Introduction: Acrylic Filament Spool Holder

About: 25 years experience in software, mechanical, and electrical engineering.

There must be hundreds of spool holders you can DIY. I tried a half-dozen of them before giving up and designing something myself. Some only worked for a single spool width or spool size. Others broke after about a week. Still others were complicated to make and required bearings that had to be perfectly adjusted to work.

So I set out to design a spool holder with the following characteristics:

  1. Must work with 99% of spool sizes and widths.
  2. Must be reliable for 24/7 use.
  3. Must look cool.

The result is an all-acrylic spool holder that fits in perfectly with the design of our CR-10 enclosure kit, and can take a beating while holding the heavy 2.5Kg spools we use in production. Nothing to wear out, nothing to adjust, just a simple rod holding up a spool of filament. Although this was designed specifically for our CR-10 enclosures, they should work on any top mounted enclosure for any printer, or you could put it on a shelf above the printer.

Step 1: Obtain Materials & Equipment

To make this you'll need the following parts:

1. 1/4" acrylic of any type, 300mmX500mm or larger, available at a local plastic store, online, or at a big box store. The design is specifically for this thickness, so you can't change it.

2. 1.5" diameter, 150mm (6 inches) in length acrylic rod, although you can also use a rod of any material.

3. 16mm M4 hex cap end screws (4)

4. M4 nuts (4)


Laser with a bed at least 300mm by 500mm

Band saw or equivalent

3D Printer

Step 2: Configure the Laser

All lasers have controlling software, the most popular of which is RDWorks or LaserCAD. It doesn't matter which one, since they all import DXF files. The DXF file for this design is attached, which you can import into whatever software came with the laser cutter.

The most important configuration is the settings for power and speed. With 1/4" acrylic on the local lasers I've tried, something in the vicinity of 60-80% power and 5-10mm/s works. You'll want to experiment first to see what cuts the best.

Remember to take the covering off the top of the acrylic, which will typically be either plastic or paper.

A secondary setting for plastic is air pressure, which best practice is to lower when cutting acrylic. I typically use 20psi, but that's probably only for the specific machines I use. Ask around for help with an expert on your particular laser cutter.

Note that acrylic can catch on fire easily, so you'll want to make sure you've got settings in the right range for your laser.

Step 3: Laser Cut Acrylic

Before cutting out the spool holder you'll want to practice on scrap acrylic to make sure that the cuts will go all of the way through, and aren't too powerful and set everything on fire.

First, take the top protective covering off of the acrylic. Leave the bottom cover on to protect against scorch marks.

Next, adjust the height of the laser head above the plastic. Typically this is in the range of 10mm, but it depends on the laser. Nicer lasers will have a height sensor so you don't have to do it yourself, but the cheap lasers require a manual adjustment.

Once you're sure that the settings are correct, start cutting the spool holder pattern. Be ready to hit the pause button if the acrylic shows signs of catching on fire. If you see a lot of smoke, try adjusting the air pressure lower than you would for other materials.

Step 4: Cut the Rod

The rod is the thing that holds up the filament spool, and can be made of any material. We prefer the look of acrylic, but its personal preference.

The only requirements for the rod are that it be long enough (6 inches) and wide enough (1.5").

Since rods typically don't come in that length you'll need to do cut it down to fit. We use a jig to make sure the cut is even, but you're welcome to eyeball it and see what happens.

Step 5: 3D Print the End Caps

Without end caps the acrylic rod would slip sideways during use and the filament spool would fall all.

Use the included STL file to 3D print the two end caps in whatever color or strong filament the you want. ABS or PLA variants will all work fine.

Step 6: Assemble the Spool Holder

The two tall side pieces are held together by acrylic connectors with little tabs. Insert the tabs, and then use the screws and nuts to hold them together. The acrylic pieces have a T-shape where the nuts fit in and hold the screws in place as shown in the images.

Attach the end caps to the rod, and then place the rod on top of the spool holder and you're finished!