The following simulations are intended to provide a comparison between common ventilation setups for 3D printers. The animations represent the behavior of the particulates and VOCs that are suspended by airflow. The exact concentrations present during printing are not represented, only the behavior.
When it is available, we recommend placing resin printers in a location outside of your home, such as a garage. Resin printers can be indoors but they should be enclosed and vented. Grow tents are an affordable and effective option to vent or keep the heat in for both FDM and resin printers.
Duct from fume extractors can easily attach to a grow tent - this is ideal for FDM printers. For resin printers, grow tents can be used to enclose the printer and vent the fumes out a window - this is occurs when you do not have access to a work area outside the residence (ie: garage, shed, etc).
We transformed a room specifically for resin printing and documented how we implemented an enclosure, heating, ventilation, filtration, and cleaning equipment.
Table of Contents
- Worse Case: Indoors With No Ventilation
- Best Case: Outdoors
- Ideal Case: Garage or Separate Room, No Enclosure
- Ideal Case: Garage or Separate Room, Grow Tent Enclosure
- Using Filtration For Mitigation & Secondary Defense
- The small resin printer is simplified to a 20" cube.
- Air temperature is 90°F (32°C), and there is an external wind speed of 5 mph (2.2 m/s).
- The room size is 12x16' (3.7x4.9 m).
- The airflow is represented by transparent brown arrows; the particles are the spheres, colored by the legend dependent on their velocity or temperature.
Worst Case Scenario - No Ventilation
Sealed Room With No Ventilation
A completely sealed room allows for the particle concentration to increase. Resin that off-gasses will eventually spread to the rest of your home.
The mixture remains suspended by free convection that is powered by heat from electronics, sunlight, and artificial light.
Best Case Scenario - Outside The Home
Balcony or Patio With 5 mph Wind
While not always practical, placing the printer outside allows for particles to be swiftly carried away by a light wind.
The goal of ventilation is to attempt to reach this behavior while the printer is indoors.
Garage or Indoor Ventilation
Garage or Room With Box Fan
Perhaps the cheapest garage or indoor solution, the good ol' plop a fan in the window method will move a lot of air but will gradually expose the entire room to the external temperature.
In a garage, this could work when it is warm outside, but the cool winter air can result in print failures. A small heater will be needed in this case.
The simulated box fan is rated at 1,800 CFM and ≈0.10 inH2O.
Garage or Room With Box Fan & Cracked Window
Slightly opening a window allows for air to enter the room, ensuring that there are no stale pockets of air. The static pressure experienced by the fan is lowered, thereby increasing the flow rate.
This case will be common for most rooms due to air leaking in through cracks, ducts, and under doors.
Garage or Room With Box Fan & Open Window
Fully opening a window or door maximizes the circulation and ventilation of the air-particle mixture.
Remember that this showcases the particle behavior and not the concentration.
Garage or Indoor Ventilation via Enclosure
Grow Tent Enclosure With Ventilation
This is an ideal solution for ventilation since the particles are contained and there is minimal impact on the air temperature of the residence.
The simulated enclosure is a grow tent that lets air in through the zipper and small cracks. The ventilation is provided by a 120mm fan with a meager 40 CFM and 0.11 inH2O.
Smaller fans prevent excess heated/cooled indoor air from being lost during printing. However, when the enclosure is opened, the small fan is not able to extract the fumes to the extent that a tube-axial (inline) fan could.
Grow Tent Inspiration
The reasons why grow tents are widely used in resin printing is that they are affordable, easy to setup, and sturdy.
A 30 x 18 x 36 inch grow tent retails between $70 to $100. It can comfortably fit a small or medium resin printer + a heater + resin/equipment. This size can fit two printers, but it will be cramped with a heater.
Always make sure to check the printer's dimensions and pick an appropriate grow tent. If you have the space, a larger grow tent can be useful to store multiple printers, cleaning equipment, resin, and other supplies.
Grow tents can be used:
- outdoors to block wind, sun, rain, and critters on a patio or balcony
- indoors to vent directly outside
- in a garage to help contain heat and optimize venting
- with a fume extractor before being vented
- to fit a printer + a wash & cure station if wide enough
- as a fume hood if using a strong inline fan
Install Filtration as a Secondary Defense
Installing ventilation should always be the primary focus, with filtration acting as a secondary defense. In the event that ventilation is not possible then fume extractors can be utilized so long as they are maintained and the filters replaced regularly. For FDM printers, installing filtration is often a necessity since the vast majority of filaments are temperature sensitive and their enclosures are not vented.
Even if ventilation is installed, you may feel more comfortable with the extra layer of defense provided by an air cleaner. For FDM printers, the focus will be split on removing both particulates and VOCs, whereas SLA will be primarily VOCs.
Particulates can be efficiently removed with MERV 11-16 or HEPA filters. HEPA filters are not always the best option since they often have a lower flow rate compared to a MERV filter, but they perform well for fume extraction.
The efficient removal of VOCs will require a bed of activated carbon granules or pellets. Impregnated foam is not recommended since it is not as efficient nor as long-lasting as granules.
The capture efficiency of professional/industrial activated carbon systems can be 92-98%, but smaller units with a carbon thickness of 1-2 inches can have an efficiency of 40-60%. The capture efficiency of carbon will vary depending on the chemicals, impregnation, thickness, temperature, air speed, and etc. The efficiency will decrease when the carbon surpasses a saturation threshold dependent on the thickness of its mass transfer zone.
Filtration - Fume Mitigation
These small air cleaners are designed to be placed inside the cover of a resin printer.
The units only use activated carbon so they be able to capture an estimated 40-60% of fumes until they become saturated. Particulates will not be captured to any meaningful extent.
The P Mini air cleaner's files are free to download, it uses a blower fan with a higher static pressure, the extra battery capacity gives hours of additional use, and the thick carbon bed will have a longer life and higher capture efficiency.
4D Filtration - P Mini
Battery: 5,000 mAh
Carbon: 50 g
Dimensions: 53x53x133 mm
Anycubic - AirPure
Battery: 2,000 mAh
Carbon: 13.6 g
Dimensions: 46x46x115 mm
Filtration - Fume Extractors
Fume extractors are designed to remove the majority of containments from the air leaving an enclosure.
The Promethean air cleaner is offered as an affordable alternative that can be hooked up using duct, be inside an enclosure, or next to the printer - the higher flow rate allows it to act similar to a normal air cleaner.
The BOFA fume extractors utilize HEPA media, have a thicker carbon bed, and are a more quiet - the downside is the price bump. Fume extractors are ideal for resin and FDM.
4D Filtration - Promethean
DIY or $200
MERV Filter: $15
Activated Carbon: $15
Airflow: 11-27 cfm
Noise: 41-68 dB
Protection: Particulates & VOCs
via MERV & Activated Carbon Granules
BOFA - Print Pro 2
Combo Filter: $260
Airflow: 26.5 cfm
Noise: <44 dB @ "typical"
Protection: Particulates & VOCs
via HEPA & Activated Carbon Granules
Ultimate Resin Guide - compare resin printers, resin material, and equipment
Preparing for Resin Printing - setting up an enclosure, heating, ventilation, filtration, and cleaning equipment
FDM Printers Guide - comparison table and top picks for filament printers
Resin Properties or Filament Properties - comparison table and top picks for materials
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