In this post I’ll describe how to make a handy multi purpose printing accessory with some cheap Ikea furniture and a large wooden spoon.
Ever since Squirty the RepRap came into being I’ve been meaning to get round to making a proper spool holder for her.
PLA plastic for the printer comes on 1 or 2 kg spools. If you don’t have a spool holder you have to roll out some slack filament for the printer and check on it every half hour to make sure it hasn’t got tangled. The slack filament has an innate ability to coil round itself and make interesting knots. If one of the knots gets to the extruder it will stop it from pulling in more plastic and you will find the printer industriously whizzing around making intricate shapes in empty space with a sad, half-finished print on the plate.
A spool holder solves the problem by putting the spool on some kind of spindle so that the printer can just gradually pull off the filament it needs. Most of the holders I’ve seen use standard steel ball race bearings. These are either used to hold a central spindle or to support the rim of the spool (the latter idea is quite ingenious because it means you don’t need a big stand and it makes it very easy to change spools).
I had vague plans of making my own spool holder using the cunning 3D gear bearings designed by Emmett (see last post). I might still do that at some point but for now I’ve realised that the box I’ve been using to store Squirty has built in spool holding capability. The RepRap Huxley fits very neatly into Ikea’s Lekman storage box. You can fit in the printer, a spool of plastic and a few bits and bobs to hide them from view when not in use and thus avoid potential marital discord.
I’ve been using the Lekman box for ages but only just realised it has a set of holes on both sides (I assume this is to make it look pretty). For complex reasons our household happens to own a colossal wooden spoon known as “Husbandbeater”. Inserting the shaft of the spoon inbetween the holes in the Lekman transforms it into a perfectly servicable spool holder. If for some bizarre reason you don’t own a giant wooden spoon then I suppose you could use a bit of broom handle instead.
Voila! Spool holding and storage problems solved with the careful application of oversized kitchen utensils.