Open-frame 3D printers, like the Ender 3, have become a common sight amongst consumer printers. Open frames help to keep the manufacturing costs low but make it difficult to 3D print with high-temperature filaments such as ABS and Nylon.
A 3D printer enclosure is an ideal solution for this issue. It increases the safety of your printer and isolates it from the external environment. 3D printer enclosures can be bought off-the-shelf, but there are also plenty of DIY enclosures made of cardboard, plastic, or metal.
Let’s take a look at some of the best DIY 3D printer enclosures that you can build for your printer that do not cost a fortune!
Why Use a 3D Printer Enclosure?
Open-frame hobbyist 3D printers offer limited material compatibility and safety. They expose components to dust and dirt and have no air-filtration system. There is also a risk of pets and children interfering with the 3D printing process or touching the hot elements of the printer.
An enclosure minimizes these drawbacks by isolating the 3D printer in an enclosed space. It helps to maintain a constant temperature which comes in handy when 3D printing with high-temperature filaments like ABS and Nylon. It further aids in noise reduction, making 3D printing at home or in offices more convenient.
You can also add an air filtration system to the enclosure to filter out any 3D printer fumes, thus increasing the safety of your 3D printing area. Not to mention, enclosures also make 3D printers more aesthetically pleasing and easier to integrate into your workspace.
To summarize, a 3D printer enclosure increases the material compatibility, print quality, and usability of your printer.
Which Enclosure to Get?
There are a few options when it comes to 3D printer enclosures. You can buy an enclosure off-the-shelf or make your own from scratch.
DIY 3D printer enclosures can be cheap if you want them to be, but they do require a bit of effort and time to put together. The best enclosures are made from materials that are both sturdy and have good thermal insulation properties.
If you’re looking for an enclosure that is easy to set up and does not require any DIY skills, then we suggest buying an off-the-shelf 3D printer enclosure. These are typically made out of plastic or aluminum and come with all the necessary fixtures and fittings.
Another alternative is to simply buy an enclosed 3D printer, but those come at a significantly higher cost.
Whichever direction you choose to go in, make sure to measure if you have enough space on your 3D printer table or workbench.
If you want a 3D printer enclosure that is fully customized to your 3D printer model and specific needs, then you will have to make your own. Now let’s look at some cheap and creative DIY 3D printing enclosures!
Cheap 3D Printer Enclosure Ideas
IKEA LACK 3D Printer Enclosure
The IKEA Lack enclosure is a recognizable and robust DIY 3D printer enclosure. It is cheap, easy to build and customize, and is modular enough to accommodate any future changes in the enclosure design.
This enclosure uses a couple of IKEA Lack tables stacked on top of one another. You can use these tables as per your preferences. Usually, though, the top one is used as a 3D printer bay, with the bottom one for storing tools. The design allows you to move your power supply outside and protects the electronics from high temperatures.
There are a variety of designs available for free with detailed guides, and you can build them within a day. The IKEA Lack table enclosure is great for small to medium-sized 3D printers like the Prusa i3 MK3S+ and Creality Ender 3 as it is. And with some 3D printed leg extensions, you can even fit taller printers like the Creality CR-10 Smart Pro.
If you want to make things as easy as possible, you can even buy the required plexiglass panels as a pre-made kit.
Aluminum Extrusion Enclosure
Aluminum extrusions are a great and easy way of building a structural frame. These are lightweight, strong, and easy to machine, making them ideal for building a 3D printer enclosure.
This aluminum extrusion enclosure gives better stability and durability than the IKEA Lack design. The maker has used custom-sized aluminum extrusions to accommodate a Prusa i3 MK3S+ 3D printer in the middle. The top is used for filament spools, and you can store your tools in the bottom section.
The enclosure is covered up with acrylic panels on all four sides, giving the print chamber good visibility. You can adjust the height of all four feet to get a leveled horizontal plane.
The project is not for beginners, as you will need to have some experience with machining and building things. But, if you’re up for it, it will prove to be an excellent learning project for you. An aluminum enclosure is very customizable, lasts longer, and acts as a perfect house for your 3D printer.
DIY Smart 3D Printer Enclosure
This smart 3D printer enclosure comes with a suite of electronics and sensors. It has a 3.5 inch LCD screen, a smoke detector, door sensors, air filtration, temperature, humidity sensor, and controllable LED lighting.
The 3D printer enclosure is divided into two compartments. The bottom one is explicitly designed to fit a Prusa printer and the top one to store eight spools of 1 kg filaments at a time. The enclosure has a custom PCB board that lets you easily wire up and control its various features.
You can get the STL files of certain 3D printed parts for free on Thingiverse. But if you want a detailed guide, along with BOM, build photos, and other aids, you will have to pay a fee to the designer. If you have the time and money, a smart 3D printer enclosure like this is an excellent DIY 3D printer enclosure for most popular open-frame 3D printers
Open-frame 3D printers can get noisy, and the constant buzzing and the whirring of stepper motors can get irritating after a while. This issue is most relevant if you 3D print in a living space or an office environment. This is where this sound-insulated enclosure steps in.
As far as traditional enclosures go, they reduce noise up to a certain extent; yet, a sheet of acrylic can only do so much in terms of noise reduction. This sound-insulated enclosure, on the other hand, is made of wood, which has an acoustic foam lining to absorb the 3D printer noises.
This enclosure is big enough to accommodate a Creality CR-10 with filament spool and has dual doors and a transparent window to easily view your 3D printer. You can place the electronics of the CR-10 on the outside of the box, letting you control your 3D printer without opening the build chamber.
The enclosure is relatively easy to build and reduces noise considerably. The sound-insulated enclosure is a great option to get rid of any noises and 3D print in your living areas.
IKEA Pax 3D Printer Enclosure
This IKEA Pax enclosure is a wardrobe for your 3D printers. It is cost-effective and saves a lot of floor space when you want to enclose many 3D printers. Compared to the Lack enclosure from above, it offers similar functionality, albeit in a smaller footprint and relatively budget pricing.
You can stack up to three 3D printers in the PAX enclosure and still have some room left for filament spools, tools, and other electronics. All power supplies can sit outside the enclosure, thus protecting them from high temperatures. To add to its functionality, you can include some Neopixel LED lights.
Because the shelves are modular, you can easily move them around to fit 3D printers of varying heights. The major drawback of the PAX design, however, is its lack of transparent panels. Other than that, the IKEA PAX enclosure is an easy, quick and cheap solution for enclosing many 3D printers at once.
Resin 3D Printer Enclosure
Even though resin 3D printers come with an enclosure, you need a separate space to store the printers, resin bottles, and prints like your 3D printed miniatures. This enclosure is an IKEA BRIMNES cabinet with ample space to store and display all your resin 3D printing equipment and minis.
The entire cabinet is divided vertically into two separate parts, giving you the ability to efficiently sort out your goodies. You can store the 3D printer itself in one half, while the other half can take in a washing station. And with a bit of DIY, you can vary the shelves’ heights and customize them to perfectly fit your minis’ collection, resin bottles, and other resin 3D printer accessories.
There is air ventilation within the enclosure with the exhaust on the top. It helps to throw out harmful 3D printer fumes and keep away the foul smell. You have enough space to accommodate popular resin printers like the Elegoo Saturn S and Phrozen Sonic Mighty 4K.
Considering the price, ease of use, and accessibility, using an IKEA BRIMNES as DIY 3D printer enclosure is an excellent solution for clearing up your resin workplace.
Repurposed Dishwasher Enclosure
Repurposing things is an excellent avenue in the DIY area, and what better way than to use an old dishwasher as a 3D printer enclosure. This one easily fits an Prusa i3 3D printer and still has room at the top to mount a filament spool.
The Prusa’s footprint is 16.5×16.5×15 inches, while the area within the dishwasher is 21x23x25 inches. This dishwasher has enough room to fit in the Creality Ender 3 (Pro/V2) and others of similar sizes. And the spare room that’s left can be utilized to fit in some LEDs, a Raspberry Pi, and a webcam for remote monitoring and control of the 3D printer.
The main disadvantage is that there is not much room for further customization. You will need to change the dish washer to accommodate any future updates to the 3D printer, not very practical!
Otherwise, the enclosure is one of the best ways to repurpose an old machine into something useful and save some money.
Official Creality Enclosure
The official Creality enclosure is one of the best ready-to-use designs to cover up your 3D printer. While it is designed for Creality 3D printers, you should have no issues using it for other 3D printers of similar sizes.
The enclosure uses aluminum rods for its structural strength and an aluminum-lined fabric to enclose the 3D printer on all its sides. The internal aluminum lining is made up of flame-retardant material.
The Creality enclosure does a good job at keeping hot air inside and maintains stable temperatures well. It also comes with a single window on the front of the box to view your 3D prints in progress.
With a little bit of wiring, you can move out the LCD controller and power supply to the outside of the enclosure to work with even higher temperatures. For just under $70.00, the Creality’s Enclosure is an effective solution to print with warping filaments while keeping fumes in and dust out.
While a photo lightbox is not designed for 3D printers, it does a great job as a 3D printer enclosure. It doubles as both a photo studio tent and an enclosure and gives you great lighting for pictures of your 3D prints.
This lightbox has two adjustable LED bars that cumulatively house 126 LED lights giving you a bright and well-lit inside area. It also gives you four PVC backgrounds for shooting various scenes and highlighting different shades of your 3D prints. And you can adjust the front cover to either fully cover up the 3D printer, or keep it open for ventilation.
It is a decent step up over the Creality enclosure and aids in photographing and taking videos of your 3D prints. The enclosure is easy to assemble and use, while also being convenient to store when necessary.
This enclosure is an ideal choice for enclosing your 3D printer and still having the flexibility to use it as a photo lightbox when you need it.
Buying or making a DIY 3D Printer enclosure: What to consider
The size of the DIY enclosure should be just enough to fit your 3D printer. It should not be too big, as this makes it more difficult to heat the print area and makes it harder to move around if you need to.
Ease of Access
You should be able to easily access your 3D printer when it is in the DIY enclosure. Locking latches are a great addition that lets you lock and open the enclosure at will
A DIY 3D printer enclosure should be made of a durable and heat-resistant material. The material should also be easy to clean. Plexiglass is a good option for 3D printer enclosures as it is durable, easy to clean, and heat resistant.
Installing a reliable smoke alarm at the top of the enclosure can alert you in time if your 3D printer catches fire. It is a worthwhile investment that can help keep you safe.
If you want to be extra safe, you can install a fire suppression system that kicks in when the 3D printer enclosure gets too hot. A popular choice is the Blazecut T-series.
One of the main disadvantages of 3D printing is the noise it produces. This can be a problem if you are trying to print in a shared space or if you just want to keep the noise down.
3D printer enclosures can help with this by soundproofing the area around the printer. Adding acoustic foam panels to your enclosure will help reduce sound levels significantly. Always make sure you get fire resistant ones, however.
Adding a window to the 3D printer enclosure can help you monitor the progress of your 3D prints.
You might want to consider installing LED lights inside the 3D printer enclosure. This will help you see the 3D prints better and also aid in taking pictures or videos of them.
The price of 3D printer enclosures can vary depending on the size and features. 3D printer enclosures can be bought or made. If you are making your own 3D printer enclosure, you will need to factor in the cost of all the materials as well as your time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a 3D printer enclosure necessary?
A 3D printer enclosure is not strictly necessary, but it can be beneficial in terms of safety and maintaining optimal printing conditions. Enclosures can help to minimize drafts and other external factors that can impact the print quality, and they also provide a barrier between the hot printer components and curious fingers (especially important if you have young children or pets in the home).
If you are interested in purchasing a 3D printer enclosure, there are many different options available on the market to suit a variety of budgets and needs.
How do 3D printer enclosures work?
3D printer enclosures work by creating a controlled environment for the 3D printer. This helps to protect the 3D printer from dust, debris, and fumes. It also helps to maintain a constant temperature around the 3D printer, which is important for preventing warping of high-temperature filaments.
How do you enclose a 3D printer?
A 3D printer can be enclosed in a variety of ways. Some printers come with an enclosure that is already built in, while others use the addition of an enclosure for safety reasons.
One common way to enclose a 3D printer is by using a box made out of cardboard or plastic. The box should be large enough to fit the printer and the printing material, and it should have openings for the print head, filament feeder, and other cables. The box can be sealed shut with tape or clamps to keep fumes and heat from escaping.
Another option is to build an enclosure out of plywood or acrylic sheeting. This type of enclosure is more permanent and can be customized to fit the specific needs of the user and 3D printer.
Do 3D printer enclosures need ventilation?
3D printer enclosures do not need ventilation if the material being printed is not fumes-emitting. If you are printing with PLA, for example, there should be no issue with keeping your enclosure sealed. However, if you are printing with ABS, it is recommended that you provide some form of ventilation to deal with the build-up of fumes.
Do I need an enclosure for PLA printing?
PLA prints very well without an enclosure, so you likely don’t need one unless you’re printing in extremely cold temperatures. If you do want to use an enclosure, make sure it’s well-ventilated so your print doesn’t overheat.
How hot should a 3D printer enclosure get?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on the specific 3D printer and filament being used. As a ballpark range, a temperature somewhere between 30 and 60 degrees Celcius is the right range for FDM 3D printer enclosures.
Should I enclose my Ender 3?
You should enclose your Ender 3 if you want to protect it from dust, dirt, and other debris. Additionally, enclosing your printer will help to maintain a consistent temperature and protect against accidental contact.
An enclosure is one of the top Ender 3 upgrades we recommend people to start with when modding their printer.
Should a 3D printer enclosure be airtight?
There is no single answer to this question as it depends on the specific printer and application. In general, though, airtight enclosures can be helpful in preventing fumes and particles from escaping the printer and contaminating the environment. They can also help protect the printer from dust and other debris.
However, if the enclosure is too tight, it can create problems with heat retention and airflow, which could lead to a decrease in printing quality or even damage to the printer. It’s important to find a balance between creating an effective enclosure and maintaining optimal printing conditions.
A 3D printer enclosure is an effective way to increase your 3D printer’s material compatibility. It further aids in printing with warping filaments like ABS and Nylon by maintaining a constant temperature. It saves the printer from external dirt and dust and improves the print quality.
With DIY 3D printer enclosure designs, you have the flexibility to customize the enclosure to your specific needs and install as many features as you’d like in it. It is also relatively easy to build a cheap, low-cost solution, for example with a simple cardboard box.
But, it can be tedious for many users, requiring lots of time, effort, and money. Whereas the ready-to-buy designs lack customizability but offer an easy, quick, and cheap solution.
Let us know your thoughts on the list, and if you have anything else to add, feel free to comment below.