As 3D printers become increasingly popular, they also become increasingly common. Where once this was a machine used only by major companies, now the average Joe can have one right in his living room. If you’ve purchased a 3D printer for your home or business, you may be wondering what kinds of products and accessories you might need to optimize its function and protect your investment. One of the most important accessories for your 3D printer is a heating enclosure. What’s so important about this seemingly extraneous component? It actually serves a bigger purpose than you might think.

What It Is and What It Does

A 3D printer enclosure is essentially a box, typically made of a clear, heavy-duty plastic, designed to retain the heat of your 3D printer while it’s in operation. It also helps to protect you from getting burned by the components. It should be fitted to your machine, and include a door with a latch or lock to allow you access to the machine and your printed items.

mini enclosure Top Panel

Most 3D printers come with an enclosure when you purchase them, and it’s important to make sure you use this enclosure properly. Your 3D printer contains heating elements necessary for melting the molding materials used in printing, and those heating elements can, understandably, get quite hot. While you might think that the purpose of the enclosure is to block out that heat, in fact, the purpose is to keep the heat contained so that your printer operates under optimal heat conditions. If the heat is allowed to escape, the molding material used for your product may cool too quickly, causing warping or damage to the final product. You may also run the risk of some of that molding material solidifying while still inside the mechanism, which could cause serious damage to your machine.

An enclosure also protects your machine, and your printing environment, from external interference. Dust, debris, or other outside materials can damage your product or your machine, and cause problems. The enclosure keeps these materials from entering the print area while the machine is operating, ensuring an optimum environment in which your printer can work.

Installing Your Enclosure

The installation of your 3D printer enclosure may vary depending on your machine. If the enclosure came with the machine, it should include instructions to install it as you set it up. If it’s an aftermarket enclosure, however, installation may vary. Some kits come with all the parts and instructions you’ll need right in the box, while others may require you to print some of the components in order to install it properly.

mini enclosure Front Panel

When installing your enclosure, make sure to follow the directions as closely as possible. A poorly or incorrectly installed enclosure may retain too little or too much heat, which can damage your printer or your printed items. Extra gaps left in the enclosure from poor installation can also allow in dust or other outside materials that can cause damage, so be sure to check over your work when finished and seal any holes or gaps not intended by the manufacturer.

Purchasing a Replacement

purchasing 3d enclosures

If you need to purchase a 3D printer enclosure, whether yours was damaged or your printer didn’t come with one for some reason, it’s important to ensure that you have the right model. Most enclosures are designed for a specific printer model. Unfortunately, this can drive up the price somewhat, but it’s worth it to guarantee that the enclosure will fit your machine and provide exactly the right amount of heat containment. You can typically find replacement enclosures on websites such as eBay or Amazon, but you may also be able to purchase them directly from the company. Typically, it’s a good idea to shop around a bit before making your final purchase to ensure that you’re getting the best price and the right enclosure for your model.

Building a DIY Enclosure

5mm clear acrylic 3d printer enclosure

If you need to purchase a 3D printer enclosure, whether yours was damaged or your printer didn’t come with one for some reason, it’s important to ensure that you have the right model. Most enclosures are designed for a specific printer model. Unfortunately, this can drive up the price somewhat, but it’s worth it to guarantee that the enclosure will fit your machine and provide exactly the right amount of heat containment. You can typically find replacement enclosures on websites such as eBay or Amazon, but you may also be able to purchase them directly from the company. Typically, it’s a good idea to shop around a bit before making your final purchase to ensure that you’re getting the best price and the right enclosure for your model.

printer enclosure

If you choose to go the DIY route, make sure you do plenty of research before beginning. Look into similar builds that other people have made for your machine, and read up on what materials work best to retain the heat properly. Before beginning your build, make sure to take the appropriate safety precautions, and double-check that you understand everything that needs to go into it. If you’re not absolutely sure you can build the enclosure properly and safely, you’re probably better off just buying an enclosure, as a poorly built DIY can be harmful to yourself, your products, and your printer, and it can end up costing you more in the long run.

Your 3D printer is a complex machine that requires the right components and the right conditions to work best. A 3D printer enclosure is one of the most important components of your machine because it retains the optimal heat required for it to create the best possible products. Without the right enclosure, your products could become warped, or your machine could be damaged, so be sure you’ve got the right cover for your machine in order to protect your investment and get the most use out of your printer.

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