Introduction: 3D Filament Distribution Box

I got tired of stacking filament spools and rifling through them when I needed to switch.

I'm not as dead serious about a full-on dry box as some people. I've had filament for three years sitting on a table that still printed fine. But I still wanted the presentation to be more manageable.

So my first thought was just a storage bin. If you follow my other instructables, bins saved my life.

But no, still a pain to switch filament. So I started looking at a bin that could feed filament. Commercial feed and dry box solutions are ridonkulously expensive.

So let's see, what if I just poke a hole in the lid in the right point? Well, then you're dealing with the friction coefficient of plastic vs plastic, which is not specifically too good.

What's got the best coefficient for plastic? Metal. So what could easily line a hole in a lid with metal in a way that the filament can just shimmy shimmy right through it?

FREAKIN' GROMMETS. Yeah, dude, freakin' grommets. So ladies, gents, enbies and anyone else, I present to you my proof of concept of the shitty filament box using cheap grommets at the feedpoints.


Sterilite 20qt storage box (clear box, white lid) - $5
3/8-24 threaded rod, 2' - $6
1/4" grommet kit (set of 100, includes tools) - $10
3/8-24 fine-threaded nuts (optional)
washers (optional)

Step 1: Measure Your Spools, Get the Right-sized Bin

My spools max out around 8-9", so I picked a bin that was a couple of inches larger than that in both height and depth, and long enough to accomodate at least six spools.

Hold your spool up against the side of the bin to figure out where to suspend your threaded rod. The threaded rod, for me, went from end to end about 6" from the floor of the bin. That was high enough to suspend the widest spool.

Step 2: Drill Baby Drill

Drill a 3/8" hole on each end for your threaded rod. Drill slowly and carefully, it's easy to crack these bins.
Don't insert the rod yet.

Orient all of your spools so that they feed in the same direction.

Now you have a choice to make. Will your box be mounted high or low compared to your 3D printer? Mine is on the same surface, so I opted to feed mine through the lid. You may decide to feed yours through the front of the box instead.

Either way, figure out a natural place where the filament will be close to perpendicular to the surface, and mark your feed holes. I used the lid, off center towards the side of the spools where the filament rises from, and marked seven holes 1-1/2" apart. Your mileage and choices may vary.

Then I drilled a 1/4" hole at each marking, and tapped a grommet into place. If you've never installed a grommet before, I recommend you understand how that works before going any further. Basically, you feed the large half in, set it on the base on a hard flat surface, put the closing ring on the other side and tap the grommet tool with a hammer or mallet a few times. But practice that first so you get a feel for it.

Feed the rod through the walls and spools, lock it in place with nuts and washers if you like (turned out to be much more work than I thought, and possibly unnecessary), then feed the filament through the lid and seal.

Again, it's not a true dry box, but if you're suffering from moisture problems, either your expectations are much higher than mine or you have a moisture problem in general, and this instructable isn't likely to help you.

The real benefit is in the organization, presentation and mobility of the setup after this is done.