Addressing the Downside of ABS Printing: Potential Harm to Your 3D Printer


Enclosures can cause problems on some 3D printers [Source: Fabbaloo]

I’m reading an interesting thread on Reddit about Bambu Lab enclosures and realized there could be a more widespread issue.

The thread proposes that “ABS is bad for your 3D printer”. It’s based on the experience of poster poofph, who operates ten X1C devices. Two are used to print PLA only, while the other eight print ABS only.

Over time poofph noticed issues with the ABS printing devices. They explained:

“The ones that print ABS have had tons of issues all year. Mostly electrical issues, needing new cables, new circuit boards (replaced nearly every board in the printer on most of my printers) etc. The ones that print PLA, have not had a single issue and only had to change the hotend once, on the ABS machines I have to change the hotends once every few months on average. The ABS machines get this glaze/yucky coating all over the inside of the printer which is very difficult to wash off, nothing on the PLA machines.”

Let’s dissect this statement.

Firstly, ABS is globally recognized to generate significantly more emissions than several other common 3D print materials. Plenty of studies have highlighted that the nanoparticle and VOC levels are sometimes 10 times more than PLA and other materials. People who print with ABS are often familiar with this due to the noticeable odor. And that’s merely the particles our noses can perceive.

In the case of printing ABS on an open gantry 3D printer, these emissions usually drift away and settle in the immediate work environment. That’s why it’s often suggested to have a well-ventilated area for any 3D printing operation.

When an enclosure is involved, the outcome can divert. The walls hinder the emissions from dispersing, potentially causing them to stagnate in the chamber. Notably, numerous enclosures are purposefully engineered to retain heat to aid in the printing process. Yet, these enclosures also confine the emissions within.

When the user poofph noted an unsightly layer accumulating on their X1Cs’ interiors, it was almost definitely a buildup of emissions.

Footnote: reflecting on the state of the printer after producing ABS, one can’t help but wonder about the health of your lungs when lacking proper ventilation.

Suggestions have been made that these accumulations might have triggered several hardware malfunctions in the X1C. While this could be plausible, it is more probable that the elevated temperatures necessary for ABS printing are to blame. Consistently operating ABS tasks maintains high heat in the X1Cs for extended durations, which is typically detrimental for electronics.

It’s probable that most FFF 3D printers with enclosures, including the Bambu Lab X1C, experience issues with emissions and glaze. This report specifically focuses on the X1C.

There are variations in how different 3D printers handle emissions. For instance, in some models the enclosure is simply a box isolating the printing process, which can lead to accumulation of emissions.

Some 3D printers have more sophisticated enclosures, equipped with fans and filters. The fans push air from the chamber through a filter, which ideally traps most emissions, preventing them from affecting the air or the printer’s walls.

Still, there are some 3D printers with enclosures that include fans but exclude filters. These designs prioritize temperature consistency. If the internal temperature surpasses a certain limit, the fan is activated and extracts some of the hot air, admitting cooler air. However, in these instances, emissions are pushed out as if there were no enclosure at all. This setup might even be more detrimental since the airflow could spread the emissions further.

What can we draw from everything? The following points seem apparent:

  • Cages lacking filters are undesirable
  • Encased 3D printers require a fan/filter mechanism to hinder buildup of residue within the device
  • ABS proves to be a terrible material for performing 3D printing
  • Running 3D printers at elevated temperatures for prolonged durations leads to electronic malfunctions
  • Everyone ought to be slightly more cautious about safety issues associated with their 3D printers

Upon analyzing the content and pondering over why such incidents occur, my perspective towards 3D printer enclosures has slightly shifted. Yours should too.

Source: Reddit

Original source


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