Heated Build Chambers Don’t Have to be That Complex

800px-HBC_open_door_view

Looking to improve the quality of your 3D prints? Worried about peeling, warping, and de-laminating layers? All you need is to do is make a heated build chamber!

The heated build chamber is one of the patents that the big 3D printer company owns (we won’t point any fingers), and that’s why you don’t see it as a feature on any of the “consumer” grade 3D printers. But that won’t stop people from making their own!

[Repkid] just finished a wiki page on this topic, and it’s a great way to build a heated chamber — if you have the space for it! He’s built a large wooden enclosure for his RepRap out of MDF sheets. Double-ply cardboard is used as thin insulation, although we imagine if you’re building something this large you might as well use some commercial insulation.

The chamber is heated by a blow dryer which is mounted off the back of the box, and the heat is controlled by changing the speed setting of the dryer. A laser cut vent allows for further adjustment. If you want to get really fancy, it would be very easy to install a thermostat PID controller that could regulate the temperature more accurately. To prevent overheating the electronics, all the control boards are also outside of the box.

[Repkid’s] RepRap does not have a heated bed, but with the heated build chamber he can print ABS without any warping — just take a look!

800px-HBC_result1

The white piece is with the HBC, and the red, without. Not bad!

Do you have a heated build chamber for your 3D printer? If so, we’d love to see it!

44 thoughts on “Heated Build Chambers Don’t Have to be That Complex

  1. The red/white comparison objects don’t make for a convincing argument… I’d like to see the red object reprinted with the chamber active.

    1. That’s a RepMan with a BFB upgrade, if I’m not mistaken. I’ve been setting up my school’s BFB 3D Printer , If printing in ABS I have trouble getting it to stick to the board and it warps like hell even on the raft levels

      1. You are correct. That is a BFB Rapman 3.2 and I thoroughly dissuade anyone from buying that. It has too many issues for the amount that it costs.

        Against warping I found that printing without raft directly on an acrylic bed works best. Mind, I made a few sacrificial beds first specifically for that purpose. A thin stanley knife is ideal for removing the parts I have discovered.

        1. I gather 3D System’s CubeX is derived from this BfB design, and it’s still quite terrible. I’m morbidly curious if anything of it is salvageable, one person that modified it for open source controller said the mechanism is extremely heavy and the frame relies on the plastic shell, so it’s possible the salvageable parts might boil down to the slides and motors.

          A different person said he gets better results from a Solidoodle. And the Solidoodle is pretty bad, out of the box at least.

  2. I built a box for mine using a 4′x8′ sheet of Sound Board and a couple lengths of 1×2. My machine has a 400W heated bed so I’ve just used the heat from the bed to heat the chamber. Works like a champ as far a eliminating warping of ABS. It also has the added bonus of making the machine almost silent.

  3. “We won’t point any fingers” at well-known facts that are not shady in any way? Is Hackaday trying to avoid SEO shenanigans or something?

    Stratasys, via patent US 6722872, apparently owns the exclusive right to have a heated chamber around your build volume…. for 10 more years.

  4. That’s a good looking build and yeah it doesn’t have to be complicated at all. I use a cardboard box lined with LDF and a lexon window/door, It makes printing ABS less frustrating because it does help keep the parts from warping and as a added bonus it kills the noise made by my solidoodle 2.

    1. I built a closed chamber around my solidoodle and had to scrap it. The ABS cart above the y axis stepper bent and I had to bend it back and I printed an extra just in case. Are you monitoring chamber temperature?

    1. AGREE!!! ^^^ Buildings are heated chambers… In fact, any damned box with active components is a “heated chamber”. This is a patent troll’s wet dream.

    2. Really, it’s an oven. Putting a 3D printer inside an appliance that’s been in that form factor for over half a century, might well violate that patent. That’s how twisted the system is.

    3. My reading of that patent is that it is pretty narrow and can be easily and fairly sidestepped.
      Basically….in that type of claim structure the first part of the claim lays out the acknowledged prior art…and the
      last phrase, following the words “characterized in that”, describes the added feature that creates
      the novel and protected improvement.
      In this case…a deform able thermal barrier between the heated chamber and the gantry.
      No barrier – no infringement. (My opinion…speak to a lawyer before betting your house on it).

      Here is an extract regarding the type of claim structure used in the claim mentioned.

      “US patent applications (and patents) will almost always have one-part claims. If you see a two-part claim in a US patent, chances are the patent is owned by a European firm. In the US, if you use two-part claims (also called “Jepson claims”, after the first patent attorney to use them), anything before the characterizing portion is regarded to be prior art by definition. If the applicant by accident put a novel feature in the precharacterizing portion, it’s regarded as prior art and may damage the patentability.”

  5. Well, I’ve build a more or less leakproof enclosure for my printer.
    For ABS Printing I set the bed temperature to 100°C. This results in a more or less equal room temperature inside the printer of about 45°C. I can print any parts with nearly zero warp.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/sexAv26uwo0r1wq7vhJsANMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=directlink

    The top is a paper bellow coverd with pasti liquid rubber.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/S3rPC_Pfwp1VBDvslM9HedMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=directlink

    Nevertheless I like the use of the hair dryer, a true hack keep going.

  6. 3D printed mechanisms in the 3D printers don’t work very well in a heated environment. PLA parts start to sag pretty badly at around 54 C.

    1. It adds a lot of expense and may defeat the idea of self-replicating machines, but upgrading your printed 3D printer parts to machined metal parts isn’t a terrible idea for solving those kinds of problems and improving your accuracy.

    2. Instead of heating the chamber and all of the parts, is it possible to heat “just what is needed” with a heat lamp ? I remember seeing a concept a month or three ago about a guy who wanted to heat people instead of buildings.

    1. I will measure the temperature of the chamber in operation and post it at the wiki as soon as possible. Apologies for forgetting that in the first place.

  7. using a big industrial (halogen) lightsource might heat the room up a lot faster and will provide better visabillity of the product being printed

  8. Any particular reason for using MDF? Would laser-cut birch or acrylic work just as well, or is there inherent insulating properties in mdf that make it the optimal material for this build?

    I’ve been thinking about bullding an enclosure for my Prusa. Hook up a temperature sensor and LCD to a spare MSP430 I have and use a servo to control venting.

    I’m also curious about optimal enclosure temperature.

    1. There was no specific reason for MDF, i simply chose it because it was cheap, plentiful and easy to machine. Also the enclosure is much too large to be lasercut and birch is too expensive a material for something like this.

      1. I guess I don’t understand why birch is considered so expensive. I’ve been getting 1/4″ thick birch plywood, 8 sq. ft. of it for $6 at retail. OK, so that’s more expensive than something you already have on hand.

          1. I’m not in a big city, rural.

            In fact, big cities don’t necessarily improve availability. But I don’t think it is hard to get.

  9. Also, this is a naive question, but would fans directing hot air AWAY from the stepper motors help generate heat for the enclosure, or would the resulting air actually create the opposite effect and cool it down?

  10. I have been wanting to try this.
    Is it ok for the steppers to run hot all the time? I was thinking about adding heatsinks, so this is counterproductive… ehh maybe wont hurt for them to get warm a little, guess i need to do some research.

  11. People still misinterpret what patents are for. The patenting system has been set up in order to make it POSSIBLE to use inventions, not to forbid it.
    Basically the patenting system was created in order to – on the one hand side – require clean documentation and extensive explanations of an invention, document it and make it publically(!) available. On the other hand, as a compensation for this effort, the inventor gets exclusive rights to make commercial use of his invention, he is required to LICENSE it, though.
    So patents in themselves are not BAD. They are a VERY GOOD invention (pun intended). All you have to do is comply with the rules. What is bad with getting a license to use a good thing(tm)?

    1. That’s the original idea, but the current reality is the system is under considerable abuse.

      You mention getting a license, should it really be necessary for a hobbyist to get a license to make a DIY oven for their 3D printer, just to be legal?

      Every indication I’ve seen suggests patent holders are generally not required by law to license their patents. That’s their choice if they do. Would Stratasys even license it out?

    2. No one is required to license a patent. And even if the law required it, it’s easy for a patent holder to say the license costs……….one billion dollars. Just price it so high that no one can afford it. Patents are *supposed* to give one exclusivity in exchange for investing in new things.

      That said, I’ve always wondered how a heated build chamber is novel. Numerous industrial processes utilized controlled environments (for temperature, humidity, atmospheric composition, etc.), so the concept is nothing groundbreaking. I could see maybe using a multizone setup by passing air at certain temperatures in zones across the part and shifting those zones “up” (so that colder zones are at the bottom) as a novel technique given the complexity of doing so.

      Oh, hey, note to self, if you know who ever tries to patent that idea, this is prior art right here, baby.

      1. This is how the Stratasys Dimension Elite we have works. There are horizontal blowers (thin long openings) pointing across the (disposable textured ABS) build platform at the layer being printed. The Z axis drops as it prints, so the hottest air blows at the print layer, and cools as it goes down. Even under these “perfect as can be” conditions, almost every print we do warps to some degree. Some geometries much more so than others. So even a $40k printer with a heated chamber warps parts. :)

        That said, I always wondered why none of the ‘home’ printer kits have heated chambers. Now I know! What a stupid patent. :)

  12. > You mention getting a license, should it really be necessary for a hobbyist to get a license to make a DIY oven for their 3D printer, just to be legal?

    No. What a hobbyist does is solely her concern. Nobody will sue you if you recreated “patented” techniques in your private(!), noncommercial project. Patent issues come into play when you start DISTRIBUTING your project, maybe even making money from it.
    That’s what people are constantly mixing up.

    > Would Stratasys even license it out?

    Have you asked them? For a commercial project, I mean?
    “Guessing” that they won’t and then calling them names is the wrong approach. That’s what I am whining about. Just presuming that companies that hold patents are bad, only because they hold patents, is a very narrow view of the world.

    The patents I held have always been open to usage. When they were used for commercial projects, I wanted to see money. When they were used for private usage, I never asked for more than a good coffee (which I didn’t get, because those guys couldn’t make coffee :-D )

    1. I’ve seen from more than one lawyer, that technically DIY, even without distribution is patent infringement. So you’re not likely to be sued, but the liability is there. We’re not likely to be sued for downloading files either, but some people have been.

      I wasn’t calling Stratasys names.

      Maybe it’s too strong of an assumption, but my experience working with big corporations has shown the odds to be quite low. Even lower if they think it’s a competitive advantage to not license.

  13. I think I’m going to use a 6U or 9U server case for my enclosure. Wall mountable, black with front glass door. Removable top/sides/bottom. Fans (which I’ll PWM to control temp). They’re pretty cheap, but I’m hoping to collect a used one from somewhere for free / very cheap.

    Ceramic PTC heaters would be good as they are self-limiting for temp but can still be PWM’d if needed.

  14. Hmmm… Infringement… that word may mean something other than what you think it means…Here’s a good summary of the different types of patent Infringement in layman’s terms with examples. ( The examples do include a robot! )

    http://nationalparalegal.edu/public_documents/courseware_asp_files/patents/Patents2/Infringement.asp

    Our friends at Sparkfun may actually be lamenting trademark law, which protects how a product looks. http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/domain/tm.htm

    It looks to me that to avoid Infringement, one only has to solve the problem a significantly different way.

  15. Wait… You are telling me that they have a patent on a heated enclosure? When are they going to go after every homeowner in America with a heat source in their house and doors and windows?

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