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Fire Safety: Unattended 3D Printer Nearly Burns House Down

Picture of Hanna Watkin
by Hanna Watkin
Oct 2, 2015

Important reminder about fire safety: Reddit user narrowly avoids disaster when his unattended 3D printer started a blazing fire in his home.

fire safety

Although 3D printers are not the most dangerous forms of manufacturing equipment, they certainly carry their share of risks.

A catastrophe was narrowly avoided when Redditor Mattbi11 almost set his house on fire.

His warning to fellow 3D printer owners was to never leave a 3D printer unattended, especially one with a heated chamber.

Given that most consumer printers are of the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) variety, which requires high temperatures to manipulate thermoplastic filament, this serves as an important reminder about fire safety to pretty much all of us.

It’s arguable that anything which produces heat could burn down a home, of course. But it’s often found that unlike an oven or microwave, 3D printers do not have to adhere as closely to strict safety certifications.

The danger is multiplied if you have built your 3D printer yourself, if it is of low quality, or even if you have had one imported from overseas. In these cases, the machine may not include sufficient safety features or certifications.

But if your machine falls into one of these categories, DON’T PANIC. There are still options to enhance fire safety and reduce the risk of a blaze.

Important Tips for Fire Safety

fire supression system

First and foremost, you should always ensure you have working smoke detectors in your place of residence. This one’s a no-brainer.

When operating your 3D printer, complex or large printing jobs can take a long time to complete. If you don’t fancy waiting around for twenty hours or more, then it’s a good idea to have automatic fire extinguishing equipment nearby.

Elsewhere, several fire safety solutions specific to 3D printing technology are gradually becoming available on the open market.

For example, 3DPrintClean has developed an Automatic Fire Suppression system, which could be a saviour for anyone who can’t monitor their printer around the clock.

Another option developed by Andrew Maurer, a full-time aeronautical engineer and part-time tinkerer, is Smoke Signal. This smoke detector works by plugging your 3D printer into it and situating part of the device next to the extruder or electronics. From here, if Smoke Signal detects any smoke, it automatically cuts off the power to your printer.

Judging by the smoke damage in the photos he shared, Redditor Mattbi11 would probably have benefited from having either device set up in his workshop. But hindsight is always 20:20 vision. For now, we can be thankful that no one lost their lives or more widespread damage occurred.

License: The text of "Fire Safety: Unattended 3D Printer Nearly Burns House Down" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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