30 Aug 2014

A couple of studies recently have suggested that 3D printing might potentially be dangerous. Watch out, it’s another thing that might kill you. Still, I have been noticing that melted ABS doesn’t smell like flowers, and I figure better safe than sorry, so I decided to put together a little ventilation box to (attempt to) vent out the majority of fumes that might not be totally safe. This is my 3D Printing Ventilation Box.

Ventilation Box

Finished product, sans duct out.

The idea was simple. A containment box for the printer that doubles as a barrier for smelly fumes and an enclosure to improve temperature control and print quality alongside a fan that vents any fumes outside of an otherwise not incredibly well ventilated room. It started with the basic design. Link to Inventor file here. As you can see…here. As you can see…
CAD Drawing

Initial design render

… Some things have changed. Namely, although the general shape and dimensions have remained the same, the spool holder was moved to the side of the box and the top was replaced with another hinged plexiglass sheet to allow for easier access to the printer inside. Apart from those details, it was off to Home Depot and down to building. In the end, the walls were composed of 3/8″ thick MDF boards, with a structural frame made out of 1.5×0.5″ wood. After all the wood parts were screwed together, the entire thing was caulked to seal it up and then painted white to make it look nice. The final component of the enclosure part of the build was the plexiglass paneling on the front and top of the box. For this, I sized two plexiglass sheets, attached them together with tape that serves as a simple hinge (so you can lift up the front panel without lifting the back, or vice versa) and then attached them to the box with drawer magnets for easy removal.
Ventilation Box #2

More of the printer in its new home.

At this point, there were two holes in the back panel. One for electrical wires to the power supply and another for the fan that was to vent out all the fumes. It was time to make use of the latter. For this, I bought a 120mm computer fan and attached it to the inside of the box. I used some Anderson Powerpole connectors in so that the fan could easily be detached from the printer’s power supply in case I had to take the printer out of the box. Afterwards, I needed an adapter for the back of the box to take the 120mm hole for the fan and fit it for a length of 4-inch air duct tubing. This necessitated perhaps the biggest print I’ve done so far. My duct adapter. The CAD was simple (though warping required that I build 4 small removable pads into the base of the adapter), but the stl is here if you’d like to print one for yourself. The final product looked very nice in solid black PLA.
Duct Adapter

Duct adapter finished printing

That all came together and was (eventually) hooked up to the tubing and run to a window insert I made out of another sheet of wood. The insert fits snugly inside a window near the printer while I’m printing, and vents any fumes out of my otherwise poorly ventilated printing room.

Better look

Better look at the adapter.

Enclosure done. Vent done. Wiring done. One last bit: spool holder. In the end, I decided to mount the spool holder to the side of the box. Like this.
Spool holder

The spool holder, in action.

The spool holder consisted off two printed grips (the black PLA structures you can see attached to the side of the box) with an 1/8″ metal rod between the two printed parts on which the spool sits. An additional hole was drilled into the side of the box to allow the filament to spool into the printer. You can grab the STL of the printed part right here.
That, otherwise, is pretty much it. My ventilation box. It’s all setup and running, and it works great. No more smells and the enclosure has improved my print quality by trapping heat and stopping ABS prints from cooling too quickly and warping. Overall, a huge success.