Introduction: 3D Printed Spool Storage
Hello! My name is Charlie Nino and I’m a 4th-year Mechanical Engineering student at San Jose State University. I’m the acting president of our University’s American Society of Mechanical Engineers Club (ASME). For my project, I wanted to find a way to repurpose the filament spools we use in our club. After seeing the rolls of filament we go through, I got the idea to repurpose and design something to help store small items for our club. One of the leading issues with filament spools is the waste they cause when thrown away or even placed into a recycle bin. I’ve found a way to repurpose in particular the spools we use for our club projects to help find alternatives to the trash.
In order to complete my project, I needed the following materials:
- Empty Hatchbox PLA 1.75 mm Spool
- Metallic Red Hatchbox PLA 1.75 mm Spool
- Metallic Yellow Hatchbox PLA 1.75 mm Spool
- Metallic Green Hatchbox PLA 1.75 mm Spool
- 3 #8 Screws
- Ender 3 Printer
- Cura Slicer Software
- Fusion 360 Software
Step 1: Fitting Design
I tried to find the measurements of the spool online, but I was only able to find the outer diameter of the spool to be 200 mm. However, this allowed me to find all the other measurements for the spool using my caliper in millimeters. I started by finding the inner diameter of the spool’s filament compartment, which I found to be 80 mm. I also needed the thickness of the spool compartment, which I found to be 60 mm. The last measurement I needed was the positioning of the hole from the quarter point of the spool. I found this to be 9 mm horizontally and 4 mm vertically.
Now that I had the measurements done, I was able to make a small model of each cabinet. I didn’t want to make the fitting 60 mm tall to save cost. I was really confident that I measured 62.3 mm for the spool’s filament compartment’s thickness. I wanted to be shorter than that at 60 mm to allow space to screw in additional spools to stack them. I also cut out the filling of the fitting because I only needed the border to verify the fitting of the pin through the hole and the part in the spool.
Step 2: Fitting Fabrication
I ended up printing four fittings to verify my system. Each print came out really well and allowed me to continue my design process to the final cabinets.
Step 3: Quarter Cabinet Spool Design
I started with a quarter cabinet for the spool. In order to do so I made a quarter-circle sketch in Fusion360 that I extruded up 60 mm. I then made a 3.4 mm hole in the piece for the screw to go into. Once this was completed I shelled the object with a 6 mm wall thickness. I also added a handle protruding out from the opposite side of the screw hole. Finally, I used the “fillet” feature to round every side of the cabinet so that it wasn’t a tight fit.
Step 4: Quarter Cabinet Spool Fabrication
I printed the quarter cabinet twice in the Metallic Yellow and Metallic Green Hatchbox PLA filament we had in the club room. Each print took roughly 10 hours to complete and cost 78 grams of filament on our Creality Ender 3 printers
Step 5: Half Cabinet Spool Design
Rather than using a quarter-circle sketch like in the previous cabinet, I made a semi-circle sketch. However, I repeated each step from the quarter cabinet to complete the half cabinet design.
Step 6: Digital Assemblies
I created a virtual assembly to verify that the cabinets fit. I've included the spool that I used to verify the fitting. You can use the spool to make your own designs that will fit in the Hatchbox spool!
Step 7: Half Cabinet Spool Fabrication
I printed the half cabinet once in the Metallic Red Hatchbox PLA filament. This print took roughly 17 hours to finish and cost 136 grams of filament on our Creality Ender 3 printers.
Step 8: Testing
Once all three of the cabinets were complete, I screwed them into an empty Hatchbox spool using #8 screws. Each fit great and had additional space to stack more spools above. Over the course of this challenge, the club used the spool storage to hold small printed parts that other groups made to pick up. After the competition, the spool storage is currently being used to hold different-sized screws.
Step 9: Final Models
Step 10: Future Plans
With my current model, a kilogram spool of Hatchbox PLA will create 3 and-a-half spool storage. I’d like to make further improvements to increase the amount of spool storage we can make with a one-kilogram spool. I think I could also try taking out a wall and replacing it with plexiglass to reduce the amount of filament used.
Runner Up in the
Digital Fabrication Student Design Challenge