Possible Fire Hazard: Wanhao Duplicator i3 3D Printer

A while ago Wanhao was reaching out to its customers and resellers, warning them of a design flaw in their Duplicator i3 that may cause fires. The printers suffered from an issue that caused crimp connections of the nozzle heater cartridge’s supply line to fail due to the mechanical stress in the cable drag chain. In their “Recall” titled note, Wanhao provides instructions on how to fix the issue.

Now, [Chuck Hellebuyck] released an unboxing video on the Duplicator i3 Plus, during which the heated bed emitted magic smoke that could be rationally explained as another design flaw.

According to Chuck, the heated build plate’s leveling springs feature sharp edges which cut through the soldermask of the PCB heated platform and make contact with the traces and the metal carriage. That issues alone wouldn’t cause the short, but in certain positions, one of the Y-axis’s belt holder mounting screws seems to rub against grounded metal parts of the printer, temporarily grounding the carriage.

The issue is hard to spot at first glance and may affect the Duplicator i3 and the i3 Plus. A lot has to go wrong before an all-metal 3D printer catches flames and all mentioned issues incorporate non-lethal voltages. Nevertheless, be safe. If you own one of these, now is the time to check your machine for potential failure points. [Chuck] provides you a quick fix for the spring issue in his video below!

37 thoughts on “Possible Fire Hazard: Wanhao Duplicator i3 3D Printer

        1. Are you alleging that this is deliberate? As I said further down, if Wanhao were just ignoring the issue, I’d agree with you, however in this case they’re actively recalling the affected printers.

          Have they been in the business long? Or is this their first major product? If they kept making these sorts of mistakes, then yes, get out the pitchforks and let’s roast them. I could be wrong, but I suspect this is one of their first models: lessons will be learned from this and so long as they do learn from their mistakes, their product can only improve.

          1. Deliberate in the sense that they intended for this to happen? That part is not clear. What is clear to me though is that when you cut corners over and over to hit a price point, something has to give. Testing, quality parts, safety, labor standards, etc. Cheap, good, quick. Pick two.

          2. They just didn’t check&think about it before hand, as that costs money they most likely did not.

            Short circuits isn’t the only fire risk in 3D printers. The other risk is run-away temperature that will auto-ignite your filament. PLA is quite easy to auto-ignite. And once it’s burning it has no problem in lighting other things on fire. It also becomes liquid before catching fire, making it all quite nasty.

          1. @Lufo
            My Samsung Galaxy S5 is absolutely trouble free. Apple with its numerous proprietary connectors and therefore necessary adapters is not. I would not like to be confined in Apples closed “universe”. This is not only a question of price.

        2. The initial problem was from 2015 and was fixed going foward. The author didn’t mention that, this new problem will also be addressed by the company. Wanhao is one of the best sub $500 printers on the market, and there are even clones out there (of this clone.) :)

      1. Not necessarily… I still need to watch the video- but in the pic above dude is looking awfully hard at the Plus variant on his table which hasn’t been released yet (was scheduled for the 23rd, before the MP Plus page got pulled ~2 weeks ago).

        This article helps explains more about why MP pulled the Plus listing than I was able to get out of MP customer support- week after I emailed they finally came back with ‘we don’t know why, when or even if’

  1. I picked up a M3d printer recently. It was open box but I figured I could at least tear it apart. When I opened it up I saw a large hole had been burned into the surface on the side, and the extruder was loose from the sides. I figured it had just fallen loose and burned, so the previous owner returned it. I tightened it back up and put the extruder back where it needed to be. I then installed the software. Used the built in calibration options. I set it to do a test print around the borders and walked away for a few minutes. When I came back it was grinding itself into the bed and melting another hole.

    Not sure what the deal is. Didn’t have any issues like this with my previous printer. I wonder how wide spread issues like this are but just not documented.

    1. M3D is a special one on it’s own. I haven’t heard a single good thing about them.

      Quote: “It’s only good for looks, I’m not actually using it. But it looks pretty on my sales stand”

      1. Indeed, the linked recall notice is outdated. The short-to-ground issue of the heated build platform is however unfixed and Wanhao is expected to react to this soon. The post has been edited to clarify this.

  2. If you look hard enough you will find flaws with anything that is built today or discover that there were flaws in something.
    I got one of those cheep chinese 3D printers. And yes there were many flaws with them. I tried to fix most of them as I was building it. But just saying.
    These Types of Problems and more will Be Found In Any and Everything That is Built TODAY.
    If They weren’t then our cell phones and DVD players and MOST our CARS would last a hell of a lot longer.
    Don’t you think Rust is a problem that is not known buy the manufactures of our cars? It is. Do they care? Do we care?
    If we did we would of had it fixed a long time ago. We live with Imperfect things, And that is life.
    But if they are willing to fix One little Problem Great. We are one little step further.
    Thank you

    1. I love comments with random capitalized words, allusions towards conspiracy and written in the wee hours when even the bar-folk are home in their beds.

      …I dunno- I smile when I see these posts- it’s like ‘hey, look- it’s a 14 year-old discovering the joy of writing while under the influence of marijuana’. …solve the problem of *RUST*?! …while everybody would /like/ to have a rust proof car, the options are limited and the Delorean showed that people aren’t willing to pay for some of those options. Other options include plastic, fiberglass and aluminum, and I’m not willing to drive a car that’s going to get blown off a wet road by anything more than a moderate crosswind or have its frame crumple like an aluminium drink can.

      One option we haven’t tried yet is purging our atmosphere and driving around in a vacuum, that should help the rust problem…

      1. An aluminum frame does not need to crumple like a beer can. But it is also very expensive, probably similar to stainless. But of course “we live with imperfect things” – and/because we are not perfect ourselves :-)

  3. A teflon washer on the heated bed would solve that, so easy fix for everyone. and honestly all the wiring on every single sub $1500 3d printer is pretty suspect. constant movement and using standard wires not designed for it is a recipe for disaster. high flexibility silicone wires should be used for everything going to the moving hot end.

    1. That’s not a solution. That’s a stop-gap that just hides the problem until it or some other thing wears and reintroduces the same problem or introduces a new problem in a new place.

      Find the source. Fix the source.

      1. No. The source is lack of insulation. Solder mask is never to be considered as reliable isolation in any mechanically stressed case. Introducing the necessary isolation is the required “fix of the source”. A fiber washer (teflon is quite soft) is a solution, if the spring has really sharp edges, I would put a steel washer between the spring and the fiber washer.

    2. This printer is sold in supermarkets to regular joes – it’s a bit too simplistic to say it’s an easy fix for everyone. It’s a commercial product that is almost invariably left unattended for long periods, including overnight, and it has a design flaw that can cause a fire.

  4. This article is pretty confusing. First talks about an issue on another model from a year and a half ago. The issue Chuck is reporting is on the i3 Plus but really could affect any printer with a similar design. The traces on the heat plate are stupidly close to the screw hole and a washer (even a metal one) would have prevented the spring from cutting into the trace.

    1. Agreed, As a Wanhao i3 owner this is old news.. and bashing a relatively cheap and reliable printer. You’d have the same if not more issues if you built your own i3 from scratch /w no prior knowledge of the printer or assembly (depending on which assembly guide you are following).

  5. To be honest this is old news… I have had a duplicator i3 for over a year. These issues are all documented and explained in google groups. Most people have to fix something that occurs in shipping, and they have a detailed checklist similar to what is posted. As an wanhao owner i feel like its a delayed shaming of a cheap printer. The story is the printer works pretty well for the price, you would have these problems is you built it yourself with or without following instructions. Repraps fail, components are different. A lot of it boils down to common sense / maintenance which most people that buy these printers dont understand until they fail. Heaven forbid your 3d printer isnt flawless….. Rep-raps arent perfect either, infact are probably more prone to failure.

  6. Wanhao has released a YouTube video on how to temporarily fix the issue I found on the DI3 Plus (this is totally different than the referenced issue on the earlier DI3 V2). They are now issuing repair kits with insulated washers to do a better job of isolating the short my printer had. Hopefully they eventually redo the heated bed traces as well so the spring cannot make contact at all. https://youtu.be/FivwNhAIc6w

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