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[Partially Solved] I think my Ultimaker 3+ caught fire. Now what?


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Posted (edited) · [Partially Solved] I think my Ultimaker 3+ caught fire. Now what?

Like the title says, my printer seems to have had a minor fire.  I noticed when my printer was not extruding from head 2 that the filament inlet at that head was melted to the print head housing.  It looks like print head 1 actually had the problem.  The removeable print heads were fused together with carbonized plastic (presumably ABS).  I had to cut the plastic to remove the printer heads, and I think printer head 1 is probably broken.  There no obvious smell since I have the printer near a fume hood.  There were smoke marks throughout the printer head, but the rest of the printer seems fine.  I've attached pictures and my gcode from the most recent run.

 

Printer: Ultimaker 3+

Firmware: (I can't view it without all of the electronics connected, and I'm NOT reassembling it until I know more)

Last maintenance: Lubed main screw with Magnalube and rods/bearings with PTFE lube on 5/23/2022.

CURA: 5.2.1 Linux AppImage

Filament: 3D Universe brand ABS in both heads.

 

So I have a few questions:

 

1. What happened so I can let it NEVER happen again.

2. The warranty only lasts 12 months and it does not cover accidents, so am I absolutely screwed here?

3. I've never heard of an Ultimaker burning like this before.  Are there other incidents which people are aware of?

 

IMG_20230605_152531.jpg

IMG_20230605_152506.jpg

IMG_20230605_152439.jpg

IMG_20230605_152014.jpg

IMG_20230605_152007.jpg

IMG_20230605_152004.jpg

IMG_20230605_151826.jpg

IMG_20230605_151710.jpg

UM3E_topfdeckelhalter_v2_rechts.gcode

Edited by whoneyc
Changed thread title to reflect current status.
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    Posted · [Partially Solved] I think my Ultimaker 3+ caught fire. Now what?

    Oh my!
    I would say that would be a very unexpected thing to see 😶

    I know you said your warranty is expired, but please reach out to UltiMaker Support directly for help on this!
    Please let them know I told you to contact them, I'll reach out to the Support Manager about this internally.
    They will be watching for your case.

    Use this contact form: https://support.makerbot.com/s/contactsupport

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    Posted · [Partially Solved] I think my Ultimaker 3+ caught fire. Now what?

    Thanks, Dustin.  I am submitting a ticket now.  I will leave this thread up and reply with the outcome. 

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    Posted · [Partially Solved] I think my Ultimaker 3+ caught fire. Now what?
    There is partial resolution to this case.  The Ultimaker team was very concerned with safety, and the fact that no other Ultimaker fires have been reported AFAIK raised alarm bells quickly with them.  It is quite clear that this is an extraordinary circumstance, and they kindly offered to replace my burned print head so they could receive the damaged one for inspection.  In our email exchange, they asked questions to assess the potential causes beyond what was in the original post.  I'm very thankful for their strong response on this, and this speaks highly of their commitment customers.
     
    Over the weekend, I received and installed the part Ultimaker team sent.  I cleaned up the soot on the roof of my printer enclosure and carried on.  I packaged up the old one (with some swag from my work lab) and sent the return shipment on Saturday.
     
    Naturally, the first thing I did was attempt to print the exact same gcode file with the exact same filament in the name of science.  This time, I monitored the print closely.  Sure enough, it started happening again!  Print core 2 with white ABS stopped extruding and began to leak over the top of the print core. 
     
    IMG_20230610_214418.thumb.jpg.208e512051a416c7be21ac40080ca724.jpg
     
    I stopped it in time before it dropped low to the hot end tips, but the filament was quite stuck.  I managed to remove the core by disassembling the print head, but the melted filament was stuck inside the core inlet. 
     
    IMG_20230610_215115.thumb.jpg.aadc1887c251d93a7f7ff697fab13231.jpg
    IMG_20230610_215226.thumb.jpg.81d0f9931dff60e28e387fe6f1e37908.jpg
     
    Since the melted plastic was adhered to the inlet line, I could not remove the filament easily, so I had to drill out as much as possible (without damaging the core), then a did a high heat push through.  I cranked the core up to 270C and forced a different ABS through the core until the color had completely changed.  Following this, I did a series of cold-pulls until I was satisfied that the core was clean. 
     
    IMG_20230610_222528.thumb.jpg.611e492e0b90985a668c06091b13ca9b.jpg
    IMG_20230610_225706.thumb.jpg.899c1c1d053f65dda8a89840ff6a23d5.jpg
    IMG_20230610_231433.thumb.jpg.176cc553ef22968fc591457aaf437910.jpg
     
    I did notice that some of the lubricant on the switching lever for print core 2 was bound up in the ABS spilling over the top of the print core.  I don't know what kind of lubricant that was, but I assume it was fireproof.  If not, that may be a reasonable confounding factor.  I did not notice any lubricant on the original print head, but that does not conclude if it was ever there, if it rubbed off over time, or if it burned up.
     
    After this, I attempted a fresh test.  Using a new roll of ABS, I attempted the same gcode.  The print succeeded this time.
     
    The conclusion I draw at this point: there is something very wrong with that roll of ABS I used originally.
     
    The original ABS that is implicated in all problems here is an older one from 3D Universe.  I have had great luck with their filament in the past, and I exclusively use ABS from them.  The only other filaments I use are Ultimaker Breakaway, PVA, and PETG.  I work 95% of the time with pure ABS though.  This roll is a color I have not used in a long time according to the log (aka by bucket of scrap parts doesn't have that color white until a good foot deep.  This means I haven't used this spool in at least 4 years.  The spool was in my storage bin with other partially used filament spools including my spool of breakaway, a spool of copperfill I have never used with this printer, and another spool of ABS.  Here is what I know:
      - The "bad" ABS has been sitting at least 4 years unused.
      - It was stored with Breakaway and PETG.
      - The other ABS it was stored with works fine.
      - The storage box has desiccant, but it is not perfectly sealed.
      - The storage is near the fume hood/chemistry station in my home lab.
     
    My working hypothesis is that the "bad" ABS was, at some point, contaminated with solvent fumes during storage.  I do strange things in my fume hood to make PCBs, perform electrolysis, recycle plastic, and smooth ABS prints.  The latter may be important here since I use boiling acetone to smooth the plastic.  The polymer may have acted as a absorbent/adsorbent to one or more of these fumes over time, resulting in a drastic change in rheology of the polymer and increase in flammability.   This is not a proven conclusion though.  If I had access to a differential scanning calorimeter, I could identify the plastic, but I don't have the tools do to that here.  Other ideas are welcome.
     
    If my hypothesis is correct, then it is unlikely that other users are at an elevated risk of fire related to the Ultimaker 3+.  I encourage the Ultimaker company to assess this risk for themselves.
     
    Together with my wife, roommate, dog, and cats, I came up with an agreed upon Action to Reduce Risk.  Following this incident, I am taking the following corrective action to ensure that other fires like this don't occur:
    • I am disposing of the bad ABS.  I don't trust it.
    • I have purchased a knock-off pelican case to store my filament in now and a few individual sealed cereal storage boxes to keep individual spools separate.  I want to ensure that fumes do not permeate the case.
    • I will be purchasing a fire alarm to go near the printer.  Due to the fume hood-related false alarms, I had previously removed the alarm from that part of the house.  Fire extinguishers in the area are sufficient.
    • I am changing my regimen of replacing the desiccant in the filament storage from every 2 years to every 6 months.
     
    IMG_20230611_121335.thumb.jpg.cf58443162f6e6097a07b98591a6fcd4.jpg
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    • whoneyc changed the title to [Partially Solved] I think my Ultimaker 3+ caught fire. Now what?
    Posted · [Partially Solved] I think my Ultimaker 3+ caught fire. Now what?

    "...to the log (aka by bucket of scrap parts doesn't have that color white until a good foot deep"

     

    I always find it heartening when I come across other people who use the same filing system I use.  This is further proof that it works.  Thank You @whoneyc for validating my claim.

    (I'm going to show this to my wife who thinks I'm just a lazy slob.)

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    Posted · [Partially Solved] I think my Ultimaker 3+ caught fire. Now what?
    On 6/13/2023 at 5:37 PM, GregValiant said:

    "...to the log (aka by bucket of scrap parts doesn't have that color white until a good foot deep"

     

    I always find it heartening when I come across other people who use the same filing system I use.  This is further proof that it works.  Thank You @whoneyc for validating my claim.

    (I'm going to show this to my wife who thinks I'm just a lazy slob.)

    Be careful what you wish for.  I'm not saying you can't use me as an example to your better half, but be aware of the consequences of the comparison.  I actually recycle my scrap into plastic bricks using a custom mold which my wife uses in the garden.  For a while we did not have recycling here, so I was doing this with HDPE, LDPE, and PP in addition to my printer plastics.  It ends up being more work than just chucking things in a bin.

     

    Pictured here is the ABS bucket and a brick I have not removed from the mold.

    IMG_20230615_115235.thumb.jpg.cb2e8af22b96e6a1feefe1eef8c85fd7.jpg

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