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Do Stepper Dampers on 3D Printers Work?

If you’ve owned or used a 3D printer before, you’ve probably wondered how you can silence the machine. Some people don’t mind the sound of their 3D print coming to life, but not all of us want to hear the noise across the house for hours. There are several options for reducing a 3D printer noise, but stepper motor dampers are the most effective and cost-effective option.

Stepper dampers do work on 3D printers. These attachments absorb the shock that would come out as a result of vibrations to reduce the vibration noise and optimize the response time of step motor systems. 

This article will discuss what stepper dampers are in detail and the types you need for your 3D printers. Since noise is also a factor here, we’ll investigate the effect of stepper dampers on 3D printers and how to mitigate these issues.

What Are Stepper Dampers?

Stepper dampers are shock absorbers that lessen mechanical vibrations and resonance in stepper motors. They have two metal plates separated by a rubber spacer, allowing the motors to move while absorbing any output.

During operation, stepper motors vibrate and produce noise due to the vibrations. However, a stepper damper can help reduce the number of vibrations produced by these motors while also limiting the vibration transfer to the frame and other components of your 3D printer, thus reducing the noise.

A popular example of stepper dampers used in 3D printers is the NEMA 17 Steel and Rubber Stepper Motor Vibration Damper (available on amazon.com), suitable for NEMA 17 stepper motors and any other types of stepper motors.

Types of Stepper Dampers You May Need

3D printers have various moving parts, many of which produce noise. This is why there are different types of stepper dampers, and strategic placement of these dampers will help you more closely target the area of your 3D printer that you want to quiet down. 

The three types of stepper dampers are the X-axis dampers, Y-axis dampers, and extruder dampers.

X-Axis Stepper Motor Dampers

The X-axis motor is one of the most significant sources of 3D printer noise because the extruder moves nonstop throughout prints. The vibrations enter the frame and magnify the sounds, resulting in audible mechanical screeches.

This noise can be very irritating, and printing takes hours. An X-axis stepper motor damper that absorbs that noise drastically enhances your printing experience.

Y-Axis Stepper Motor Dampers

The Y-axis stepper motor is responsible for your 3D printer’s movement along the Y-axis. It also contributes significantly to the loud screeching noise a 3D printer will produce. The Y-axis stepper motor damper catches the resonance from the Y-axis motor and absorbs it to eliminate the vibration noise.

Extruder Stepper Motor Dampers

The extruder stepper motor is in charge of feeding the filament and controlling its movement so that it melts in the hot end and subsequently emerges as a fine thread of melted plastic from the hot end’s nozzle.

While using stepper motor dampers on the extruder isn’t advised, many 3D printer owners do so to reduce noise further.

The extruder stepper motor damper helps suppress the retraction movements significantly. But, it may affect the quality of your 3D prints.

Evaluating the Efficacy of Stepper Dampers on 3D Printers

The general opinion of people who buy and use stepper motor dampers is that the upgrade seems to be working positively and effectively to eliminate noise from most 3D printers.

There are also cheaper stepper dampers available for sale online, and most people report that they work just as well in reducing the noise.

Installation is easy, and anyone can do it at home with the help of the numerous online video tutorials available to follow. Here’s one of the YouTube tutorials you can follow to install stepper dampers on your 3D printer:

Many people have also conducted experiments on their 3D printers to see whether the stepper dampers work and are advertised. Most people report positive results in terms of noise reduction. Some also show experiments to test the quality of the models with the different types of stepper dampers installed.

Check out this YouTube video showing the differences in noise with and without stepper dampers:

Effect of Using Stepper Dampers on 3D Printers

Using stepper dampers to eliminate the noise from your 3D printer is an easy fix to the solution, but it comes with its flaws. They reduce the vibration and facilitate heat transfer in the stepper motors, shortening their lifespan.

They’re also not a permanent solution to the noise problem. It’s like putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. The stepper dampers don’t stop the vibrations from happening. They absorb the output and reduce the noise.

Due to the potential problems created by stepper motors, many people are opting for more sophisticated strepper drivers, which attach to the printer’s mainboard and significantly reduce the noise level. 

However, to solve the heat transfer problem in stepper dampers, you can use aluminum heat sinks with thermal tape to boost heat conduction and cool the motors.

The source produces heat which dissipates as it moves away from the source. The heat sink spreads the heat evenly, dissipating it away. Active heat sinks use forced air to increase fluid flow across the hot area.

Instead of buying a heat sink from manufacturers, you can print your 3D heat sinks and use them on your printer.

Final Thoughts

All 3D printers vibrate, and without proper optimization of the print speed, jerk and acceleration settings, and the weight of the mechanical parts, the vibration may produce unwanted screeching noises. Stepper motors are an effective way of reducing this noise.

Stepper dampers are applicable for both the X and Y axis of your 3D printer. You can also install them on the extruder, although doing so could potentially hurt the quality of your 3D model.  

Additionally, stepper dampers introduce a heat dissipation problem that may reduce your motor’s lifespan. Installing a heat sink is one way to reduce this risk.