Exploring the Next Frontier in 3D Printing: Real-Time Material Temperature Monitoring


Could a new FFF 3D printer feature change everything? [Source: Fabbaloo / D3]

I’ve been thinking about a possible innovation for desktop 3D printers that might change print quality and material management forever.

Looking back at the first 3D printer I used, the venerable MakerBot CupCake, it’s now quite appealing how awful that machine is relative to today’s sleek, sophisticated machines. The CupCake was lucky to have end stops on its motion system, and that might have been one of the “features” at the time.

Over succeeding years there have been many developments that took the technology up a notch, year after year. Some of those innovations, which now might seem routine, include:

  • Standard heater blocks
  • LCD control panels
  • PEI print surface
  • Magnetically detachable print plates
  • Dual geared extruders
  • Color touchscreens
  • Filament out sensors
  • Power loss protection
  • Linear rails
  • Vibration compensation
  • Dynamic flow management

And many more. As time goes by, these technologies have (or will) become standard features in a desktop 3D printer. This is beneficial, as nowadays devices are notably more reliable and of higher quality compared to the ones from years ago. This transformation occurred gradually over many years.

So, what’s next?

My thoughts veer towards temperature. Here’s the issue: every FFF 3D printer has slightly differing thermal behaviors. This is because the hot ends, extruders, and materials used are all unique.

The temperature setting for a specific filament can vary dependent on the machine it’s being used on. This variability is due to differing thermal characteristics and geometrical structures of hot ends. For instance, PLA filament might operate best at 208C on one machine, yet at 185C on another.

So, how do we adjust for these discrepancies? We have found a solution in the concept of print profiles. Essentially, a distinct print profile needs to be developed for each unique combination of machine and material. This represents no small task, because there are constantly new machine models and materials entering the market.

New machines are regular occurrences, a necessity for continued technological advancement. This implies the constant need for enhanced hot end designs, resulting in an ever-growing need for more print profiles.

Projecting into the future, say 2035, will we be overwhelmed with millions of print profiles? How will we possibly manage?

In my opinion, the crux of the problem lies in current FFF devices’ inability to accurately determine the temperature of the extruded material.

These machines are only aware of the heater block’s temperature, where the material’s temperature is recorded by the thermistor. This measurement is merely an estimation of the actual temperature of the extruded material. This explains why different hot ends may need slight adjustments in temperature settings for specific materials.

Let’s theorize a possible solution. What if the FFF 3D printers were capable of real-time measurement of the extruded material’s actual temperature?

This might be achievable with laser or infrared sensors targeting the nozzle’s tip, a clever thermo sensor adhered to the tip, or through other yet-to-be-discovered methods.

Should this attribute be implemented, an appropriate machine, equipped with the necessary software, could adaptively discern the correct temperature for each distinct material.

For instance, if the rate of printing or flow fluctuates during the procedure, this feature might support the software in escalating the temperature of the hot end to neutralize this variability.

This implies that it is no longer required to use thermal data in print profiles; the systems would autonomically determine it as needed. This operation would be conducted persistently for each print job, possibly resulting in superior quality prints.

I am yet to hear of anyone tackling this issue, however maybe it’s a topic worth exploring. If successful, such a feature would likely revolutionize the operation of FFF 3D printers, as well as the distribution and usage of filament.

And I’d add it to the list of major steps forward above.

Original source


“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”

Like it? Share with your friends!


Meet the mastermind behind NozzleNerds.com: GCode-Guru, a 3D printing wizard whose filament collection rivals their sock drawer. Here to demystify 3D tech with a mix of expert advice, epic fails, and espresso-fueled rants. If you've ever wondered how to print your way out of a paper bag (or into a new coffee cup), you're in the right place. Dive into the world of 3D printing with us—where the only thing more abundant than our prints is our sarcasm.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
The Classic Internet Listicles
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Youtube and Vimeo Embeds
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Photo or GIF
GIF format