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This is something I've ignored for awhile, but it keeps cropping up, and occasionally, if the filament snags real good, it can mess up a great print half way through, etc.

Basically I have my filament spools hanging on a PVC pipe mounted directly above the printer, and the printer just sucks it in from the spool, but occasionally it becomes knotted at the spool, or becomes otherwise tangled.

I'm thinking even if I completely unwrapped and rewrapped all of my spools so there was no trace of a tangle, what's to stop it from happening again? -- What's a good strategy for managing this kind of issue?

Edit: From some of the answers below, it seems that maybe the travel of my X carriage back and forth could be why my spools keep getting tangled. -- It looks like many people have their spools at about 90 degrees from mine (rotated relative to the Z axis of the printer), so that the travel of the X carriage won't have that affect. -- Also guides, etc are probably a good idea.

Here's my current setup for reference (filament removed): enter image description here

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I had the same problem with my FFC dual.

Consider using some kind of retaing clip to hold the spool in place, so it doesn't move back and forth on the post. This worked for me.

Another thing that can help is to make sure you are pulling the filament from the middle of the spool. This worked for me.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. Also the orientation of your spools -- like on the Z axis -- is 90 degrees offset from mine -- I was just thinking that that probably makes a big difference too -- as my X train moves horizontally, it's probably what's causing the filament to become overlapped!! $\endgroup$ – BrainSlugs83 Oct 8 '16 at 19:28
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When I first set up my printer, the spool was able to spin freely. Filament was making loose coils on the outer layer of the spool. Snags happened frequently. I decided that not allowing the spool to spin faster than the rate draw of the filament might improve the way the filament was feeding.

I put more physical distance between the spool and the machine. The filament stopped bunching up in loose coils on the surface of the spool, and the snags went away. The increased amount of slack between the machine and the spool seemed to absorb the "overshoot" of the filament draw and the spools became much better behaved. I also was able to run the spool down to the end more consistently than before.

Not everyone has extra room to use, and not all extruders are conveniently oriented, so moving the spool further away from the machine won't work for everyone. I believe a guide or some sort of dampener would serve the same function, if the underlying problem is the spool loosening up enough to where loops of filament get caught under others and then snag. What worked for me was to stop the spool from "racing ahead" of the rate of draw and loosening up enough to snag.

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Always keep track of the loose end of the filament. It's either in your extruder, or fixed to the spool (either with a clip or clothespin or just by threading it through the holes which are usually in the rim of the spool, provided for just this purpose). The only way a spool can get tangled is if you let go of the loose end of filament.

Though not technically tangled your filament can also get stuck if the spool does not properly unwind (and the filament gets wrapped around the axle that supports your spool). Make sure your spool can rotate on its holder easily (ball bearings are not needed, a simple round axle is enough). Make sure that your printer pulls on the middle of the spool, and not sideways. If necessary, could build a guide (such as a small ring or tube for the filament to pass through) to keep it centered.

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  • $\begingroup$ Right, I put the filament through that hole and tie it off when I'm not using it. The problem is during printing is when it becomes tangled. – Especially with a new roll of filament -- because it will always want to come off the spool sideways when printing, and that can create really bad tangles. $\endgroup$ – BrainSlugs83 Oct 8 '16 at 7:51
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    $\begingroup$ That's not technically "tangled" - at least, it's not the kind of tangle you can fix by rewrapping spools. I edited my answer. $\endgroup$ – Tom van der Zanden Oct 8 '16 at 8:35
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, my spools can rotate freely, but I think I will need a guide, and also I'm going to consider remounting them at a 90 degree angle on the Z axis -- (I'll edit the post to include a picture). -- Is there... like an equivalent of a one way "valve" for filament? -- maybe something that ratchets? -- Like something that, will let me pull the filament off the spool, but if it becomes slack, will not let that slack translate back up to the spool? $\endgroup$ – BrainSlugs83 Oct 8 '16 at 19:43

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