Helpful Holiday Safety PSA.

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Tips to avoid that insurance call/emergency call

I hope everyone got what they wanted for the holidays. I personally have more projects to work now than I have time available, so 2017 is going to be an interesting year. Enough of my problems lets talk about yours. I know some of you received 3d printers or related devices for your holiday of choice and……You there, yes you. The guy on the Mac. Just because you didn’t get one doesn’t mean you should click away. I have some safety advice for you as well. Keep reading it might keep you from following that apple GPS off a cliff. For most of you, this will be stuff you have heard before but exits signs are still above doors even though we know they lead outside. Bear with me.

Safety tips for the DIY Owner

So you received that 3dprinter kit you had your eye on, good for you and welcome to headache town. Buckle up it’s going to be a bumpy ride. You are in for but not limited to Failure to print, Motor failure, Dead Printer board, bed delamination, Feed rate issues, Temp issues and my personal favorite ” Why the F**K are you doing that?” You’ll know it when you see it trust me…. I know. “Ok, so what do I do about it smartass?” I have a few tips that will help make assembly and operations a little less of a pain.

Solder Everything!

Seriously, Don’t look at me like that. Evey wire end that goes into a screw block or connects to a heater. No wire crimps or electrical tape.  Solder and heat shrink.  If you don’t own it stop assembling that machine right now and get it. When you do pull out all the electronics and give them a once over,  look for bad solder joints. I’m willing to bet at least one of you will find a huge blob of solder on one of the boards or a pin with almost no solder at all.  See he did right there.  No not that guy. The one on the home built the gaming rig from 3 years ago.  Go ahead show the rest of the class.  It’s ok just break out the soldering gun and fix it. If you have too much heat it up and use a wick to remove the solder and re-tin if too little, well you have a soldering gun figure it out. No, I won’t do it for you.

Next the wires. Give all the ends a tight twist and solder the ends The point here is to keep wires from fraying. most of the time when a board melts it does it at those screw connectors. I hate them If I know I’m not going to be removing the board anytime soon I will solder right to the board but that’s its own hassle so, for now, we will just tin the wires. This way none of the strands can ground out or leave you with too little wire for the current flow. While you are at it solder any wires that will go in the same holes together this way you don’t have bad connections there. Just make a gap in the wire a half inch back and splice in there. You will thank me later. When it’s all said and done you will have far fewer headaches and a bonus of lowering your odds for a house fire. Unless you want to be in the news for that, in which case enjoy for 5 minutes.


It has come to my attention that soldering the ends that go into a block could be just as bad and though I personally have never seen this happen to any of my printers here is an option to soldering those leads. Click the Image for eBay listing.

Buy Loctite.

This is simple really buy Loctite and use it. Oh, you want an explanation? Your machine a vibrator. Sit down, it’s not that kind of vibrator. You can chase down loose nuts and bolts later or solve that issue now. It’s your choice really. Those of you with ready to go machines should really do this as well. Nothing is worse than having a bolt come loose during a 15 hr print, again I have seen this happen. If your machine has an acrylic frame I suggest buying some modeling glue as well. Odds are your going to crack something and all the joints will be far stronger with a tiny drop of glue added when doing final assembly. It is better to have a tougher time disassembling it than to have it shake itself apart.

Things everyone should consider.

Whether you own a CNC, laser cutter or any other automated maker machine the next thing you should buy is a safety kit.  You should have one already but I’m not judging you. A small first-aid box, fire extinguisher and some form of air quality controller. I.E. ventilation or respirator. The ruling is till out on how dangerous fumes from 3d printers are but burning wood and metal particles in the air are for sure bad. For the love of (insert religious figure here) don’t put these on your desk. Sure, they look cool and are fun to watch but they won’t give you superpowers breathing that stuff. They will, however, raise your medical bill at some point down the line. If for no other reason than because your print failed for the 6th time this week and printed fine a month ago when I printed it and now my blood pressure is way too high. “coughs” Sorry I was projecting. The point is they are fun but let’s keep them in the work garage or workspace.  You there with the laser cutter running and no eye protection on! If you don’t want to look like an extra in the next Pirates movie put them on right now. While we are at it didn’t I tell you to move that thing off your desk and outside? It’s like no one watches the Christmas story anymore.

The mac guy

I didn’t forget you. Sell the apple buy a PC and then you’ll be able to afford a few printers and maybe a CNC. Just kidding. I know you guys don’t make anything. But seriously, when you go to that New Years party this weekend only have 1 glass of wine. That second glass just leads to bad decisions and no job on Monday.

It’s all in good fun till someone burns their house down and our GOV has to step in for safety and take all the fun toys away. Seriously folks enjoy the rest of your holiday and make something awesome.

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  1. Frostbite says

    One additional device I can’t emphasize enough is a very good smoke detector in your print area to go along with your fire extinguisher. If you don’t have the first, you may not get the chance to use the second if your 16 hour print goes to hell in the middle of the night.

    1. Frostbite says

      As an add on, you should also have your machine plugged into an arc fault/GFI receptacle as well in case an electrical problem arises.

  2. [email protected] says

    Thanks for sharing these safety tips. So maybe when you use these printers open a window and get a fire extinguisher.

  3. mperkins37 says

    id use my PC laptop for printing as the macs have been left in the cold

    1. Anders says

      You can always install a Linux os on the Mac…

  4. jvastine says

    Great and important tips. Thanks for sharing.

  5. mperkins37 says

    Good tips, I always solder leads too, better safe than sorry

  6. Tom Baxter says

    This was a good article. We are getting near that time of year again and we should bring this article back to the front page.

  7. Richard Bynum says

    As long as I’ve been soldering battery packs to electronic speed controllers and electric motors (for R/C cars and buggies) …about 15 years, I have never mastered the art of it!! I get blobs and bubbles and miss-colored bubbled up blobs all at the same time!..haha. I guess I need to stop holding my iron to it so long? It’s nice to just use crimps in some cases and forget it! I bought a fire extinguisher about 7 years ago and it’s covered with dust so I guess it’s time for a new one! It was only a $30 one off Amazon. But it’s for all fire types so that’s good. I just need to make sure it’s not gonna spray dust if I ever have to use it! I’m wanting to keep my 3D printer in the house because it’s such a hassle to get in the garage. Plus, I feel like a kid when we get a new toy and we don’t want to take our eyes off of it! But yea, your so right about the fumes it can give off. I know the study is still in its early days and we dont know the harm yet but better safe than sorry. BTW good point about having respirators. I want to build my own printer so I’ll know all the ends and outs of it…But I know I risk the chance of making some bad connections and mistakes that could lead to a massive failure. As long as I can keep my eyes on it while it’s running for the first few weeks maybe I can work out all the bugs and start leaving it running without me later on. But no matter how good of shape I think it’s in I will always keep first aid/ and safety gear nearby!

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