Not many people know that the quality of their 3D print can be thrown off by a seemingly insignificant factor: the room temperature. But how does a room’s temperature affect 3D printing?
A room’s temperature affects 3D printing by determining the final quality. If the room is too cold, acrylic slicers will take longer to form a bond, and the filament can warp or delaminate from its build platform. Too much heat, on the other hand, will make the material more brittle.
This article will explore the relationship between temperature and 3D printing quality. Read on for more insights into these and tips to ensure your room’s temperature is ideal for printing.
How Temperature Affects 3D Print Quality
3D printers work by melting thermoplastic filament, which is extruded through an opening to build up layers on top of each other – this process is called fused deposition modeling (FDM).
While FDM is not very complex, several factors can affect the quality of an object. These include the filament’s temperature, the type of build plate used, and even extrusion speed.
Here’s a rundown of how temperature affects 3D print quality:
Temperatures Above 50 Degrees Celsius Make Hardening Difficult
Printing objects using 3D printers is somewhat similar to baking – materials are heated until they are just at the point of softening and then extruded onto a plate, which cools the object.
Because of that, printing above 50°C (122°F) can make it difficult for thermoplastics like ABS to cool down quickly enough, resulting in parts that do not harden in the desired areas.
Notably, some objects can even warp. This is caused by uneven material cooling – some areas cool faster than others, causing some layers to harden more quickly while others remain slightly softened.
One part of the object cools down while the other remains soft and bendable.
That’s why it’s essential to keep a room’s temperature between 17-20°C (62-68°F).
ABS Will Warp in a Cold Room
In the same vein, objects printed with ABS will begin to warp if they are not kept in a warm enough environment. This is because while ABS can be kept at a lower hardening range of 80-110°C (176-230°F) without being affected, it will start to warp if it is cooled too quickly.
The problem with this is that the object will stay soft at the bottom until it is kept in a warmer environment for long enough.
This can be very problematic for objects where accuracy and dimensional stability are critical – one object may only be slightly warped. Still, after several layers, the height difference can be significant.
PLA Will Be Pulled Off in a Cold Room
Other materials, such as PLA react differently when kept in an icy environment. Notably, if your room is too cold, you may notice that chunks of your print have been pulled away from the build plate during printing.
This could hurt the quality of the final product, besides causing wastage.
Temperature Variability Degrades Print Quality
Furthermore, temperature variability can also degrade print quality if it’s too extreme. For instance, during printing, your printer will reach a specific temperature and maintain that throughout the whole process until the object is done.
But what happens if the temperature in the room starts off being too cold for ABS but gradually warms up?
The filament may be kept at a higher temperature than it should – so it will still print correctly. But after several layers, the filament will cool down to its lower hardening range, resulting in warped parts.
To keep printing at its best quality, stability is critical.
Suppose the room where you print is not kept at a constant temperature. In that case, your printer may end up fighting against itself – it will be trying to harden plastics while also cooling down materials that require a higher temperature, deteriorating the final product’s quality.
Common Side Effects of Printing in Unstable Temperatures
Objects printed at sub-optimum room temperatures will often have several side effects, including the following:
- Warping. This is one of the most common problems caused by poor temperature control. Objects with low tolerances for warping may warp so much that they are unusable or difficult to remove from a printing surface – think about the shape of your object and if you can easily remove it once, printing is done.
- Banding/ non-uniform finish. This happens because different parts of the object cool at different rates, which results in different layers having varying levels of thickness. Some areas may dry out faster than others, causing them to appear much thinner – this will also make your object look quite ugly.
- Over/ under extrusion. This happens when the printer tries to extrude more material than it can handle – basically, you’re trying to print too much at once. This will cause the extruder head to fail or jam, affecting overall build quality.
- Adhesion issues. Temperature also affects the quality of adhesion. You may notice that some parts are getting fused or are not sticking properly to the bed – this happens because there is a difference in temperature between parts, leading them to adhere weakly.
Pro Tips: If your room’s temperature is not ideal for printing in, you can try the following tips to make it better:
- Turn on a heater. If your room is too cold, turn on a heating system or switch from an air conditioner to a heater during printing – this will help warm up the environment for more stable temperatures.
- Use an enclosure. A 3D printer enclosure works by trapping the heat from your printer and focusing it towards specific parts of the machine. This increases overall temperature, which in turn increases printing quality.
If you need a 3D printer enclosure, I recommend this Creality 3D Printer Enclosure from Amazon. It maintains a constant temperature, ensuring you get the best print quality. Besides, it’s waterproof, easy to install, and comes with a transparent window that lets you monitor the progress when printing.
Also, here’s a video that may help you determine the best temperature setting for your 3D printer:
The Bottom Line
The temperature of your printing environment has a significant impact on the quality of your 3D prints, so it’s crucial to pay attention to it. Notably, working with moderate temperatures will give you objects that come out nice and smooth.
Temperature stability is crucial since fluctuations can cause warping, layer separation, jams, and poor adhesion. Nonetheless, you can use heaters if it’s too cold in your room or enclosures to trap the heat from your printer for more consistent results – with these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to keep your print quality up at all times.