Can 3D Printers Overheat? How to Fix Overheating in 3D Printing

A 3D printer is a fairly complex bit of machinery which requires good operation and maintenance throughout its life. Overheating is an issue that can plague your 3D printer.

If this is happening to you, finding a way to fix it is very important. Keep on reading through the rest of this article to find why your 3D printer overheats and how to fix it once and for all.

Can 3D Printers Overheat?

Temperature plays an essential part in all the manufacturing processes, and 3D printing is no different. In the summer, when everything is already hot, 3D printers with continuous printing also get hot.

They will even get hot if it is winter, only if a number of things to keep the temperature stable are not kept in mind.

The temperature of the filament in the nozzle will remain hot for too long during the whole printing process, and if that happens, it will melt away and deform your printer model.

Why Do 3D Printers Overheat?

  • Not enough cooling
  • Printing temperature set too high
  • Printing at speeds too high

1. Not Enough Cooling

Now, one of the common cause which you will be encountering is that the filament is not cooled enough when it is deposited. When this happens, the hot plastic is free to change the shape as it slowly cools and deforms the whole model.

The same way the plastic is extruded through the nozzle in its liquid state, it stays quite hot even after coming out of the nozzle.

If you have weak fans or don’t have the fans correctly pointed at the extruded material, you can definitely experience prints not setting properly, leading to print imperfections.

What you need to do is:

  • Increase the cooling fan power rate in your slicer settings
  • Get yourself a high quality fan which uses more power rather than the stock fan
  • Use an additional fan or implement a fan duct to properly directly the cool air to your 3D print.

2. Extruder Temperature Too High

During the whole printing process, you might have noticed that the extruder’s head/nozzle temperature is high too, which can become of the cause of overheating in the 3D printer.

Lowering the extruder temperature comes in handy when the cooling fails to do its job.

When you would lower the temperature, the print model will solidify quickly and retain its shape. The solution is simple:

  • Lower the printing temperature by starting with a reduction to 10°C in your slicer
  • Trial and error these temperatures with a simple test print to see how the results turn out.
  • Remember not to reduce the temperature too fast

3. Printing Too Fast

Haste makes waste; well, that can be the case with 3D printing too. If you are printing too fast, it doesn’t give enough time for the previous layer to cool down, so that the next layer that gets extruded is likely to deform the structure.

If you are experiencing overheating with your 3D printer, it is important to reduce the printing speed of the printer, especially for smaller parts where each layer only requires a few seconds to print.

Even if you have a cooling fan to cool down the layers, still fast printing needs to be controlled. The solution is simple:

  • Go to your slicer settings and reduce the printing speed
  • Slowing the speed slows down the printing of small layers, especially.
  • It automatically adjusts the printing speed of those lays which take less than 15 seconds to print.
  • Implement a setting which gives a minimum time for layers, allowing more time to cool.

You should keep in mind that the speed you set in your slicer doesn’t always get reached, because your 3D printer requires acceleration to get there.

Smaller prints won’t reach high speeds because the travel distance doesn’t give it enough time to speed up. If you have high jerk & acceleration settings, you should also lower that.

4. Printing Multiple Parts at Once

If you feel like nothing in the above section working for you and you ate still having overheating issues. I am going to explain to you how you can avoid overheating with printing multiple parts.

  • Print two objects in the same print, but separate them out
  • This will provide enough time for the printer and layers to cool down

How to Fix Extruder Stepper Motor Overheating?

Now, during the printing process, the motor load of the extruder is quite large, actually, and it continues to rotate back and forth while pulling the wire forward and backward. These constant, fast movements often requires a lot of current.

If the printer circuitry does not release the heat effectively, it will cause the motor and the motor drive circuit to overheat, which can result in many problems during the extrusion process.

The motor present in such 3D printers has overheating protection, and when the temperature is too high, it will make the motor stop working. As a result, the motor of the extruder will not move all it.

Sometimes your extruder motor can get so hot that the gears get hot and flatten/deform your filament.

The solution is as follows:

  • The main solution is to turn off the printer
  • Let the machine rest for some time, and then you can start it again
  • You can add an extra cooling fan for the motor
  • Make sure your extruder is not getting an excess load to pull the filament, so it has a smooth filament path
  • Ensure that your tension screws aren’t too tight on the extruder
  • You can adjust the motor current using G-Code e.g. M907 X550 Y550 Z550 E720 for an Ender 3 (this requires more knowledge as it depends on what motherboard and drivers you have).

Sometimes your motor might be getting excessively hot, and it might start skipping the printing steps. To solve this, you need to:

  • Turn off the printer
  • Reset the extruder motor pot and recalibrate it
  • Take it out, clean the extruder part, and reinstall it, and you should be fine
  • Change the software if you are experiencing the problem every time

How to Fix Enclosure Overheating?

Enclosing your 3D printer has many advantages such as control print temperature fluctuations, reducing noise of your printer and making it look more presentable around the home or office.

It does however add some potential issues such as overheating, especially when printing with PLA, although it’s amazing for ABS.

This can cause the printed parts to be softened and warped, which can lead to bad binding on the X-carriage. It could also increase the slop between the double bearing holders and the bushings.

Remember, electronics when they work, can get hot, and it is usually better to keep them opened instead of enclosing them.

We all know we want a perfect print, and we need to keep things warm for the filament to come out perfectly, but enclosing the whole case could actually disturb it if not maintained.

In order to overcome this issue, you can try the following:

  • You need to install a temperature checking device with the enclosure
  • Attach a temperature-controlled fan to vent the enclosure
  • You can buy one from Amazon with a digital temperature controller
  • From the screen, you will stay informed when the temperature goes above the optimal point
  • If everything fails, do not use an enclosure, use the cooling fans, and keep the temperature of the printing process high.

You can use an enclosure for ABS, but when it comes to PLA, it softens at too high temperatures, and you will struggle to get a good print through it.

Because of the filament has gone softer than required, it can start leaking out of the nozzle or not cooling properly, leading to some bad print quality in the end.

Overall, heating in electronics is common, but you can avoid a similar thing in 3D printing with proper observation of the processes and using cooling fans.

Keeping the temperature low is another method, but always stay alert and keep your knowledge about these issues up to date, and you will be good to go.

Can 3D Printers Catch on Fire?

It’s definitely a rarity nowadays, but it’s not impossible when you don’t take the right precautions. You want to make sure you have thermal runway protection enabled on your 3D printer.

It took a while for even some of the bigger brands to deliver 3D printers with this already enabled, because having it disabled made for easier testing of each machine beforehand.

Once you have installed thermal runway protection, your other worries are to do with the electronics, circuitry, and heating elements which draw quite a lot of power.

Make sure you don’t have loose connections and your wires aren’t frayed for some reason. It’s a good idea to use cable chains or implement some organized wire management so that over time, your wires don’t get damaged.

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