Label Your Filament

“Yeah, right, you say, I would never forget to do that.” And then you start getting filament that comes unspooled in a bag, on a cheapo unlabeled cardboard spool, in an unlabeled bag in a box with a label on it (and wore betide if you put it back in the wrong box). And pretty soon you don’t know what’s what.

It used to be there was ABS and PLA. You could tell them apart because PLA and brittle and ABS wasn’t. And ABS extruded at 220 and above, and PLA at 200 and below.Then people started making fancy PLA with tougheners in it. ABS that was kinda brittle. Soft filaments. Filaments with huge temperature ranges. Nylons and half a dozen other polymers. Blended.

So this morning was “extrude all the weird filaments” time in the basement. (Also time to check out the new hot end I got to replace the one on my Printrbot that got turned up to 11 and melted in the great firmware debacle.) Most of them squirted out just fine (Oh, I also printed up one of those flexible filament guides for the printrbot extruder). Polymax is indeed a sweet filament. Trimmer-line nylon: no trouble. Filabot carbon-fiber ABS: great. Ninjaflex semiflex: meh. It extrudes instead of buckling and binding all over the place, but I’ll need a project for it. Taulman PCTPE: delightful. I need to figure out something to build with it, or maybe just a test piece to impress people.

Then there was the not-too-stiff black stuff on a wide no-name dented cardboard spool. Some kind of flexy PLA? I couldn’t find a box or envelope that seemed to match it, but what ever it was, I think I may have made a mistake. It doesn’t extrude below about 205, but above 220 it smokes like the dickens. And the extruded filament is so brittle it just crushes in your fingers.

There’s a chance it’s absorbed too much water — the nylon smoked some too — I’ve been so used to winter in Vermont, where the relative humidity in the basement is down around 10%, but now it’s early summer, where 90% is more like it. Time to put together that dry box and leave it out in the sun for a while…

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