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Where to locate printer in office

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Posted · Where to locate printer in office

Hi, we're just getting going on our Ultimaker 2+, which we bought for our architectural practice before the Covid pandemic. One of the first things we've discovered is that any sizeable print takes a fair amount of time, meaning we'll need to leave the printer running overnight. We've been reflecting on where best to put the printer in our building. The external model making workshop would be good, but it's very dusty and quite remote from the rest of the office building.


Do you keep yours in the main office overnight? How do you feel about leaving it printing when no-one is in the building - are the heated elements a risk? Do you monitor yours as it prints? What about vapours from the printing process - do you have your printer near where to staff sit and work?


Any advice or experience welcome!



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    Posted · Where to locate printer in office

    If you are just printing PLA then the vapours are fine. 


    I think noise is the biggest issue in an area with desk workers.  Just go for it in the office area but send a memo to everyone asking them how they feel about the noise (tell them before you print to be nice and ask them to let you know how they feel about the noise after they've experienced it).


    Most people won't care but some will absolutely hate the noise.  Try to put the printer as far as possible from the haters.


    Every slow print can be sped up.  There are tradeoffs.  Use a larger nozzle and/or thicker layers.  This is tough with architectural prints where there is no defect too small.  So for example you will probably want to do 0.1mm layer height but after doing a lot of prints at 0.1, try a few at 0.2mm thick layers (twice as fast to print!) and after doing a lot of 0.4mm nozzle prints try using a 0.6 or 0.8 nozzle and see how, yes the quality is slightly worse, but still probably good enough.  You can get those slow prints 10X faster.  There are other settings to speed things up (mostly reducing infill which might not help much with architectural models).  Make sure to use the "print thin walls" option for architectural models and try to print as little support as possible. 


    The tops of doors and windows don't need any support as they are "bridged".  You can print over thin air as long as the printed line is supported on both ends (aka "bridged").

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    Posted · Where to locate printer in office

    Also for architectural models make sure you don't disable jerk and acceleration control.  Those reduce something called "ringing" which are like echos of features next to them.  So next to a window or doorway you'll see a kind of visual echo of the door/window edge.  If you print using an "engineering" profile you will get lots of ringing - the parts will be more accurate dimensionally but you will have ugly ringing.

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    Posted · Where to locate printer in office

    Oh!  Safety!


    Yeah they are pretty safe.  First of all the UM2+ has a 24V supply that has it's own computer (the power brick) and it will shut off if there is too much current or voltage.


    More dangerous is the heater in the head.  That can get to 600C or so (glowing red hot).  In theory (not often in practice even with serious failures).  Ultimaker does tests where they force the 24V into the head for an hour or so to see what burns/melts to make sure it's unlikely to cause an office fire.


    On top of this are software checks.  There is a temp sensor and that would have to fail for the printer to stupidly leave the heater on continuously.  The two most common failures (open or shorted) are caught instantly and power is cut off.  The rarer issue of temp reading too low might make the printer show that the head is at 50C when it is actually at 200C (and still trying to increase the temp).  But there is a software check where if the temp sits at the same temp even though it is full power - then after about 30 seconds it realizes the temp sensor is failing and it cuts power.


    So you have 3 failsafes:

    1) most temp probe failures are caught instantly

    2) subtle temp probe failure is caught by smart software

    3) Even if everything fails and it puts full power into the head all night long, the resulting smoke and fire is contained enough to not start an office fire.  But don't leave the printer running unattended with combustables touching the top of the printer!!


    The print bed is much safer.  It can't get hot enough to make anything burn.


    There is one instance I know of where a 3d printer caused a fire and a shed burned down and caused serious damage.  But that was not an Ultimaker printer.  I doubt an Ultimaker printer has ever caused a serious fire that damaged anything other than the printer.

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