When it comes to the build of 3D printers, they can have both open and closed designs. A number of 3D printers have open builds that allow them to operate without the need for an enclosure. This lowers the size and the cost, but it does somewhat limit the capabilities of the device. If you only work with PLA, the most commonly used material, you can print it on an open frame printer. However, printing with filaments such as ABS or polycarbonate, which wrap or curl when cooled, an enclosure will greatly improve the print quality. This article will look at the benefits of 3D printer enclosures and why having an enclosure is ideal for 3D printing.
Types of 3D Printer Enclosures
Depending on your general-purpose, there are a variety of enclosure options; if you are working with ABS only, you need to avoid drafts and capture some of the residuary heat created by the heated bed and the nozzle. Some folks use cardboard boxes or garbage bags as makeshift enclosures. They are simply tied together with a large plastic bag to create a cover to lay on top of the device.
Another popular method is to use inexpensive furniture like a table or side cabinet or a piece of Plexiglas to enclose or cover the printer. If you want something a little more sophisticated and secure for your printer, you can go with a metallic computer server cabinet.
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Benefits of Having 3D Printer Enclosures
There are numerous evident benefits of using a 3D printer inside an enclosure. Here are some of them.
- It captures and limits the gases emitted in the room.
- It protects the printer from air circulation and temperature changes.
- It protects the printer from dust.
- It protects children and pets from hot, moving parts.
- You can choose to lock the enclosure to prevent others from accessing your printer.
- It is better to go with metallic or fireproof material, as they don’t burn – cheap furniture and thin plastic covers are fire fuel.
There are some people who want to keep their 3D printer running unattended most of the time. Well, there are few who can only use their printers when they are at home are nearby. Safety is always a concern in open designs, and the prints need to be constantly monitored. If you put the printer in a metallic enclosure, you can rest assured that it will be secure in the container if the device ever breaks or catches fire.
When Do I Need 3D Printer Enclosures?
Depending on the type of 3D printing technology and material you are working with, an enclosure could be both useful and unnecessary. Here is everything about when you need an enclosure.
Printing with PLA
If you work with PLA, you can argue that enclosures are useless and even affect the quality of the print. The advantage of PLA is that it can quickly cool and harden the layers. This is especially useful for building overhangs and bridging. If the machine is placed inside an enclosure, the heat will get trapped, and the filament will not cool down as quickly. Additionally, PLA does not emit a strong odor, so sealing the enclosure to avoid fumes is not really worth sacrificing the quality of the print.
One solution is to simply keep the enclosure door open when printing PLA. It is not a requirement, but it seems a bit more reliable. If you have an enclosure with removable side panels, you can easily move from a fully closed box to an open box.
Printing with ABS
3D printing with ABS benefits from the presence of an enclosure. Industrial grade 3D printers that use ABS also have a heated chamber to maintain the temperature during printing. The best alternative to a heated chamber is to use a sealed box that isolates the print head from the nozzle and the print bed. This prevents the filament from deforming and pulling away from the print bed. When printing ABS on the housing, there is a risk that the parts will get cold and bend and detach from the print bed. This can lead to printing failures or, even worse, damage to the printer.
Another advantage of printing ABS in an enclosed space is that it will contain unpleasant fumes. You may create an outdoor went for the fumes, but simply keeping it enclosed will also get the job done.
3D Printing Safety: Things to Keep in Mind
3D printing can be very time consuming, especially when making large parts. It is not possible to babysit the device while the print is in progress. In addition to reliability, you need to make sure it is safe to leave alone. The most obvious solution is to store the printer in a fireproof enclosure. If you use a metallic enclosure, you can use adhesive tape to seal the corners. This traps fumes inside the enclosure and limits the oxygen available in the event of a fire. Therefore, fire protection has the dual function of limiting fires to non-combustible containers and limiting the supply of oxygen to diffuse the fire.
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The Choice is Yours
Of course, for single or limited use, a cardboard or plastic box will suffice. You might think that low-cost furniture solutions like the IKEA lack tables would be a good way to make an enclosure. However, in inexpensive furniture tables, the veneer is filled with cardboard. With this, you can essentially make a container out of highly combustible material. It looks great and does a decent job catching smoke and avoiding drafts, but it also makes it less safe as it surrounds the printer with fire fuel.
Although it is unlikely that current 3D printers will reach the flashpoint of wood or paper, in any case, a metal casing will ensure that the printer is enclosed in something non-flammable compared to the other options. This is why having an enclosure is ideal for 3D printing.
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