A new startup is marketing an enclosure kit for small desktop 3D printers, including the popular Prusa models.
Printer Box is a French company that seems to have launched in mid-2020; they’re not even a year old yet. Their single product at this time is a 3D printer enclosure.
3D Printer Enclosure Concept
There’s plenty of good reasons for a 3D printer enclosure, not the least of which is that they create an ability to control the atmosphere around print operations. The temperature and airflow can both be controlled, and that can often lead to far greater print quality.
This is, of course, for “open format” 3D printers that are essentially mechanical gantries that are open to the air. These are inexpensive machines, but the lack of an enclosure can complicate thermal issues. Meanwhile, there are many more expensive 3D printers that do include built-in enclosures, and owners of those machines would likely not be interested in third-party enclosures.
There are a number of other functions that an enclosure can perform, including safety functions that are lacking on original equipment.
Speaking of “lacking”, this reminds me of perhaps the most popular method of creating an enclosure for small desktop 3D printers: the Lack approach.
This involves purchasing a couple of “Lack” end tables from your local IKEA, and pasting clear acrylic panels on the sides to form an enclosure. It sounds a bit crazy, but many people take this approach because it’s not expensive. And that gets you only an enclosure; you don’t get thermal control. In fact, heat in such an enclosure is only generated by stray heat from the print plate that’s being captured.
Existing 3D Printer Enclosures
For those who wish to purchase an enclosure there have been relatively few options available on the market. One that’s been around for many years is from 3DPrintClean, and a more recent system has been made by Kora.
Those are both excellent options, with the Kora in particular being outstanding at removing nanoparticles from the chamber. However, they are somewhat expensive, particularly for those using inexpensive desktop equipment. In some cases the cost of these enclosures could exceed the cost of the 3D printer.
Printer Box Enclosure
Enter Printer Box. Their system seems to offer the core functions of thermal control, airflow blockage and filtration. It seems that Printer Box is building products designed to match the dimensions of specific machines, and their first product is designed for the Prusa i3 MK3S and MK2.5S desktop 3D printers. It’s called the “Prusa-box”.
There are two main differences between the Prusa-box and the other two options. The first is that it’s supplied as a kit, rather than a fully-assembled unit. This also leads to the second difference: pricing. The Prusa-box is available for only US$224.48. That’s well below competitor price levels, and should be affordable by almost anyone. Note, however, that there are some parts you must 3D print yourself, as Printer Box provides STL files to do so.
But what exactly do you get with a Prusa-box? These are the functions provided:
- Sealed chamber to prevent dust from landing on equipment or prints and accidental encounters
- Thermal control for more reliable printing
- Cooling vent for venting excess power supply heat
- Spool positioning either outside the chamber or inside if pre-heating is desired
- Access port on top for easier filament changing
- Control panel to operate the 3D printer via a Raspberry Pi (not provided, it appears)
- Active carbon and HEPA filter to remove VOCs and nanoparticles before they leave the chamber
There’s one more interesting twist to this enclosure: it can also handle the Prusa MMU2S, the multi-material attachment. Normally this system sits on top of the Prusa 3D printer, but Printer Box can accommodate it on top of the enclosure by using alternate parts that can be 3D printed.
The functionality of the Prusa-box looks quite good, although there’s a couple of functions missing that might be considered for a future product:
- Automated fire extinguishing
- Thermal runaway alarm
- Thermal runaway automatic power cut
But perhaps those functions are part of the reason the alternative products are more expensive.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for an inexpensive yet near-fully functional third party enclosure for your Prusa 3D printer, you might want to check out the new Printer Box product.
Via Printer Box