Should I monitor my 3D prints? (Operating your 3D printer unattended) | Fusion3

As with any machine tool that generates heat and movement for long periods of time, we believe that you should be actively monitoring your 3D printer. We put a caution statement on the front of our 3D printers: “DO NOT OPERATE EQUIPMENT UNATTENDED”

Fusion3 sells 3D large 3D printers so naturally, we understand that many customers will be printing parts for upwards of 20 to 40+ hours. It has been our experience that no 3D printer is infallible, regardless of their marketing language and for your safety, peace of mind, and best results, you should actively monitor the machinery while in use.

Some 3D printers are rated for ‘unattended operation’. We believe that this is certification is meaningless. For example, a customer relayed a story about their experience with a $150,000 industrial 3D printer, rated for ‘unattended operation’. They ran a part over a weekend. Early in the print, the vacuum table which holds the proprietary build surface in place failed and the part ended up sticking to the print head. The part ran for the entire weekend as material continued to extrude into a larger and larger ball. This ball slammed around the inside of the 3D printer destroying the internal motion control system and also shattered the glass door of the 3D printer. While this 3D printer was rated for ‘unattended operation’, the owners were left with a machine that was useless for a long period of time, waiting for over two weeks for the manufacturer to send a team on-site to evaluate the damage.

So how should you monitor any 3D printer while in operation?

1) Be present for the first 15 min to 1 hour, ensure print starts properly, and you experience good first layer adhesion.

2) Have the ability to check print every hour or two, someone checking in, or a remote camera system. Individuals, small businesses may want to purchase and subscribe to a 3rd party cloud camera system. Larger companies will likely already have a security camera system or own specifications for remote monitoring of devices.

3) Network connection to stop the printer in the event you are not satisfied with the state of the print. Perhaps a layer shift, print head jam or print comes off the bed. If you configure access to your Fusion3’s network connection, you can stop the printer via those means. Another method is to purchase an IoT power plug which would allow you if properly configured to shut down power to the 3D printer.