Successful printing can be achieved without a 3D enclosure, but enclosures are designed with a specific purpose and that is to provide functionality that can be extremely beneficial.
3D printer enclosures can be built-on later after your purchase or it can be an attach-on design. 3D enclosures improve many aspects of 3D printing, one being a stable temperature inside the 3D printing area which helps prevent object warping.
The Purpose of a 3D Enclosure Case
Why do I need a 3D enclosure for my printer?
An enclosure is (usually clear) framing around a 3D printer that is intended to maintain a steady temperature while printing and is a barrier between the outside environment.
This is beneficial for preventing material warping. Because a consistent temperature inside the print area helps the object to cool at an even speed, reducing warping.
3D Enclosures come in many different sizes and are usually clear or have an opening viewport to watch the printing.
Certain enclosures cannot only provide a barrier from the outside environment, but some also have a built-in filtration and ventilation system which helps remove the fumes and particles that are caused by printing 3d products.
The Benefits of an Enclosure
- An enclosure helps keep the heat inside of the area where the object is being printed, at a steady temperature. This helps minimize chances that the printed object could warp because the print would be cooling at an even pace.
- Enclosures also serve as a wall between the outside environment and the inside of the print area. Even small changes such as different amounts of people being in the room with the 3D printer, the room temperature changing, or the humidity going up can all be factors that can lead to the demise of a 3D print. Enclosures help minimize these things and give the object the best chance to be successful.
- As mentioned before, certain enclosures, which include filtration and ventilation systems, can help remove the fumes and particles that are caused by 3D printing. This improves the safety of 3D printers and even increases the cleanliness of the area around a 3D printer.
- Another reason to have a 3d enclosure is for safety reasons, enclosures create a barrier for unwanted paws or little hands. Overall, an enclosure puts a wall between the hot extruder, and anything on the outside.
Price Difference with an Enclosure
Many 3D printers with an enclosure may be more expensive than a 3D printer without an enclosure.
An enclosure can add some expense to the 3D printer, but chances are, it will be worth it. Additionally, depending on the materials and construction techniques that are in place, the cost increase could be a minimal amount.
3D Filaments That Need an Enclosure
Since an enclosure maintains the area around a 3D printed object at a constant temperature, it is beneficial for every filament to be printed on a 3D printer with an enclosure compared to one that does not have an enclosure. Even though every filament is benefited by an enclosure, each filament has main improvements due to the enclosure:
PLA: the properties allow for PLA to be printed successfully without a 3d enclosure, however, an enclosure can help prevent the warping that can occur with PLA.
ABS: Not only does ABS need a heated print bed, but in order to minimize the chances of warping to the fullest, an enclosure can help provide more reliable prints. This happens because the object needs to be cooled at an even rate in order not to warp. The heated print bed allows for it too cool evenly, but since it is only being heated from one direction, the cooling is still slightly uneven. A 3d enclosure can help stabilize the cooling from all directions.
Flexible Filaments: while flexible filaments do not usually have a large amount of warping problems, some printers can struggle to produce a flexible filament object with strong layer adhesion. An enclosure can assist in the battle to improve layer adhesion because as the filament is extruding, the temperature around the print will be constant and heated.
Nylon: filaments such as nylon are extremely hygroscopic and can be tough to print without warping. Their mechanical properties are outstanding, so the journey to getting nylon to print with perfection is worth it. An enclosure can be essential, in some cases, for nylon because an environment that is open and susceptible to the open temperature can prove detrimental for nylon prints. Nylon (and most materials) can be printed without an enclosure, but the enclosure will improve the chances of success and reliability.
Polycarbonate: being one of the toughest filaments to print, pure polycarbonate filament thrives best when printed with an enclosure.
Enclosure 3D “Add-On”
An enclosure “Add-On” is basically an enclosure that is placed over the printer (the 3D printer can also go inside the enclosure depending on the design) which allows for a normally open 3D printer to print with an enclosure that helps retain a constant temperature. Therefore, this is why many enclosed 3D cases are becoming more popular because they help retain heat.
Further, enclosures can create an environment for the 3D printer that is 100% enclosed and relies on the surrounding walls to keep in heat. These enclosures can come at a relatively low cost in comparison the printer, which makes it accessible to most 3D printer users who want to start improving print capabilities and move onto more advanced materials.
Overall 3D printers can operate, function, and perform well without an enclosure, though an enclosure is beneficial to have in many situations. Even if an enclosure is not on a printer as a default, add-on enclosures are available.
Be sure to check the sizing of the enclosure and if the printer’s outer dimensions fit the inside dimensions of the enclosure, then the printer could be equipped with an enclosure whenever it is needed by the user. Additionally, most enclosures will have an option for external filament being fed in, allowing for combinations such as a filament dryer, add-on enclosure, and 3D printer to work and succeed in prints simultaneously.