Study: Does an enclosure make a difference in cold temperatures?
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Study: Does an enclosure make a difference in cold temperatures?  

Active Member
Study: Does an enclosure make a difference in cold temperatures?

I need to have my printer set up in my basement, which gets quite cold in the winter. I decided when buying a new printer that a few months later I would also be purchasing an enclosure after I knew exactly what a wanted from it. I decided to get one from Tukkari, however between ordering and when it was quoted to be shipped to me was close to a month. I decided to run a test with the knowledge that my enclosure would be coming soon and having a few occasional issues that I believed were due to the lower temperatures, such as warping and bed adhesion.



The models used were Spiral Ornament by Kelly Egan and the complimentary model Ornament Hanger by Printing Liberty. I chose these prints for a few reasons. First, I liked the design. Second, the spiral ornament included overhangs and gaps, which would allow me to test drooping, curling, and stringing. Third, the cap for the ornament was a small, simple print. Forth, the ornament hanger had a very thin hook and also would require supports.




* RepRapper white PVB

* Gizmo Dorks Red PLA

* Prusament Galaxy Black PLA

* Hatchbox Orange PETG




I wanted to limit the amount of variables as much as possible. The filament was all recently purchased and was run though a cycle in a Creality Dry Box before uses. For settings, I stuck with the default profiles in PrusaSlicer mostly. 



| Model  | Layer Height | Infill | Speed |

| :---: | :-----------: | :-----------: | :-----------: |

| Spiral ornament body | 0.30mm | 0% | 50mm/s |

| Spiral ornament top | 0.30mm | 20% grid | 50mm/s |

| Ornament hanger | 0.10mm |0% | 45mm/s |



| Filament  | Nozzle temp | Bed temp |

 | :---: | :-----------: | :-----------: | 

| PVB | 215c | 75c |

| PLA | 215c | 60c |

| PETG | 240c | 85c |  




Ways tested

The ways I tested were in an open air environment, a makeshift semi-enclosed environment, and in the enclosure. I had a thermo-hygrometer sitting beside my printer that I used to measure temperature differences.



|     | Open air | Semi enclosed | In enclosure  |

| --- | -------- | -------- |-------- |

| average daily temperature | 17.800 | 17.581 | 17.988 |

| average printing temperature | 21.298 | 21.330 | 25.425 |

| temperature difference | 3.498 | 3.749 | 7.438 |

| average minimum daily humidity | 31.643 | 33.419 | 22.425 |

| average maximum humidity | 42.243 | 42.119 | 33.763 |

| humidity difference | 10.600 | 8.700 | 11.338 |





For PVB, there was a big difference in stringing. Although the enclosed model still showed a good amount of stringing, this is significantly less than both the open environment and semi-enclosed. Bad adhesion was good in all the environments. All the models printed without intervention the first time.

As one of the unique properties of PVB is the ability to smooth the surfaces in isopropyl alcohol, I expanded my experiment to test differences in the smoothing process. I went about smoothing the first two prints as I had done in the past. I poured a little bit of alcohol into food storage container, lined the walls with paper towels, placed the print on a silicone baking mat inside the container, and closed the lid. The airtight seal and the alcohol-soaked paper towels create an even vapor all around the print. I kept the prints inside the sealed containers for 24 hours. The open environment print went in without any post processing. The semi-enclosed print was cleaned up with a light round of sandpaper at progressively higher. The strings were removed from the enclosed print, and it was placed hanging in a tall food storage container without any paper towel lining. The same amount of alcohol was used and the time was also the same.

Since the top of the hangers was so thin, the alcohol melted it off. This was to be expected with extremely thin walls, so not all models with be suitable. The print from the open model obviously looks the worst. The thin strings were melted away, however the thicker parts of the strings are still there. The surface is smoother, but still shows a good amount of the rough divots from printing.  The one printed in the enclosure looks good, however the alcohol vapors were not as aggressive of the model. The surface was smoothed as is glossier in finish, but not as much as the smaller container. I attribute this to the lower concentration of alcohol in the fumes due to the larger area. The print that was sanded before the smoothing process looks great. The surface is glossy and very smooth. Smoothing does come at the price of strength. Due to the alcohol melting the top of any exposed layers, as was the case here, the model can become a bit more flexible. Smoothing is best suited for thicker, watertight prints.


PLA was the filament type I used the most at the time of this test, so I wanted to test a higher cost, premium filament and a more budget friendly filament. I had a roll of Prusament Galaxy Black, which cost $45.63 after shipping, that filled the need of the higher cost brand. For the budget friendly option, I chose Gizmo Dorks Red, which cost $22.95. Not only did I want to see how PLA compared, but also how the price may or may not reflect quality.  

First is the red PLA from Gizmo Dorks. The stringing and quality of the prints were about the same in both the open and semi-enclosed environments.  Bed adhesion was decent, but I added a wider brim due to the low temperatures. All three parts printed without a problem. I found the print in the enclosure to be the best out of the parts printed using this brand. Stringing was still visible, but significantly less and more constrained to the top on the spiral. The surface looks a tiny bit sharper. I also tried removing the brim of the top and hanger prints. Both stuck to the bed without an issue. The temperature difference cause by the enclosure made a difference with this filament.

For Prusament PLA, stringing was non-existence in every environment. In terms of consistent quality of the finished prints, this filament was very good. However, I did experience two issues. First, I tried to replace the brim on the top and hanger models, like I did on the other PLA test. This is where I had my only two failures of the entire experiment. for the hanger failed due to poor bed adhesion in both the open and semi-enclosed environments with the brim. In the enclosure, the hanger print with no brim printed with problems the first time. The second issue is that one of the spirals has divot on its underside about midway up on the enclosed print. This section was on the outside of one of the spirals that was printing on the backside on the heated bed. It is a cooling problem due to the fan having difficulty reaching that section. This is a small section and the rest of the print looks great.


I initially planned to end my test here, but I decided to expand it to include PETG. This was my first print other than one calibration print. I used Hatchbox orange PETG. Honestly, I was worried because of all the issues I’ve read online, but it was very smooth to print in my experience. Every print in each environment printed great the first time. Bed adhesion was great on my textured plate and removed themselves as the bed temperature cooled. Stringing was lower than the Gizmo Dorks PLA but more than Prusament. The thin part of the hanger was the most solid. The top of the spiral had clearer edges and a sharper tip. 


In summary, every print in every printing environment was clearly the model printed. PVB took significant post processing to look presentable. Both types of PLA filaments and PETG looked good. Minimal post-processing to remove some stringing is needed. At the lower temperatures, an enclosure was beneficial for ease of printing and a small increase in print quality. It negated my need to have to use workarounds, like limiting my printing around and changing settings (mainly brim and bed temperature) to deal with warping and adhesion. Before I could still expect a few failed prints even using these workarounds. Purchasing an enclosure has brought much more consistency to printing for me. That said, I do recognize that my need to have printing environment in low temperatures is a more fringe case, so I would not say that it is an immediate need to get one in the majority of cases. Enclosures are more of a worthy upgrade though.




Links to pictures on Imgur

PVB - Open printing environment -  

PVB - Semi-enclosed printing environment -  

PVB - Enclosed printing environment -  

PLA Gizmo Dorks - Open printing environment -  

PLA Gizmo Dorks - Semi-enclosed printing environment -  

PLA Gizmo Dorks - Enclosed printing environment -

PLA Prusament - Open printing environment -  

PLA Prusament - Semi-enclosed printing environment -  

PLA Prusament- Enclosed printing environment -  

PETG Hatchbox - Open printing environment -

PETG Hatchbox - Semi-enclosed printing environment -  

PETG Hatchbox - Enclosed printing environment -  

Completed grids -  

Completed ornaments -

Charts and settings -

Posted : 28/01/2022 3:56 pm
Active Member
RE: Study: Does an enclosure make a difference in cold temperatures?

Nice write up.


It was 13c in my basement this morning and my printer was having none of it. I closed the enclosure vents and let the printer sit idle for about 20 minutes. At that point the printer displayed 16c for the heat bed and was a happy camper. I opened up the enclosure vents and was able to print several items without issue.

Between the low temp errors in the winter and the lifted print corners caused by shifting air flow I find an enclosure necessary. It seems like quite a few people here in the forums have their printers in less controlled spaces like the basement or garage. But I have no idea how that compares to the wider community.

Posted : 28/01/2022 11:01 pm
Extra Fox
Trusted Member
RE: Study: Does an enclosure make a difference in cold temperatures?

I don't allow it to get quite that cold down in our lower level where the printer lives, but I definitely run into occasions where it's a race to get the printer warming up before the MINTEMP warning flashes.

I intend to build an enclosure for that reason, and to control drafts. It will also all0w me to move it completely out of my office.


Posted : 28/01/2022 11:12 pm
Active Member
Topic starter answered:
RE: Study: Does an enclosure make a difference in cold temperatures?

@rayg Thanks. I glad I got my MK3S+ a few months before the weather turned cooler. It definitely gave me a view to the quality I should be expecting. My workarounds were a temporary fix, but having the printer enclosed makes a huge difference for ease of printing for me now.

@extra-fox Yeah, I had to do that race a couple times too. lol That sounds like a great plan building one for controlling drafts. Even without moving the printer, the noise produced when running is less. About 6 dbs for me.

Posted : 29/01/2022 1:17 am