MakerBot Labs: Method Spool holder

A 3D print filament spool holder for Method and Method X.

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What is MakerBot LABS?

MakerBot Labs features a set of products that let users print with another filament not produced by MakerBot. In the LABS package, the user gets a LABS extruder that has modular components for convenient maintenance. The LABS program also introduced a 3D printed spool holder design that users can download on Thingiverse. This spool holder has a modular spindle that the user can swap out depending on their spool. The user can print the spool holder on the Method and Method X 3D printers.


Modular parts for customization and strength (part orientation for optimal layer lines).

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This part is design to be printed with minimal support material, shortening the printing time.

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Step 1:

Remove parts from raft and support material (no dissolving needed) (8).gif

Step 2:

Assemble the components that makes up the holder. (9).gif

Step 3:

Insert the spool holder on the side of the Method 3D printer and push a section of a PTFE tube into the holder and the aux port of the printer. (10).gif

Step 4:

Attach the spool and feed in the filament. (11).gif


Early stage explorations for the Method spool holder.

Top routing

Placing the spool holder at the top of the printer was considered at one point for better filament bend radius. We decided not to proceed with this due to visual and structural reasons.

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Side routing

Side routing became the main direction we decided to go with. A few consideration includes: how the spool holder is installed, spool interference with the door and different spool inner diameter size.

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Chosen direction

I decided to proceed with the side routing design for it's simplicity. Here are the form explorations for this direction.

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DFP (Design for printability)

Due to the limited build volume of Method, how the spool holder and it's components should be orientated is a huge part of the design process. The design should consider how long the print will take, how strong the print will be and how much material each print will use. The main body of the spool holder is printed on a 50 degree angle (the degree limit for overhangs on Method) so that the overhang area does not require support.

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Average print time: over 20 hours (just the main housing)

Above: successful prints with PVA support (left), SR 30 support (right)

Above: unsuccessful prints layer lines not adhering properly (left), shifting layers (right). I determined that main factor contributing to these errors is this angled orientation for the main body and the long printing duration.

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I changed the design to the final modular version where the user has to snap fit the hook feature on to the main body allowing the parts to be printed flat. This drastically reduced printing time to 6 hours per print (draft mode). Another advantage is the hook feature can be printed in the optimal orientation for maximum strength with a better layer line direction.

Evolution of the spool holder design

Thank you!