Are 3D Printers a Fire Hazard?

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Where there is smoke…

Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world and even the most brilliantly designed machines can have flaws. We only need to look at the Challenger and Apollo space programs to see how flaws harm the best of the best.

The same principle applies to 3D printers. No matter how good the product is, there will be some flaw waiting to cause harm. Fire is one of those hazards that come when there is a flaw.

To find out if the 3D printer is a fire hazard, just keep reading our article. It delves into the issue so you have the answer to the question. It will only take 2 minutes of your time.

Are 3D printers a fire hazard

There is a yes and a no answer to this question. Lower quality printers may not have the fire protection built into hire end devices. That lack of protection makes them a fire hazard. The higher end printers should have those protections and double check with the salesman to make sure you are protected.

But accidents do happen. In one case the wires accidentally curled under the hot motor and caught fire. Even with fire protection, these accidents still take place. There are lots of stories on the internet about these accidents.

Sadly, many could have been prevented if the user was more careful in handling and setting up their 3D printer. So, no, 3D printers are not always fire hazards. A lot depends on how you use them and if you are careless or not.

Some 3D printer common errors

For them most part, it is these common errors more than the device itself that causes fires to erupt in your home. These little errors can cause a lot of damage if you do not catch them in time:

Common errorSolution
Bad connectionThis can happen at the RAMPS board or the power input pin. Make sure your connections are correct and solid
Low quality power supplyThe manufacturer tried to save a few pennies and made an inferior power supply unit. Replace it with a better one
Improper cables usedDon’t try to save a few dollars as it may cost big later on. Make sure t have the right cables connected at all times
Badly repaired thermistorIt happens. Repairmen do not always fix things like they should and that causes a weakness in the 3D printer
No cable holderThis accessory holds cables in their proper place and stops their movement
AdobeStock 36262075 1

Common fire sources

Besides errors, 3D printers come designed with enough places where fires can get started very easily and then add fuel to make the fire bigger. Here are some sources to look out for and avoid:

3D printer locationSource
Circuit boardsToo many wires and connections plugged into one board. The same problem as too many plugs in one outlet
The frameIf it is made of wood or acrylic, then you have fuel for a fire. Metal is the best way to go
PlasticThis material does burn but you can always use a flame resistant filament
ConnectorsThey are made of plastic and those with high resistance heat up more than other connectors which may cause a fire. Use the right connectors in your 3D printer
Wood shelvingAs they say in real estate location, location location. Placing your 3D printer on wood shelving or wood tables is adding fuel for the fire. Use metal shelving or tables etc.
MosfetsIf it is the wrong board for the 3D printer it can overheat and start a fire. Use the correct board for the model you own.

When using a 3D printer make sure you are always using the right components and not some cheap brand that saves you a few pennies. Double check the system to make sure everything is in order and not going to burn out on you.

There is a safety device called a smoke signal that connects to your 3D printer and sits closer to it than regular smoke detectors. When it smells smoke, it shuts down the power to your printer protecting you from possible fires.

3D printer fire safety tips

Having a few tips to help you protect against a fire in your home is essential. These tips help guide you in what to look at and how to make sure you are protected from potential fire risks:

  1. Hot end- make sure it is secured and then secure it again to ease your mind. These can get loose and create a nice fire
  2. Fan ducts- use stronger ones than those that come from the factory. These may move your hot end but they also shouldn’t let your hot end stay in one place long enough to start a fire
  3. Firmware- some of these units do not have fire safety protocols and if they come stock, change them out for an upgrade with fire protection
  4. Smoke detectors- add more to the room and keep one close to the printer in order to have enough warning to get your family out of the house safely or put out the fire
  5. Avoid plastic carrier chains- this just adds fuel for the fire to catch and expand. Avoid them if you can or be extra cautious when not around to monitor the printer
  6. Fire extinguishers- have one or two handy in order to put the fire out before it gets too large to handle
  7. Redesign your workspace- one person used wood products from IKEA and learned a hard lesson. Make sure flammable material are not near a 3D printer

Some final words

It takes only a little common sense to prevent fires even when you are using a 3D printer. Do not assume the manufacturer took care of all the fire safety protocols for you. Double check and make sure you take the right steps to avoid fires in your own home. Stay away from wood and plastic shelving and similar products that add fuel for the fire.

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