What’s the worst thing that could happen to you while 3D printing? You could die. And it almost happened.
Reddit contributor OpusMcn told the story of what happened to his 3D printer, shown above:
An overnight print, and halfway through the heating element dropped out of the hot end. The thermistor just read cooling values, so kept it at full power while it sat on the just printed plastic. To make things worse Repetier then crashed before the job finished so the gcode to turn it off never happened. Result? A glowing red heating element sitting in a pool of plastic for about 8 hours. It's PLA, but I'm pretty sure if it had been ABS there would have a been a fire. Counting myself pretty lucky about now.
This is a frightening glimpse into a potential failure scenario that faces those operating 3D printers that don’t include sufficient safety mechanisms: runaway overheating. It’s one of the reasons we don’t recommend printing ABS in your home, unless you have very sufficient ventilation and supervise the print job.
For the major 3D printer companies, such as Stratasys and 3D Systems, this is the nightmare situation they must fear. As companies with a lot of revenue, they could be targeted for lawsuits if their products behaved in a similar manner. No doubt they’ve done engineering and testing to minimize the possibility of this happening.
The question we pose is this: how comfortable are you operating a machine that may not have undergone sufficient safety engineering?
Meanwhile, please, please pay attention to your prints.