Cooling is just as vital as heating. You might wonder why most fans are always involved in 3D printing. Nothing special, it’s just due to the need for cooling. The fans attempt to cool off the printer by blasting ambient air foul at the extruded filament.
It takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes for the 3D printer to cool. This cooling duration may still depend on the design and how big it is because some designs may take more duration to cool compared to others. Some 3D printers also tend to be hotter compared to others.
Also, simpler designs will take a shorter time to cool since they don’t have too many layers that require hardening. When the air temperature is colder, such as in winter or fall, it may take the 3D design a shorter time to cool.
When a 3D print process is complete, one needs to ensure that you leave the printer to cool down sufficiently for a period of 5-10 minutes before separating the 3D print from the base. If this is not achieved, the printed part will be deformed and lose some quality finishing.
It is important to note that the answer to this question can depend on a vast range of factors such as the machine you are using, the ambient air temperature, and the 3D print design.
However, when we refer to “too cool” here, we don’t necessarily mean that your 3D print will be cool enough for you to handle within this specified timeline. There are certain cases where your 3D print may still be warm or even hot after the print has hardened enough and is ready for removal.
Therefore, if your 3D print is still hot or warm enough after 10 minutes of wait, you may take it out of the printer base by using a spatula. From here, you may take it out of the printer base by using a spatula, then allow it to cool down slowly on a cooler base like a cooling rack.
In case you can’t use a spatula, you can alternatively wait for the 3D printer base to cool completely before taking off your print using your hand. However, you can use some rudimentary tactics to speed up the 3D print’s cooling process.
You can take out the 3D printer base together with your 3D print using a pair of mittens, then keep it in a freezer or refrigerator.
It is a signal that you can now detach your 3D print safely from the base. However, it is still advisable that you handle your 3D print with the utmost care when it is still warm, since it may still be soft enough to deform when subjected to some force like dropping it.
Should You Let 3D Print Cool Before Removing It?
Given the fact that 3D printing involves the use of plastic material melted to produce 3D prints, this means that 3D prints require some cooling time before removing it from the base of your 3D printer. Therefore, what happens is that 3D printers use plastic materials such as thermoplastics that can easily melt when subjected to heat and solidify when cooled. (Source)
However, the thermoplastic material maintains its melted state as your 3D printer forms the print structure you want to be printed. Since the 3D print is formed steadily by the 3D printer, the plastic material will begin to solidify steadily too while it is being cooled down by ambient temperature.
However, you need to ensure that you give your 3D printer time to cool down first since melted plastic may take time before it completely solidifies. If you attempt to remove the 3D print from the 3D printer base, there are high chances that your 3D print is yet to solidify. (Source)
This will make your 3D print have a deformed shape that does not conform to your design specifications. Taking the 3D print out of the printer base before it hardens will compromise the general structural integrity of your print.
Should You Remove the Filament Roll After Printing?
In case you are using standard filament, live in a fairly low humidity environment, and plan to print something again in a couple of days to come, you can leave the filament on your 3D printer. In case, you live in high humidity areas, and you don’t plan to print anything for a couple of days to come, it is recommended that you store the filament.
Why Store Filament?
Some of the most commonly used 3D print filaments are hygroscopic, meaning that they absorb moisture from the air. Any extra moisture in the filament may cause inconsistency in the 3D print thickness. This in turn affects the quality of the 3D printed object. In certain cases, the filament may expand jamming the 3D print head, causing wasted time, wasted filament, and failed prints.
Potential problems include
- Low-quality prints
- Weakened filament
- Reduced lifespan
- Jammed printer heads
To prevent these problems, it is recommended that you store your filament material in something airtight and use a desiccant, like a mini dehumidifier or silica gel, to control humidity. The process could potentially save you wasted hours of troubleshooting and less wasted filament.
For more on this topic, check out Does PLA Have A Shelf Life? How long & How To Store It for A longer Shelf Life!
What to Do After a 3D Print Is Done?
Once you are done with 3D printing, you need to pull off each 3D print from the build plate using a hammer and scraper. You need to clean all the rods and polls with the vacuum and remove the filament, ensuring it does not sit in the extruder. Also, ensure you brush down the nozzle after each print using acetone.