Filament dryers are essential in 3D printing to keep filaments from getting wasted. However, whether you should buy one or get an alternative is the crucial question to ask.
Ready-made filament dryers may be worth the price if you live in humid areas, 3D print often, and are willing to invest in it. These also have extra, useful features. However, some alternatives work just as well but may involve more effort or are inaccurate.
This article will discuss why dryers are needed and the upsides and downsides of ready-made filament dryers. We will also lay out some alternatives if you don’t think plug-and-play dryers are for you.
What Are Filament Dryers?
First, it would be good to start with what filament dryers are.
Filament dryers are devices that remove moisture from filaments. They may store-bought machines, a custom alternative, or a hack. They work by enclosing the filament (and spool) in a heated chamber, evaporating the water in the filaments.
There are various ways to dry a filament. Hence, we define filament dryers to include hacks, which we shall also cover in the alternatives.
Why Should You Get a Filament Dryer?
When filaments absorb moisture, they could get damaged. Their tensile strength is decreased. There are also air bubbles that make them break apart. The effects can be seen in the appearances of the products, with the items looking more opaque or gritty than they should be.
Advantages of Ready-Made Filament Dryers
While filament dryers can be something you can build yourself, products are available on Amazon and other online stores. But what would make their purchase worth it?
In drying filaments, the temperature is critical. Going beyond the glass transition temperature could make them melt, thereby wasting it.
You are saving yourself from doing the trial-and-error game by getting efficient filament dryers. Since these items are specially adapted, their temperature settings are more appropriate.
For instance, the EIBOS Filament Dryer (available on Amazon.com) has an LCD temperature indicator that reflects actual and set temperatures. According to the reviews, its internal temperatures are, indeed, accurate.
Dry While Printing
Now, this feature is one of the deal-breakers, especially for busy 3D printer users who have a lot of projects in line. Alternatives do not make this possible unless modified. But, that involves effort, time, and skill to execute.
Of course, extra features mean extra costs, but if you’re willing to invest or find the additional features very useful, then it would be worth it.
The EIBOS Filament Dryer also comes with a humidity sensor, a handy extra feature. Its large size also allows it to fit up to 4 rolls of 0.5 kg (1.1 lb) spool.
Meanwhile, the SUNLU Upgraded Dry Box (available on Amazon.com) comes with rotating shafts. It also works silently for minimum disturbance.
Most 3D printer users would recommend taking a food dehydrator and modifying it a bit to make a dryer that works as well as store-bought. It saves money on your part.
That is a great option, but if you do not want to make the extra effort or do not have the time for it, buying one might be the better option. Also, it eliminates the possibility of mistakes that could happen in making your dryer.
Disadvantages of Ready-Made Filament Dryers
While ready-made filament dryers may sound like a godsent, there are some downsides to that you have to consider.
Filament Dryers Are Expensive
Filament dryers don’t come cheap. Prices range from $50 (£37.79) to $150 (£113.36). These may also change from time to time.
Thus, you need to consider your budget and your need for it. If you only dabble with 3D printers from time to time as a side hobby, then it may not be worth it for you.
Also, many 3D printer users mention that many filament dryers are just food dehydrators modified, so you might as well make it yourself. If the dryer you’re checking out has a cheaper alternative that you can make yourself, then you can think about choosing the alternative.
Filament Dryer Alternatives
There are alternatives and hacks you can do that work, as well as a store-bought filament dryer.
The most suggested alternative was a food dehydrator. You can use it as it is and take out a few trays to fit in the spool, but you can also modify it to have feeder holes. You can also print customized trays to fit more spools at once.
Most prefer just making a dryer out of a dehydrator because it is cheaper and can go at low temperatures, which is essential for filaments. Also, it fits more spools at once, so you can dry many at a time. Some vents present also help keep it from heating too much.
If you want to see a step-by-step method for customizing a dehydrator, check out this guide. The maker also noted that the printed trays could be found on Thingiverse.
However, the thing with dehydrators is that they have also risen in prices. The cheapest ones are at around $40 on Amazon.com. But it’s still considerably more affordable than store-bought filament dryers.
Ovens are a quick fix when you don’t have a custom or store-bought filament feeder at hand. However, the biggest issue with using an oven is that temperatures are inaccurate. Thus, there are higher chances of off-shooting and wasted filaments.
A hack for this is to open the oven door while drying the filament and rotating it every few minutes. Opening the door helps lower temperatures around the front, and rotating allows heat distribution.
If you have an enclosure, you can also use the printing bed itself. As long as it is heated already at the correct temperatures, you can set up a chamber for drying. When the chamber is warm enough, put the filament and allow it to dry.
So Are Filament Dryers Worth It?
Filament dryers come with many conveniences and perks but with a hefty price tag. It is then up to you whether you can make use of enough of the purchase to make it worth it. However, if you’d prefer to forego the costs, there are a couple of alternatives and hacks you can opt for.
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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.