Step-by-Step Guide on How to Respool 3D Printer Filament


Successfully respooled filament [Source: Fabbaloo]

Do you know how to easily re-spool 3D printer filament?

I’ve been doing this from time to time for various reasons. Usually it’s because the spool itself has broken, and the filament must be placed on another spool to be used.

But recently another reason has emerged: dimensional compatibility. I’ve been using Bambu Lab equipment with their AMS filament swapping accessory. It works extremely well, except for one big issue: spools must fit into the AMS.

It appears that a significant portion of my filament stock is on spools which do not match the AMS specification. This requires me to rewind these filaments onto a suitable spool for it to fit in the AMS.

This process could potentially be carried out entirely by hand with the assistance of another person, each handling a spool. However, this method does get tedious and repeated help from others may not always be available. A superior alternative to this is the use of handheld tools; I will go on to discuss my approach to this problem.

Essential equipment:

  • A vacant spool, measuring to the required dimensions
  • A filament spool that does not match the appropriate dimensions
  • An adaptable speed hand-held drill
  • Safety gloves designed for heavy-duty use
  • An idle 3D printer
  • Safety cutters
  • Parts required for mounting the spool

Throughout this process, be constantly aware of the loose filament end. You do not want to let go of it, as that is asking for tangles. Always keep it in your hands or securely fastened to a spool hole.

The first step is to print spool mounting parts. There are countless spooling 3D models available on each 3D model repository, but some are extraordinarily complicated. I wouldn’t bother with any of those, and instead simply found something like this above.

You’re looking for something that will mount onto spools with varying inner diameters, and also fit into the hand drill. Try searching for “spool winder”, there are plenty of options. It’s also possible to design something similar to this yourself with any CAD package.

The angled design of the winder accommodates many diameters, so it’s easy to attach to almost any spool.

Hopefully your spool winder has a stub that can fit into the hand drill securely. It should be mounted at this point.

Source spool mounted on a 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

The next step is to place the source spool somewhere that it can spin freely, but not roll away. The ideal position is actually the spool mount on the top of an idle 3D printer. This hardware is literally designed for this purpose, and the weight of the 3D printer will hold it solid during filament transfer.

You then have to attach the beginning of the filament to the empty spool. Usually there’s a small hole for this purpose, requiring a bent filament to be inserted. Sometimes you may have to tape the filament down, and that works equally well.

At this point the two spools are connected and you’re almost ready to begin the transfer. However, you must first doublecheck the direction of the hand drill, which is usually controlled by a switch on the handle. Make sure it’s turning in the direction required to pull the filament.

You can’t simply activate the drill and watch as the filament disperses. The filament wouldn’t be appropriately placed onto the empty reel. Rather, the technique is to keep the filament a little tense to control its placement on the new reel perfectly.

This may cause your fingers to wear out, so I highly recommend wearing sturdy gloves for this task. It additionally prevents problems with fiber-reinforced filaments; you definitely don’t want to have numerous glass filament fragments in your skin!

You’re now set to start the drill. I recommend proceeding at a sluggish speed initially, which is why a variable-speed drill should be utilized.

Lining up the filament when respooling. Source: Fabbaloo

By moving your hand slowly from side to side, you can control where on the spool the filament lands. The idea is to sweep slowly back and forth to leave a more or less even layer of filament. Keep some tension on the filament and leave the slack between your hand and the source spool.

Once comfortable, crank up the speed a bit. Do not go full speed, as that is asking for trouble. You do not want an accident where the source spool is spinning so fast that it will spray filament all over if you have to unexpectedly stop.

Sooner or later you will get close to the end of the filament. Do not run it right to the end!

The end of the filament will be secured to the source spool somehow.

This is because the source filament will be secured somehow on the spool. It might be taped down, or inserted in a hole, or knotted up somehow. In all cases this will abruptly stop the transfer. It’s best to slow down and just sacrifice the last bit of the filament to the side cutters.

Insert the loose end of the filament in a hole on the new spool and you’re all done.

If you become good at this, you can transfer an entire 1kg spool in less than five minutes.

Original source


“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”

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