If you're running FDM 3D printers, you'll likely need to dry out your filament from time to time. Here, we've broken down what filament dryers are and the purchase options available.
Filament dryers are essential tools for FDM 3D printing, as they enable you to recover wet filament. Spools of plastic used for printing can be degraded by moisture if left out in open air, yielding poor print quality and fragile parts. This is because 3D printing plastics are hygroscopic, which means that they have a tendency to absorb moisture. This damages the plastic at a molecular level, making drying your filament a must.
Here, we’ll run through all the ins and outs of filament dryers, including how they work and what options currently exist. Take a look at another one of our articles to learn How to Dry Filament.
Filament dryers can range anywhere from DIY, duct-taped affairs to professional machines. However, the basis on which they operate is largely the same.
Filament dryers, like other dehydrators or industrial dryers, heat the air in a chamber to “cook” away moisture. Bonus features include rotating spool mounts for an evener distribution of heat, as well as blowers to actively circulate the air.
Thus, while filament dryers have specific requirements, namely being able to hold spools of filament, they operate on the same general principle as other dryers.
Of course, filament drying doesn’t need a dedicated machine. If you already have an electric kitchen oven with accurate temperature control below 100°C, then that will work just fine.
Essentially you’ll need to “cook” the filament at a temperature right below the material’s glass transition temperature. For further details as well as a few tips, check out our article on drying filament.
Food dehydrators are probably the most inexpensive and accessible forms of filament dryers. While they are made to dry food and not plastic, their similar operating principle makes them easily adaptable. This may require no work at all or just some slight modification.
Food dehydrators have racks for drying fruit, but they’re usually removable or easily removed with a pair of snips, which can open up space for a spool of filament. The temperature range is perfect for drying plastic, and many features for better food drying, like rotating racks and air circulators, also benefit filament drying.
Any inexpensive, vertical food dehydrator, like the one pictured above, will work perfectly. Just make sure to check the dimensions of the model to ensure that your spools of filament will fit.
For hobbyists looking for a plug-and-play filament dryer, theis a great option. You’ll notice that it looks suspiciously like the food dehydrator we also recommended. That’s because it’s nearly the same thing, just modified to work better with 3D printers.
Namely, this means that the multiple, fiddly racks have been replaced by larger chambers for filament. Each has an access hole for printing directly from the PrintDry.
If you’re willing to trade a little more money for an unmodified your machine, the PrintDry is the perfect product.
On the far end of things, we have Mass Portal’s FD1 dryer, aimed at professional audiences. As you would expect from a fifteen-hundred dollar machine, it comes with all the bells and whistles you could wish for.
The FD1 dryer boasts built-in desiccant to draw all the moisture out of the air, as well as HEPA and activated carbon air filters for maximum safety. This is all packaged in an insulated metal case, controlled via a large touchscreen interface.
The kicker? The FD1 costs more than many 3D printers. However, if you have the budget for a fancier and slimmer machine, the FD1 is an excellent choice.
Hopefully, this guide was helpful for getting you familiar with filament dryers. They certainly are a must-have if you plan on 3D printing often.
To keep your filament in shape after drying, consider investing in a drybox to keep the plastic dry. We have an excellent guide on how to DIY one for $20.
License: The text of "Filament Dryer – All You Need to Know" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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