll have another old spool to replace your new organizer when you use this hack.
6. Hanging Spool Shelves
You can make hanging shelves if you drill holes in the spools’ outer edges and run some rope or fishing line through them.
These shelves are not the best for bearing heavy loads, but they can hold plants, old 3D printed projects, and various decorative items. Of course, you can add embellishments to your taste as well.
You may consider sticking some circular mirrors on top, hanging stones or chimes off the edges, or wrapping fake plants around them to give the spools a more finished look.
Spray paint goes a long way, too!
7. Print A Miniature Spool World
Last but not least, you can use your 3D printer filament spools as the foundation for miniatures and other 3D prints. I highly recommend checking out designers such as Digital Taxidermy, who make hyper-realistic models that fit inside of a filament spool.
This website is impressive, and their spool-based towers are incredibly detailed but thin enough that they won’t leave you with many more empty filament spools.
They sell their designs, and even if you aren’t willing to pay for them, I still recommend using their models for inspiration.