Soundproofing 3D Printer: Motor, Axes, Vibration and Fan Noise Reduction
With rising popularity, 3D printers have opened a whole new world of possibilities for creative people. It helps them materialize all the unique and fantastic ideas. As expected, the machine with such amazing powers has to be a complex one. And consequently, is a noisy one.
The printer works more and more, turning your dreams into reality, and the sound becomes more noticeable. Some people get used to it, but the others look for solutions how to soundproof a 3D printer. Luckily, there are many solutions! What's even better, majority of them are affordable, so you can solve the issue in no time! Now let's take a look at how to reduce noise in a 3D printer!
Noise sources in 3D printers
Before I give you some useful tips on how to deal with unwanted sounds coming from your 3D printer, let me tell you where the noise from the machine actually comes from.
As I said, a powerful machine like this surely has complex components. The most common source of noise is the stepper motor, followed by the noise coming from the fan. Besides this, sounds occurring during X, Y or Z axis motion are also loud ones. Another source of unwanted noise is the vibrations coming from the printer's frame.
Now that you have diagnosed the source and cause of the noise, the next step is to find which soundproofing method works the best!
3D Printer Noise Reduction
How to reduce the sounds coming from the stepper motor?
The first and most responsible noise maker in a 3D printer is the stepper motor. The easiest solution is to reduce the current being supplied to it within permissible limits. It requires some fiddling around with the motor's potentiometer, but it's definitely worth a shot.
Of course, do not reduce the current more than allowed, because it may lead to some other problems with your 3D printer. The point is to keep it working properly but less noisy.
If this simple solution doesn't work, you may consider replacing the stepper motor. Sometimes the one set by default is of noisier types, so you may opt for a more silent one. Just pay attention to buy the one compatible with your type of printer.
Another reason why a stepper motor makes unwanted noise may be because of too loose or too tight screws. Check all the belts on printer and screws as well, and if too tight loosen them, if too loose tighten them. This should be done as a part of regular maintenance, so don't forget to check on it from time to time.
The noise is best to fight if hitting the problem right to the source. Consider placing rubber dampeners as they have proven as an effective solution. However, I must add that some users have noticed that the build quality is slightly affected when dampeners are placed. But, since this is a cheap solution, you should try it and see for yourself!
How to reduce noise coming from the cooling fans?
Being reason number two for a loud 3D printer, fans can be as noisy and nerve-wracking as a stepper motor.
A fan is a very active component of a printer. The fact that it works a lot is the reason why it gets louder. And if you add the dust and dirt that gradually clog all the machines around us, it gets noisier as the time goes by.
The fastest and less complicated solution is to replace it! A cooling fan is not so cheap, so save yourself additional troubles by simply buying and installing a new one!
You can do it yourself, but have in mind that it voids the warranty (if the printer is still under it)! However, if you are not feeling confident that you can disassemble and reassemble it the right way, take it to the service!
How to reduce noise coming from X, Y and Z axes?
Wearing and tearing, the rods forming aforementioned axes accumulate dust and grime as the time goes by. To keep them working properly, you need to clean them on regular basis and lubricate them as well.
Going through the tips and tricks which helped many 3D printer owners, I came across an interesting one! You can use a drop or two of sewing machine oil on each linear rod and voila-the noise is gone! Or at least silenced to the acceptable level!
There are many other lubricants you can find, and although they are not always branded to be used for 3D printers, they do the job quite well! As a matter of fact, you can even use WD-40 if you have the urgent need to solve the problem. Almost every home has one!
However, this solution is good as a temporary one, but this lubricant, having the properties of a water repellent, may not be the best choice to be used as a 3D printer lubricant all the time!
How to reduce noise in 3d printers coming from vibrations?
I mentioned loose or tight screws as a reason why 3D printer makes unwanted noise. That problem, along with belts may cause excessive vibrations in an operating 3D printer. Sometimes the vibrations are so intense, that if there are neighbors living downstairs, you can expect them to complain about the noise. That's why you need to decouple the printer from the floor.
You have probably noticed the increased popularity of rubber mats when it comes to soundproofing. They have turned out to be quite an efficient and budget-friendly solution. Place them under the 3D printer and you will dampen the vibrations.
Looking for an even cheaper solution than this one? I have it! If you are into life hacks, you can use a thick yoga mat as well. It does the same job as rubber mats. As a matter of fact, there is a high possibility that you already have one! The same goes for a piece of carpet remnant, which can also serve for this purpose!
Here’s a small piece of advice regarding this type of insulation. After placing rubber or yoga mat, or any other likewise insulation make sure the 3D printer stays level! If not, it won't work properly and that can affect your builds' accuracy.
Best way to soundproof a 3D printer
All the tips I gave you in previous sections are budget-friendly, simple and quick solutions all in one. However, if you are looking for ultimately the best way to reduce noise in a 3D printer, nothing does the job better than a box/cabinet or an enclosure.
Speaking of enclosures, they require no work at all, just buy them, put the printer inside, and that's pretty much it! The most popular among 3D printing community is Ikea Lack enclosure.
Another popular solution is a photo studio tent. Even though it is made for the entirely different purpose, it helps with 3D printers as well. They are made of textile, hence they are porous, but are excellent with higher temperatures.
As for boxes/cabinets, you can either buy them or build them, it's up to your time, know-how skills and budget. Boxes and cabinets reduce the level noise by more than 50%, so they are really worth investing in!
Whether buying or crafting one, pay attention to some general details. Make sure that its size matches the size of your printer and make sure there's enough ventilation! Moreover, accessibility is also an important factor! You have to be able to reach it from all sides should any adjustments or repairs are needed!
If you decide to build one, then pay attention to the material as well. It should be of those that won't catch fire easily. Thick plywood is a good choice. Besides that, you can make one out of aluminum or steel with thick insulated glass.
On Soundproofing 3D Printer
As with soundproofing in general, there are many solutions, but the most important is to diagnose the problem first. Once you know what the main source of unwanted sounds coming from your 3D printer is, try some of the tips I gave you here.
If you are looking for the quickest solution; boxes, cabinets, and enclosures are the things for you. But, if you want to save a few bucks, try with these cheaper solutions such as mats, lubricants and similar.
After all, the main thing is that you use the printer according to the instruction manual that goes along. If used properly, not only will it be less noisy, but will last longer as well.
I hope my tips on how to reduce noise coming from 3D printer were helpful! I’d be glad if you share it with me which one worked the best for you? Or even better, if you have some more tricks which can be helpful about this, but I haven’t mentioned them, don’t hesitate to leave them in comments!