TechZone Horizontal Filament Spool

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This simple filament spool for your RepRap is designed to be inexpensive (both to buy and to ship as a kit) and durable. It is constructed from 3mm plywood, and steel hardware including a lazy susan bearing.

This spool is a great addition to the TechZone Huxley or to the RepRap Mendel, it would of course work with any 3d printer which uses coiled filament. It can be purchased at TechZone Communications, or if you have access to a laser cutter, you can cut one from your own material.

The TechZone Horizontal Filament Spool
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Filament Spool

Release status: unknown

A simple laser cut filament spool
CAD Models
External Link


Your-File-Name MONOTRONICS BOARDS These are the files you need to make a set of boards --Example User 12:00, Today's Date 20xx (UTC)

TechZone Monotronics Firmware MONOTRONICS Firmware This file is the firmware for the Monotronics .zip for use with arduino --Tech Zone Communications Jan 16, 2011

Kit Contents

The contents of the TechZone Horizontal Filament Spool kit
The Filament Spool when assembled.
There are ten LaserCut pieces in the kit as well as a set of steel hardware. The picture at the left shows the LaserCut parts, all are labeled, except for the reinforcements. If you are missing anything from your kit when you unpack it you should contact TechZoneCommunications (if that is where you purchased your kit) and let them know which parts you still need. The Photo on the right shows the assembled spool, and the picture below it shows the contents of the hardware.

Click on the images to see them larger.


The tools you will want, to make the assembly of this kit simpler, are a common office stapler with staples a screwdriver, some long nose pliars, and Glue. I use polyurethane glue, like gorilla glue, but any other strong glue ment for bonding wood will work just fine. you may also want some small clamps (like spring clamps); and/or large rubber bands.

As the following steps are performed, I used a common office stapler to hold things in place until the glue dried, however, you could use some spring clamps or large rubber bands to hold it together until the glue dries.

The Housing (box)

Find which side of the support will be the top
We are going to start by assembling the spool support. The spool support has five holes in it, one larger and four smaller holes, it is made from thre pieces, the one that matches the preceding description and the two long narrow pieces.

To do this correctly, we need to idetify which side of the spool support is the top. I place the spool support into the slots of one of the sides and flip it over if needed, when it is turned the right direction it will appear to be in the center (left to right) as shown in the photo on the right. Take a moment and label the top of this support, so we don't mix it up in the next few steps.

Add reinforcements to the support
Next, we add the reinforcements to the Spool Support.

I put glue on the edge of all pieces in the lower portions of the jagged edges which are going to be fastened together (see below). It is smart to dry fit the pieces first to see where you will want this glue, and to make sure the pieces are going the right direction.

The reinforcements should be flush with the top of this support, and project downwards from it.

I have found that an office stapler will work fine to hold things together while the glue dries (not all the staples will penetrate, so just pull out the bad ones with pliars and try again). You could also use some large rubber bands (with blocks underneath to keep it from pulling the reinforcements sideways), or spring clamps like in the picture below.

Attach a side to the top of the box
Next, I select one of the sides (it does not matter which side) and attach it to the top of the box. Again, glue it and use staples or a clamp to hold it until the glue dries.

Use staples to attach each of the other four sides to the top of the box - don't forget to glue the pieces.. If you have some extra help you can glue them in place and hold them with several large rubber bands, rather than with staples. There are pictures of the assembly below to clearify/confuse this step.

I also have a photo of me tapping some of the staples into place, they were still strait, but didn't go in all the way, so I encouraged them a little.

Install the spool support into the box
Now we can put the spool support into the box. I use glue... again, but this time I put it into the slots on the two sides as well as on the lower portion of the spool support (pictures below).

I then put the spool support into the box, the box sides will flex enough to allow spool support so fit (photo at right). I do this with the box upside down, that means the side of the spool support which we marked as top also goes down (see picture below)

I use staples again to hold it in place, but you could stack weights on it instead, or use large rubber bands. (picture of staples below)

The Spool

Parts for the Spool
The Posts installed on the Spool
The spool itself is quite simple, and consists mostly of hardware, there are only two laser cut parts. All the parts used for this section are pictured at the left.

I start by putting four of the nuts onto the four threaded rods, almost like the first picture below - I like to put the nuts further onto the rods so that when I put the short end of the rod through the spool bottom, all I have left to do is add nuts to that end.

There are pictures to the right, and below of the rods and nuts connected to the spool bottom. NOTE the picture showing washers on the bottom of the spool is incorrect! if you put washers there, then the nuts and rods stick down too far and it will rub as it spins on the lazy susan bearing, leave the washers off I left the photo because it shows great alignment of the end of the rod and the nuts.

I recommend that you put threadlock on all eight of the nuts that fasten the threaded rod to the bottom of the filament spool.

Attach the Lazy Suzan Bearing to the spool
Using the parts from the first picture below, we now attach the Lazy susan bearing to the box. Tighten them with pliars (or wrench) and the screwdriver. There is a photo of this below.

Then, using the large Access hole in the Spool Support, attach the bearing to the bottom of the spool; as shown on the right.

Loading The Spool

Most of the time, the PLA I get can be loaded onto the spool by removing the top and setting it on over the rods. When I load it this way, I sometimes have to keep it from dropping down around the bottom and tangling (Not difficult, but I do have to pay attention and correct it when it happens). The following photos and description are how I put the filament on in these cases. The other way to laod it is to wind the filament on... that one is mostly self explanatory and a bit time consuming to do.

make sure you put the filament so that it will feed out of the feed hole
I start by removing the top of the filament spool (if it is installed, in the case of a first time use we haven't installed it yet - notice that I do have four nuts on the bars though) and then I hold the filament so that I can see the end and which way the end wants to come off of the spool (pictured at right). Then I simply set it down over the bars.

Slide the top of the spool onto the bars and put the last four nuts on. I usually use washers with the top of the spool, but they aren't necessary.

Thats it. You have built the box and loaded it with filament for use! Enjoy!

Design considerations and thoughts

I have created this section, because as soon as I publish a design, I get suggestions from people. Almost all the suggestions I get are good suggestions, but quite often they would depart from the objective of the design, or they are something which has been considered and discarded for some reason. I expect this section may turn into a 'discussion' which would be good, but as you add things to it, please make some identifying mark so that others reading this can follow the conversation.

The primary objective in this design was to make a filament spool which the RepRap Mendel could sit on top of. The secondary objective was to do it with a low cost - both of the kit and of the shipping. We stared with a prototype made from 1/4 in birch plywood, which we really liked, but when we weighed it and calculated shipping from the US to Europe or Australia, it would cost more to ship it that what we were selling it for. So, we redesigned and built it from 1/8 in plywood. This reduced the shipping costs quite alot, and with our notches to help strengthen it we feel it is stout enough as well.

I have been running my printers for many months from these spools and have not had any troubles with them. I usually stack four or five spools on top of each other and feed the filament out to the printers sitting nearby. I didn't like the soundboard effect of the spool with the printer directly on it. My friend on the other hand loves it being stacked, he took some bungee cords and strapped his Mendel to the spool so that when he grabs the Mendel to transport it, the spool automatically comes with it.

This Spool will work on its side, but not very well, this type of bearing is not intended to be hung on its side. I expect that after prolonged use (a year or two) the bearing would even wear funny if you use it on its side too much.