3D printers are very important machines; however, they can produce disturbing noise depending on the 3D printer you are using. Managing sound noise has been a constant challenge in our offices, commercial spaces, homes, or virtually within an enclosed space.
Wood panels and foams filled with absorbing materials have been used to effectively absorb noise, however, they are bulky, with fixed absorption peaks. Unfortunately, matching and mixing a vast range of materials to achieve an absorption band is not an option you can depend on in most cases.
Considering that some of these printers run for longer hours or days, it is vital that they don’t produce disturbing, loud noise. In this article, we shall have a look at how noisy 3D printers can be, and also analyze some of the best tips you can use to reduce the noise effect.
If you are wondering how long a 3D printer can work, check out How often do 3D printers need a break? A go-to guide for 3D printers
How much noise do 3D printers make?
The noise coming from your 3D printer may not be much louder however, it may be inconveniencing, especially with the home printers. The noise produced by 3D printers will be much more if the printer is processing a big project, subjecting it to run for longer hours.
Most 3D printers are fairly quiet; however, they are still noisy if you are going to spend with the printer operating in the same room for several hours. Averagely, 3D printers produce approximately 40db to 55db noise. This can reduce significantly with some basic maintenance and techniques applied.
An FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)3D printer produces approximately 50 decibels of noise, as loud as a conversation. Cheaper 3D printers tend to produce much noise, going up to approximately 70 decibels. Using the right printer and with proper maintenance can significantly reduce these values to 40 decibels or lower. (Source)
Does a 3d printer enclosure reduce sound?
Yes, building an enclosure for our 3D printer can help reduce the sound produced by the printer significantly. Going by some feedback, you can achieve up to 10dB noise reduction by enclosing your 3D printer in a cabinet. This is approximately 50% noise reduction.
While considering putting your 3D printer in an enclosure cabinet to help with noise reduction, there are three key aspects you need to keep in mind:
- The cabinet should not be flammable. If you are going for a wooden cabinet, consider using thick plywood that is not easily flammable. If you are going for a ready-made cabinet, it is advisable that you choose one made of steel or aluminum with thick insulated glass.
- Consider accessibility when purchasing your printer cabinet. Ideally, you should be capable of opening the cabinet from all sides to enable you to change or adjust any part of your 3D printer without necessarily taking it out of the cabinet.
- Consider having a closed cabinet without ventilation to achieve better noise absorption. However, this depends on the optimal temperature and the type of filament you intend to use.
How can I make my 3D printer quieter?
If your 3D printer is making louder noise, you need to first identify the root cause of the noise, then narrow down on the solutions.
Most noises coming from the 3D printers are generated by the moving parts. In all these scenarios, there are different ways to reduce the level of noise produced. The stepper motor dampers, enclosures, using the right lubricants, and silence drivers are the most effective ways of reducing the noise made by 3D printers.
Here are some of the tips for making your 3D printer quieter:
- Placing rubberized mats under your 3D printer
Some home-based 3D printers tend to produce more vibration noise while operational. This could be caused by loose belts and screws or generally malfunctioning your 3D printer. A quick fix to this problem is absorbing the vibration noise by placing some insulation under your 3D printer such as a rubberized mat.
- Lubricating your liner rods
With wear and tear over time, the X, Y, and Z axes liner roads accumulate dust and grime, requiring cleaning and lubrication. This results in noise coming from your 3D printer while operating. In case you need some lubrication for your 3D printer liner roads, use WD-40.
For some helpful tips, check out our post : What Is A Filament Oiler In 3D Printing? Should You Lubricate Your 3D Printer
- Reducing power supply to the stepper motor
The stepper motor in 3D printers is a key source of the noise. Reducing the power supply to the stepper motor within permissible limits will reduce the noise effect.
- Changing the stepper motor
In case, reducing the power supply to the stepper motor does not work out in reducing the noise effect coming out of your 3D printer, consider replacing the stepper motor itself. There are quite a number of alternatives out there in the market that will help you achieve relatively silent operation with your 3D printer as compared to the default ones. For instance, you can go for the TMC2130 Stepper Motor Driver, which comes with wireless integration capability.
- Replacing the cooling fans
Apart from the 3D printer stepper motor, the cooling fans are basically the noisiest parts of the 3D printers. Consider replacing your noisy cooling fan with a quieter one.
- Buying rubbers dampeners for your 3D printer’s stepper motor
You can also consider buying rubber dampeners for placing under your 3D printer’s stepper motor. This will help absorb the noise vibrations, effectively, at the source.
- Tightening loose bolts and screws
Tightening loose bolts and screws is more of a routine maintenance tip. You need to check all the screws to ensure none is too loose which might make your 3D printer produce much noise. Also, you need to check the bolts and tighten them if they lose.
What 3d filament material is best for absorbing sound?
3D filament material’s sound absorption ability depends on a vast range of factors, including material thickness, type, excitation frequency, temperature, density, and structure. The NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) includes the excitation frequency effect on the sound absorption coefficient.
Considering the two frequently used filament materials (PLA and ABS), PLA has the best of these qualities when it calls for sound absorption as compared to ABS filament material.
Low sound absorption properties are normally observable at low excitation frequencies. Therefore, you can increase the filament material thickness to improve sound absorption. However, this option increases the coat of manufacturing, hence not effective for noise absorption. Therefore, it is recommended that you use open-porous sound absorbers to improve sound absorption at lower excitation frequencies.
PLA is one of the largely used filament materials in 3D printing due to its low printing process complexity, non-toxic, and moderate extrusion temperatures (180-220 degrees Celsius). ABS on the other hand is a thermoplastic polymer filament material with higher printing temperatures (210-250 degrees Celsius) as compared to PLA. It is also toxic when heated.
Basing our argument on the extrusion temperature factor between these two filament materials, PLA emerges as the best filament material with good sound absorption. This is because PLA will require less power supply to the stepper motor due to the relatively low printing process and moderate extrusion temperature required, as compared to ABS that has higher extrusion temperatures.
Since the PLA filament is considered the best for 3D printing, you can find out more about its shelf-life and how long you can store it to improve its half-life
With all this information on how 3D printing affects noise and the various techniques you can use to make your 3D printer quieter, you should now not worry much if your 3D printer is making a louder noise.
You simply need to use a combination of the techniques discussed here to achieve the best result in an attempt to reduce the noise coming from your 3D printer. Get yourself an enclosure cabinet to put your 3D printer, buy a good cooling fan, stepper motor, and ensure you carry out maintenance for your 3D printer routinely as expected.
In case you have any queries about 3D printing technology, do not hesitate to contact us! At 3D Print Schooling, you will get well-researched content that will enlighten you on any information you may need within the 3D printing technology.