Awww Shoot! My Spool Doesn’t Fit My Holder


The great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from. Filament spools certainly do not deviate far from this sarcastic saying. So what are we 3D Printer folks to do? Here are a couple completely different DIY options:

[Mark] made a spool holder that can accept 2 different width spools. This design uses skate bearings to support the spool on two points at each end. There are 3 sets of bearing blocks to accommodate the 2 different width spools. When either size spool is installed, one of the bearing block sets goes unused.


[Ben] took a different approach to the same problem. His design holds the spool on its side making the spool width have no affect on the holders’ functionality. The parts for this spool holder are recycled from an old computer CD drive. If we’d have to suggest anything, it would be to add a little resistance to the spinning turntable to prevent uncontrolled filament unraveling (we’ve all been there).


38 thoughts on “Awww Shoot! My Spool Doesn’t Fit My Holder

  1. The first one can in fact support three different sizes. Add one more set of rollers and it could support as many as 6!

  2. I gather it’s not possible to angle it so the axis points directly at the 3D printer, and it just naturally unwraps itself?

    1. I’d guess the twisting of the filament could cause it to jam at some point. *shrugs* I don’t have a 3D printer, though.

      1. You can certainly do this but there’s one thing to be wary of. If there’s a bit of moisture in your filament and you wrap it tightly around a spool and it later dries out you can end up with “exploded” filament. As the filament dries it contracts and it can eventually just disintegrate into a million tiny pieces. I’m not saying it WILL happen, but it HAS happened to a few unlucky people. Just something to keep in mind.

    1. It’s a Printrbot. I don’t know if the new metal Printrbots are any good, but the wood ones are a constant upgrade cycle to fix their issues.

      1. Does that mean there is something inherently wrong with wooden 3d printers? I was planning on copying the MendelMax(v1) but with wood.

        The Printrbot in the video is intersting, but I would imagine that the cantilever design introduces vibration issues.

        1. I think the cantilever design does overly stress the material. The metal Printrbot also beefed up the linear rods to, over the wood ones, and I think there are other improvements going on there too.

          I personally don’t like using thin plywood (1/4″ or 6mm) for structure like they did because it flexes and is prone to breaking from fatigue and accidents. I had to cut someone a new set of Thing-O-Matic parts because almost all wood parts were damaged in shipping. Double that (or more) and you’re probably fine.

        2. Wood (and wood derived products like MDF) expands and contracts with temperature changes and also with varying moisture in the air. Coating it with some resin and putting it under pressure to infuse the wood will stabilize it but that’s a lot of mess and work that can be avoided simply by using metal and plastic.

          You’ll never get the best accuracy with any wooden structural parts in a 3D printer or other CNC machine.

  3. I made a one size fits all about a year ago. Looky Looky:

    It works with just 2 bearings that are clamped on a m8 rod to the side of your printer. By just adjusting the m8 nuts around 1 bearing you can narrow or widen it for any spool size you want.

  4. 2 pvc tube; 4 bearing; universal size spool holder. engrave lines on one tube for better alignment. sorry for strange english…

  5. Could always make a conveyor belt covered in arduinos for traction. The header pins would prevent the spool from sliding off. Or just put two tube connecting the bearings…covered in raspberry pi ‘s

  6. I appreciate the ingenuity, but it’s all a bit complicated. We just printed a smaller diameter reel holder for our MB 2X.

    1. Has anyone signed onto that new “standard” yet?

      One problem of standards:

      I think the solution is to try to find a way to adapt a reasonable variety of styles and sizes, and try to avoid sellers that offer spools that are too unorthodox.

  7. Different filament spools for 3D printers sounds like a first world problem to me. Just buy your plastic garbage at a dollar store and be done with it already.

  8. can someone explain why the spool roller method(i guess that’d be what it’s called) is preferable over just running a rod through the middle of the spool?

    seems like all these designs to get the spools to ride on rollers are much more complex then they should need to be..

    1. “Why not use a lazy suzan?” One never really thinks about that until one makes acquaintance with a woman whose name is Susan. “It’s a turntable!” they are wont to say…

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