There are some studies that show that 3D printing emissions can cause some health issues. This comes from the very tiny micro particles that are produced when the extruder of the printer melts different sort of plastics to create our prints.
In fact, I was able to notice that my eyes and nose starting itching while the printer was working on a long (several hours) print with PETG (and I am not an allergic person). This was before having an enclosure, while I was testing my freshly kit built Prusa MK3S simply placed on top of some furniture. This is what made me start looking for 3D printer enclosures that would allow me to minimize any potential health impact and also the printing noise.
After quite some research I ended up following this guide which I found very practical and quite affordable to follow for my enclosure build, but I am going to dedicate another post to that, now lets focus on the air filter solution.
- Due to the tiny size of particles created by a 3D Printer, its recommended that the filter should ideally be composed of 2 layers, a Carbon filter + an HEPA filter. The combination of both would filter most (if not all) flying toxic particles.
- I wanted a filter that I could plug to a wall outlet so I could control it with a smart switch from my smartphone.
- I also needed the filter to be as quiet as possible due to the fact that the printer is located 3 meters away from where I spend most of my day when working from home (which is most days during Corona times).
The Alveo 3D Filter
During my research, I found a company in France that produces a couple of filters designed for 3D Printing. They also offer some custom build professional enclosures, but those were out of my budget range.
The nice thing is that they offer the two filters in two different variants: Kit or assembled. The Kit mode consists on them shipping you the electronics and filter itself and you, printing the case on your own. For this, they send you the STL Files. With the assembled version they just ship you the whole thing ready to be installed. They also offer you to print the case in PLA/ABS for enclosures below 50°C (122F) or in PETG / ABS for enclosures operating at more than 50° (122F). I have chosen the one that would resist higher temperatures just to be on the safe side.
Both The AlveoOne-R and the AlveoOne cost 109,99 Euros (Assembled) or 79,99 Euros the kit version. The main difference between these two models is if you want it to self stand inside the enclosure or if you want the filter to be wall mounted on your enclosure, you can see both models below:
On Alveo’s website they state the that the filter is especially designed for 3D Printers, with a high efficiency to capture nanoparticles. Offering a 99.95% filtering protection reducing significantly odors. The replaceable part of the filter lasts 3 to 6 months depending on your print volume. Then you can replace just the Carbon+HEPA filter for a new one, costs around 20 Euros.
The filter is quite easy to be replaced (although it fits quite tightly) this is on purpose to ensure the air flow passes through the filter and not through the sides of the case.
Before I used the filter in a real print scenario, I wanted to check if it was really filtering. To do this, I did a quick smoke test to check if the filter was working properly.
On my first PETG test print, I was able to immediately verify that the odors and itching on my eyes and nose disappeared completely with the filter ON. Something I was really happy about because it meant the filter was actually working as expected.
Noise test and fixing
This was the worse part of the filter, it was too loud for me. I work all day in the same place where the printer sometimes is printing all day, I need it to be as quiet as possible.
This is quite tricky, because I did some research and the specification of the fan from this filter are such that has enough pressure to be generated to actually filter the air inside the enclosure and through the double carbon and HEPA filters. So it was tricky to find a suitable alternative, with the same voltage (to use the same power adapter that came with the filter) and with a similar performance.
With the help of Victor from Alveo (and not before a warning that warranty will be void), he was able to confirm to me the pin-out of the board on the AlveoOne. I was also able to get his confirmation of which alternate fan could work and this was the Noctua NF-F12 Indistrial PPC-24V-3000 Q100 IP67 PWM. I was able to buy this one for around USD 28.
The change of the fan was quite straight forward actually, by the way, the pin out is: PWMi = blue PWM signal , To = Green RPM speed signal, VDD = Yellow + 24v , Black is GND (ground) in case you were wondering.
As you can see on the above images, the Noctua filter brings the noise down by 7.5 Db, which was enough to perceive the difference and make the whole experience way less annoying. I dont print all the time with PETG or any other highly odor filament, so its fine for me as I just use it sometimes. When I print on PLA I dont turn the filter on.
The AlveoOne-R filter is a good filter, it serves its purpose while falling a bit into the expensive area. But you can save some bucks if you buy the Kit and print the case with your own 3D Printer. You can find more details about the filters and other Alveo products on their website.
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