3D printers are great machines that produce lovely models, but one question that people wonder is whether 3D printers can be used in a hot or cold garage, or even outside. It’s a perfectly valid question, which I will aim to answer in this article so it clears up any things you may have been thinking.
A 3D printer can be used in a hot or cold garage, but it needs to have temperature regulated in some kind of enclosure and some protection against drafts. I wouldn’t recommend putting a 3D printer outside because you can get significant temperature changes too rapidly, resulting in bad quality prints.
There are definitely some 3D printer users out there that 3D print in their garage, so I will give some tips on how to do so, as well as answer further questions surrounding this topic.
Can You 3D Print in a Cold Garage/Room?
Yes, you can 3D print in a cold garage if you take the right precautions such as using a heated enclosure and using build surfaces which don’t fluctuate in temperature too much. A strong power supply also helps with 3D printing in a cold room or garage.
You do have to worry about more factors in order to be able to successfully print in a cold room or garage but it isn’t impossible.
The biggest issue I think you’ll face is the increased level of warping, and prints becoming loose during the printing process before they have the chance to actually finish.
Aluminum is thermally conductive, but it is susceptible to temperature changes by the environment. The best way to overcome this factor is to put a heated enclosure around your 3D printer or some kind of temperature-controlling barrier.
One user who had many problems getting successful prints in a cold room kept having the nozzle knock over the prints and just resulted in many failed models. The room was under 5°C which is very cold compared to a normal room.
Building an enclosure helped tons with this issue.
There is also an issue of your actual filament cracking while going from spool to extruder. If you have lower quality filament which has absorbed moisture, it will be more likely to break during the extrusion process.
I’ve written an article behind reasons why PLA gets brittle and snaps which you can check out for more information.
A good thing to have on your 3D printer that is in a cold room is a strong power supply, because your machine will definitely be working hard to keep up with the temperature changes.
A high quality power supply translates to better heating abilities and can really improve your print quality if that is what is holding back your 3D printing.
Printing with ABS in a cold room is definitely going to be difficult, so you’ll have to keep the entire build area at a high enough temperature to stop prints warping. Even PLA requires some kind of heat regulation even though it’s a lower temperature printing material.
It would be a little too expensive to heat up your whole garage constantly.
David Gerwitz from ZDNet found that PLA doesn’t print well at temperatures under 59°F (15°C).
Larger prints are likely to experience layer separation, especially with open 3D printers which are common with FDM style machines.
Can You 3D Print in a Hot Garage/Room?
Yes, you can 3D print in a hot garage or room, but you need to have proper climate control facilities. Being able to control the operating temperature and its fluctuations is an important factor in successfully printing in a hot room.
Depending on your location, your room or garage can get very hot so you need to take that into account when putting your 3D printer there.
Some people decide to put a large-sale cooler or air conditioning in there to regulate the internal temperature. You can even get one with a built-in dehumidifier to absorb that moisture from the air so it doesn’t affect your filament.
It probably wouldn’t be as bad printing ABS in a hot room (may actually be beneficial), but when it comes to lower temperature materials like PLA, they get soft, so they won’t harden as fast.
You’ll need a powerful, efficient cooling fan to get the results you need when printing with PLA. I would probably upgrade your stock fans to something more powerful so each layer can harden enough for the next layer.
If you are 3D printing in a hot room the main changes you’ll want to make are:
- Decreasing your heated bed temperature
- Using powerful fans for cooling
- Regulate your room temperature to be around 70°F (20°C)
There isn’t really a best ambient room temperature for 3D printing, rather a range but the most important factor is temperature stability.
In the hot weather, the electronic PCB and the motors of the 3D printer can start overheating and malfunctioning.
Extreme high temperature may result in parts deforming, whereas cold temperature may cause the warping between print layers.
In the scenario of a resin-based printer, the cooler temperature may affect the print quality of the printer, which may result in a poor quality of prints.
Does 3D Printing Heat Up the Room A Lot?
3D printing does get hot when you are using the heated bed and the nozzle, but it won’t heat up a room a lot. I would say it adds some heat to a room that is already hot, but you wouldn’t see a 3D printer heating up a cold room.
The size, power supply, regular bed and hotend temperature are going to be contributing factors as to whether your 3D printer will heat up a room a lot. It works in the same way as a computer or gaming system.
If you do notice that your room gets hotter when you have your computer on, you can be sure that a large-scale 3D printer will add to that existing heat in your room. A mini 3D printer is a lot less likely to contribute to heat.
To avoid this, you can use low temperature materials and use adhesive substances to get prints to stick rather than using the heated bed element of your 3D printer. A heated bed does reduce warping though so keep that in mind.
You can build an enclosure with ventilation to counter the heat that a 3D printer can create.
Can You 3D Print Outside?
It is very possible to 3D print outside but you should think about levels of humidity and the lack of climate control. Small changes in humidity and temperature can definitely alter the quality of your prints.
A good idea in this instance would be to enclose your 3D printer in an airtight, heat-regulated cabinet of some sort. Ideally it can block out wind, sunlight, temperature changes and not absorb humidity in the air.
You don’t want any sort of condensation affecting your 3D printer and temperature changes can cause you to hit a dew point which draws condensation. Climate control in this event is very important.
Your electronics would be put at extra risk so it isn’t the safest thing to keep your 3D printer outside somewhere.
There are many hardware parts that have humidity corrosion ratings and other standards. It’s a good idea to get materials that are resistant to humidity such as steel, along with bearings and guide that have the right coatings on them.
A rubber seal is a good idea and having a dehumidifier would help out greatly.
Where Should I Keep My 3D Printer?
You can keep your 3D printer in several places but you should make sure it’s on a flat surface, in a well-ventilated area which doesn’t have sunlight beaming down or drafts to affect temperature. Make sure not to put it on a surface which can easily scratch and to really check the surroundings.
I’ve written an article on this topic about Should I Put My 3D Printer in My Bedroom which goes over these things in more detail.
The main things to make sure of is that temperature levels are consistent and humidity isn’t too high. You also want to store your filament in an airtight container of some sort to prevent it from absorbing moisture in the air.
Without taking care of these things, your print quality can suffer and show many failures in the long-run.
The Best Way to 3D Print in a Garage
3D printer climate control is a crucial parameter to maintain longevity of your 3D printers.
All 3D printers come with a minimum baseline temperature to function properly. Extrusion-type 3D printers have a lower baseline of about 10-degree Celsius.
However, practically no filament would create good quality 3D prints at really low temperatures.
PLA is the simplest filament to perform a print. It can deliver good quality without any noticeable warping or delaminating with temperatures as low as 59 °F (15 °C). At the same time, resin printers are not as sensitive as FDM/FFF 3D printers. All resins have an excellent print temperature to cure perfectly.
While most resin-based printers nowadays have installed automatic heat control built-in. For better monitoring and performance of the 3D printer enclosure heater or a direct heating mechanism will be your only option to ensure good print quality. No 3D printer will give high-quality 3D prints at a hot temperature.
Lastly, no 3D printer likes to print when it is too hot. 3D printers ventilate a fair amount of heat on their own, and if temperature comes around 104°F (40 °C) or higher, then the equipment will be overheated without adequate cooling.
Therefore, you need to think about all of these to get perfect 3D prints.
Should I Enclose my 3D Printer?
Yes, you should enclose your 3D printer if you are after the best print quality. Printing with simple materials like PLA doesn’t make a huge difference, but with more advanced, higher temperature materials, it can significantly increase quality and printing success rates.
It’s a good idea to have a cooling system so that you can regulate the operating temperature within the enclosure to fit your desired printing temperature for your 3D printing materials.
Making sure that you have simple and swift access in case anything goes wrong. Another choice is to build a filtration system to filter the air as it escapes the exhaust system. Make sure that the 3D printer parts won’t be affected by direct sunlight.
Attaching an exhaust with a HEPA or Carbon filter to vent out any toxic fumes and UFPs is what some people do to increase safety.