Can filament spool vibrations affect 3D-print quality? Designing custom filament mount with bearings for Ender 3 printer.

A lot of entry-level 3D printers come with a very basic filament spool mount attached to the frame. It always seemed to me that this kind of mount can have negative effects on my prints, especially when the spool is new and relatively heavy. Perhaps, the sight and sound of a shaking spool make you uncomfortable too, so let's design a solution for the problem and see if it makes any difference.

Why do I need a custom mount?

The easiest potential fix for the problem would be putting your filament to the side of the printer. Bonus points for placing spools in a dry-box filled with silica gel. Since this is not an option for me, because of the space limitations, I decided to design a mount that can still be attached to the top extrusion of the printer but does not produce as much vibration when printing complex features.

The idea seems especially enticing since all filament I have comes from the same manufacturer (I only need to worry about one spool size), and I had leftover bearings and pulleys after my last printer DIY upgrade.

Spool mount design

After a few iterations, I ended up having a plan like this:

Holder design render

It includes 4 printed pieces, 2 608zz bearings, 8mm aluminum rod (about 20cm long) and 2 8mm bore pulleys. I've printed the main holder part in PETG for safety, but I think PLA could hold it pretty well too. Feel free to download STL files from the project if you plan a similar upgrade.

Let's print it and assemble:

Filament mount assembling

I like this design for several reasons:

  • It reuses the stock mount bracket and nut.
  • It allows going back to the stock mount in a few seconds.
  • It is perfectly safe with pulleys holding the spool from both sides.
  • I can adjust rotation resistance with the front pulley. It is possible to look for the balance point when the spool does not spin back and forth during printing, but at the same time rotates very softly and quietly.

For the front nut assembly, I used the same tool as before (see belts upgrade for more instructions) to remove the pulley flange.

Final result

But does it really make a difference in print quality?

I guess you should not expect wonders from this upgrade. Otherwise, it would have been a very common and recognized problem in the community. At the same time, I believe that the test print came out a tiny bit cleaner, especially if you pay attention to the edges of the embossed letters.

Print quality comparison

Hope you find this idea useful and happy 3D printing.