Is it Ok to Leave a 3D Printer on Overnight
You probably want to get the most out of your 3D printer if you have one. One of the simplest methods to hasten 3D builds is to print overnight. But, the question is, should you?
There might be instances where you have loads of projects to print, and you are tempted to leave your 3D printer on overnight. This might sound like a good approach, but it could attract dangerous consequences.
The majority of manufacturers strongly warn against it. While you can take various risk-reduction and management measures, keeping a 3D printer running overnight is always risky.
In this article, you will get the answer to this question, printing hazards to beware of, and safety measures to consider when using your 3D printer.
It is not advisable to leave a 3D printer on overnight.
Many 3D printers are not designed to operate alone, making the risks of what could go wrong even greater. Furthermore, 3D printers might be a fire hazard. In reality, several incidents of 3D printers have been left unattended to print and have resulted in fire danger. While this isn't always the case, there are chances that your 3D printer isn't safe to leave alone. This is particularly true if you're printing in a small space.
Overnight, vapors might build up in your room, making it dangerous; you can inhale these gases which are harmful to human health. However, many people leave their 3D printers running overnight and unattended. Most instructions advise against keeping your 3D printer alone for an extended period. Many others, however, continue to do so. Most employ fire suppression tents made from 3D printers as mitigation.
Besides your health and fire danger, running a 3D printer for an extended time is not advisable because it could cause problems in the printer's functionality. The longer it works, the more hazards are likely to occur. A malfunction in your machine's functioning might potentially pose a problem. In addition, a lack of regular maintenance might pose a threat. As a result, you should inspect your 3D printer frequently to ensure that it is in good working order.
The materials used in 3D printers range from the plastic filament to metal powders to concrete. Many materials have risks that people should be conscious of and educated to deal with. Most of the 3D printer filaments are thermoplastics with established chemical compositions; however, additions and manufacturing impurities are possible.
The most prevalent 3D printing technologies use a thread-like plastic filament (referred to as feedstock) that is melted by a heating element before being shuffled through a nozzle. Long-term exposure to some materials' fumes can be dangerous. Here are some printing hazards to beware of:
- Fumes from Filaments
A variety of VOCs have been linked to filaments, according to research:
- ABS filaments have been shown to generate over 175 distinct volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including carcinogens like benzene and methylene chloride.
- Over 50 VOCs have been found in PLA filaments, including 1-Butanol, which can harm the eyes, skin, respiratory system, and central nervous system. On the other hand, PLA emits at a far lower rate than its competitors.
- Nylon filaments produced a variety of low-level VOCs. Caprolactam makes up over 90% of the volatile emission content, which can harm the eyes, skin, liver, kidneys, respiratory, cardiovascular, and central nervous systems.
- PLA filaments emit more particles and total VOCs than ABS and Nylon filaments. Depending on their composition, other filaments may expose you to additional chemicals and metals. When integrating 3D printers into your surroundings, you must evaluate the kind of filament. Consequently, if you are working in a small space and you leave your printer overnight, these gases might pose a threat to your health and your surroundings.
- Fire Hazards
3D printers can cause a fire. This is true for any equipment that operates at temperatures that occasionally surpass 250 degrees. Some 3D printer models, however, are more prone to combustibility than others.
The Anet A8 3D printer, for example, has a record of combustibility, as evidenced by photographs of the model burned out on Google Images. 3D printing fires are uncommon, on average. Several factors influence the risk of fire in 3D printers. The first and most crucial consideration is the construction quality.
Every 3D printer features a thermistor that measures the machine's operating temperature. Instead of a larger thermostat, most include a thermistor and a heat cartridge. The thermistor sensors might break loose due to poor construction quality, causing the 3D printer to overheat and combust.
This is also true when it comes to wiring and cabling. 3D printers may generate a lot of heat. Cables can deteriorate over time and reach a point where they melt. If you keep your 3D printer on for 18-20 hours, including a period while it is unattended, the cables may become damaged to the point of baring wires. It might not start a fire immediately, but it will eventually.
A fire can also be caused by an electrical failure, such as a wire short. A spark is caused by a short in this case, which normally occurs in a motor. Because the motor is still operating, it continues to ignite. The motor eventually catches fire, which might spread across the room. This is especially significant because many people leave 3D printers on tables made of wood.
Because many individuals keep combustible materials around their 3D printers, such as lubricants, cleaning agents, paint, resin, and other materials, even a tiny printer fire may swiftly spread. It's quite improbable that the 3D printing technique would cause a fire. Plastics are both non-flammable and more prone to melt if they come into touch with a hot extruder tip.
- Install Monitoring System
When you leave your 3D printer unattended, remote monitoring devices like cameras and software may provide a lot of peace of mind. A camera, for example, allows you to check the visual status of your webcam at any time. If you're going to sleep, that won't help much, but if you're going to work, it will.
For most 3D printers, applications like Octoprint provide reliable remote monitoring. This helps to keep track of your 3D printer, regulate it, and even turn it off if specific parameters are exceeded. That provides a layer of safety, as long as your hardware is calibrated correctly.
- Enabled Thermal Runaway Protection
Most 3D printers have an option called thermal runaway protection that allows you to decrease or prevent most fire threats. In this example, the printer simply stops printing in case the thermistor readouts are abnormal. For instance, if the values are too high, excessively low, or if the readings completely stop. This eliminates the risk of a fire caused by a thermistor or sensor that has been dislodged.
When a thermistor is misplaced, displaced, or defective, thermal runaway occurs. Fortunately, many 3D printers have it turned on by default. Thermal runaway prevention is standard on Prusa and MakerBot, for example. Others, such as the Marlin and Endor 3D printers, need you to activate the feature.
Make sure the feature is turned on, then read your printer's handbook to see what thermal runaway precautions it has.
- Keep your 3D printer away from combustible materials
Many printers are quite hot. Some printers print at temperatures equivalent to those found in an oven. It's critical to keep children away from combustible materials. This entails placing printers on a porcelain or metal surface in a well-ventilated area.
You should also make sure that paint, cleaning materials, resin, and other similar items are not kept close. If you must keep these documents or papers in the same room, keep them in a metal or other file folder, where they will be less damaged if something goes wrong.
- Use Fire Extinguishers
When working with potentially flammable machinery, it's critical to have a Class C extinguisher on hand. Class C fire extinguishers smother a fire with powdered chemicals or carbon dioxide while it is still linked to living electricity. If there is a fire, it is also a good idea to use the breaker box to switch off the electricity to the room.
This guarantees that any electrical power fueling the flames is turned off. It also lowers the chances of the fire producing shorts and potential flames in other areas of your home.
- Print with a Slower Speed and at a Lower Temperature
Printing at a slower speed helps you to lessen the print's temperature — to a point. This reduction, however, will not be significant enough to make it secure to leave the printer unattended without taking safeguards. On the other hand, it will decrease the risk of malfunctions and issues caused by overheating.
Generally, the slower you print, the better the machine will perform and the higher the print quality will be. However, instead of ABS, you could wish to print using something that becomes functional at a lower temperature, such as PLE. If you have a heated bed, for instance, PLE allows you to print at temperatures as low as 180 degrees Celsius. In most cases, ABS is used.
- You May Put It on Hold for the Night Instead
The majority of 3D printers include in-built start/stop and pause controls. If you don't turn off the power or lose the stored print data, the printer will resume where it left off. This enables you to print larger projects securely, even if they need extra time than available in a single day.
It is dangerous to leave your 3D printer on overnight. If you insist on running your 3D printing machine overnight, you should be aware that you might be taking a risk. Before 3D printing overnight, be sure you've taken the necessary precautions stated above. In addition, if no one is home to attend to the printer, you should inform a close relative or acquaintance as a precaution.