Printers can be quite mind-boggling sometimes. It seems like each time you print, there’s some new, required step or sound coming from the device.
For the most part, you can ignore these trivialities. But, if your printer feels warmer than usual, you may be wondering: do printers overheat?
Laser printers, inkjet printers, and 3D printers do overheat. This can happen when they are overworked, faulty, dirty, or not properly ventilated. To prevent overheating, make sure your room is properly ventilated, you’re using the proper ink or filament, replace worn-out components, and routinely clean your printer to avoid clogged air vents.
The causes of a printer overheating
Many issues can cause printers to overheat, such as paper jams, faulty hardware, limited airflow, and print jobs that are too large.
3D printers can overheat due to a high printing temperature, insufficient cooling systems, and overworked parts. Older devices, no matter the make or model, are bound to slowly deteriorate and should be replaced when the time comes.
In short, a printer can overheat due to the following:
- Improper ventilation
- Faulty components, such as fans
- Large print jobs
- High printing temperature (for 3D printers)
- Clogged air vents
- Printing too fast
You can tell if your 3D printer is overheating if the surface of the printed material has small blobs or dots, known as zits. Warping, stringing, or curling are all signs of an overheating issue that needs to be resolved.
For regular printers, newer models will alert you of heat issues on the display screen. If you notice your device is hotter than usual or blowing out hot air, then your device is overheating and should be turned off.
What happens when a printer overheats?
When a printer overheats, the device stops functioning properly and can damage the internal hardware if the issue isn’t resolved. Also, the printer may suddenly shut down or crash, and it will be noticeably warmer to the touch.
When 3D printers overheat they produce warped print jobs that have blobs or zits on the surface. The filament may also become very stringy and unusable.
If you notice any signs of overheating, you should power off the device. Thoroughly examine your printer or take it to a professional before continuing to use it.
Preventing Your printer from overheating
You can prevent your printer from overheating by:
- Placing your printer in a well-ventilated room or next to a window to increase air circulation.
- Regularly cleaning your printer to get rid of dust and other material that can clog up air vents and prevent proper airflow.
- Ensuring that the paper you feed into the machine isn’t crumpled or bent to avoid paper jams.
- Steering clear of large print jobs that can overwork the machine. Instead, break up the printing job into smaller batches and give the device some time to cool down.
- Plugging your printer in a surge protector to divert excess power in case of a power surge.
If your 3D printer shows signs of overheating, try lowering the printing temperature by 5 to 10 degrees.
If you’ve tried everything to keep your printer from overheating but nothing has worked, take it to a professional and have it checked. Most printers last about 5 years which means older devices may need to be replaced when they start to develop recurring overheating problems.
How to cool down your printer after it has overheated
You can cool down your printer after it has overheated by first unplugging the device immediately if you suspect it is overheating. Once the printer has had a chance to cool down, clean it if you notice clogged air vents and place it in an area with sufficient airflow, preferably by a window.
Once you’ve done that, turn the printer back on and increase power to the fans (specifically for 3D printers), which can be found in the settings menu.
You could also direct additional fans to the device to help keep it cool while operating.
It’s important that your device has a chance to fully cool down before using it again to avoid permanent hardware failure.
Can a printer catch fire?
Printers, like all electrical appliances, in rare occurrences, can catch fire. Printers are vulnerable to normal hardware wear and tear, power surges, poor airflow, and other issues that can cause overheating and potential fires.
3D printers with heated beds can ignite flammable objects nearby. So, always take precautions to minimize the risk of fire.
The event of a printer starting a fire is unlikely, but it can happen. When a printer is in use, especially a 3D printer with multiple heated components, you should monitor it and fix any malfunctions. And when it’s not in use keep it powered off.
Why some printers need to warm up
Laser printers need time to warm up because they rely on heat to melt, press, and transfer toner onto the paper. 3D printers on the other hand need to heat up to a specific printing temperature to be able to melt the filament. It can take 5 to 10 minutes before the extruder and heat bed are ready for action.
If you don’t want to have to wait in order to start printing, you should consider getting an inkjet printer which requires no preheating.
Do printers need ventilation?
All printers need ventilation. Lack of proper air circulation can result in overheating which causes random shutdowns and premature failure of internal components. This eventually shortens your printer’s lifespan.
In addition, lack of proper ventilation can put your health at risk. Ventilation is most crucial when using 3D printers because certain types of filaments produce harmful toxins. Small print jobs won’t be a serious health risk, but it’s best not to take chances.
Lasers and inkjet printers also emit harmful toxins and fumes and should be placed in well-ventilated rooms or next to a window.
Some 3D printer filaments are safer than others. Luckily, PLA, one of the most popular materials, produces a non-toxic chemical that is considered safe to be around. However, most people agree that printing should be done in an area with steady airflow, no matter what material you are using.
Printers are often used for big jobs, and over time, you’re likely to experience a device that overheats. Before you panic, know that it is a normal occurrence that can usually be fixed in a few simple steps once the problem has been identified.
Laser and 3D printers should be closely monitored while in use, and all printers should be placed in a well-ventilated room. Avoid cheap printers (as they tend to use low-quality components) and ensure that you do proper maintenance and cleaning on your device to prevent overheating.