The latest issue of Make Magazine - the Ultimate Guide to Desktop Fabrication just came out. The reviewers for the 2016 3D Printer Shootout were asked what feature they would most like to see in future printers.
Filament sensing was one of the wished-for feature to be included in future printers. It's easy to understand why -- running out of filament and losing your long print job is a waste of time and filament. Filament anxiety is not fun, not is trying to manually keep track of the filament usage.
Instead, a printer with a filament sensor could detect when the filament is ending and pause the print job so that more filament could be loaded to finish the print. For large and long running prints, or for manufacturing and production environments, this is a crucial feature!
A filament sensor can be as simple as a switch that actuates as the filament is loaded and unloaded from the printer.
We sell the Tunell 3D Printing Filament Monitor which adds more sophisticated sensing to a wide variety of printers. In addition to running out of filament, the Tunell monitor also detects other filament feeding problems such as the filament getting stuck on the spool, jams cause by nozzle clogs or out-of-tolerance filament, and filament breakage.
The Tunell monitor is designed to connect directly to the MakerBot Replicator and other clones such as the FlashForge Creator series, and the Wanhao Duplicator 4 series. Other printers work well with the Tunell monitor -- we have had customers using it with Ultimaker's and with various RepRap printers.
If you have any questions about the Tunell monitors, or filament sensing in general, please drop us a line! We'd love to hear from you!