Hello everybody and welcome to another video. Today we’ll be looking at a collection of machines that I currently own and explore some of the safety issues that they may have. Today we’ll be checking the machines for Thermal Runaway Protection as well tinned wires on the terminals. I’ll be evaluating not only my FDM machines, but also my SLA printers at the same time. As always the information you see represents my own opinions and no money has exchanged hands. Try this at your own risk.
After having watched the 3D printing Nerds video on the CR30 along with the Thomas Sanladerer’s video on thermal runaway, I felt that expanding on this topic might be of use to some of you. You see, I’ve been using quite a few FDM and SLA printers non-stop and decided to show you guys just how many of my personal machines have issues out of the box.
To start things off, I’ll be looking at 3 of my FDM as well as 3 of my SLA printers, for a total of 6 machines. These machines include the CR10 V3, Ender 3 V2, CR30, Anycubic Photon, Voxelab Polaris and the Elegoo Saturn. Unfortunately, at the time of recording this video, my two Anycubic Machines required maintenance, so I will not be including these in this video. It should also be noted that I had modded those two machines so extensively over the years that most of these issues have already been addressed.
Let's begin with the machine that started this whole inquiry, which in this case is the CR30 by Creality. For the most part this machine is very well though out, however I have had to do several adjustments after extensive use, and I’ll be covering those issues in a future video. For today however, I did check the machine for tinned wires. When I opened up the machine, I did indeed discover that most of the wires connections to the terminals were all tinned. I therefore replaced those with ferrules.
The next machine was the Ender 3 and in this case we once again have tinned wires at the terminals connections. After replacing those, I then started working on the testing the thermal runaway on this machine. All 3 tests were successful and indeed this machine did have a properly implemented thermal runaway protection. Although error messages weren’t always generated, the machine did on each occasion turn off the hot end. If you're testing out your own machine, you’ll want to keep in mind that the test for removing the connection wire to the heater cartridge does take a while to trigger, depending on the machine.
Let’s take a look at the modified CR10 V3, which does have an updated firmware, which was created with the source code that Creality had on its website. When I recently went to check for those files I did find them harder to located, however they are still available after doing some digging. Now similar to the Ender 3 and CR30 the wires were tinned at the terminals and had to be updated to included ferrules. To do this, I used a Ferrule crimping tool and automatic wires strippers, although you can just use a pair of pliers to do the same thing. Now the wiring for the hot end is a little more complicated since it uses a hub to provide power to most of the hot end components. Therefore, testing will most likely more difficult if you are attempting this at home. This machine passed all the thermal runaway tests with flying colours and had the appropriate warnings pop up on each occasion. As mentioned previously, I was using my own modified stock firmware, which can be found on my website.
Now, all these FDM printers did have mosfets to help cool the motherboard, which is a very important feature to have. Since so much power is being drawn to the hot end and the build plate, having those will help cool those connections and keep them from burning out. On my I3 Mega and Mega S these were not present, and I had to add them to it separately. The Creality machines all have these built into the motherboard and so long as they’ve been properly installed, they will keep cooling the motherboard and prevent the wires from overheating. You can see that on my Anycubic, although the connection did overheat, the damaged was contained to the mosfet. In this case the damage was caused because of the tinned wires which were still present at the time.
The SLA printers were all pretty surprising in themselves, with the Elegoo Saturn being the most complicated. Out of all these machines, all of them had tinned wires at their terminals. Thermal runaway isn’t an issue in this regard since we aren’t dealing with a hot end or heated build plate. Out of all the machines, the most difficult one to check and repair is the Anycubic Photon, since it required the most awkward of dissembles. While the Elegoo Saturn did take time to do disassemble, all parts are fairly easily accessible, although you’ll have multiple connections which are tinned. It’s for this reason that I’ll be releasing an additional video going over this in more detail for the Elegoo Saturn. In the end, the easiest printer to access all the components was the Voxelab Polaris. Voxelab opted to create a more open design, which should make upgrades or repairs easier in the future.
So with all of this information taking into account how did all of these machines do in the end? Well, none of these 3d printers had proper ferrule terminal connections, which is disappointing to say the least and should be the very first thing a user should check upon receiving their machine. Out of the FMD printers by Creality all of them did have thermal runaway protection. The CR30 is still to be tested as we speak, so you’ll have to keep an eye out for that video when it comes out. Out of all machines, only the Anycubic Photon was extremely difficult to access the internal components and is something that I would like to see them solve in the future. By far the easiest to disassemble, was the Polaris, which clearly had a focus on repairability because of the open design. While the Ender 3 is still easy to open up, you do have to be careful when putting back on the panel. Since the CR10V3 has a separate case for the electronics, repairs are easier since you can simply remove this portion. I hope this video illustrations how important it is to check your machine when you get it, since you never know how seriously a company has taken safety into account. As someone who was once bought a device which didn’t have thermal runaway enabled, I say just how serious of an issue this could be and just how thankful I am when it’s properly implemented. In future however, I would like to see companies stop using tinned wires in their terminal connections since this does represent a significant safety issue and is definitely something I will be watching for in the future.