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Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.

Posted by Antslake 
Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 14, 2014 05:15PM
Not particularly proud at this moment, but I thought I would share to maybe stop the same thing from happening to someone else. Using my makerfarm prusa i3 I had an overnight print going that was about as tall as my machine could handle. I had attempted the same print 3 other times with no issues, just had to adjust some settings to make the print better. For some reason this time, the wires that go to the extruder stepper motor (along with all the other wires tied together) curled under the hot end and melted. This caused a short on the stepper driver and the ramps board went up in flames, which spread to the wooden frame of the makerfarm. Luckily, the flames extinguished themselves before burning my family in our sleep. My house sticks like burnt electronics now, and I am really upset. I am going to figure a way to run these wires so that won't happen again, and I am going to build a fire proof shelf to keep this on with a smoke alarm. I even think the RAMPS should be in a metal enclosure if you ask me. I thought I had the wires routed in a safe way, but obviously there is room for improvement, so I am open to suggestions. See pictures:








Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 14, 2014 05:37PM
This is a shame but even pro equipment can do this. I have a friend that uses an $80,000 laser engraver from the one of the top companies, she used it for years in her home with no problems but one day she went to fix dinner while it was running a job and it caught fire and burned her home office up about 80%, cost was $40,000 to repair the building. Buy the way the fire was inside the metal enclosure but ended up melting the plastic viewing window and that's how it spread.

Of course you can limit risk as your metal enclosures example but the risk is always there. In my home office I have a 15lb fire extinguisher in the corner, never needed it but I do a lot of things involving electronics, machining and even flame (as well as my 3D printer). I also have a smoke detector in the same room. While I have never had a major fire in my life, I still worry about it a little and try to plan for it just in case.

Glad to hear nobody was hurt. Oh and Ozone treatments are the best way to get rid of that nasty lingering smoke smell. That I learned from the friend with the laser, she had Ready Serv company come do the cleanup and she said that is what they used and when they left she could not smell any smoke or burned wood.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 14, 2014 05:40PM
Wow. I'm so glad that no harm came to you or your family. I've often been very worried about this exact thing happening to me. I definitely think that more attention needs to be given to fireproofing. I know that printed parts can go up in flames, obviously a wood frame like that one is at risk of increasing the fire hazard as well.

As someone who enjoys designing 3d printers from a hobby standpoint, after seeing this I'm going to make a point to build more fire safety ideas into my next design. Thanks for sharing this.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 14, 2014 07:05PM
the question i'd be asking is why did the overload/shortcircuit protection not kick in?




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Anonymous User
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 14, 2014 07:11PM
You're not an official reprapper until you've almost burnt your house down. Welcome to the club.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 14, 2014 07:21PM
Never thought wood or any thing flammable was a good idea it would have to be all metal enclosed with high temp class for me to feel comfortable with thermal fuses inside. You're lucky that plastic filament didn't start just for chuckles take a 2 foot piece of ABS holding the one hand let it hang down and take a cigarette lighter to the lower end and be ready to do some scrambling to put it out. Which means you need filament spool in the metal enclosure separate to keep it cool also burning liquid is a really bad thing

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/14/2014 07:23PM by cnc dick.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 14, 2014 09:12PM
Had a counterfeit REX C100 loose it, luckily I was right there when it happened. Had run the thing to death, replaced relays several times, did have a working overload circuit that failed at some point. Switched to an SSR relay setup.
Attachments:
open | download - Rex_C100.jpg (99.1 KB)
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 14, 2014 10:25PM
Quote
thejollygrimreaper
the question i'd be asking is why did the overload/shortcircuit protection not kick in?

What overload? The circuit breaker? It doesn't take 20 amps to start that fire.

I also want to mention this is in no way a bad reflection on makerfarm, they have an awesome product and always so very helpful.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 14, 2014 11:37PM
Has anyone considered using one of these?



[www.safelincs.co.uk]

It's basically a powder fire extinguisher with a plastic tube which is permanently connected to the bottle. When flames melt through the plastic tube it releases the extinguisher and hopefully puts out the fire

A lot of VW campervan owners have them installed (myself included!) because the engine is almost underneath the petrol tank haha. Lots of cases where they've worked!

expensive for the good quality ones, but a worthwhile investment... It would probably benefit by being in an enclosure though.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 12:15AM
I don't think you want a powder based fire extinguisher at Home. It works of course, but the powder makes a huge mess. I bet nobody wants to clean that.
Better get a foam, or CO2 based fire extinguisher.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 12:23AM
Quote
loco
I don't think you want a powder based fire extinguisher at Home. It works of course, but the powder makes a huge mess. I bet nobody wants to clean that.
Better get a foam, or CO2 based fire extinguisher.

I'd much rather have to clean up powder from my enclosure than sweep up the ashes of my house! tongue sticking out smiley good point though.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 02:31AM
Right, that's why i said you should get a foam or CO2 extinguisher for use at home winking smiley
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 04:49AM
I had a close shave when I first started a few months back. I had not long completed my Ord Bot build and left it doing a print while I went into the garage to do job.

The print became detached and the resultant ball of filament pulled out the thermistor! The hot end temperature raced away and it charred the print big style, filling my living room with smoke. SWMBO came running out saying the house is on fire!

There were no flames but it was a sobering experience. I keep a smoke alarm along side the printer now. I think I will also get a CO2 fire extinguisher.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 04:59AM
Quote
Antslake
Quote
thejollygrimreaper
the question i'd be asking is why did the overload/shortcircuit protection not kick in?

What overload? The circuit breaker? It doesn't take 20 amps to start that fire.

I also want to mention this is in no way a bad reflection on makerfarm, they have an awesome product and always so very helpful.

i agree it doesn't take 20amps at either 12v or 24v however something should have overloaded and shutdown long before flames came about, those A4988 chips have a short circuit and thermal overload protection in them, i would put some attention towards the hotend heater circuit and the mosfet that drives it, because a short across that should have triggered the overload in the powersupply and the power supply should have shutdown, it obviously hasn't so i'd be very sure about whats working and not working properly before reusing certain components




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Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 09:02AM
The short took place in the wires that go to the extruder stepper motor, and it was the driver that went up in flames. The wires that go to the extruder stepper melted to the hot end.

I like the idea of an automatic fire extinguisher. I was wondering if there was something like that out there.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 09:49AM
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 10:27AM
Wow - I have always worried about this possibility. I have the wooden Makerfarm also. So I just went on to
amazon and bought:Flame Defender - 12 KG - 7.7' coverage
[www.amazon.com]

I don't worry as much about the type of short OP had but more the idea that the thermistor fails
and a run away hot end ignites plastic. Add to that the can of Acetone that is generally there.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 11:06AM
You are lucky that the fire didn't grow.. I was thinking to buy one of these sensors [www.ebay.co.uk] . I beleive that it will be possible to make it work with ramps. If not i think i can use an external microcontroller. What do you think?
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 11:40AM
I was thinking along the same lines. I don't know how to program though. I wish I could have a sensor like that which would notify me on my phone. I already have an internet camera so I can check prints while I am out. But with this last thing I don't think I will be doing any unattended prints. Who has time to monitor long prints?
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 11:55AM
I had mine set the alarm off one time, the cops got called and everything, but i got there and shut down the alarm and warded the cops off. the moving heated bed actually set off the ir detector in my room.

anyways if you have an enclosed build chamber you could hook it up to a co2 fire extinguisher and then hook a servo or something up to the valve. then the servo is hooked up to the smoke alarm or something. even if you made the entire printer fire proof the plastic you are printing is still flamable so you really do need some sort of extinguisher. also since my hot end is water cooled if there was an issue with the hot end catching on fire the tubes for the water would melt and extinguish the flames. I guess you could also have the smoke detector shut down the machine and then switch a valve on the water cooling line to disperse the water over the printer haha.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/2014 11:58AM by aduy.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 01:11PM
I just think it's incredibly dumb to let your wires run loose like that. Lesson learned I guess? A good lesson is a lesson where nobody got REALLY in trouble.

I hope you manage to repair the machine smiling smiley Lucky guy!
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 01:38PM
Personally I think we definitely need to think more about safety especially for long multiple night prints. I scratch built one but never got to building the enclosure for the actual print process and filament. All the electrical is in metal enclosures so I'm not worried about that and I do have a thermal fuse on the top of the print head that shuts down the master relay

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/2014 01:39PM by cnc dick.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 02:15PM
Why not just print a plastic container that can holds water and put it right above the RAMPs board? Just remember to unplug the PSU first when you see it's burnt?
eye rolling smiley
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 02:18PM
Quote
jpan
Why not just print a plastic container that can holds water and put it right above the RAMPs board? Just remember to unplug the PSU first when you see it's burnt?
eye rolling smiley

Did you ever hold a flame under a balloon? I'm sorry I think this is only making the whole plan more dangerous. I don't even dare to put a glass of water next to my printer!



I have my computer set-up incredibly safe when it comes to wiring, and almost every wire is lead through a flexible plastic tube housing to take off the strain and collect all cables together. And still I would never let my printer run without me being present, there is so much that can go wrong and it's not only that it's my house, but it's also a house with a neighbour that lives in the house above me and people next to him also. If my printer would be in the garden house I wouldn't mind letting it run nights alone, but in a house it's just so unsafe..
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 02:48PM
Loose wires are one of things that don't seem like a problem, until Something Bad Happens (and I am glad to hear nothing really bad happened this time!).

But I am guilty of loose wires too. Partly laziness, but also finding a cheap of source suitable conduit. Perhaps printer designs really should make allowance for it too, rather than leave things to the user.

We should really have a hardware failsafe on the hotend too....no I don't either!

Generally though, I don't run prints unattended, and have a smoke alarm fitted.


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Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 02:49PM
My approach is to speed up the print as much as possible so there are no overnight prints. I have an Ord Bot which is pretty fast anyway but I have Bowdenised it to get it faster.

I think if long prints are necessary the way forward is to fully enclose the printer and have an auto shutdown and extinguisher system.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 02:53PM
Quote
dave3d
My approach is to speed up the print as much as possible so there are no overnight prints. I have an Ord Bot which is pretty fast anyway but I have Bowdenised it to get it faster.

I think if long prints are necessary the way forward is to fully enclose the printer and have an auto shutdown and extinguisher system.

Add a CO2 extinguisher to the box! Those things work magic and the best thing: THEY DON'T KILL YOUR ELECTRONICS!!! hihi.

Last year at my academy, someone let the lasercutter catch fire, and no, they didn't grab the CO2 extinguisher, but the water one... The whole machine was damaged after that, while with the CO2 version it would've been ok, since they discovered that it wasn't the machine that was on fire, but that it was the work that was being cut!
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 03:12PM
Yes, Ohmarinus. CO2 is the best for an electrical fire. Water is a no no.
I think it also needs a device to cut the power. Maybe a fusable link?

Got me thinking. A fuseable link secured to the jhead that keeps a mains power relay open?
A fire melts the wire and cuts the power.

I also think the thermistor should have a failsafe in the firmware to guard against it being dislodged.
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 03:26PM
Why not just properly dress the cables instead of fire extingushers, etc? 20' of expandable mesh and some heatshrink would clean you right up and be a whole lot cheaper, not to mention safer.

+1 for having a smoke detector in close proximity.


- akhlut

Just remember - Iterate, Iterate, Iterate!

[myhomelessmind.blogspot.com]
Re: Yes, 3D printers can go on fire.
January 15, 2014 03:27PM
This is a scary read for those who think it takes lots of power at high voltages to start a fire:


[www.kodiakconsulting.com]

Sleep well smiling smiley
Robin

edit: fixed link

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/2014 03:32PM by Zedsquared.
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