Recently, Richard Horne, (also known as ‘RichRap’) one of the prominent members of the DIY 3D maker community RepRap, suggested that the 3D printing industry “agree upon a standard spool size. [Horne also described] what he sees as the biggest problems with current spool design.”
Gigaom discusses the possibility at length. “Since their origin about a decade ago, desktop 3D printers have for the most part not been built with the filament spool in mind. As long as the spool [sat] close enough to the printer that the filament that wraps around it can easily find its way in, it is deemed good enough…The emerging generation of desktop 3D printers is gorgeous. The spool is no longer a side thought; instead, it’s designed right into the printer.”
Not only is this more aesthetically pleasing, but also “a lot of these printers with integrated spools tend to jam less. You don’t have to babysit the spool to make sure it is turning nicely and feeding enough filament into the printer. The filament is less likely to twist at odd angles and snap.”
While more thought has gone into incorporating filament and spools into the design of the latest generation of 3D printers, there still remains the glaring problem of non-standardization of spool size. Filament “has become somewhat standardized into two sizes (1.75 mm and 3 mm).” However, “spools still come in a crazy amount of sizes. 3D printer makers can’t design their printer to beautifully integrate a spool unless they’re willing to cut down on users’ choices.”
Gigaom contacted MakerBot, “perhaps the one company that could make the greatest impact on the movement for a standardized spool,” but MakerBot did not respond.
Photo Courtesy of RichRap (Richard Horne)
Quotes Courtesy of Gigaom