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Storing a 3d printer

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I've got a 3d printer I don't use much which I want to put in storage for a fair while, basically until anything goes wrong with my other printer and if I need to hurriedly print something while that other printer i waiting for replacement parts to arrive. The printer I'm putting away could be in storage (dry environment, a little below normal room temperature, in the transport box the printer came in) for months or years.

Any tips on things to do to the printer before putting it away?

Leave some filament loaded in the hot end or do a series of hot and cold pulls to clean it?

Apply further grease to leadscrews or wait to do that upon unpacking the stored printer?

Untension belts, or leave them tensioned (they were tensioned from the factory when the printer was bought)?

Relax tension in extruder springs?

Any other thoughts?

Many types of filament go brittle with age and moisture.  Leaving any sticking out of the top of the hot end is unwise.  However, unless you are using something more exotic than PLA, you don't need to do more than eject the filament normally, as the remaining aged PLA will be purged when you recommission the printer.

Oil and  grease attracts dust.  I'd clean as much as possible off exposed surfaces before storing it, with the expectation it will need a thorough clean & lube on recommissioning it.  Shrink wrapping or bagging in plastic to exclude dust is advisable.  If there is any risk of condensing humidity or sub-zero temperatures I'd use a light wax anti-corrosion spray, but check the spray's technical data for plastics compatibility and removal instructions.

It certainly wont hurt to slack off the various belts' tension till they are quite loose to reduce the risk of the belts taking a permanent set round the pulleys, or the tension cracking any plastic frame or tensioner parts.

The one big thing you've missed, that may be applicable to some types of printer is:
Remove any wheels in the mechanism with rubber or other elastomer tyres so they don't develop flats, and store them wrapped in acid free tissue paper in a sealed plastic bag.  If there were traces of oil or grease on the tyre, there's a risk it will degrade in storage and need replacement.

Remove or de-tension  springs in extruders with plastic structural parts.  I wouldn't bother if its got a metal lever arm and body.

Write a checklist of what needs doing to recommission it as you decommission it.  Save software and settings to a thumb drive.  Store both with the printer. Also, it wouldn't hurt to do a test print before decommissioning and bag and store that with the printer so you've got something to compare with if you have quality issues on recommissioning.

Thank you, thats a very good list.

Always place one of these in the printers enclosure and in the reel boxes,  even if your storeroom is dry, worth putting one in your printers storage box.

That's a calcium chloride dehumidifier.  Calcium chloride is known to be highly corrosive to many metals including copper, aluminium, steel, stainless steel etc. and even air-borne micro-particles or micro-droplets can cause serious damage, so I wouldn't advise  it for use in 3D printer enclosures. 

OTOH its safe enough in a filament dry-box if you have a felt (or similar) anti-dust wiper on the filament where it enters the printer, and change or wash the wiper felt regularly.

If you want a dehumidifier for storing the printer that wont corrode it, use a fresh large silica gel sachet, inside the plastic bag the printer is in, not in contact with any metal part, and make sure you seal the outer bag very well as silica gel has a significantly lower moisture capacity than anhydrous calcium chloride.


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