3D Printer Enclosures: Temperature & Ventilation Guide
As we all know, 3D printers place great importance on getting the right temperature conditions in order to create a high-quality 3D print. One of the best ways to achieve that constant temperature is to use an enclosure, but can things get a little too hot?
This article will look into 3D printer enclosures, temperature control, and ventilation.
There are ways to control your 3D printer enclosure’s temperature by using high-quality fans and thermistors. With certain settings, you can keep your 3D printer’s constant temperature in a tight range, giving your 3D prints a better chance to come out successfully.
With 3D printer enclosure temperature control and ventilation, there are more important factors to learn about, so keep on reading.
Does a 3D Printer Need an Enclosure?
If you are printing with PLA which is the most common filament for 3D printing then there is no need to use any enclosure. If you are planning to print with a filament such as ABS, Polycarbonate, or any other filament that may cause problems of warping or curling after being cooled, then an enclosure or a heated 3D printer chamber is a must-have part.
The type of enclosure depends on the work you are doing.
If you just want to hold the heat produced by the print bed and the print nozzle, then covering your 3D printer with any common thing such as cardboard, plastic totes, old table sheet, or something like that will work properly.
If you want to work like a professional, then build a well-polished and well-designed enclosure that can not only cover your 3D printer while using ABS filament, but also can be opened when you want to print with PLA.
Most people consider an enclosure as an unnecessary part but printing with ABS without an enclosure can damage the quality of the print.
Some prints do benefit from better print quality and fewer imperfections with an enclosure, so figure out which filament you are using, and whether quality improves or declines with an enclosure.
What Should a Good 3D Printer Enclosure Have?
A good 3D printer enclosure should have:
- Enough space
- Good safety features
- Temperature control
- Air extraction system
- Operable doors or panels
- Good-looking aesthetics
A good 3D printer enclosure should have enough space for all the parts that move in the printing process. While building an enclosure make sure that the moving parts can go up to their maximum range without striking the enclosure.
Many 3D printers have wires that move around, as well as the spool itself, so a little extra space for the moving parts is a good idea.
You wouldn’t want a 3D printer enclosure which barely fits your 3D printer because it also makes it difficult to make minor adjustments.
A good example is the Creality Enclosure having two main sizes, a medium for the average 3D printer, then a large for those bigger machines.
One of the main purposes of a 3D printer enclosure is to increase the safety of your working environment. That goes anywhere from physical safety to not touch moving or hot parts, to air filtration, down to fire safety.
There have been reports in the past of a 3D printer catching fire, mainly due to some errors in firmware and heating elements. Even though it is a pretty rare occurrence nowadays, we still want to protect against fires.
A great fireproof enclosure is a very ideal feature to have, where if a fire did start, it would not catch on fire and add to the problem.
Some people have enclosures made of metal or plexiglass to keep the flames within the enclosure. You can also make sure the enclosure is sealed which effectively cuts off the oxygen supply that a fire requires.
We also should think about kids or pets in this regard. You can have a locking system on your enclosure just to boost the safety aspect of it.
I wrote a post about Whether 3D Printing is Safe for Pets which you can check out for more information.
I’ve seen some great DIY enclosure which have a built-in temperature control system which measures the temperature inside the enclosure, and increases it with a heater when it gets too low.
You have to make sure your thermistors are in the right place because hot air rises, so placing it at the bottom or top without controlling the air can lead to inaccurate temperature readings for the whole enclosure, rather just one area.
3D prints can be a joy to watch as you see the progress of your objects, so having a nice lighting system for your enclosure is a great feature to have. You can get a bright white light or colorful LED system to illuminate your printing area.
A simple LED light strip connected to your 3D printer’s power supply should be enough to get that going.
Air Extraction System
The best type of enclosure have some kind of air extraction system built-in, which usually requires an air duct, inline fan and secured tubing which can take the contaminated air and direct it outside.
You can also get a stand-alone filter of some kind, having the air pass through and get cleaned continuously.
It’s a really good idea to have a solid air extraction system in place if you like to 3D print with ABS, or another fairly harsh material. PLA isn’t as harsh as ABS, but I would still recommend having a good ventilation system for it.
Doors or Panels
Some simple enclosures are simple a box which lifts directly on top of your 3D printer, but the best kind have cool doors or panels which are removable, and easily opened when needed.
The IKEA lack tables and plexiglass combination is one of the best DIY solutions since you can clearly see around the whole enclosure without opening the door. Other enclosures like the Creality Enclosure don’t give that same visual, but they still work very well.
An open-style enclosure can be beneficial because it still keeps some kind of heat in there, which would be ideal for PLA.
For ABS, you need better temperature control for a higher quality print, which is why the best printers for ABS have an in-built enclosure.
A good enclosure should be well-designed and well-polished so that it looks good in your room. Nobody wants an ugly looking enclosure to house their 3D printer, so it’s a good idea to take that extra time to make something that looks appealing.
How Do I Build a 3D Printer Enclosure?
There are many different ways to build a 3D printer enclosure, but Josef Prusa does an amazing job guiding you on building a solid enclosure in the video below.
A great enclosure like this can really enhance your 3D printing journey and experience for years to come.
Printing PLA in Heated Enclosure
If you are printing with PLA and have an enclosure, the heat may be a little too high and can prevent your objects from cooling quick enough.
A lot of heat in a sealed enclosure may cause the print layers to collapse which will lead to a poor quality print. When the temperature is too high, PLA has trouble sticking to the previous layer.
Using an enclosure while printing with PLA is considered unnecessary because instead of offering benefits, it can negatively affect your print’s quality and strength.
Without an enclosure, the PLA print will have enough cooling and the layer will solidify quickly. This usually results in a smoother and well-crafted print.
If you have a fixed enclosure on your 3D printer, then it is recommended to open its doors while printing with PLA, this can help the print to come out perfectly.
It is a good idea to have removable panels in your enclosure as removing or opening them will not require too much work.
What Air Filtration Options Are There for 3D Printer Enclosures?
The major existing air filtration options for 3D printer enclosures include:
- Carbon Foam or Filter
- Air Purifier
- HEPA Filter
- PECO Filter
Carbon Foam or Filter
Using carbon foam is a great idea as it can capture chemical fumes and can be a great option when it comes to air filtration for 3D printer enclosures. Carbon filters can help stop VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) from the air effectively.
Install an air purifier with the enclosure, it may be quite expensive but it is capable of capturing or preventing fumes, gases, or other toxic particles.
HEPA filters can capture the particles of 0.3 microns in size which is the average size of almost 99.97 percent of the air pollutants that pass through a printer enclosure.
It is considered the best option because of its versatility. It not only captures the VOCs and particles but it destroys them completely. The toxic fumes that come out from the printers are destroyed before they are released back into the air.
All in One Solutions
Guardian Technologies have released the awesome Germ Guardian True HEPA Filter Air Purifier (Amazon) that does a really good job cleaning up the air and reducing odors from smoke, fumes, pets, and plenty more.
It is fairly pricey, but with the number of features and benefits that it brings, it’s a great product to have on your side.
The features and benefits are as follows:
- 5-in-1 Air Purifier for Home: Electrostatic HEPA media air filter reduces up to 99.97% of harmful germs, dust, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and other allergens as small as .3 microns from the air.
- Pet Pure Filter – An antimicrobial agent is added to the filter to inhibit the growth of mold, mildew and odor-causing bacteria on the filter’s surface.
- Kills Germs – UV-C light helps kill airborne viruses such as influenza, staph, rhinovirus, and works with Titanium Dioxide to reduce volatile organic compounds.
- Traps Allergens – Pre-filter traps dust, pet hair, and other large particles while extending the life of the HEPA filter
- Reduces Odors – Activated charcoal filter helps to reduce unwanted odors from pets, smoke, cooking fumes, and more
- Ultra-Quiet Mode – Ultra-quiet sleep mode with a programmable timer helps you get a good night’s rest with cleaner air
- Choose between 3 speed settings and an optional UV C light
It’s also a #1 Best-Seller in Electrostatic Air Purifiers, so get yourself the Germ Guardian on Amazon for your 3D printing air filtration needs!
For an enclosure specifically, the usual air filtration solution looks like the VIVOSUN CFM Inline Fan & Filter System (Amazon).
You can get the individual parts cheaper, but if you like the whole system picked out of high quality parts and delivered to you for easy assembly, this is a great choice.
This air filtration system has the follow features and benefits:
- Effective Ventilation: Powerful blower with fan speeds of 2,300 RPM, giving an airflow of 190 CFM. Gives optimal ventilation for your target location
- Superior Carbon Filter: 1050+ RC 48 Australian Virgin Charcoal Bed. Dimensions: 4″ x 14″
- Effective Odor Control: The carbon filter eliminates some of the most undesirable odors, pungent smell and particulates from indoor grow tent, hydroponics grow room.
- Sturdy Duct System (with clamps) : Strong, flexible steel wire supports heavy-duty triple layer duct walls. PET core is sandwiched in layers of fire-retardant aluminum that can handle temperatures from -22 to 266 Fahrenheit.
- Easy Assembly: Avoiding the hassle of buying and returning parts that aren’t compatible or safe is easily done with a full-system. It requires everything you need to get going.
You may need to 3D print a connecting piece to secure to your enclosure so it is airtight. There are many designs on Thingiverse that are related to air purification.
This Minimalist 3D Printed Fume Extractor by rdmmkr was originally created to minimize fumes from soldering, but of course has uses outside of that.
Can You Overheat a 3D Printer with an Enclosure?
Some people wonder whether having an enclosure can actually overheat a 3D printer, which is a fair question to have.
There have been reports of certain parts of a 3D printer overheating such as the stepper motors, resulting in skipped steps and leading to poor quality layer lines on your 3D prints.
It’s also possible to actually overheat your electronics. Cooling is an important aspect of most machines, which is why you have heatsinks, thermal cooling paste, and fans all over the place.
If you don’t take care of the temperature aspect of your actual 3D printer, they can definitely overheat and lead to problems down the line.
Too much heat can definitely shorten the life of your electronics and motors.
Another thing that can happen is your cold end getting too warm. When this happens, your filament starts to get soft before getting to the heat break and this makes it harder for the filament to be pushed through the nozzle.
It can easily lead to clogs in your extrusion system and nozzle, as well as under extrusion, so make sure you balance this well.
Does Room Temperature Affect the Quality of 3D Prints?
3D printing includes all kinds of temperature fluctuations and specific temperature requirements for the optimal print quality, but does room temperature affect the quality of 3D prints?
Room temperature does indeed affect the quality of your 3D prints. Printing ABS or even resin at low room temperatures can lead to prints failing altogether, or just having poor adhesion and weak layer strength. Room temperature isn’t as big of a problem with PLA since it doesn’t react much to temperature fluctuations.
This is one of the basic reasons that urged the users of 3D printers to build an enclosure to have temperature control.
When you can control the operating temperature of your 3D printer, printing becomes a lot easier to handle. The best kind of enclosure has temperature controls similar to the 3D printing PID system.
You can set and measure your enclosure temperature, and once it gets below a certain point, you can activate a built-in heater to increase the operating temperature back to the set level.
Perfect Bed and Printing Temperatures for Popular Filaments
- Bed Temperature: 20 to 60°C
- Print Temperature: 200 to 220°C
- Bed Temperature: 110°C
- Print Temperature: 220 to 265°C
- Bed Temperature: 50 to 75°C
- Print Temperature: 240 to 270°C
- Bed Temperature: 80 to 100°C
- Print Temperature: 250°C
- Bed Temperature: 80 to 100°C
- Print Temperature: 250°C
- Bed Temperature: 100 to 140°C
- Print Temperature: 250 to 300°C
- Bed Temperature: 30 to 60°C
- Print Temperature: 220°C
- Bed Temperature: 100°C
- Print Temperature: 220 to 240°C
- Bed Temperature: 45 to 60°C
- Print Temperature: 220°C