How long can you run a 3d printer for : Do you run yours overnight

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You slice the model you really, really want to print…

You look at the time and see 21h

magnified long printing time
Long print times are not unusual for complex models…

11min…no way….

And you will need to leave your printer on all the time…

And you are going out today….

Do i…..Dare i….

Let’s find out how long you can run your 3d printer for….

Is it ok to leave a 3d printer on all the time

Leaving your 3d printer on all the time is ok, ish…

I say ish due to the fact that electronics have a failure rate and this relates to the working time …

So, the screen will be on continuously, as will the controller board and the power supply…

So all of these will get ‘used’ while your printer is on…

building model car
Everything electronic and mechanical has a lifespan…

I don’t know the mtbf ( mean time between failure ) for all of these components, and to calculate it you need to categorize and calculate the number of different types of component and the stresses they are under ( i have done it and it is a right pain)…

But for the printer let’s say it is 5000 hours…

Sounds like a lot…

But breaking this down into days we have 208 and a bit days…

So ‘on continuously’ your printer may fail after 7 months…with or without you printing…( probably less with you printing)

I personally would be turning it off after every print as soon as the hot end has cooled down…( don’t forget that turning it off before it has cooled may cause the heat to travel into the cold end and cause a jam next time you try to print…).

If the mtbf figure is 10,000 hours then you can double this and say it would last a year without a major failure….

But always make sure you carry out proper maintenance – checking screws and touching connections while the printer is printing to see if they are getting hot ( not the mains ones the low voltage high current ones, i am assuming a bit of common sense)…

A little tug on the heaters and thermistor wires will show whether they are still secure….really…don’t tug too hard as you will shorten their life…

So, is it ok to leave your printer on all the time…if you want to shorten the printing time you will have with it then yes…otherwise switch it off after it has cooled down…

Is it safe to run a 3d printer overnight

Would you leave an iron on overnight…perhaps not…but this is essentially what a 3d printer is…

If you really want to do this, it is at your own risk…

I don’t want to put you off, but you are running an unregulated piece of machinery, which is capable of burning down your house.

Insurance May Be The Key to 3D Printing Safety

But remember an overloaded mains extension can be just as dangerous, if not more so…

Hopefully you are running the printer not in the same room as you are sleeping, or if it is then there is plenty of ventilation…depending on the material you are printing with there may be microscopic particles of the material floating in the air (that’s what the smell is)…

Would i trust my printers….

Now i have several hours of printing under my belt with each of them and know the software that each is running…i may run it while not in the same room – same as sleeping…

Would i put extra precautions…i think i would look into them and what is available – not just for my protection, but for the rest of my family…

There are products, for instance and automatic fire suppression bulb, that will trigger in the event of too much heat, but if it too far away will the fire have taken hold and be spreading too quickly – make sure there is minimal flammable material around the printer…

The bulb cannot go into a case for the printer if the operating temperature will be above 60C, so you will be limited on what materials you can print if you mount it this way…

But is it safe to run your printer overnight…the vast majority of printer will do nothing but print…

You will get one or two printers that will melt a bed connection and leave a burning plastic smell by the morning…

And you will get one printer that will catch fire….

But you may find this one has not been checked mechanically since it has been built, or unsafe mods have been carried out…so i would say if you have run your printer during a complete day while you have been present and checked the temperature of any high current connections, and found them to be cool…then it should be safe…

But it is your choice and there are protection systems out there that may help you claim in the event of a problem…insurance companies are starting to get wise to 3d printers and may have exclusions in the future if safety precautions are not taken…

How long should i leave my 3d printer on

You should leave your 3d printer on until you have finished your print and the temperature of the hotend has cooled sufficiently to prevent thermal creep…

I personally would not leave a printer on all the time, as stated above electronics are lifed …so using up their valuable life unnecessarily doesn’t make sense…

I have walked away, being in the same house, but not the same room, and left the printer on…

When i returned the print had finished and the hotend was cooled down…was it excessive, no…

But if your print is going to take 36 hours then it definitely is worth checking in on your print, to see if it is still on the bed and how the printer is doing…

3d printing is a violent action on the mechanics of the printer and anything that is

routine maintenance will keep your printer running
You need to check your printers mechanical connections

slightly loose will come loose…

The slower you get the printer to run the less violent the action, as it is with less acceleration and jerk…

So again i would suggest checking all screws and connections before a long print and make sure nothing can interfere with the printers operation over the time period…

Can you 3d print when not at home

When deciding on whether to print when not at home, you have got to take into account your level of competence if you have built your printer…

3d printing is a violent action on the mechanics of the printer and anything that is slightly loose will come loose…

The slower you get the printer to run the less violent the action, as it is with less acceleration and jerk…

So again i would suggest checking all screws and connections before a long print and make sure nothing can interfere with the printers operation over the time period…

As with some of the suggestions above it may be worth installing a fire suppression system to combat any issues the printer has….

Installing a remote camera you can monitor over the web may give you the confidence that it is still printing and the model is still on the bed…

Remote control of power will help if there is an issue and you cannot return immediately.

But again it is going to be a very small percentage of printers that have issues…

Can 3d printers overheat

In the early days of marlin there were issues with the software not having thermal runaway shutdown added…

Later revisions all had this automatically turned on, so that if there was a very rapid temperature change the software would see it as a fault and shut it down safely…

So that now ( as long as it is a later version of marlin) takes care of any hotend issues…

But there is still issues with connectors overheating due to resistance…

Many of the early printers had connectors that were underrated for the job of connection between the power supply and the main board…

The current drawn was sufficiently high to cause the resistance of the wire-connector- wire to heat up and the housing of the connector catch on fire…

I’ve had the moulding discolor, but not melt….

The thermistor for both the hotend and the bed could break, but with the thermal runaway protection this should shut down the machine safely…

If the material being printed means the bed mosfet needs to be on most of the time, then this is when the most danger can occur…

With the current being run through the bed connection for a long time then heating will occur and the wires can feel war to the touch…

As do some wires under you cars bonnet, but until there is an issue of the insulation melting then there really isn’t a problem…

If they get too hot to touch, then i would advise shutting the machine down safely and checking the wiring…

But 3d printers can overheat, there is over temperature and thermal runaway protection built into the software to give you the maximum protection against an overheating event.

Can you 3d print in the dark

As long as you can feed in the filament and insert the sd card you can print as the lcd is backlit…

But seriously, your 3d printer doesn’t care how light it is to print, it is only you that needs to see how the print is coming out…

So you can switch off the lights when leaving the printer on overnight and the print will come out as it will without regard to the lights being on or off…

For remote camera monitoring you may need a light or it may be built into the hotend to illuminate the model so you can see the progress…

 

So i hope that has given you a little bit to think about whether to run your 3d printer for that 21 hour print or not…

Me personally, i would still think twice about leaving my printer on for that length of time ,unless i had run it for 18 or 24 hours and everything felt cool…

Going around and doing basic maintenance before the print, to ensure that everything is tight and tidied up…

Making sure there are no flammable’s near the printer and nothing knowingly can interfere with the operation…( so keep pets out of the printer room).

I will get there with a very long print, or by the time i get there the software will have changed so i don’t need to ….

Thanks for reading…

Let me know in the comments what protection you take with your 3d printer, do you run it overnight and do you do a basic check before printing…

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