Everyone encounters the impending inevitability of the last bit of 3D filament in the Bowden or direct drive extruder and perhaps also a tad of the spool. Some users may discard a few inches or millimeters of the 3D filament, but what can you do when you are left with considerably more?
Here are 9 things to do with the last bit of 3D filament:
- Calibrate your 3D printer.
- Refill and continue to print.
- Weld 3D models or fill gaps.
- Make pins, hinges, studs, or rivets.
- Create miniatures or sheet models.
- Experiment with 3D printer settings.
- Stock the 3D filament with failed prints for the recycler.
- Use the 3D filament as infills for compatible 3D models.
- Fuse the last bit of 3D filament with a new spool.
It’s nearly, if not entirely, impossible to calculate how much of a 3D filament you may need for a model. Thus, it’s futile to worry about whether or not you’ll have a little bit left after what you think is the final print with a 3D filament spool. Keep reading to use that last bit constructively.
1. Calibrate Your 3D Printer
All 3D printer users experience extrusion problems sooner or later. One common issue is over or under-extrusion. There are many causes, such as incorrect hotend temperatures, filament type and quality, and other errors, such as a miscalibrated extruder. Use the last bit of the 3D filament to test the extruder, detect if it has a problem, and recalibrate it to improve your prints.
You may watch this video tutorial to calibrate your 3D printer extruder:
2. Refill and Continue To Print
3D printer slicer software and related tools enable you to control how much of a filament you want to use. Even if you’re left with the last bit of a 3D filament, you can alter the code or use a plugin to start a new print, utilize the spool, and get a new one to continue with the session.
Watch this video to change 3D filament using OctoPrint:
You can decide the precise point or length of the 3D filament that you want to reverse extrude if you wish to pause or park a print and other aspects of the cycle. Also, you can modify the code to pause and resume depending on preset factors. Essentially, you can use the last bit of the 3D filament, get a new spool, load it up, and resume the print precisely where it had stopped.
3. Weld 3D Models or Fill Gaps
Get a 3D printing pen and use the last bit of filament to weld two models or fill the gaps you may have in a printed object. If you don’t have a 3D printing pen, you can use a soldering iron to melt the last bit of filament to fill cracks and other visible anomalies on your printed models.
4. Make Pins, Hinges, Studs, or Rivets
A practical way to use the last bit of 3D filament is printing pins, hinges, studs, rivets, or such types of connectors that you may need for existing or future models. In most scenarios, you’ll be able to use almost the entirety of the remaining filament, down to a tiny bit with this tactic.
5. Create Miniatures or Sheet Models
3D miniature models may be a nonstarter if you have very little filament left. However, you can consider it depending on how much of the spool you have. Alternatively, you can print sheet models. Try swatch cards or similar sheets that can be multipurpose if you think creatively.
6. Experiment With 3D Printer Settings
All 3D printer users have to deal with a significant quantity of filament wastage as they become familiar with the various settings, not just of the device but also the slicer. Also, failed prints are an integral part of the initiation process. Thus, use the last bit of 3D filament to hone your skills.
Desktop FDM 3D printers are evolving rapidly. Even the manufacturers aren’t totally aware of the plethora of possible problems of every 3D printer. Hence, test all the settings if you want to understand your printer better. Try different nozzle temperatures, change the speed, modify the designs, and experiment as much as possible based on the quantity of filament left.
7. Stock the 3D Filament With Failed Prints for the Recycler
You may have a bit of 3D filament left in a spool that isn’t sufficient for any utilities listed in this guide. You can always stock it with the failed prints for the recycler in such scenarios. Every 3D printer user has to endure the heartache of failed prints, but the material can be recycled.
It won’t matter if you have two or more 3D filaments of different colors. A recycler can melt all your failed prints and the last bits of your filaments if they’re the same thermoplastic, and you get a new spool or more. Also, you can choose a DIY or readymade 3D printer filament recycler.
Here’s a video to help you recycle the last bits of 3D filament and make new spools:
8. Use the 3D Filament As Infills for Compatible 3D Models
Not all 3D models need spectacularly strong and flawless infills, especially if the walls or outer perimeter will eventually conceal all the internal layers and patterns. If you have such a model, you can definitely use the last bit of 3D filament to fill up as much of the interiors as possible.
9. Fuse the Last Bit of 3D Filament With a New Spool
You can try to fuse the last bit of 3D filament with a new spool. This option may or may not work as expected for everyone as soldering or melting the thermoplastics then fusing the ends of two spools can have complications. However, this tactic is worth a shot if none of the other methods in this guide is an option for you based on how much of the filament you have left.
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I started 3D printing since 2013 and have learned a lot since then. Because of this I want to share my knowledge of what I have learned in the past years with the community. Currently I own 2 Bambulab X1 Carbon, Prusa SL1S and a Prusa MK3S+. Hope you learn something from my blog after my years of experience in 3D printing.