Heated Chamber Details and Thoughts.

Heated chamber? Why?

Some may ask why a heated chamber. I have my reasons, one being that I like to print large objects in ABS and I like how you can process ABS with acetone and use ABS goop (Acetone/ABS mix) as a glue if necessary.
The second reason is purely as an engineering practice. I like a challenge.

Requirements

  • Heat the chamber duh!
  • NO PLA parts whatsoever they will deform in these temperatures. ABS parts are necessary here or even metal parts if you can find them.
  • A large power domain, I could have gone simple with a 120v bulb as a heat source and called it a day. Would have cost me ~$5USD tops. I did not want to do this as I do not like mains power inside my printer. I use a server PSU rated in the ~1300W range for a reason.
  • A real thermostat with finite control is a good thing to have.
  • One automotive ceramic heater with built in blower. (get ceramic heaters as the cheaper stuff is a fire hazard, they use elements like hair dryers)
  • Wiring, plan on replacing the ceramic heater wires with heavier gauge wires for efficiency sake as well as reducing the fire risk.
  • Insulation, I cannot stress this enough. Hindsight being 2020 I could have done a better job with insulation. Plan on at least a 10mm or ½ foam with aluminum foil cover for this.

Do not underestimate the power used.

  • The whole reason I am writing this post is because someone on the forum was asking about heated chambers. They underestimate the power used by these 3d printers once they are built.
  • Quick math shows my printer uses 400w/hour while running with a peak power consumption in the 500W range. This is out of socket measurement. The result figuring in 8 hours a day working is 3.2kw/hours. Figure in 360 days of use and you have 1152kw/hours to pay for. My rates are in the $0.19 range with delivery charges being in the $0.24 range. This printer will consume $495.36 worth of power in a year estimating only running it for 8 hours a day average. This is staggering, the better you insulate the lower the w/h average will be.

Experience is critical

  • The printer will need some tweaking to get it to run right under heated chamber conditions.
  • 40c range is fine for smaller than 100mm cubed objects.
  • No heated chamber is necessary when you run smaller than 50mm cubed objects.
  • 55c seems to be the sweet spot for larger objects 150mm+
  • You can use ambient printer air to cool the hot end, no need for external air.
  • Ideally you add a mixing fan to the printer to reduce the temperature gradient.
  • Let the heated chamber stay for 5-10min after the print is done.
  • Let cool 10 min at least before removing objects.
  • A filter on a blower fan to act as an evacuation fan is good but not necessary.
  • A nice door with as few leaks as possible is essential.

Worth it?

Depends on your view point. For me it’s worth every penny and more. My horn speakers came out beautifully with a heated chamber. I could even back down on the nozzle temp without reducing bonding and increasing surface finish.

Downsides?

I can only think of two downsides.
- Engineering a proper solution takes time - Power consumption went up by 30% on my machine. $$$$

Bruno M.

Engineer, Tinkerer, Technologist, Maker.

New York

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