Adventures - and misadventures - in 3D printing

Cool like the other side of your pillow

When printing certain materials, especially PLA, it’s critical for the plastic to cool as soon as it’s extruded and bonded to the previous layer.

As you can see in the frogs below 1, the left frog was printed without cooling, the right with. Big difference, especially on the bottom side. The frog printed without cooling must have some sort of genetic skin condition and should probably go see a doctor immediately. You can see that without cooling, the PLA droops from the heat and weight. The problem gets worse if you have a heated bed too.
Frog Tops
Frog Bottoms

The stock cooler on the Wanhao Duplicator i3 (aka Monoprice Maker Select, aka Cocoon Create) does an OK job, but doesn’t cool all the way around the print. While the front side is cooled, the backside remains hot.
Duplicator i3 Cooling
Pardon the crude drawing but you can see both fans on the i3 here. The red fan cools the thermal break to prevent the hot, melted plastic from backing up and causing a jam, known as thermal creep. The blue fan is the little bugger we’re talking about. The fan is on the right in the picture and the wedge is the air guide. I highlighted in cyan the output port for the cool air.

So take our strikingly handsome chap being printed (yeah, yeah – I inserted a 3D modle onto a photo, you get the point). The channel of cool air hits his right side and cools him like a cucumber, while the left side stays hot, hot, hot. Make sure to capture his good side in photos!

So what’s the solution? A good shroud designed cover all sides with that cool, cool goodness. There are tons of designs on Thingiverse that are a big time upgrade to your printer.

There really is no clear winner here from my readings. It’s more of a personal preference as they all accomplish the goal of cooling the part from all sides. I personally just printed the Thorped shroud, which moves the fan to the rear of the extruder assembly and leaves the front open so that you can easily see your print. It’s a super easy print that requires no supports.

Enjoy this lovely time lapse video I made printing my Thorped cooler. I’ll be putting together a quick how-to for the assembly asap.

  1. Frog images borrowed from CreativeTools on Thingiverse under Creative Commons Attribution License
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