Parametric Filament Spool Mk2

by randyy, published

Parametric Filament Spool Mk2 by randyy May 7, 2011
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Parametric Filament Spool Mk2 by randyy is licensed under the GNU - GPL license.

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Lately, there have been a lot of spool holders posted on Thingiverse. I promised others on Thingiverse that I'd post this last week. It's been stress-tested for several months now and is ready for primetime.

Here is the second version of my original filament spool system with significant advantages. First, it's 100% printable. No hardware is needed for either the mount or the actual spool! The entire spool and mounting hardware can be printed on a Cupcake / ToM from only two .stl plates, and only four prints. Its standard size is ideal for 1lb rolls of plastic and has been tested with ultimaker and MBI rolls. Even if you order 5 lb rolls, unless you print constantly, you probably should cut it into smaller bundles since the hydrophilic plastic will absorb moisture.

The spool mounts to the side of the Cupcake (I don't have a ToM but expect it would work too) with friction-fit clips. A PTFE tube to act as a guide for the filament is optional but recommended (I have successfully printed about 3 lbs of plastic both with, and without, the guide tube). The spindle can be removed by squeezing the bird's mouth tabs on the end of the spindle post and pulling the hub off. The hub and filament can be placed into a plastic bag (without removing the filament) to allow it to remain dry when not printing). The hooks that hold the filament have clips that hold the tail end of your filament (to prevent the filament from tangling) and to clip the working end when it's removed for storage.

The design is almost fully parametric, so you can print different sized hubs and clips for different spool diameters and filament sizes (I've tried 3mm and 1.75mm).

I originally used bearings on the hub but found that it is TOO low of friction, causing the spool to free-run and spooling off too much plastic. Although you can use bearings, some tension is necessary. The spindle post includes code to print a spring tensioner as shown in the photos.

The stl's can be printed as is, but if you want to make parametric designs from the OpenSCAD file, also download Libs.scad from http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:6021 as it has required modules.


1- For standard 1lb. rolls of 3mm filament, just print one copy of the HubSet.stl and three copies of ArmSet.stl. For additional rolls (where the spindle post and tube guides are not needed), print one copy of Hub.stl instead of the hub set.
2- Snap extension arms and arm ends into hub.
3- Snap two of the three hooks into the arm ends and place your filament on the two hooks.
4- Wrap the third hook around the filament bundle and snap it into the third arm end.
5- Mount the completed spool onto the hub post, which I chose to attach to the left side of the bot.
6- Route the filament through the (optional) PTFE tubing or tube guides and into the extruder.

The standard stl's work well for me, but if you need different sizes, change the parameters in the scad file.

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Finally got a successful print of this thing (had trouble because I didn't have a filament spool LOL).

Now... Any suggestions on how to wind my filament on? I'm using 1.75mm PLA and it came in a bundle that is much too small to put on the spool using the instructions above. I'm going to have to manually wind it on. Doing so by hand (holding the bundle while winding the spool) is painfully slow.
Thoughts? Thanks!


This was sized for the diameter of bundles that came from Makerbot and Ultimachine (before Makerbot went spooled). If you plan on buying much more filament from the supplier you got it from it might be worth it to make hooks custom fit to that manufacturer's roll size.

The SCAD file has paramete
rs to move the "U" shape of the hook up or down on the spring fitting. I'd measure the difference you need and adjust the SCAD. Otherwise, sorry, I don't know a shortcut.

Mine cracked at the joints due to the pressue from the filament winding. :( In the future I'd probably print a larger hub with stronger joints.

Sorry to hear that. Are you rolling it tight onto the spool? It doesn't require a lot of tension so you can loosen it. Also, are you print it in abs or pla? I use abs and it's fine. ABS has some springiness but PLA is more brittle. Is this your problem?

I made a variant of this, but I can't seem to be able to attach it to this as a variant after already making it thing entry. It's a clip-on support arm and spindle designed to clip this awesome spool onto a reprap.

Here's a link: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:10254http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

Printable Filament Spool Spindle for Reprap
by tjhowse

Yep Please do show the variant, as Its really helpful!

Perhaps randyy can set mine as a variant of his? I can't work out how to add an already-created thing as a variant of another thing.

I don't think that's possible. Ideally, you'd create your variant by clicking on "I made one" and selecting the option of a derivative. I don't know how to do it retroactively nor how to derive from more than one object (mashups). Too bad, these would be good features.

It's possible now. I've done so. Thanks Thingiverse team!

Awesome! I love the no additional parts needed. Only PLA!

I need your help. I've a pile of other parts as good prints. But, I can not get this to print and I do need a way to handle the filament. What settings did you change to have this print well.

Flow? Feed? Fill? Shells? Speed? What? I've tried seven or more times and failed! I've the piles of different colored plastic to prove it. My lousy poorly printed kinda functional parts are red, green, blue and hacked with blade and hot glued together and it is still incomplete.

I don't know how to help you. A "pile of plastic" doesn't helpfully describe the problem you're experiencing. Is it mechanical? Repg? Skeinforge? Where do you start? If you described the actual problem maybe we could help. I see you have a ToM. Try the default settings and go from there. You shouldn't need any glue and little to no trimming so something is wrong with your bot.

This spool looks great. I am in the middle of printing out the last arm now. Did you have to do much sanding to make the part fit? I am not a able to fit a single part together all of the female joints seem too small and the male joints too big. Any suggestions on a setting I might have incorrect on my TOM that is causing the layers to spread too much and make these joints not fit? Thanks again for the great design. I can't wait to use it. Even if it takes some tough love to get it together.

Thanks for the spool. I love it. My trick to get the dovetails together was to use my soldering iron with a flat tip. Just a little heat on the female dovetail can go a long way. I pressed the dovetails together while warm and they are now practically glued together since cooling off. I probably won't be able to take them apart again, but that's better than being too loose.

Eventually, I hope to get my print setting better. but this is working for now. Also, I'm using PLA and haven't tried this with ABS.

I'm glad you like it so far. I hope it works well for you. It is a VERY tight fit for me too but that is intentional to provide rigidity. For me, I'd get them started by getting the widest male part into the slot then with firm pressure against my bench almost rotate th male half down to engage it's full profile. Then use a mallet to get it flush. I have slight whitening in the corners of the slot from stretching but I've made 9 arms and haven't broken one yet. If you want to make the pin smaller you can edit the OpenSCAD file. No secret profile stuff here. Just a bigger hammer. I'd recommend against sanding the pin or slot since the layer ridges help to snap fit it in place.

I couldn't get the arm plate to skien right until I rotated it 90 degrees. More info at : http://wiki.makerbot.com/forum/t-358300/strange-skienforge-bughttp://wiki.makerbot.com/forum...

Sorry you had issues. It must be a Skeinforge / RepG bug, because I tested it today on RepG23 / SF35, and it worked fine in the default position. Take a look at the "other people's copies" photo. This is the arm plate still on my HBP as it came off the Cupcake. At least there's a simple workaround.

Thanks! I've printed up one complete set and a spare spool, just need to get some pics.

I like the redesign. now I have a use for the other one I printed up and is taking up too much table space.