Professional 3D printers are often equipped with closed or semi-closed housing. Consumer machines are more generally without an enclosure. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of an enclosure for your 3D printer, which proves to be an indispensable accessory for the operation of your machine. 

The enclosure protects against 3D printing risks

In the professional field, safety requirements are intended to protect operators from the various risks associated with the use of machines. These risks are also present for non-professional use. Heating plates are generally above 100°C and the extruder is around 280°C, it is possible to consider the risk of burns but also a danger of injury from the machine’s automatic movements. An informed user is likely to be little exposure to these risks, but the surroundings or the public could face them.

The Alveo3D team has also identified invisible risks related to the polluting emissions of melted plastic filament. It is possible to feel unpleasant odors or even irritations when the printer is in a closed and poorly ventilated space. These emissions are related to the presence of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Nanoparticles that are emitted during filament extrusion. When the printer is placed in an enclosure, it is possible to contain these polluting emissions, filter them or evacuate them outside the printing area. In this case, it is the operator who regularly uses his equipment that is exposed the most, and the 3D printer enclosure allows for containing and filtering these toxic emissions.

Advantages of having a 3D printer enclosure

A 3D printer without an enclosure is exposed to some unpleasantness, such as dust. By protecting your 3D printer with an enclosure, you can reduce maintenance operations, especially on the maintenance of moving parts and the extruder. A solid enclosure is an effective protection against all risks of shock or machine blockage by an external element.

In addition, there is always a risk of fire that remains in the minds of many makers who leave the printer running for long hours. Enclosing your 3D printer will allow you to quickly detect any risk of fire by using a smoke detector and the possibility of adding an automatic extinguisher. For added safety, our custom enclosures are equipped with polycarbonate panels that can withstand higher temperatures and are difficult to ignite.

Printing technical filaments, the indispensable heat of the enclosure

The presence of an enclosure for your 3D printer will create a warm and dry atmosphere around the printing area. You will be able to succeed in printing filaments such as ABS, Nylon, PC, etc… By maintaining a warm atmosphere around the printing area, the effects of shrinkage will be controlled, and your prints will be successful. We see a temperature increase of 10 to 15° inside Alveo3D enclosures. The speed of the air filtration systems will slightly affect this temperature but the results are impeccable for ABS series printing.
pièces imprimées en 3D san caisson et avec caisson

Reducing Airflows Around the 3D Printer

To avoid retraction effects on all types of filaments, it is necessary to limit uncontrolled airflows around the printing area and in a closed environment, all these parasitic flows will be avoided. Access to the machine during a printing process requires opening the door of the printer enclosure and generates a slight airflow. Within our 3D printer farm, we have not seen significant disturbances. Of course, these machine accesses during printing are limited to preserve the stable environment around the printing area.

Optimize your workspace

The enclosure can come with its own stand and provide storage space for the consumable and tools. The height of the frame will position the printer at the right height for standing work (120cm), on a high stool (90cm), or at a sitting height of the work surface (70cm). It is also possible to stack two enclosures on top of each other to save space. In this case, we recommend positioning the print bed of the uppermost printer at a maximum height of 120/130cm.
The benefits we have just mentioned for using a 3D printer enclosure should be accompanied by some precautions for optimal use.

Machine accessibility

There are many models of 3D printers and your enclosure will need to match the characteristics of your machine. Depending on the machine, front access will suffice, but for others, you will need side or rear doors. It is with this in mind that the Alveo3D team offers custom-made enclosures to meet all specifications. It is important to consider maintenance operations and everyday use of your equipment.

Loading the consumable

Changing the filament is one of these common operations that should remain simple and functional. It is possible to place the filament spool in the enclosure in order to protect it from dust and benefit from the warmer and drier atmosphere inside the enclosure. It is also possible to place the spool outside the enclosure, which can reduce the latter’s volume and allow for an increase in temperature inside the enclosure if your prints require it.

Visibility of prints

With a 3D printer enclosure, it is possible to lose visibility of the ongoing print, especially with the use of opaque walls. We prefer to make transparent polycarbonate enclosures to view the print from all sides. Nevertheless, it is sometimes preferable for cost, convenience or UV protection reasons (SLA printers) to make walls that are not transparent. In this case, the presence of lighting in the enclosure will be an indispensable asset.

Pollutant Concentration

However, the biggest disadvantage of enclosing a 3D printer in a cabinet without a filtration system is the concentration of pollutants. COV and nanoparticle levels can quickly rise to toxic levels. For the Alveo3D team, implementing an air extraction or filtration system is essential for using a cabinet. The AlveoONE and AlveoONE-R systems are specifically designed for this application.

Excessive temperature

Among the advantages we mentioned for using a enclosure, temperature must be controlled to not exceed the technical limits of your equipment. This is one of the reasons for the presence of a temperature sensor on our V2 board (accessory to the AlveoONE air filtration systems). Refer to your equipment’s technical sheet and verify that the temperature inside the enclosure does not exceed the manufacturer’s values, often around 50°C.

It is possible to relocate the control interface and electrical power supply of the printer to protect the equipment.

caisson avec un graphique des températures

The disadvantages we just mentioned are inherent to the use of a case but can be reduced by using transparent panels, a temperature control system and by providing sufficient accessibility. The benefits brought are then essential for good productivity and the ability to print more technical filaments that require a warm and stable environment around the printing area. The measurements made in terms of toxicity of nanoparticle emissions and COV prove the necessity of protecting users. This is all the more necessary for the use of 3D printers in poorly ventilated small premises. Equip your printer with a case and its air filtration system to print in peace.

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Article written by:

CEO d'alveo3d


CEO at Alveo3D