3D Printed Spool Storage

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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. 

Supplies

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!

Closed Spool Assembly

Spool For Animation Number 1.avi

Open Spool Assembly

Open Spool Assembly Animation 1.avi

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.

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    19 Comments

    0
    jordanat2012
    jordanat2012

    14 days ago

    This is awesome! I’ve seen these on Thingiverse, but never for a Hatchbox spool, which is the only filament I happen to use. I was going to do one of these for my empty spools, but you just saved me a lot of design time! Thanks!

    0
    richfiddler11
    richfiddler11

    14 days ago

    Great idea, and nice design! I think you could go a lot thinner on the walls without losing the functionality. Again, great idea and nicely written instructable!

    0
    M3G
    M3G

    14 days ago

    Great idea!

    0
    CraigH6
    CraigH6

    14 days ago

    Finally, a use for these spools I have. Thanks, nice Fusion work BTW.

    0
    Aaaecm
    Aaaecm

    14 days ago

    Very well written Instructable. Your design is practical, encourages re-use of otherwise disposable material, and your choice of color is cheerful. I was wondering what I was going to do with all the leftover spools I have laying around. That's Christmas sorted. Thank you for posting.

    0
    charlessenf-gm
    charlessenf-gm

    Reply 14 days ago

    Hmmm, looking to do a spool recycle project? I wonder how a Ferris wheel approach might work to serve as a chicken/fowl feeder? When the hens emptied the low hanging 'baskets,' the heavier (cracked corn) filled would gravitate into place.

    0
    cyberdove1
    cyberdove1

    14 days ago

    Even better if the spool were transparent.

    0
    charlessenf-gm
    charlessenf-gm

    Reply 14 days ago

    Well, for that matter, is there a transparent filament material available 'out there' yet?

    0
    dresch
    dresch

    14 days ago

    Very clever design! Stick a couple of these on a vertical pole/PVC pipe and you have a cheap organization/storage system. Maybe a spot for a drawer label would be helpful. Or subdivided drawers (screws, nuts, washers of the same type).
    Great thinking and execution!

    0
    dresch
    dresch

    Reply 14 days ago

    One more thought. A latch mechanism to clip into the hole next to the screw, so the drawer does not accidently open.

    0
    charlessenf-gm
    charlessenf-gm

    Reply 14 days ago

    Or on the lip of each door to snap into the back of the door adjacent - e.g. the unhinged edge of Drawer A friction fits onto the hinged edge of drawer B a protrusion on A and a dimple on B perhaps? (repeat or B->C; C->D; D->A)

    While we are 'at it,' why not eliminate the fasteners by creating protrusions on each drawer that fit into the holes on the disk - the upper protrusion a bit longer than that on the drawer bottom - as is one in so many cheap coffee makers/brewing devices to fit the filter/grounds basket in place.

    0
    svenyonson
    svenyonson

    Reply 14 days ago

    You could really geek out create an auto part retrieval system, a cylinder of poles where the whole cylinder revolved, each spool on each pole revolved, and a mechanism inside the pole could open/close the trays. Over engineering at its best!

    0
    charlessenf-gm
    charlessenf-gm

    Reply 14 days ago

    Way too much wasted space for a commercially viable storage and receival system. If I recall correctly, most automated systems (Amazon first comes to mind, but international shipping containers would appear to support the contention advanced) rely upon rectangular/cubical containment. Random access demands would impose limits on such a 'box' approach (container ships must disgorge all containers surrounding a target container in order to extricate it from the rest) so the compactness Malcom achieved on board is diminished as a result of the necessity to access individual 'containers' randomly.

    0
    charlessenf-gm
    charlessenf-gm

    14 days ago

    Wow! Way to recycle!
    Elegant design, artful color choice.
    At least one less filament spool to wash up on some island in the Pacific ocean!
    Look to sources of larger spools - know anyone with a MIG WELDER? An electrician, perhaps, as a source for free THHN wire spools.
    At the present scale, it would appear that the volume of plastic recycled is a fraction of that required or the improvement. (I could be wrong here, anyone able to do the MATH?)
    I have to share that what caught my eye and attention was (likely result of late onset dyslexia*) my reading "3D Stool Storage" instead of the actual title.

    * Though our recent issues with a septic tank may have played a role.

    0
    jonas4321
    jonas4321

    14 days ago

    Excellent Instructable! Makes me wish I had saved instead of recycled my old spools. Now I know what I will be doing with the next empty one!

    0
    Theala
    Theala

    14 days ago

    I love this. But I don't see the STL files. How can I try printing this?

    0
    LFCREDS
    LFCREDS

    14 days ago

    What about using transparent PLA or PETG?

    0
    TJP Tinker
    TJP Tinker

    14 days ago

    This is a great idea! Nicely done