Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The surprising necessity of a fan when 3D printing

Left, no fan, right, light fan.
This may come as a shock to you, but there was a time where a downward blowing fan was not standard equipment on most 3D printers. The 3D printing technology at the time, developed by the likes of 3D Systems and Stratasys, never needed one. They were printing ABS in enclosures. And so the reprap based printers, starting from that known system, used ABS and it was known that even a light breeze could destroy an ABS print due to shrinkage. It wasn't until later that the idea of other materials that could benefit from a cooling fan started to be developed.
Even support removal is improved
While printing the models that I modeled in the last video, the print I started in the video had to be canceled because the material I was using needed to be printed at a much higher temperature, I assumed because it had been mislabeled ABS. But after printing it there were still a lot of problems that I started cleaning up. Then it struck me, maybe this wasn't ABS. Maybe it was a high temp PLA (I bought it at a clearance sale, so I can't really be sure all the time). So experimentally I set up my jankey cooling system (because my printer didn't come with one by default).
The different was dramatic. One day I'm gonna get the scratch together to upgrade this old rig, but until then, if you ever wonder why your 3D printer has a cooling fan, this is why:

While every part of the print is greatly improved, even the finish, the effect on the stem is probably the easiest to see in these pictures. It's dramatically amazing.

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