I was thinking about getting a new 3d printer and I saw that there were two different types: open and enclosed. So, I did some research into the different benefits and drawbacks of each. Then put together this helpful to explain what I found.
So, 3d printer with vs. without enclosure: what are the pros and cons? Open printers are easier to maintain. But, enclosed printers provide superior print quality. Open printers are less expensive than enclosed printers. Closed printers also require a lot of external addons that take up a lot of space.
There are a few reasons why you would get an enclosed 3d printer rather than an open one. Also, how much they differ in price is very interesting. So, keep reading and I will explain the reasons why you would get an enclosed 3d printer or open printer. As well as, pricing information differences between the two types.
Pros and Cons of an Open 3d Printer vs. an Enclosed 3d Printer
|Enclosed 3d Printer||Open 3 Printer|
|Superior print quality||Hard to clean||Easy to monitor the print||Good print quality.|
|Looks professional, impresses the wife||Hard to change parts||Easier to clean||Looks like a toy|
|Quiter||Harder to watch the print||Easier to change parts||No wind and dust protection|
|Can walk away from it|
As can be seen by the table above, an open 3d printer has a lot more advantages than drawbacks. An enclosed 3d printer on the other hand has much more cons than pros. But, the one factor that could trump all of them is the print quality.
Some manufactured products require the superior print quality that can only come from an enclosed 3d printer. More on this later.
Enclosed 3d Printer Pros
Superior print quality
You get a superior print quality from an enclosed 3d printer. This is because the temperature is maintained at a stable temperature. When your 3d print cools unevenly it causes minor imperfections and warping. So, using an enclosure gives a more reliable and higher quality print.
On top of that, an enclosure stops dust and other particles in the air from landing on your 3d print. When particles land on your print as it is printing it leaves small indents.
When printing using PLA you won’t notice a difference between printing in an enclosed 3d printer or not. Unless it gets affected by particles. This is because PLA forms well at room temperatures, and isn’t so sensitive to temperature changes.
Looks professional and impresses your wife
The “impresses your wife” bit is a bit of a joke. But, an enclosed 3d printer looks like a professional grade machine. Similar to what you would see in a hospital. Compare that with an open 3d printer and you can see the difference.
It keeps the parts inside your 3d printer safe when it is sitting on your desk, from accidentally bumping into it and breaking something.
Open 3d printers can look a bit like a toy. There’s the old adage ‘look good, feel good’. There is some truth to it. When you work on a professional looking machine you feel better about yourself and produce better quality work.
The enclosure provides a noise barrier. So, you can’t hear the whirring and robot noises as your 3d printer works as much. Giving you more peace and quiet to explain the print. Let’s face it 3d printers are loud. Muffling any of the sound is a welcome relief.
Enclosed 3d Printer Cons
Hard to clean
The enclosed case creates many hard to reach places. Making it difficult to clean away waste plastic. Over time dust can build up, if you leave the case open.
You can also drop small tools into it. It’s a real nuisance when this happens. When getting a new one you should look for a model that has easy access around the machine.
You will likely want an air compressor, pipe cleaners, and other tools to keep your 3d printer clean and tidy. As always, you should consult your user manual for specific cleaning instructions.
Hard to change parts
When you need repair, work on, or upgrade something. It is a lot more work to take everything off, the shell, clips, and screws. And being able to see where screws are and there are tight angles that are hard to work with.
Harder to watch the print in action
If you’re printing a particularly delicate part and want to watch it for errors. Or, you need to line up a piece you are printing on. Both are more difficult with an enclosed 3d printer. Because the case blocks good viewing angles.
It’s a tossup between the cons and the noise factor. A 3d printer is noisy. You should look for reviews on the 3d printer you are buying to see if it is noisy. Prints that require lots of time like hours to days will drive you a bit nuts if you have to work next to them
Open 3d Printer Pros
Easy to monitor the print
With an open 3d printer you can see any part of the print. So, if there are minor issues consistently coming up with your prints, you can see them. Compared with an enclosed 3d printer you won’t have as much trouble troubleshooting your prints.
It will save you more time, and be less frustrating when your prints aren’t coming out perfect.
Easier to clean
3d printer manufacturers in general recommend routine maintenance that should include:
- Keeping your printer 3d printer lubricated
- Cleaning out your filament nozzle
- Picking your extruder gear clean
- Replacing worn out build-surface area tape
- Updating your 3d printer firmware
According to Pinshape.com all of these take considerably less time with an open 3d printer. Accessing screws is way easier, and getting your hands into the right spot. Aim to get a 3d printer which comes apart easily, or is well designed. So that it is easier to maintain and clean.
Easier to change parts
This pro goes hand in hand with being easier to clean. Accessing parts and being able to see what you are working on with an open 3d printer is a huge advantage.
If you are the kind of person who likes to tinker then you should definitely go for an open 3d printer, as long as you are happy with how it looks.
Open 3d Printer Cons
Good print quality
Huh? Good print quality is a con. Yes, dear reader yes. Although the print quality of an open 3d printer is good. An enclosed 3d printer provides more consistent and better quality prints.
Partly because it blocks the dust and particles floating the air from landing on it. But, also because it keeps the environment around your print at an even temperature.
Sudden temperature changes from wind, or a sudden door open causes imperfections in your prints.
When a cool or warm breeze blows on your print as it is printing parts of it cool and melt at different rates. When your print is finally done it can show warping. Physicists and scientists would say it is due to a non-uniform temperature.
Looks like a toy
Entry level models and some beginner 3d printers look like a toy. If that’s not the look for you, you can upgrade to a more expensive open printer.
Alternatively, you can get an equivalent priced enclosed 3d printer. Enclosed 3d printers look more professional, and that you are serious about your 3d printing.
No wind and dust protection
The construction of an open 3d printer allows dust and wind to blow freely through the printer. With an enclosed 3d printer you don’t have this problem, because the protecting barrier blocks it.
So, you have to take steps to stop drafts, and excessive dust from getting on your prints.
Overall, it depends on your personal preference in regards to the pros and cons. The deciding factors are the noise, print quality, look, and how easy it is to clean and repair. Take into account your unique situation when deciding which one to get.
Why are some 3d printers enclosed?
Enclosing 3d printers came about to increase the print quality. In other manufacturing processes like metalwork screens are used to protect the user from sparks and heat. But, in the case of 3d printers the enclosing case keeps out unwanted wind and dust.
When the filament is squeezed from the 3d printer it is liquid and cools to become hard. When parts of the print become hard faster than others it makes the print collapse or warp.
So, an even temperature is required to print well. There’s nothing worse than a collapsed print.
When a 3d printer is enclosed it protects from dust, pet hair, and other small particles that can stick to the surface of a drying print. In doing so, the prints come out perfectly.
Do 3d printers require enclosures?
3d printers can be used with or without enclosures. It’s up to you. The main reason people use an enclosure is to reduce imperfections that result from wind and dust. When the surface temperature of a 3d print cools unevenly it leaves ripples and distorts the shape.
If you are printing and a cool breeze comes through it can make your prints fail. This is the key reason why people use enclosures.
It has added benefits of keeping it safe from pets, or children. As prints take a long time, you may have to step out of the room. So, it is nice to know that your 3d printer is enclosed.
Particles in the air also settle on the surfaces of 3d prints when they are open. This leaves little marks on your prints surface. Therefore, you do require an enclosure for your 3d printer if you are worried about a pet or person touching it, or if you have it in a drafty room.
How do you build an enclosure for an open 3d printer?
You can use a photo studio tent as a 3d printer enclosure. Although they weren’t made originally for it, they are the perfect size to fit a 3d printer.
They are really inexpensive and start from about US$15. You can find a few options here.
Other methods involve using perspex and plastic parts to construct a see through cabinet.
Here is a video with some cool ideas for how to make one that is easy access, and lets you see your prints easily.
Is it safe to have a 3d printer in your room?
In general, it doesn’t matter what room you put your 3d printer in, as long as it has a good environment for printing. The factors you want to look out for when choosing a room for your 3d printer are the temperature, humidity, sunlight, and windflow.
You want to aim for an even temperature. The temperature that your 3d printer should run out varies by brand and model of 3d printer. Most are about room temperature.
So, watch out for rooms that are difficult to warm in winter. Otherwise, when you want to print in the winter you will have to turn on the AC, or heat the room for a long time. Which may or may not be practical for you.
Alternatively, you can use a small radiant heater. But, I would avoid the fan times as they may blow your print and change its shape.
An open 3d printer is easier to use during cold temperatures than an enclosed 3d printer. Because you can’t use a radiant heater to warm the surrounding area.
An overly humid room is unsuitable for 3d printing. Most 3d printing manufacturers recommend humidity below 10-15%. In winter humidity can get upwards of 50%+.
A dehumidifier is a solid option to get the humidity down to the required levels. One that I recommend is the [affiliate link] because [product benefits].
You should definitely check it out, if you need to lower the humidity of your room for 3d printing. You can monitor the humidity levels in your room by using a humidity reader.
When the room is too humid the 3d print doesn’t dry fast enough. It is due to some complicated thermal physics.
But, because it doesn’t dry fast enough the print starts to buckle under its own weight. Giving you a print fail.
Sunlight is hot and dries out your prints. You don’t want to print in direct sunlight especially the very hot midday sun. Early morning and late evening sun is OK. When the sun shines on your prints, it dries unevenly. It then is more brittle.
So, if your room has heaps of sun then consider closing the curtains. If you need to print for a long time, you may want to consider moving your 3d printer to another room.
Some rooms are drafty. You want to limit wind blowing around your 3d print. According to thermodynamics observations when wind blows on a hot surface it carries away the heat. It cools it more quickly.
With 3d prints you want it dry and harden evenly. When a breeze comes through it changes the temperature making it either hotter or colder. Either way it causes your prints to fail, and should be avoided.
There are a range of things to dry to lessen drafts in your room. According to Simplemost.com, they are:
- Using weather-stripping
- Install new sweeps
- Use foam tape
- Apply rigid foam insulation and foil stripping
- Apply window film
- Hang insulated curtains
- Use a door snake
- Re-caulk your windows and doors
Look to eliminate drafts using the above methods to get the best quality prints. Or choose a less drafty rim to 3d print from.
Is it safe to run a 3d printer overnight?
It is generally unsafe to run a 3d printer while not supervising it. With that being said, depending where your 3d printer is located it can make sense to run it overnight. For example, if it is in your garage. 3d printers are really noisy.
So, unless you have an enclosed 3d printer or have it at the other end of the house it will be too loud to sleep through. You might get used to the noise after a while though, and it depends how heavy a sleeper you are.
If you have an open 3d printer your cat or dog can injure itself if it starts to play with it. Because it moves around erratically. So, make sure it is enclosed. You can even build a makeshift cover if you are the hands on type.
Take a look at the specific manual for your 3d printer to see what they recommend. The worst thing that could happen is the gun fails and empties the filament tank. Any other issue is very rare, and is similar to asking can I leave a fridge on overnight.
Does a 3d printer use a lot of electricity?
On average using a 3d printer consistently costs about USD$2 per month on the high end with most people paying about USD$0.50 per month to power their 3d printer.
This is very low, so therefore 3d printers use hardly any electricity.
Can a 3d printer catch on fire?
3d printers can catch fire. But, not more so than any other appliance. 3d printers heat filament using a heating tray. As it heats up if anything is close to it, it could catch fire. The radiant heat, however, is not nearly hot enough to catch a lite.
The risk of fire is the same whether you are using a 3d printer or a different appliance, and you should take the same precautionary measures. 3d printers do not make it more or less likely for a fire to start.
Is it safe to 3d print indoors?
It is generally safe to 3d print indoors. You do want to take some precautionary measures when using your 3d printer however. These include:
These are ultra-fine particles that are 1/10,000 a mm in diameter, according to Wikipedia. They are too small to be seen by the human eye. But, they can be inhaled, and ingested accidentally. This causes issues with the respiratory system and bodily functions. So, you should ensure that you have good ventilation and wear a respirator mask.
When heating the filament some toxic vapors can get released. The most commonly used printing materials are Polylactic Acid (PLA), and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). You should look into the specific safety precautions for the filament you are using.
This information can be found in a manual that comes with your filament, or online on their website.
Does 3d printing smell?
When the goo (filament) gets heated it gives off a strong chemical smell. It is a good idea to print in a well ventilated room.
How long can a 3d printer run?
Some 3d prints can run up to one week. This is for very slow or large prints. Most people prefer not to do such long prints because then it has to print through the night. There is something a bit unnerving about leaving a 3d printing running overnight.
Though, there is no risk of anything bad happening, you feel more comfortable if you can watch it, and turn it off if something goes wrong.
When people print over many days they will stop during this time anyway to change the filament reel, or to start a new printing section.
So, most people don’t run their 3d printers for prolonged periods, and you can just pause it overnight depending on your specific printer, and it’s software.
Do you need an enclosure for ABS?
ABS filament does not need an enclosure to create professional looking 3d prints. In general when printing with ABS you want to:
Pay close attention to the first layer
Ensuring the platform is properly calibrated can minimize lift off, and warping. You calibrate them using your 3d printer in most cases. There are a range of materials you can use to print on.
The best is glass. We did a full discussion on the different building surfaces on our article about whether to use glass or Buildtak. You should definitely give it a read. You can do so by clicking here to go to the article.
Always turn the heated build platform on
Printing with ABS filament requires a temperature of about 80 to 110°F (26.6 to 43.3°C) for the building platform. This helps with adhesion of the first layer to the build surface.
If you are running into issues double check the recommended temperature for your exact filament. Some people experiment with using an ordinary glue stick. Like those used to make a scrapbook.
It is a good idea to double check all the settings before testing out using glue or tape on the build surface.
Look out for stringing
Stringing is where the filament leaves strings like when you pull apart cheese pizza. This is an indication that the filament is too hot. You will want to see what is causing your filament to get too hot. You may need to lower the temperature of your build plate, or open a window.
The pros of using an enclosed 3d printer is that it gives you a more stable temperature, stops particles from getting on your print, keeps pets and curious hands off it, and stops a lot of the noise.
The cons of using an enclosed 3d printer is that it is difficult to clean, repair, or upgrade, and it’s hard to watch the print as it is printing. The advantages of an open 3d printer is that you can see what is going on when it is printing. It is also easy to clean, repair, and upgrade. The disadvantages are that it doesn’t provide the most stable temperature, it looks a bit like a toy, and it allows particles to get onto your prints.