I have printed in both warm and cold rooms and there is a significant difference in the print quality that results.
Standard room temperature, 68–72 °F (20–22 °C), is the best room temperature for 3D printing. As temperature decreases, the print cools down too fast causing print quality issues. At higher temperatures print quality not improve.
Temperature is a bigger issue for ABS than for PLA. Let me tell you what happens when the room temperature gets to cold and what you can do to improve print quality when room temperature gets too cold.
Temperature Effect on Print
While it is theoretically possible for a room to be too warm for 3D printing, it rarely happens in practice unless you are trying to print in a garage that is not temperature controlled.
Too cold of a temperature is far more common.
When the ambient room temperature falls too low, the print will cool too fast. When this happens, layers will not properly adhere together.
If you do not have a heated build plate, cool ambient room temperature can cause issues with adhesion to the build plate as well.
As a the liquid filament cools, it begins to shrink. If it cools too fast, this shrinkage can cause layers to pull away resulting in warping at the build plate or de-lamination of layers.
Fortunately, if you cannot easily control the room temperature, there are a few options you can use to help maintain ambient temperature around your print.
Check out my article about printing in a garage if you are concerned about printing in the garage and not just a room in your home.
Heated Build Plate
A heated build plate is very useful to combat cold rooms.
The heated plate keeps the ambient temperature above the plate warm, slowing down the rate of cooling of the 3D print.
Since the build plate has to fight the ambient room temperature, the colder the room the warmer you will need to keep the plate.
The biggest downside of a heated build plate is that it only keeps the area immediately above the plate warm. This means that if you are printing a tall print, the build plate may not be able to keep the print warm the entire way up.
To a certain extent, you can increase the plate temperature to overcome print height. But after a couple of inches, the temperature won’t matter.
If you are unsure about how tall you can print, you can print a tower. Just remember that as you print, the height you can print at in a colder room using just the heated print bed will be higher closer to the center of the bed.
3D Printer Enclosure
An enclosure is one of the best ways to maintain the appropriate ambient temperature.
I purchased the Creality enclosure for my Ender 3 V2. This allows me to use my printer in the garage despite the colder winter weather.
In order for the enclosure to help printing in a cold room, you need to let the temperature inside it warm up. If you don’t have a heated build plate, give the printer some time to warm up before you start printing.
The enclosure works really well when you have a heated build plate. As the heated build plate warms up, it will warm up the inside of the enclosure.
What About Too Hot
If the temperature in the room you are printing in is too warm, that can cause issues with the filament cooling.
As you print an object, a fan near the nozzle attempts to cool the newly extruded filament. The purpose of the cooling it to get the filament to fuse with the layer below.
While cooling too fast will cause the layers to fail to fuse, too warm and they may not fuse fast enough. The object will be too soft and gravity will pull down, causing sagging.
If you attempt to print a bridge, too warm of an environment can defeat the best of bridging settings. Outer walls, especially those that slop upward can start to see drooping filament.
Under these conditions, simply place a fan near the print. Be careful with how you place the fan as you don’t want a strong breeze to push on the liquid filament and cause print distortions.
When printing PLA in a warm environment, turn down or turn off the heated build plate.
If you do want to print a filament that needs a heating plate, try a lower initial build plate temperature and lower the temperature at higher layers. Don’t drop the temperature more than 10-15 °C as it could cause the print to pop off the plate.
Other Environmental Concerns
The are additional environmental factors that can impact printing.
Certain areas have very high humidity. 3D filament does tend to absorb moisture very easily so under these conditions there are a few step you do need to take.
Note that the humidity can effect 3D filament but generally does not impact printing with dry filament.
Under humid conditions, you will want to store your filament in air tight containers preferably with some kind of desiccant.
What I use are Nanovac Vacuum Pump & Airlock Bag Bundle (non-affiliate) from Polyalchemy. The bags are specifically sized for filament rolls. I have also used large vacuum sealed containers from Amazon and placed moisture absorbing dry packs to absorb any leftover moisture. Either way, these are great ways to store filament that you are not currently using.
You may not have thought much about it, but dusty environments can also cause 3D printing issues.
If you have not cleaned your build plate in a while, dust may have built up on it. This will cause issues with the print sticking to the plate.
You should be periodically cleaning your plate to remove dust and any other residue that have accumulated.
Dust can also accumulate on the filament. If you are not storing your filament in an air tight container like the Novac Airlock bag I mentioned above, there may be dust that needs to be removed from the filament before you start printing.
When you print with dusty filament, you are more likely to get a clog. A small piece of dust stuck to the filament that gets to the nozzle will tend not to go through. This why you may have gotten a clog if you stopped printing for a while and just left the roll of filament connected to the printer.
Handling dust is not too difficult. You can print this filament filter from Thingiverse and put a sponge inside to dust the filament just before it reaches the extruder.
But a pinch of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Store your filament using the Nanovac Airlock Bag Bundle or using vacuum sealed containers.