PLA and ABS material filaments are very popular choices for 3D printing. They are both thermoplastics, are used in a wide range of printer models and have an ideal price range, which makes them great options for printing 3D projects. To get the best results you need not only to take care of your printer, but also remember to store your materials properly.
What Happens if Filaments Aren't Stored Properly
If PLA and ABS filaments are not stored properly, multiple problems can occur which can result in poor print quality. When exposed to harmful elements for long periods of time such as moisture, heat and UV rays, the following problems can occur: air bubbles, increased brittleness and breakage, diameter augmentation, hissing steam during printing, a higher temperature needed during extrusion, and weakening of the tensile strength. In some cases, the material may not even load properly.
Every material is different and will react differently over time. This is why it is always good to read the material's data sheet for any special instructions. Even the same type of material made by two different suppliers can have subtle differences, although the same best practices typically still apply.
Best Practices for Storing Filaments
It is important to store PLA and ABS filaments correctly to prevent them from degrading over time. Always refer to the datasheet for the specific material you have for any special care instructions.
These materials are extremely shelf-stable for the most part, but because these filaments are made of polymers, they are hygroscopic by nature, which means they can absorb water molecules in the environment. They must be stored in a dry place. Moisture is one of the biggest culprits in causing the filaments to degrade over time, which can lead to problems during printing.
Here are some options for storing them:
- Store the materials in their original packaging, if possible. Alternately, you can store the materials in a sealed bag, airtight container, or mylar bag. For added protection long-term you can add desiccants, which absorb moisture that might get into the container.
- Keep the materials stored in temperatures between 65° and 75° F. High temperatures can break down the filaments.
- Store in a room without exposure to direct sunlight. (If you're keeping materials in an opaque bag, box or container, this is less of an issue)
- Store in a dry environment (less than 50° relative humidity)
Proper storage of your ABS and PLA filaments is crucial in creating high quality prints for your 3D printing projects and making sure you get your money's worth by having them last as long as possible. Being aware of these simple tips can help, but it is always important to know the properties of any of your 3D printing materials to ensure that you are printing high quality prototypes.