If you've ever swapped filament between prints, you probably noticed that the holes in the spool--meant to hold the filament in place--don't always align with the end of the filament. As a result, you're forced to either fumble with a long piece going through the previous hole, or risk having a short piece fall out. If the filament isn't secured, it becomes slightly unwound and can tangle on itself. Luckily, people with this problem also have 3D printers they can use to fix the problem. In this tutorial, I'll describe how to design a clip that snaps onto your filament spool to hold the filament. 


If you haven't already, be sure to create an account on Orchard so you can save your model. Select "Sign Up" in the top-right hamburger menu: 

Once you've signed up, and signed in you'll be ready to start creating.

To avoid flooding the database with hundreds of the same filament clip, we're going to work off of an existing design.

To find the design, type "Filament Clip" in the search bar to find the filament clip: 

Click on "Filament Clip" to load the design page. The design tree is located on the bottom half of the right side of the design page. This tree shows the evolution of this design over time. Clicking on any of the branches of the tree will load that branch on the left side of the screen.

Find the very first "seed" of the tree and click it:

The Edit Button is located at the bottom left corner of the Design page. Click it to edit that branch. 


We are going to design the clip ourselves, so to remove the existing clip, single-click on the clip and then click the Delete button (or press backspace on windows/delete on mac) to remove it from the scene. 

Your scene should be empty now:

Enter Sketch Mode

We will start by sketching the profile of the clip on the YZ plane. Hover your mouse over the origin and click on the red plane once it appears--this will give you the option to start a sketch: 

Now you are in sketch mode:

You'll notice that in sketch mode, you have a new menu available in the bottom:

The checkmark on the left accepts and closes the sketch (as long as the sketch is a closed-loop [air-tight] profile). On the far right, the red button, "Force Close and Delete," cancels the sketch and closes it without saving. Selected buttons are in blue--in the above picture, "Select" is selected, which enables you to select and modify the line, circle, and arc tools next to them. Line, circle, and arc tools are used to create the closed-loop sketch profiles.  

Sketching the profile:

For the clip, you will be sketching the following sketch profile (with dimensions added--in centimeters): 

It's usually the easiest to start with a line, and setting the length to get a sense of the scale. 

1) Draw a vertical line, single-clicking the origin to begin sketching the line. As you move the mouse, the line will follow your cursor with a sort of rubber band effect. Clicking a second time will place the line.

2) Press the Select tool, and then single-click the line, then press the vertical line to constrain the line vertically, and enter "0.75" in the "length" field, and press the check mark. This will constrain the line vertically, and make it 0.75cm long:

3) Sketch a rough profile of the shape using the lines (press escape to cancel the string of lines): 

4) Select the Arc tool, and connect the end pieces to close the loop (notice the sketch lines turn light blue to indicate a closed loop):

Note: You may need to drag the end point of one of the lines to close the loop: 

Applying Constraints:
5) Now you will begin applying constraints to finalize the shape of the profile. First, hold ctrl (or command on a mac) and select all of the vertical lines, and press the vertical constraint:

Do the same for the horizontal lines:

6) Begin setting dimensions. In select mode, left-click single sketch elements to begin setting their lengths/radii. You can also hold ctrl (or command) and select two points, and set relations to them: 

In this case, we've set the vertical distance to 0.20 cm.

Continue working your way around setting the various line lengths. Make sure drag and adjusting the sketch as you set the parameters to avoid sketch errors. 

Continue entering the dimensions according to the diagram below:


7) Close the sketch
When you have finished the sketch profile, close the sketch by pressing the "Close Sketch" button:

8) Extrude the sketch profile into a 3D object by single-clicking the sketch profile, and pressing the "Extrude" button.

Enter 0.5 for the distance:

Press accept, and your filament clip will become a 3D object. 

9) Now it's time to round and flatten (Fillet/Chamfer) some edges.
Usually, now would be the time you would want to save, so you can change the fillets or chamfers at a later time--but since this is just a tutorial, we'll continue. In general, it's better to save every few steps that affect the 3D geometry, that way you and others have plenty of options to customize the part.

Select the two edges on the inside (hold ctrl or command to select both), then select "Chamfer" and enter "0.05" in the "Dis1" Field:

Press accept:

This will convert that end to a snap feature, and enable you to take the clip on and off your filament spool. But since that end of the clip will be flexing, we will also need to fillet (round) the top edges because sharp edges cause cracks. Select the two edges and enter 0.1 cm. 

Perform the same fillet on the three adjacent edges:

Finally, select the 4 lines that the filament will slip passed into the slot, and apply a 0.04cm radius fillet to them:

And with that, you're finished! Go ahead and save your creation (make sure to name your part):

Here's a live demo of creating the filament clip. The portion of this tutorial begins at ~22 minutes in: 

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