Filament Spindle MK1 Assembly


The construction of the filament spindle is very straightforward. The entire thing literally bolts together. There are no electronic components, or anything more complicated than nuts and bolts. If you can get peg A into slot B, you're good to go.

Stuff You'll Need


The following things are useful for assembly but are not included:

  • 5lb coil of plastic
  • 2.5mm hex key
  • adhesive tape
  • tubing or wire cutters
  • 2 x 13mm wrenches

The Kit

Part List

Filament Box Lasercut Parts


Filament Guide Tubing


Filament Box Hardware


Filament Spindle Lasercut Parts


Filament Spindle Hardware


Filament Spindle Build

The spindle is the part that holds the plastic and rotates.

Prepare Turntable


To make things easier for yourself now, you should attach 4 of the M3 x 16mm bolts to the turntable facing downwards. The turntable has two sides: a top and a bottom. Each side has various holes in it. The holes we are interested in are the big ones (~4mm diameter). The holes on the top side use a different spacing from the holes on the bottom side. The bottom side of the turntable is the side where the holes are closest to the the corners.

Insert the bolts facing downward (away from) on the bottom part of the turntable. Put nuts on them and tighten them all the way down.

If you are using just the filament spindle, these will become your spindle legs. If you are using the spindle box, these will fit into holes in the box to keep the spindle in place.

Attach Turntable to Bottom Flange


Grab the circular flange from the kit with the extra holes on it and bolt the top side of the turntable to it. Make sure to tighten it down nicely as it will become difficult later.

This is the bottom flange. Put it away for now.

Attach Spokes to Top Flange


Using the second flange from the kit, attach the spokes to the flange. Don't try to do them all at once because they will definitely fall out.

This is the top flange.

Tape Nuts in Place


Insert nuts into the top t-slot for each spoke. Tape it into place with a piece of tape. We used scotch tape, but almost any kind of tape will do.

This is very important if you want to get the top flange on without getting frustrated.

Load Filament


Carefully place the filament spool over the spokes. This can be a bit tricky, but it should fit. Make sure that all of the plastic is outside the spokes and that none of it is inside.

Do not cut or remove the twisty ties keeping your filament spool nice and tidy. That will be one of our last steps and keep everything simple.

Attach Bottom Flange


This is probably one of the most difficult parts of the build. It may take you a few tries, but it is definitely possible. It helps if you have a friend who can help you manoeuvre.

The basic idea is to get the top flange over all of the spokes and then bolt it into place. In practice, the spokes will not be perfectly aligned and you will have to wiggle them into place one at a time. Start with the spoke to the far side of you, and then get the spoke to either side. Continue on alternating sides until you have all of the spokes in the proper slot on the flange. Hold this down firmly until you have a bolt or two in.

Once you have the flange on, bolt them all down. Do not bolt it down until all the spokes are in their slots as this will cause you problems.

Filament Box Build

The box is an important part of the filament spindle. It keeps your filament clean and dust-free. It provides a safe enclosure for your plastic so it doesn't spill all over. It also can be sealed to keep moisture out.

Add a Bit of Flair


The front of the box is made from lasercut acrylic. The acrylic comes with a protective paper film. Instead of just peeling it off and throwing this away, you can make it look nice. In this example, we colored the whole area in.

Results of Flair Adding


When we peeled off the protective paper, the lettering was left behind. If you wanted to be more permanent, you could peel the letters away first and then spraypaint it.

Assemble The Sides


The first step is to assemble the sides as shown. The acrylic piece should form the front of the box. Insert nuts and bolts and give them a decent tightening.

Attach Spindle to Bottom


Its time to insert your spindle. Place the spindle upside down so the screws are facing upwards. Place the bottom piece onto the spindle. You may have to wiggle it a bit.

Once the spindle is in, you should use nuts on the bottom to securely bolt it into place.

Attach the Bottom to the Sides


Once you have the sides, attach the bottom to them. The top and bottom are symmetrical, so you have your choice of where to put the filament guide holes. We prefer to put them in to back right corner as pictured.

Bolt and tighten all the screws down.

Attach the Feet to the Bottom


We have included some self-adhesive, grippy feet for your filament spindle. This will keep it from sliding and will reduce vibration induced noise. Attach them as close to the corners as you can get.

Secure the Dessicant


If you plan on sealing your box, placing some dessicant into the box will keep your filament nice and dry. Tape it into a back corner that is not next to the guide hole. Do not tape the dessicant to the middle of the sides.

Seal the Box


This part is optional, but will keep your filament from getting dirty and absorbing water. Take a hot glue gun (or perhaps silicone sealant) and put a bead of it along all the edges of the box. You should probably seal up all the t-slot openings as well (except for the ones on top which you still need to insert nuts for.)

Attach Quick Connect Coupling


The filament spindle uses quick connect couplings for simplicity on the filament guide tubing. Grab the box top and pick a hole and insert the coupling into. Grab your 13mm wrenches and bolt it on.

Cut Twisty Ties


Since the next step is to route the filament, its time to cut the twisty ties. Locate the outside/beginning end of the filament and put it into one of the empty t-slots to hold it into place. Next, cut all the twisty ties with a pair of wire clippers. Be careful that you don't cut any of the filament as that could really mess things up.

If you have small hands, you could probably also untwist the ties.

Attach Top


To avoid hassle, it's a good idea to tape the captive nuts for the top into place before you attach the top.

As you are placing the top onto the filament box, route the filament through the quick connect coupling. Slowly pull a couple feet out so it doesn't slip back in.

Snap the top into place over the tabs, making sure that the filament guide holes in the top line up with the filament guide cutout in the bottom. Push it down over the tabs.

It is not strictly necessary to bolt the top into place. The friction of the tabs and gravity will keep it from falling off. You may want to opt out of bolting it into place, at least at the beginning. Your filament spindle is most likely to jam in the very beginning when there is lots of filament and it is much easier to fix if the top pops off.

Measure and Cut Guide Tubing


The guide tubing is a very smooth and durable plastic called HDPE (same stuff milk jugs are made from). The purpose of this tubing is twofold: it redirects the feed forces and it keeps the filament nice and clean.

The tubing length should be 750mm + (# of spindles-1)*150mm. If its a little bit too long that is okay. Essentially, you want a nice smooth curve that does not interfere with anything when the extruder is at the very top and the very bottom of its travel.

If you don't want to measure the tubing, here is a little table of lengths:

# of Spindles Tubing Length
1 750mm
2 900mm
3 1050mm

The best way to cut the tubing is with a tubing cutter. Since that's not a very common item, you can alternatively use a sharp knife, or less ideally, some wire cutters. Once you cut the tubing, inspect the end to make sure it is still circular. If it isn't, use something like a Phillips head screwdriver to give it a round shape again.

Thread and Attach Tubing


Once your tubing is cut, you can attach it to the spindle box. At the same time you do this, thread filament through the tubing so it sticks out the end. Bend a small 'L' into the end so it doesn't slip out.

To attach the tubing, simply press it into the quick connect part. It will lock into place. You can freely rotate the tubing for proper orientation to your MakerBot without removing it. If you with to remove it, simply push down on the colored ring on the outside of the quick connect and pull on the tubing.

Connect to MakerBot


The best place for your filament spindle is underneath your MakerBot. The vibrations coming from your MakerBot will reduce pressure buildup and prevent jams from happening. Place your MakerBot on your filament spindle and run the filament into the extruder. As the filament gets pulled into the extruder, it will pull the tubing along for the ride. When the tubing hits the top of the extruder, it will redirect the force and the plastic will then start pulling from the spindle itself. This is a self-aligning system which is very nice.

You're Done!


You may want to revisit the main page to view more information on usage. Enjoy your new filament spindle and happy printing!

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