There is no doubt that home 3D printing is changing the way people do things. Because of all the benefits to the technology, it is often easy to forget that there still are issues to overcome. This is often to our detriment. One of the hazards of home 3D printing is the risk of fire. If you’ve ever wanted to create something complex that could take a bit of time to print, chances are you’ve been tempted to leave your printer going while you stepped away from it, or even gone to bed.
A user on a popular online forum said that he did just that recently, and he and his family paid the price. In a thread entitled,” Beware your 3D printer (They can cause fires)” a user named Skyminer wrote, “Just printing away as always, then smoke detectors go off, run downstairs and the printer is a ball of flame. Everyone got out ok, but lost one pet. House is a write off.”
A user on another 3-D printing forum had a similarly harrowing experience:
“Using my makerfarm prusa i3 I had an overnight print going that was about as tall as my machine could handle. I had attempted the same print 3 other times with no issues, just had to adjust some settings to make the print better. For some reason this time, the wires that go to the extruder stepper motor (along with all the other wires tied together) curled under the hot end and melted. This caused a short on the stepper driver and the ramps board went up in flames, which spread to the wooden frame of the makerfarm. Luckily, the flames extinguished themselves before burning my family in our sleep.”
Similar threads describing how 3-D printing and carelessness have led to fires are becoming more frequent. In light of this issue, Andrew Maurer, an inventor who describes himself as a full-time aeronautical engineer and part-time tinkerer, created Smoke Signal. Smoke Signal is a smoke detector that is situated near your 3-D printer. You plug your printer into the device and situate the Smoke Signal unit near your printer’s electronics or extruder. If Smoke Signal detects smoke, it immediately cuts off the power to your printer in the hope that a full-blown flare up may be prevented by taking out the power source.
Smoke Signal won’t replace your home smoke detectors. The device was designed to give those who 3D print at home an extra level of protection. The device is currently available exclusively on Kickstarter . It will cost you between $60 and $80 depending on how quickly you back the project. Also available is a 10-pack for $645 which are great for school, or labs which run numerous 3D printers at a time.
Let us know if you have backed this project. Is a device like this something that’s needed in this rapidly growing market? Discuss in the 3D printer Smoke Signal forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the Kickstarter pitch video for Smoke Signal below:
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