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Do You Need To Cool an Extruder Motor?

Extruder motors can sometimes get too hot for comfort, which is why many 3D printer owners have started wondering whether they should use a fan to combat this issue. The reason why so many of them worry about providing their equipment with adequate cooling is that they think overheating could severely damage the motor’s quality and longevity. However, that’s usually not the case.

You don’t need to cool an extruder motor since it rarely gets hot enough to cause a problem. Extruder motors can safely operate until they reach 212 °F (100 °C), but most of them don’t exceed the 140 to 194 °F (60 to 90 °C) range. However, you can always provide cooling if you feel it’s necessary.

In short, you don’t usually need to cool extruder motors. However, some people choose to do so because the motor gets too close to unsafe operating temperatures. If you want to learn more about the topic and how to better navigate it, keep reading.

Does the Extruder Motor Need a Fan?

The extruder motor doesn’t usually need a fan. The equipment shouldn’t go up to unsafe operating temperatures unless something is wrong with the machine. If you use your standard printers correctly, you won’t need to use one.

The extruder motors can get hot through extended use. However, they should never get hot enough for you to feel their temperature radiating from a distance. Most of the time, the manufacturer won’t include a cooling fan because you shouldn’t need one. If you do receive it, though, you probably should use it.

Overall, you shouldn’t have to worry about using a fan with an extruder motor for standard printing. Substantial professional 3D printers may get hotter than standard ones. However, they usually also feature their own fans and heat sinks if they require them.

That said, adding and running an extruder motor fan shouldn’t hurt your 3D printer or the objects that you make. Therefore, if you’d like to err on the side of safety, go ahead and add one. 

Can an Extruder Motor Overheat?

An extruder motor can overheat. However, this is less likely to happen if you have proper cooling on the rest of the printer. Printers usually overheat when using their full current during the entire printing process. Adding a good heat sink makes a huge difference.

In cases where you want to supply full current to the motor the entire time, you may want to consider providing more cooling. This is one of the cases where it’s best to be cautious, especially if you know that this will be an especially long project. 

Mounting the motor to a reliable heat sink is an excellent cooling option and can reduce the motor’s temperature significantly. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that there’s airflow surrounding the engine. Your printer should never be in a closed-off area. 

Good air circulation and a fan can go a long way when it comes to lowering the temperature of your extruder motor. However, I’d recommend using the heat sink first since it’s usually the more efficient option. If it isn’t enough, you can always add the fan next. 

Overall, you won’t need to worry about cooling an extruder motor unless it has a tendency to go above safe temperatures. You can also turn down the motor’s settings to help prevent it from overheating. Lowering the current should help, although many people prefer to add a heat sink and a fan instead, so they don’t have to mess with the current.

Using a Heat Sink With an Extruder Motor

aluminium heat sink

Heat sinks are very beneficial when it comes to 3D printing. They don’t require power to cool the extruder motor, so they also won’t increase the energy demands. Heat sinks made from high thermal conductive materials are best.

These materials include aluminum and copper since they quickly take the heat from the motor, helping to keep it cool. Heat sinks work by taking the heat away from a device by giving it more surface area. 

If you don’t have a heat sink, you can also print your own! It acts as passive cooling, so you will still need a small fan to work for active cooling to get the best results.

You also don’t need a fancy setup to attach the heat sink to your motor. Many people use thermal tape or even epoxy to keep the heat sink in place. 

Checking an Extruder Motor’s Temperature

If you have concerns, it’s a good idea to check the extruder motor temperature. While most have similar safe temperatures they can reach, checking your manual will give you a better idea of the range that’s safe for your unique printer. 

Additionally, keeping the motor cooler than the upper temperature limit set by the manufacturer is always a good idea, as doing so can significantly prolong its life. Otherwise, it could need replacing much sooner than what you’d expect. 

If your filament gets too hot and jams the machine before extrusion, your extruder motor could be to blame. At high temperatures, it can soften certain filaments, such as PLA. 

Types of 3D Printer Fans

There are several different types of 3D printer fans that you’ll run into if you’re on the market to buy one. Printer fans are usually dedicated to specific components, such as:

  • The hot end 
  • The 3D prints themselves
  • The control board
  • The power supply
  • The extruder or stepper motors

Fans for the extruder motor are the least common type of fan because they’re usually unnecessary. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll never find them on 3D printers. Some large models come with a fan and heat sink on the motor to prevent it from getting too hot.

If your printer comes with an extruder fan, you’ll know that you need to use it. Companies won’t include one unless completely necessary because it costs substantially more to have one included in the product.

Conclusion

To summarize, you don’t need to cool an extruder motor most of the time. The motor on the printer shouldn’t go above 194 °F (90 °C) in most circumstances, which keeps it at a safe operating temperature. 

Overall, you can still provide a cooling fan if you believe your extruder motor is getting too hot. Many 3D printers will come with features to prevent that, but it can never hurt to add in more cooling.