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Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.

Posted by Antslake 
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
February 25, 2015 08:32PM
I find this fire very strange. The thing that makes me say that is that there are various fuses and current limiting devices that don't seem to have kicked in for some reason:

1) Pololu drivers are themselves current limited. Taking a close look at the picture of the RAMPS board, one can see that the extruder Pololu driver burned down, the other Pololus didn't.

2) The RAMPS board includes two PTC fuses. Admittedly these are not ideal devices, but they should limit the current somewhat. Both seem intact in the picture of the RAMPS board.

3) The power supply current limiting electronics should also have kicked in at some stage. I am not sure which PSU Makerfarm is shipping these days but surely it has short-circuit protection? Hopefully it is not one of those crappy LED PSUs from China that sell for less than $20 on eBay or AliExpress.

4) And finally, I assume the electrical installation in your workshop is adequately setup with the necessary fuses.

Definitely this fire should be investigated further. Something or various things didn't work as it/they should have.

I too survived a fire in my building less than 4 years ago and I know how traumatic the experience can be. The smell of burned things tends to linger on for months/years...

I hope you and your family get over this incident ASAP.

Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
February 25, 2015 10:21PM
This was awhile ago. I have since built a 16ga steel enclosure for my printer. It doesn't take much amperage to set a driver on fire. So fuses or not, would have never prevented this. I use a pyramid 20amp PS.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
April 10, 2015 10:00AM
Well I woke up last night with the sound of the smoke alarm, ran to the printer to saw my built plate in flames. The printed part was burning due to my heater resistor coming out of the heater block.
The fire damaged my fans, hotend and ABL sensor, but I'm still alive.

Time to reconsider what I thought up to now what is "secure in place".

Definitely a childish mistake on my part that thanks GOD will only cost me less than 100 bucks.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
April 10, 2015 04:23PM
Good thing you had a smoke alarm, and nobody was hurt, that's the most important thing.

Out of sheer curiosity, were you printing in ABS or PLA? Do you have any before/after pictures of you printer and hotend?
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
October 14, 2016 07:26PM
Hi All -

We have several customers who use the Atom Smoke Alarm. After reading through this thread and others, we decided to add this little safety device to our store.

Check out these mounts http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1187128

Happy printing!

Brad - www.UltiBots.com
772-257-one thousand
sales )at( ultibots dotcom
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
October 28, 2016 03:34PM
I did not know it was possible to make a smoke alarm that small. If it could be developed further so that it sent an alarm signal (via bluetooth maybe) so that it could trip a relay, it would be ideal.
I have been operating a full size, hard wired, smoke alarm that trips the mains supply to the printer for nearly 2 years now. So far it has not been used in anger.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
October 30, 2016 08:42PM
In my view this idea of smoke detector on the extruder is a bad joke... you need the smoke detector up high where the smoke collects

This would only work if the printer was in an enclosure.

If its out of the enclosure then the room has to fill with smoke down to the extruder... thats far to long and far to late.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
March 10, 2017 05:39AM
The possibility of 3D printer catching fire usually DOES NOT depend on a particular manufacturer of printer, because most manufacturers are using the similar parts. Instead, the possibility of fire usually depends on the version of firmware that is installed ! More recent firmwares are more advanced and have the additional protection measures – like against a thermistor coming off place. For example, below you can find a commit message 43c298a (dated Jun 30 2014) from a Marlin Firmware repository. My cheap Chinese 3D printer (with Atmega 1284P) had a slightly older firmware version installed, so I had to update its’ firmware to enable this “Thermal Runaway Protection”. Always update a firmware of your 3D printer!

/*================== Thermal Runaway Protection ==============================
This is a feature to protect your printer from burn up in flames if it has a thermistor coming off place (this happened to a friend of mine recently and motivated me writing this feature).

The issue: If a thermistor come off, it will read a lower temperature than actual. The system will turn the heater on forever, burning up the filament and anything else around.

After the temperature reaches the target for the first time, this feature will start measuring for how long the current temperature stays below the target

If it stays longer than _PERIOD, it means the thermistor temperature cannot catch up with the target, so something *may be* wrong. Then, to be on the safe side, the system will he halt.

Bear in mind the count down will just start AFTER the first time the thermistor temperature is over the target, so you will have no problem if your extruder heater takes 2 minutes to hit the target on heating.*/
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
April 10, 2017 07:48AM
If you are going to mount the smoke detector somewhere, shouldn't it be over the power supply and/or ramps, the most likely point of electrical fire?

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/10/2017 07:49AM by rich1051414.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
April 11, 2017 09:13PM
Smoke rises, it should be on the roof above the machine or the roof of your printer enclosure

putting it on the power supply or ramps means it will probably just skirt around the sensor and will not trigger until the room is full of smoke down to the level of the printer
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
April 12, 2017 07:58PM
I was tempted to buy one of these: Elide fire ball for peace of mind that my machine won't burn down my workshop when running long unattended prints. In the end I opted for wiring in a photoelectric smoke alarm to my house alarm system - with the alarm sensor on the ceiling near the 3D printer. This will ring my cell if it is triggered.

I like the look of those melting plastic tube triggered fire extinguishers, but like the Elide ball I am put off by the thought of the mess of a full blast of a powder extinguisher going off in my workshop. I know a mess in the workshop is preferable to having it burn down but the ideal extinguisher would also minimise cleanup. If your machine is in an enclosure (as mine is), the volume is rather small and a plastic melting tube triggered extinguisher should be do-able based on either a refillable soda stream type CO2 bottle or a disposable CO2 or CO2 Argon MIG welding bottle. These options would be cheap enough to afford to do a test by say running a candle on the carriage and remotely actuating the carriage up to burn the tube. I'd probably restrict the CO2 flow so that it wasn't violent enough to rupture my enclosure - just to displace the oxygen and put the fire out - without letting in more air after the event to allow re-ignition. Another way to trigger it inside an enclosure would be to run a tensioned string across the top of the enclosure that holds a spring loaded gas valve closed. When the string burns, the gas valve would be opened. If I were to setup an automatic extinguisher, I would also wire it into my house alarm somehow so that if the extinguisher is triggered, it also sounds the alarm and rings me. I think it would be pretty vital for any extinguisher event to be followed up very soon after by someone checking that the fire is out.

My Prusa Mendel i2 inspired Repstrap with welded steel frame: [youtu.be]
And my Smartrap derived Briefcase 3D printer: [youtu.be]
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