What Sensors Do 3D Printers Have?

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For 3D printers to work right…

They need a lot of special equipment. That equipment helps the device produce the object you want. But like many other devices that use heat, these machines need sensors to help keep them from overheating as well as complete other tasks.

The concept of sensors is not new as you will find them in automatic cameras and other security devices. The technology in these sensors make sure different machines do as advertised.

To learn what sensors 3D printers use, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want and that information can help you build your own 3D printer.

What sensors do 3d printers have?

There are three that are most commonly used and they are as follows:

ThermistorThis sensor changes resistance when the temperature changes. The one most used by 3D printers is the NTC model. They are made from silicon and germanium and their value can change
RTDThis option works like the thermistor but it is made from metals like platinum, nickel or copper. The one you find most in 3D printers is the PT100
ThermocoupleMade from chromel and alumel this sensor doesn’t work like the other two. It creates voltage depending on the temperature.

The sensor’s performance rated

To see how these sensors stack up against each other, here is a quick comparison chart to help you see the difference between the 3 commonly used sensors.

Maximum temperatureUp to 300 degrees CUp to 850 degrees COver 1500 degrees C
Cost$10.00$20 to $50$15 to $30
Circuit requiredNoYesYes
Resolution<0.2 degrees C down to 1 degree C<0.05 degrees C0.5 degrees C
Response time2 to 15 seconds15 seconds2 to 10 seconds
LinearityNot linear0.8% error2.5% error
Accuracy at 200 degrees C1 degree C without calibration~0.6 degrees C without calibration2.2 degrees C without calibration

The different 3D printers may also use certain embedded sensors and those items pass along information, does some sensing and some data monitoring. They are not as well known as the three above.

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Key 3D printing terms

You may be well aware of what the term sensor means and how it functions but with 3D printers and printing, a whole new language is developing. Here are some key terms to help you understand what people are talking about:

  1. Print bed- the surface on which your object is created. Usually made of glass and a material to help the plastic to stick
  2. Heated or non heated- the print beds are usually heated to prevent any warping of the object. Some shrinkage does occur and the object warps upwards. The heat prevents this from taking place
  3. Bed leveling- a device to make sure the print bed remains level with the nozzle
  4. Filament- this is the plastic material used by the printer to create your object. It can come in 2 sizes, 1.75 mm and 3 mm
  5. Extruder- this is where the plastic enters, gets melted then pumped out to create the object. To understand this part, think of a fancy glue gun
  6. Hobbed Gear- this is the piece that grabs the filament and pushes it towards the hot end
  7. Hot end- where the plastic gets melted and by avoiding using plastic parts the temperatures go much higher. That is why a hot end hot sink may be required to prevent the heat from prematurely melting the plastic
  8. Layer cooler fan- this cools the plastic once it is distributed by the nozzle. Cooling the plastic quickly helps it keep its shape
  9. End stops- lets the printer know where it is and helps it find the starting point
  10. Stepper motor- these motors run in increments giving them precise control over their position. Some motors move 200 microns per increment
  11. Frame- this is what holds the printer and all of its parts together. These are made from a variety of materials like plywood, aluminum, metal and evenplastic

Knowing the terminology helps you understand the process and if you are being taken for a ride. These are just some examples to help you know what makes up a 3D printer.

Exciting ways to use 3D printers

3D printers can open up whole new avenues for people who may be looking for another line of work or improve the industry they are in

#1. create your own prototypes- when working for yourself you save time and money by producing your initial model and check that to see where improvements can be made

#2. create and sell your own products- it may not be mass production but it is a good sideline to get into and build up your finances for the future

#3. make products for others- you can help supply in demand products that can be used by the military or other organizations who may not have the ability o get their own

#4. Make rare parts- this is becoming more vital as different machines become older and the makers stop making replacement parts. Good for antique sewing machines

#5. help companies customize- this can be done easily without adding to the cost of the product. The company retains customers and keeps them happy

#6. Make your own clothes- be a fashion designer and create your own clothing line. It is already being done by professionals so there is room for you to get on board

Some final words

While there are many sensors used in making 3D printers, the heat ones are the most important. Those sensors can help you maintain temperature levels and protect yourself from any accidents that may happen.

Once you do that, you can participate in many of the different fields that 3D is opening up to everyone. The key is to know the language so you know what everyone is talking about. Don’t scrimp on the sensors or you may have other issues to worry about.

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