Finding A Use For Surplus Filament Spools

If you’re a heavy user of a 3D printer, or a welder, you’ll know the problem of empty spools. You’ve used up all the filament or the welding wire, and you’re left with a substantial plastic spool. It’s got to be useful for something, you think, and thus it’s Too Good To Throw Away. Before you know it you have a huge pile of the things all looking for a use that you know one day you’ll find.

If you follow the example of [Chuck Hellebuyck], you could use them as wheels for a small go-kart (YouTube link). He 3D-printed some hub adapters for the spools to use skate bearings, mounted them of threaded axles to a classic wooden go-kart frame, and set off downhill wearing his stock-car racing helmet.

Of course, [Chuck]’s go-kart is a bit of fun, but it’s probably fair to say that 3D printer spools are not the ideal wheel. Those rims aren’t particularly durable, and with no tires he’s in for a bumpy ride. Perhaps a tire could be found to fit and a tube placed within it, but that would start to sound expensive against those cheap off-the-shelf wheelbarrow items.

But the project does raise the interesting question: what exactly do you do with your empty spools? There have to be some awesome uses for them, so please share yours in the comments. Meanwhile follow Chuck’s go-kart adventures in the video below the break.

It’s not often that we draw a blank when searching the Hackaday archives, but through our entire history of recycling stories we can’t find another 3D printer spool story (This is usually a cue for commenters to tell us about the ones we missed). Evidently, this means that there is a huge untapped potential as Hackaday readers are sitting on a massive trove of empty spools just waiting for that killer application.

19 thoughts on “Finding A Use For Surplus Filament Spools

      1. [Quezacotl] was breaking open the long-held secret of the filament industry — the spools are what new filament is actually grown on and from. They’re like filament spores. You just need to store them in the dark in a humidity-proof bag with lots of silica gel. Wait a few weeks for 1.75mm filament, up to two months for 3mm. Be sure to frequently check the diameter with calipers — it’s best to harvest in the mornings when the new growth is freshest.

  1. “and thus it’s Too Good To Throw Away.”
    Lol, yes, I may have kept several empty spools from work.

    Considered building a cart, but they ended up with electrical cord and rope around them. They work great!

  2. Neat idea but why not:
    1) Use just the flat ends of the spools to create a wheel with more contact area?
    2) Move the seat to the front a bit, this will send more weight to the front wheels this will make more responsive steering and even the wear on the wheels.

  3. Could also use them with cheap ratchet straps as pulleys for the webbing.. … … and ceiling/rafter mount large pieces of junk/equipment… Or even pull down storage units for smaller stuff you don’t need to get into often.

  4. Simple. I use them, as spools… For cables mostly (power and ethernet extenders), but some have been used to put filament-samples on them, because most of the time if you buy small samples of around 100g, they come without spools.
    What i really would like to see is that they write the weight of the empty spools somewhere on them, so you could just drop the partially used spools on a scale and get a rough estimate to how much filament is actually on there. Would really help to check if there is still enough on the spool to finish the next printjob.

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