There are not many things more terrifying than a house fire. No one wants to experience the tragedy and guilt of starting a fire, especially if 3D printing is just a hobby. If you want to mitigate the possibility of a 3D printer fire you should always follow the proper safety precautions.
As a general rule, you should not leave your 3D printer running unattended overnight because of the risk of starting a fire. There are safety precautions that you can take to mitigate the risk of leaving your 3D printer unattended but it is not possible to completely remove the risk.
My thought is would you bake overnight? The answer that I have is maybe, if the situation and the reason was right. I would probably lose a lot of sleep if my oven was on when I was trying to go to sleep though and I believe that 3D printers should be treated with the same caution.
Can A 3D Printer Catch On Fire?
It is possible for your 3D printer to catch on fire under the right circumstance, but as a whole, it is highly unlikely. If you do choose to run your 3D printer unattended make sure you use a fireproof enclosure and keep a smoke detector and a fire extinguisher near the printer.
The most likely thing on a 3D printer that could catch fire is thermal runaway which is typically caused by the temperature sensor in your 3D printer either failing or shifting causing it to not read properly. Thermal Runaway is prevented with mose 3D printer firmwares.
It is also possible for your printer to catch fire if your extruder gets clogged or the filament clings to the nozzle and builds up which then causes the nozzle to overheat. The nozzle clogging is typically due to either a dirty nozzle or by a filament that has larger particles in it like a wood filament.
The third likely culprit if your 3D printer catches fire is bad wiring from the manufacturer. A short in the wiring can cause an electrical fire which could then spread to other areas of your house.
Finally the last thing that
What Is Thermal Runaway On A 3D Printer?
Thermal Runaway is a malfunction of a 3D printer in which the hot end of the 3D printer heats up to extreme temperatures and does not stop. Thermal Runaway is typically caused by either the temperature sensor failing or the temperature sensor detaching from the hot end or the bed.
Typically your 3D printer’s firmware will come enabled with thermal runaway protection which will cut off the 3D printer with its senses that something isn’t right, such as the printer heating the hot end but the temperature reading from the sensor not increasing as it should. This would be a clear indication that the sensor is not performing properly.
Can I Run My 3D Printer For A Long Time?
In some instances 3D printers can run for days at a time. Personally my longest print is about 30 hours and it ran through with no issues. There are many things to consider when running a 3D printer for long periods of time that should not be overlooked and could save you from a fire.
You can run your 3D printer for long periods of time without resting your machine. As a general rule, it is not advised to leave your 3D printer running while unattended. There is a small risk of fire caused by wires shorting out or your 3D printer’s hot end or bed overheating.
You should always consider if there is any possibility of the print failing due to supports, if the filament you are using is coarse or has large enough particles to clog the nozzle, if you are using an unstable material like ABS that is prone to losing adhesion from the build plate.
Any failure of your 3D printer could cause either a large loss of filament
Should I Let My 3D Printer Rest Between Prints?
It is not necessary to rest your 3D printer between prints as long as your 3D printer is functioning properly. There is not any clear advantage of letting your 3D printer rest between prints unless you are performing routine preventative maintenance like cleaning your build plate.
There is some preventative maintenance that should be done between prints such as cleaning off the excess material like the purge line and any support structure that stayed on the build surface as well as cleaning off any stick glue or tape that you applied to the build surface. It is very important to start with a clean build plate to ensure that your 3D print does not lose adhesion to the bed in the middle of the print.
How To Fireproof Your 3D Printer.
There is not a foolproof way to fireproof your 3D printer completely but there are great steps that you can take to ensure that if a fire does occur that damage from the fire is minimized.
The simplest way to fireproof your 3D printer is to place it in a fireproof enclosure or in a fireproof tent. Other safety protocols to follow are having a smoke detector and a fire extinguisher near your 3D printer as well as clearing the area around your 3D printer from flammable materials.
Disclaimer – I am not an expert in 3D printing safety so I am only speaking from my own experience and research. You should not run your 3D printer unattended unless you know what you are doing so do not call me if your house catches on fire because of your 3D printer, you are responsible for taking care of your own safety.
How To Enclose A 3D Printer To Make It Fireproof.
The simplest way to enclose a 3D printer is with an enclosure tent. 3D printer enclosure tents are relatively inexpensive, usually around $60, and could save you a lot of heartbreak and hassle in the case of a fire.