You Can Add This Filament Runout Sensor to Any 3D Printer

Filament about to run out? Mini-Mods' sensor will sound an alarm and blink an RGB LED, giving you time to pause or reload.

Cameron Coward
6 months ago3D Printing / Sensors

If you have a 3D printer at home, then it is probably an FFF (Fused-Filament Fabrication) type. They’re affordable and print relatively quickly, but a big part can still take days to complete. If you aren’t careful about ensuring that you have enough filament before you start the job, you can easily run out of filament while printing. That will probably result in a failed print if your particular printer isn’t equipped with a runout sensor. If that is the case, you can add a filament runout sensor to just about any 3D printer model thanks to Mini-Mods.

Filament runout sensors are becoming increasingly common, and very helpfully give the 3D printer the ability to detect when the roll of filament has run dry. When that happens, most printer models will pause the job and sound some kind of alarm so that you can load up a new roll. It’s such a handy feature that you’d think all 3D printers would have it, but they don’t. If yours is one of those models, Mini-Mods’ filament runout sensor is for you. Its basic feature, which is to sound an alarm, will work on any 3D printer, and you can get the full benefit from any printer running Marlin firmware.

If your 3D printer doesn’t run Marlin firmware, then you’ll just have to pause your print manually when the alarm sounds. If it does have Marlin, the filament runout sensor will send an M600 G-code command to pause the print while you change the spool. This sensor has its own Microchip ATtiny13 microcontroller, so multiple sensors can be daisy-chained together to monitor all of your spools. It works with many different control boards, including RAMPS 1.2 and newer, RAMBo 1.2 and newer, and a handful of Printrboard revisions. The sensor will connect to the Z+ limit switch, which is almost never actually used by most printers. It starts a $25 through the Mini-Mods Tindie store, and is a great investment that can save some long print jobs from failure.

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