What is a 3D printer enclosure and can you build your own?

File settings, printer parts, and a range of other factors impact the quality of every 3D print you produce. A housing can be a great tool for those who want to improve the quality of their 3D printing projects, but what exactly does a 3D printer housing do?

Let’s take a look at the main features of a 3D printer enclosure, as well as some ideas that can help you create your own.

Closed or open 3D printers


3D printer sitting on a table
Image credit: ESA/Wikimedia Commons

When most people think of 3D printers, they imagine a bone frame type design like the one in the image above. For hobbyists, mainstream printers like the Creality Ender 5 and Original Prusa i3 are very popular choices, but most printers in this price range don’t come with enclosures.


closed strateo3d

The Strateo3D IDEX420 3D (pictured above) is a fully enclosed 3D printer with plastic panels wrapped around a sturdy steel frame. As you can see, this type of machine is quite different from the types of 3D printers that most hobbyists choose to purchase.

Fully enclosed 3D printers aren’t the only option. Many 3D printer manufacturers today offer enclosures tailored to specific printers, and you can even find generic enclosures that can do a good job. It’s important to keep in mind that some “closed” 3D printers actually have open tops, making them much more similar to open 3D printers.

The main advantages of a closed 3D printer

Keeping your 3D printer closed might seem like a bit of a stretch, especially when you’re used to very forgiving materials like PLA. However, there are plenty of great reasons to choose a 3D printer with an enclosure, and it goes beyond just making your machine look cool.

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More 3D printing materials


3d printer filament types

Warping, poor adhesion, and other 3D printing issues can often be caused by the environment around a printer. Warping, for example, is usually caused by a temperature difference between the top and bottom of the object being printed. With materials like PLA and PETG, a heated bed may be enough to solve this problem.

Materials like ABS and Nylon are nearly impossible to print effectively without a case. You need to be able to control the temperature surrounding your prints, prevent airflow from cooling the material sooner, and minimize dust and other debris while printing. An enclosure can help you achieve all of these goals, allowing you to print with a wider range of materials.


Improve the quality of 3D printing


3d printed rings

Improving the quality of 3D printing takes time, effort and knowledge, at least in most cases. Using a case can be an easy way to avoid difficult steps, giving you higher quality prints thanks to the better control we mentioned in the last section. Most 3D printing enthusiasts are very happy that they can achieve this by simply covering their printer.

Health and security


3D printing health

There are a lot of questions on the web regarding 3D printing and safety. PLA is widely considered safe to print with adults, children, and pets in the room, but materials like ABS can be more dangerous.

For example, ABS releases a carcinogen called styrene gas when heated. Using an enclosure can help you trap this gas, venting it out of the building using fans and ductwork, to make your print space safer.


Having an enclosure on your printer also provides a line of defense between the machine and your children/pets. Young people and animals won’t always understand the danger of a working 3D printer, but you can protect them without having to stop your project.

soundproofing

It’s no secret that 3D printers can be very noisy. Fans, stepper motors, and even PCBs can make noise when you’re using your printer, but an enclosure can help dampen those sounds and make the printer easier to live with. This is ideal for 3D printing enthusiasts who need to share their space with others who may not be. enough also passionate about 3D printers.

Buy a 3D printer enclosure


closed printer makerbot replicator

Getting your hands on a pre-made 3D printer enclosure can be done in a number of ways. Budget will often be the biggest constraint people will face when choosing a speaker, so we’ve organized this from most expensive to least expensive.


3D printers with enclosures

Buying a 3D printer already equipped with a housing is probably the most expensive solution. It’s only because you’re also buying a new printer at the same time, so it might not be such a bad option for those who are already in the market for a machine.

The Creality CR-200B represents the more affordable end of this market, but this printer comes with a small build volume: just 200mm x 200mm x 200mm. The FlashForge Creator 3 is considerably more expensive but has two extruders and a much larger build volume, and you can find other fully enclosed printers from different companies.

A case for your 3D printer

As 3D printing retailers stock an ever wider variety of printing materials, enclosed printers are becoming increasingly popular. This has prompted companies like Creality to sell their own 3D printer enclosures that are “designed” for the printers they sell. In reality, these enclosures are very similar to indoor plant grow tents, although that doesn’t mean they don’t work.

Generic 3D printer enclosures can also be found on the market. Buying the right product can be trickier when you go this route, as you’ll need to measure your own printer to make sure you’re buying the right size.

Related: The best 3D printers

Build a DIY 3D Printer Enclosure


speaker making tools

Finally, it’s time to discuss the most popular way to get your own 3D printer enclosure: building it yourself. DIY 3D printer enclosure projects can be found on the web, making it easy and easy to get started. You even have one of the main tools you’ll need: a 3D printer.

DIY 3D Printer Enclosure and Standing Desk

This DIY 3D printer enclosure and standing desk from Morley Kert is a great option for printers that have large build volumes, but it can be scaled down to fit your machine. You’ll need carpentry skills (and a few power tools), a range of materials, and of course, a 3D printer to complete this project.

When finished, this large 3D printer enclosure can be used as a standing desk with an additional cabinet for your 3D printing tools and accessories.

DIY 3D Printer Enclosure for Under $50

While you won’t be able to get the exact same materials used in the project video, this low-cost DIY 3D printer enclosure from Just Barran shows creativity and ingenuity. Very few projects of this nature can be done at such an affordable price, especially when the end result looks so good.

The enclosure itself can be upgraded with fans to give you the flexibility to ventilate the enclosure with ductwork or just the space around you.

IKEA 3D printer enclosure

If you’ve been interested in 3D printing for a while, chances are you’ve seen ideas like this IKEA 3D printer enclosure from BaldGuyDIY. You’ll need to 3D print brackets, get your hands on acrylic, and assemble IKEA furniture, but this option is simple, tidy, and suitable for many of the most popular printers on the market. Adding lighting, fans, and even cameras can be great upgrades for this enclosure.

Using a 3D printer enclosure

3D printer enclosures are great tools for both hobbyists and professionals. To improve the quality of your print, the range of print materials available, and the safety of your 3D print, even DIY enclosures are a great choice. That said, you can always choose a 3D printer that already comes with a case.


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