Spool Tower: Empty Filament Spool Or Base For Miniature Civilizations

Digital Taxidermy Spool Recycling concept art.

While churning through rolls of FDM filament, there are these empty spools that remain at the end. These can be thrown out with the trash, or be used as a standard base for miniatures, for use with Dungeons & Dragons tabletop gaming or similar, or just as a display piece. The latter is what the blokes over at Digital Taxidermy ran with when they started their first Spool Tower Kickstarter campaign. Now they’re back with Spool Tower 2: The Re-Spoolening.

These are STL bundle packs that should contain all that’s needed to turn an empty filament spool into an art piece, minus of course the painting. To get a free taste of what the experience is like, Digital Taxidermy provides a few free STLs, such as for the Ye Olde Taxidermee Shoppee and the Hab Block from the new crowdfunding campaign.

This effort raises the interesting question of what other standard (plastic) shapes of packaging could conceivably be used in a similar manner. After all, why print the whole thing when half the model could be made from something you’d otherwise just toss into the trash bin?

Thanks to [scat happens] for the tip.

23 thoughts on “Spool Tower: Empty Filament Spool Or Base For Miniature Civilizations

  1. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of finding practical uses for old spools, they are sadly few and far between. But out of the designs pictured, really only the circus tent one looks like the spool contributes materially and it won’t be 95%+ the same with just the printed parts.

  2. attempted green washing of plastic,which is the material with the highest wastage and nastyest environmental bootprint of anything ever developed
    100 million tons of waste a year

      1. I hate cardboard spools. They frequently get dented or otherwise damaged during shipping. This causes them to catch when printing, causing print defects or even failures.

        We need cardboard spool hubs that the filament gets wound onto then secured. Then when you receive it, you attach reusable plastic/metal side walls and then remove the zipties or whatever method was used to secure the filament to the hub.

        This would use less waste material and keep quality surfaces for smooth rolling during printing. The best of both worlds.

      2. I’ve never used a 3d printer, but could they just ship filament wound up on nothing, and just secured with a zip tie or something like buying a garden hose, then you just wind it on a spool yourself that you use over and over again? I figure anyone running a 3d printer could be savvy enough to make this a reality.

        1. There are a lot of problems with that but there are a few companies out there that have reusable spools, the problem is when you put a spool on the reusable one you pretty much have to finish the spool before you take it off again which means if you want 5 different colours, you need 5 reusable spools, so it really isn’t as good a system as it seems unless you do lots of printing with the exact same filament. There isn’t even really a cost difference so there is no incentive to buy them.

          Also filament needs spooled neatly and properly to avoid tangles, so putting filament onto and removing it from reusable spools can cause tangles and people aren’t going to manually wind the filament onto the spool.

          1. You always need 5 different Spools if you want to print 5 colours. Reusable or not. I don’t see your point here. It’s not like it takes a lot to make the Spools reusable

        2. Big no-no!
          The last thing you want is a spool not neatly unspooling, causing filament blocking, a tangled mess, and a failed print.
          3 printing filament is kinda springy.
          Having to respool a filament is . definitely . no . fun . at . all.

          1. Actually, inland (microcenter brand) does. Just filament zip tied together, that you slide onto a printed or purchased reusable spool, you lock it together, then snip the ties. Ezpz.

  3. It’s cool that he’s using more and wasting less, but how is that a worthy subject of an article? We should do articles on making toilet paper tube reindeer and macaroni necklaces…

    1. I kinda doubt your two examples in their suggested state would make it as a HAD article either, unless supplemented by adding some sort of unique method, component or angle that’s not common knowledge like integrating electronics, making them somehow additionally functional, etc.

    2. Exactly, a lot of art is reusing waste material, even look at nerdforge’s YouTube channel, a lot of the structural material and even decorative material comes from waste cardboard boxes or similar. Using waste to make art is something just about everyone has done, especially in school or nursery. Should we make another article about reusing solder spools or wire spools or fishing or sewing spools?

  4. I try not to be negative here, but thinking up ways to add more plastic to an empty plastic spool to make something you probably wouldn’t make otherwise doesn’t seem like much of a conservation measure.

    1. Yeah, best to forget the whole thing then and let the printer do it’s thing. Thinking about this is a slippery slope and we might as well conclude that all art has a carbon footprint.

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