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When Should I Turn Off my 3D Printer?

When Should I Turn Off my 3D Printer?

3D printing refers to the different methods and advancements in technology that provides a wide range of possibilities for creating parts and products with various materials to be applied in diverse fields.

It encompasses all processes involved in the making of an object from a three-dimensional digital model and is carried out using a 3D Printer. Typically, this is done by laying down a series of thin layers of material. It converts a digital entity into a real physical form by layering materials on top of each other.

3D printers are used by designers to create product models, and prototypes and also to make final products, as well. Among the items made with 3D printers are furniture, wax castings for making jewelry, tools, novelty items, and toys.

If you are new to 3D printing technology, you just purchased a new 3D printer and you want to know when it is safest to turn off your printer and how to do so or you're only here looking to close a few knowledge gaps, there is enough information here to satisfy your quest for knowledge. Let's begin!

Three Main Types of 3D Printers

The challenge that so many people face when it comes to 3D printing is being able to distinguish between the different materials used for printing and types of 3D printers.

There are several types of 3D printers or printing processes some of which include Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), Stereolithography (SLA), Masked Stereolithography (MSLA), Digital Light Processing (DLP), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Electron Beam Melting (EBM).

We have done our best to briefly introduce three main types to you below.

  1. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

Fused deposition modeling, or FDM, is a term you may be familiar with. Another name for this process is Fused filament fabrication.

Generally, the way it functions is that a spool of filament is placed into the 3D printer and fed through a printer nozzle in the extrusion head. After heating the printer nozzle to the proper temperature, a motor pushes the filament through the heated nozzle, melting it.

The printer then rotates the extrusion head in the desired direction, depositing the molten material on the build plate, where it cools and solidifies. When a layer is finished, the printer moves on to the next layer. This procedure of printing cross-sections is repeated until the object is entirely produced, layer by layer.

3D printed buildings are made by extruding clay or concrete, 3D printed desserts are made by extruding chocolate, 3D printed organs are made by extruding live cells in a bio gel, and so on. If anything can be extruded, it can almost certainly be 3D printed using FDM.

  1. Stereolithography (SLA)

Stereolithography is one of the common forms of Vat polymerization. SLA printers employ galvanometers or galvos, which are mirrors positioned with one on the X-axis and the other on the Y-axis. These galvos fire a laser beam across a vat of resin, curing and solidifying a cross-section of the object inside this building area, layer by layer.

To cure pieces, most SLA printers employ a solid-state laser. When compared to Digital Light Processing (DLP) method, which hardens a complete layer at once, these sorts of 3D printing technologies utilizing a point laser have the disadvantage of taking longer to trace the cross-section of an object.

  1. Digital Light Processing (DLP)

These types of 3D printers are nearly identical to SLA when it comes to digital light processing equipment. The main distinction is that DLP employs a digital light projector to simultaneously flash a single image of each layer (or multiple flashes for larger parts).

The image of each layer is made up of square pixels because the projector is a digital screen, resulting in a layer made up of small rectangular blocks called voxels. Light-emitting diode (LED) screens or a UV light source (lamp) which are directed to the construction surface by a digital micromirror device ( DMD), project light onto the resin.

A DMD is a micro-mirror array that controls where light is projected and generates the light pattern on the built surface.

How to Turn Off Your 3D Printer

If for instance, you're going on a long holiday, you want to take a break from printing, or for any other reason you need to shut down your 3D printer and you don't know what to do, here are a few tips for you to follow

  1. Most of the materials used in 3D printing are hygroscopic in nature and leaving them in the system while the machine is shutting down allows moisture to be absorbed into the remaining material which can cause problems for your machine down the road.

The first thing to do before shutting down your 3D Printer would be to manually unload any material left in there and seal it up in a canister which should then be put in a MYLAR bag and stored away in a cool, dry place. If the material is not unloaded, it would absorb moisture from the environment and become unusable.

  1. You do not just flip the power switch on your 3D printer because it is not like a computer that has an operating system, first you have to wait for the temperature of the hot end to drop below 50⁰C by leaving the heat break fan spinning to cool down the printer and ensure that there is no chance for heat to creep up and melt the filament left in the cold end.
  2. After the hot end has cooled down. Turn off the heat break fan. You can then proceed to manually shut down your printer.
  3. A pushbutton is located on the front of the printer. Push the button with an Allen key or any other small tool and hold it down for 10 seconds. You should hear two short tones followed by four more tones when you release go. This indicates that the system is starting to shut down.

If you don't properly shut down your 3D printer, the print heads can become clogged and jammed and require replacement.

Why Should I Wait Before Switching off my 3D Printer?

The reason you want to wait before turning off the printer is that you want to keep that fan running until there's no way for the heat to creep up and melt the filament in the cold end. If the filament in the cold end melts, the extruder will clog, and you'll have to disassemble your 3D printer.

Why Should I Not Leave my Printer Running?

Generally, 3D printing takes a long time, printers are able to run up to a few days for a print. As a result of this, most users leave their 3D printers unattended while they sleep or go out.

Making this a habit, on the other hand, is not a good idea. You should not leave your 3D printer unsupervised since it poses a number of serious risks. Printers have caught on fire in the past as a result of faulty wiring or heated bed failures. Overheating is a possibility when the temperature is too high.

What Would Happen if I Don't Properly Shut Down my Printer?

  1. Print heads can clog and jam, necessitating their replacement. The resin will solidify in the orifices and clog them if they are not properly purged, cleaned, and in some cases filled with cleaning solution before shutting down.
  2. When the printer is turned off and the vacuum pressure is lost, the filament will drip from the nozzles into the machine. During a correct shutdown procedure, the printer will drain all of the filament from the block and park the head over the purge region to prevent leakage into the printer.
  3. The filament inside the printer can gel over time (greater than ten days) and clog all of the tubes and manifolds inside the printer. This might cause serious damage to the printer and as a result, most of the fluid delivery components (including print heads) would need to be replaced, This type of damage could end up costing a lot of money to fix.
  4. In some cases, such as with FDM printers, an improper shutdown might not cause any serious damage to the machine but can cause damage to the material loaded as it would absorb moisture and become useless.

Conclusion

After printing for a few hours or having completed a printed model, it is not compulsory to turn off your 3D Printer immediately or all the time. It should only be turned off when necessary or after a couple of days, depending on what type of printer you possess, and even at that, it still comes with potential risks.

If you must turn off your 3D Printer, you have to make sure to do it right to ensure the safety of your home, yourself, and your printer. We hope that this article has equipped you with ample information on when to turn off your 3D Printer and how to do it correctly.

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