How to NOT Start a Fire While 3D Printing High Temp Materials

How to NOT start a fire while 3D Printing High Temp Materials @ the R U Coding Me Blog
High-temperature, technical materials are super cool! But starting house fires is not. Here are some tips for printing at high temps at an extended period of time.

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3D printing has come a long way in recent years. From being the exclusive domain of CAD modelers, engineers and industrial designers, it’s now possible for hobbyists to have their own 3D printer at home. With the availability of super-strong, high temp materials, you can realistically create working prototypes at home -and at a good price too! With all of this in mind, there are new safety considerations that you should be aware of before purchasing your own 3D printer and attempting to print high-temperature materials on them. In this blog post, we’ll distinguish between hobbyist and industry printers and cover some concerns you should address in more detail.

3D Printing for the Hobbyist

There are several amazing options for 3D printing at home. With modern innovation, you can purchase a relatively cheap printer and expect decent results. For instance, the Ender 3 is one of the most popular entry printers because it is so affordable, delivers acceptable results and has an outstanding community to support newcomers to the craft.

We even created a post on what it would take to start printing high temperature materials on an Ender 3 in a separate blog post. Truth be told, it would be an interesting experiment to see how we could create the cheapest system that could consistently print the most expensive materials on the market. Currently, “cheapest” option available is priced around $8,000 which is no small number.

It’s important to note that not all projects need high-quality items; sometimes low-resolution models will do the job. This is fine! If you’re just starting out with 3D printing, don’t worry about how much detail your printer can produce. For me at least, I wanted to see how far I could push my own 3D printer at home without starting a fire.

3D Printers in the Workplace

3D printers are used in many industries, from aerospace and automotive to medical devices and military. They can be used to make prototypes, models and even parts that are used in the manufacturing process. 3D printers have been used in space travel since 2016 when NASA sent a printer into orbit with astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS). Recently, Relativity Space launched a 3D printed rocket into space.

While it would be cool to make our own rockets at home that can orbit the Earth, there are some limitations to the printer filaments we have available. If you’ve ever looked at how much PEEK costs, it’s a good idea to ensure your printer can handle the material before wasting even a fraction of it. Additionally, you should also evaluate what you are capable of printing in a safe environment

Safety Concerns

Higher Temperatures Cause Wear In Parts Faster

When it comes to 3D printing, higher temperatures can cause a lot of damage. For example, in high temperature 3D printing, you need to make sure that your parts are able to withstand the heat and stress from a super-hot chamber. Stepper motors will skip steps if they are too hot, resulting in decreased surface finishes and even failed prints. The belt is an important part because it keeps tension on the carriage.

These considerations aren’t necessarily that big of a problem when we are printing with PLA or PETG without a chamber/enclosure. The chamber we print in can get pretty hot without adding a chamber heater. However, continuously trapping these hot temperatures inside over and over again will inevitably cause more wear on your parts.

Parts like tensioners and stepper motors can wear out from being exposed too much heat from repeated use at high temperatures for long periods of time. It is also very dangerous to leave your control unit and power supply inside of a super-hot chamber and not providing adequate cooling; leading us to my next point:

High Temp 3D Printing Can Start Electrical Fires

There are safety concerns you should consider before 3D printing, even with PLA. High temperature 3D printing increases the safety concerns for your workstation. Some plastics have higher temperature requirements than others, and they may border on your printer’s limits. When you print at maximum heat on a questionably reliable printer, it’s possible that thermal runaway will not engage and your printer will continue to melt your plastic until it catches fire or explodes. This is especially true if your motherboard or power supply are housed within the enclosure and do not have cooling capabilities. It’s not just the printer itself that can be at risk of burning up. If your printer is surrounded by flammable materials, there is a high risk of burning much more than your printer should something go wrong.

As a result, it’s important to understand what types of filaments are most likely to cause problems when printing at higher temperatures–and how to avoid these issues before they happen. Before we discuss what filaments you can print with on an entry-level printer, there’s another issue we need to cover: the smell.

Technical Materials Are Stinky

Not stinky like they aren’t any good, but stinky like they will cause health concerns if you are breathing the fumes in every day. My first time printing ASA included severe headaches and 20/20 hindsight to move the printers outside. Granted, technical materials might not smell that bad, but there are several health concerns you should be aware of when you inhale the fumes from molten plastic. PLA seems to get a pass in the community because it is created using recycled materials, but it is still melting plastic nonetheless. If you are really adamant about the fumes, you can always get a respirator and pretend you are in Breaking Bad.

There is a trend of ‘stinkiness’ as you scale up in the technical materials. The solution to all of the fumes is the same; proper ventilation. The only factor you will encounter is where you draw the line for tolerating the fumes. Depending on the fumes, you may also want to throw in an air filter before creating another hole in the ozone (figuratively?).

Safety Recommendations

Don't Leave Your Printer Alone

You do not need to sit in front of your printer all day, but you certainly should not leave the general area while it is printing. Keep in mind, some higher temperature materials require the extruder to reach 270 C. Installing a “baby monitor” to video your prints is a common way to keep track of your prints. There are several remote programs like Octoprint that allow you to constantly monitor the status of your print. However, leave nothing to chance and make sure someone is nearby to manually shut it off or use a fire extinguisher should something go wrong.

Print In A Well Ventilated Area

If you’ve ever gotten a headache from printing with PLA, the headaches only get worse when you step into the realm of higher-temperature materials. These materials should not be inhaled and can pose a serious health risk if you leave a printer in a confined space. When I began printing in technical materials, I moved my printers out to a covered patio. If you live in a rainy area, ensure you can protect your printers from getting wet. Also, use an enclosure to mitigate the wind.

If this is not an option, printing in a garage with a shop fan to blow out the fumes may also be a viable approach. You can also create an enclosure with tubing to vent out the fumes through a window or install an air filtration system. In any case, it’s also a good idea to not print in the same area you will be for duration of the print. Ie. not your bedroom or living room.

Use a Fireproof Enclosure

There are several great options out there that claim to be fire proof. Knock on wood, I’ve never had to put these claims to the test. Not that I’m saying you should test it out, but if you do be safe about it and have a fire extinguisher nearby.

Another consideration is the power supply and control boards. If possible, relocate these items outside of the enclosure. These items do not need to be heated any more than they already are. There should be an active cooling fan to help keep those temperatures down, but this is something to keep in mind as you venture into super hot chamber temperatures.

What Consumer-Grade Technical Materials Should You Print With?

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the fun stuff! Materials like ABS/ASA, Polycarbonate and Carbon Fiber Nylon are strong materials that can be used in a plethora of applications. Now that you’ve addressed the safety concerns associated with high-temp printing, let’s dive into seeing how hot your printer can get! To test this out, here are three of my favorite technical materials I think you should try for yourself:


  • Polycarbonate

  • Carbon Fiber Nylon

I’m using a CR10S Prov2 from Creality. I modified the firmware with the Tiny Machines upgrade. The bed temperature can reach 130 C and the stock hotend 270 C. Do keep in mind, you may need a reinforced nozzle (hardened steel is a good cheaper option) for the more abrasive materials as it will wear your standard brass nozzles much faster.

Your printer should be able to handle ABS and this would be a great technical filament to start with if you have only printed with PLA or PETG so far. With your PLA and ABS ready to go, here is how I configure my settings:

Step 1: Tuning

It is a good idea to tune your 3D printer now. I like to level the bed, PID tune and print a test 20mm cube to adjust my stepper motors and precisely measure my extruder. Once I have settings I know will work on a lighter filament like PLA, I will reattempt a 20mm cube with the higher temperatures. The dimensions should not change a whole lot across setups. If you receive 20mm with a margin of +-.05 but have a cube that is off by a significant margin, you may be experiencing warping issues. In short, you can fix this by using a better adhesive, different bed material and printing at a hotter temperature.

Figuring out these little things now is less painful on the wallet, as you will only waste a fraction of the material as opposed to a much larger print.

Step 2: Test Print

There are several ways to test the print quality of your project. Some hobbyist prefer to use small bench mark prints to measure this. I prefer to print the actual part I need. If I am working on a large project that requires multiple functional parts, I’ll create the smaller ones first and gradually scale upwards. The temperature will decrease as you move upwards in the chamber. It is important, especially for technical materials, for the temperature to maintain the glass transition temperature for as long as possible before cooling down. This allows the material to stay at the current state it is in without curling (warping) or delaminating.

Step 3: Monitoring

As you begin printing at higher temperatures more consistently, it is important to inspect your parts and reprint test cubes to see if you are still maintaining the dimensional accuracy like before. If you are not, this could mean your printer may need some replacement parts. Some common parts to wear include nozzles, belts and event stepper motor components if they are getting too hot inside of the enclosure.


There are many ways to 3D print high-temperature materials. Staying safe and eliminating failed prints is crucial. The most important thing is to do your research and make sure that the printer you have can handle the requirements of the filament. If not, you can always make upgrades to accomodate the material or purchase a stronger printer. If you do upgrade your system, be thorough and double check your work. Stay safe out there!

Please leave a comment if you have questions or any additional suggestions to keep new 3D printing hobbyist safe.

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