Calibrate New 3D Printer Filament

This is the process I follow to record the necessary specs for a new spool of 3D printer filament. Most important is determining the proper nozzle temp.

  • Make note of type of filament (PLA or ABS) and the published diameter (e.g. 1.75mm).
  • Get the spool weight so you can later compute the remaining filament (that procedure is at the bottom).
    • Weigh the filament + spool (removed from any packaging).
    • Subtract filament weight, usually 1kg, leaving the spool weight.
    • Make note of the spool weight.
  • Using a caliper, measure the diameter of the filament in 4 different places and average together to get the actual filament diameter. Make note of the average diameter.
  • Determine the Proper Nozzle Temperature
    • Put new filament into printer. Flush out the old stuff. If you are going from ABS to PLA, you may need to heat the nozzle to ABS temps (210) to push all the filament out.
    • Create a new filament type in the slicer config. I don’t have many spools, so for now I’ve used <mfgName>-<color>.
    • Set the diameter of the new filament as the average diameter you calculated above.
    • Set the initial temperature for the filament. For ABS I use 220, for PLA 200.
    • Choose a simple model to print large enough you can watch the infill as it prints. I’ve been using a calibration cube scaled up 3X.
    • In the slicer, make sure you select the new filament type then slice the model.
    • Print the model at the initial temperature setting.
    • Let printer run for a while.
    • Lower the hot-end temperature 5 degrees until the printer starts producing dots of filament instead of a solid strand. Wait long enough between each adjustment that you are sure the temperature has stabilized.
    • Once you’ve hit the spot where the filament no longer flows smooth, raise the temperature back up 5 degrees.
    • Let the print continue until you are sure the higher temperature is producing smooth flow.
    • Make note of this nozzle temperature.
  • Update the slicer configuration for the new filament to include the correct temperature.
  • Print a test model (I use a normal sized calibration cube) to verify the nozzle temperature is correct.
  • Label the spool with the type, spool weight, average filament width, and nozzle temperature.


Computing Remaining Filament

When you slice a model, slic3r will give an estimate of the amount of filament needed in cc’s (cubic centimeters) or mm (my last version of slic3r used cc and the current one now uses mm).

Unfortunately the only thing I really know is the weight of the spool + filament. That is why I record the spool weight. The remaining filament weight is easily calculated

<filament weight> = <total weight> – <spool weight>

So now you have the filament weight in grams.

Computing the Remaining 175mm Filament in cc

For PLA:

cc = <weight in grams> X 1.25

For ABS:

cc = <weight in grams> X 1.06

Computing the Remaining 1.75mm Filament in mm

For PLA:

mm = <weight in grams> / 2.98 X 1000

For ABS:

mm = <weight in grams> / 2.48 x 1000

If I have 850g of PLA then I have 850g / 2.98 X 1000 or 285m (285,000mm) of filament.

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