There is nothing that frustrates a designer who is using a 3D printer than finding defects in his or her job output.
Imagine working yourself to the bone to create an outstanding design. Moreover, when you slice it and begin the job, everything seems alright. You are all excited to see the outcome, but when you print it, it looks different.
What you expected is not what you are seeing. There must be an error somewhere which you don’t know about. It may be that the filament you are using may have gone bad. So let us find out if that may be the case.
So Does 3d Printer Filament Expire?
Yes! It can expire more especially if the filament is in the environment that gives it the opportunity to absorb moisture. Also if the filament is in a place that it is affected by humidity.
Again, when you are printing, and the appearance of your prints looks mottled as if the appropriate plastic is not coming through, It is a sign that all is not well with your filament. Your 3D printer filament can expire depending on the conditions of their storage.
The filament absorbs moisture via air. Moreover, when the filament heats up during a printing session, the moisture in it boils making steam to come out in place of the filament.
Thus, the result will be poor prints.
For instance, ABS plastic can fade as time goes on. Moreover, its colors are likely to absorb moisture quickly more than others. Thus, when you use the faded ABS filament for fusion deposit layer printing, there will be several little hairline spots.
These tiny spots on the hairline make the printing vulnerable to algae and other surrounding bacteria. As a result, these bacteria can lead to a separation in the printing as time goes on. It can also cause the dulling of the finishing.
However, it is not something that better storage conditions cannot take care off. In short, you can remedy the bad situation by using gel coat paint to coat your printing.
Furthermore, you can use carbon fiber to wrap, veneer, or laminate it. This remedy is what will salvage the situation, or else you cannot do your printing in a marine environment or close to moisture.
There is a must for surface treatment of your filament. Another remedy to that can protect ABS filament from expiring is if you can seal them in a well-sealed container that has desiccant inside.
On the other hand, PLA filament make-up comes from biodegradable polyester that originates from sugarcane, tapioca roots, cornstarch, or other renewable resources. You can even say that this particular 3D printer filament is the most used bio-plastic globally.
However, when you store your PLA filament in an exposed environment, its expiry date may range from one month to two years. Although PLA filament is not water soluble, its water absorbent rate is quite high. As a result, when exposed to moisture through the air or water, PLA filament can go bad.
Water or moisture can make PLA filament or any other to swell up. As a result, it can jam the extruders. Moreover, it can also cause the hot end to destroy.
For instance, while printing with a filament that has trapped moisture, the heat makes it release steam. As a result, the output will leave gaps and bubbles on the print. Moisture cause filaments to get weaker and the more it absorbs, the more your print output gets weaker.
As for PETG otherwise called Polyethylene terephthalate, it is long lasting copolyester. In short, it is specifically modified to last longer with the combination of plastic bottles and glycol.
However, just like other 3D printer filaments, it can expire. That is if it is exposed to humidity or moisture. Thus, the PETG filament also needs protection even if it is sturdy and durable.
It is advisable to use a store it in a desiccant treated container to prevent it from going bad. That notwithstanding, an opened package of PETG filament can stay one year from the date it is bought before expiring. Whereas the opened package expiration depends on the conditions of its storage.
How long does 3D printer filament last?
The 3D printer filament can last you for a long time although the time span it can last depends on some factors. That is factors like the degradation of the filament due to improper storage conditions. In short, the degradation of the filament is the fastest way to reduce its lifespan.
Another factor that can determine how long your 3D printer filament lasts is the way you print your designs. If you burn your plastics so much, they are not likely to last long. However, if you print little things, your printer filament can last you more time. You can use one roll of 3D printer filament for many months.
The lifespan of your 3D printer filament greatly depends on the design you are printing. Also, it is dependent on how high the percentage of your infill is.
Thus, you can safely say that 10kg of the filament can last at least one week under these conditions. On the other hand, if you are someone that is constantly printing, you may consume about 2.5 rolls in a month or 30 rolls in a year.
What causes 3D printer filament to break?
Although the condition of storing a 3D filament facilitates its breakage, there are other things also.
For instance, if you allow your filament to sit still for about three days before using, it is likely to break. Also, if you expose your filament to extreme room heat or changes in humidity, it may snap after two or three days.
Furthermore, the breakage usually comes when the filament goes into the extruder.
Tips to optimally store 3D filament
Since one of the significant factors that cause the expiration of a 3D printer filament is storage, it is important to be careful of it.
- ABS: When you want to store the ABS filament, it is important to leave it in the original form. That is the vacuum-sealed package that consists of silica gel or a desiccant packet. If this is not the case, you can use a zipper bag with desiccant for storage that can lock airtight.
- PLA: If you want to store PLA filament, it is advisable to beware of air or water no matter what. Since the filament has a high capacity to absorb water or moisture, you need to keep it where it can’t. Or you can store it where its moisture absorbent is minimal. In short, you need to make sure that you keep the PLA filament anywhere that is dry. Furthermore, you should be careful that it is not directly under the sunlight.
- PETG: As you buy PETG filament, it is packaged in a vacuumed bag that is air-sealed to prevent moisture and air. So, it is advisable to retain the pack of desiccant. Also, it would be best if you stored the filament using an airtight box or bag to maintain its dryness. Please do not forget that this filament is water soluble which means it must remain dry at all times. Overall, for the filament which you have already opened, you can store them in a container that is airtight. That is the one containing the silica packets.
Can you print with old filament?
The answer is yes! You can, but there is the need to exercise great caution while doing so. For instance, you can preheat and dry old filament before using. Just make sure that you do not expose the old filament to air generally. Furthermore, ensure that the temperature for the print is never set close to the filament’s glass transition heat.
What should I buy?
There are a wide range of brands available. Some we’ve used include
- CCTREE® 1.75mm 1KG/Roll PETG Filament for Creality CR-10/CR10S/Ender 3/Tevo/ANET 3D Printer
- TronHoo® 1Kg PETG Filament 1.75mm Black/White/Transparent/Silver/Orange for 3D Printer
- TWO TREES® 1.75mm 1KG Black/Orange/Green/White/Transparent Light Penetration PETG 3D Printer Filament
- Creality 3D® White/Black/Yellow/Blue/Red 1KG 1.75mm PLA Filament For 3D Printer
- CCTREE® 1.75mm 1KG/Roll 3D Printer ST-PLA Filament For Ender-3 Pro/Ender-3 V2/Sidewinder 3D Printer
- TWO TREES® White/Red/Orange/Black/Yellow/Gray/Blue/Green 1.75mm 1KG/Roll PLA Filament for 3D Pritner
- Anet® 1KG 1.75mm ABS Filament For Reprap Prusa 3D Printer
- CCTREE® 1KG/Roll 1.75mm Many Colors ABS Filament for Crealilty/TEVO/Anet 3D Printer
Overall, any 3D printer filament can expire if you are not careful with their storage conditions. That is if they are in a situation where they can absorb moisture or water. However, there is no cause for alarm since you can easily rectify the matter.