3D Printer enclosure: Photo Tent

A cheap, quick and simple solution for a 3D printer enclosure.

Also referred to as a photo/light, studio/tents, they are primarily used for product photography. The purpose of the tent is to diffuse the light through the nylon material removing shadows and reflections.

This tent environment can also serve as an breathable enclosure for your 3D printer!

Photo tents are readily available in a range of sizes and can be found for under £20. Many have a “pop-up” design making them very simple and quick to use, as can be seen above this one also came with a detachable door with a camera slit (see an alternative use for this below).

Benefits of using a tent enclosure

  • Inexpensive
  • Quick and simple setup, easy to store when not required
  • Help stabilize temperature and minimize drafts, a factor to consider if using high temperature filaments such as ABS or ASA
  • This can remove the need for print skirts/wraps
  • Saves energy
  • Reduces smell and ultra fine particles (UFP), further improved when combined with a filter or extraction system. See here
  • Prevent debris entering the print area, see above!
  • Improve safety by enclosing hot and moving parts from children and pets
  • Keeps out dust

Using a photo tent enclosure

Getting started

Before you start check the dimensions of your printer against the tent to be used. As you can see above the Prusa i3 MK2.5s fits perfectly in a 60x60x60 tent.

Place the printer in the tent and ensure there is sufficient distance between any moving, hot parts and the tent material. Connect power and USB if required, load a filament and power on. Moving all axis’s to their limit confirms clearance.

Camera door extractor setup

This tent featured a detachable front with a camera slit. I used the camera slit on the front door to insert an extractor duct. This helps to create a negative air pressure, drawing air through the breathable tent material and extracting to outside. A suitable HEPA/Carbon filter could also be used here.

Now its ready to print!

The display and control knob are easily accessible by lifting the bottom part of the detachable door, to start or make an adjustment during printing.

The test

To trial the tent i set up a benchy print in ABS and monitored the temperatures with an in/out thermometer. The outside probe was inserted in a handy elastic loop at the top.

During the approximately 1 hour print the inside maintained a steady 29 degrees celcious with a room temperature of 20 degrees celcious.

#3DBenchy – The jolly 3D printing torture-test by CreativeTools.se by CreativeTools
Published on April 9, 2015
www.thingiverse.com/thing:763622
Creative Commons – Attribution – No Derivatives

Verdict

Minimal odour was noticed whilst being in the room during printing and the Benchy came out with good layer adhesion and no warping.

The photo tent worked out as a great cheap and quick way to enclose a 3D Printer and improve the chances of a successful print.

The bonus of easily inserting an extractor duct through the camera slit was nice, and its original purpose is great for sharing photos of your prints!

My overall Verdict of the Phot-r photo tent is that it offers great value for money for the two uses it for fills. This basic tent may not be suitable if you are a professional photographer the creases in the nylon material and folded backdrops are noticeable and still present after several day of being setup. However it did a good job of improving the photos i took.

Cloth Vase by Sashko
Published on March 26, 2017
www.thingiverse.com/thing:2203039
Creative Commons – Attribution – Share Alike
Printed in 3D FilaPrint Fluorescent Orange PLA

Final thoughts

A photo tent is a great option if you are on a budget and do not have time to build a custom enclosure however there are a few considerations to take account off.

As the tent is not being used for its intended purpose its should NOT BE LEFT UNATTENDED with an operating or heating/cooling 3D printer inside. The tent material could pose a FIRE RISK.

Further more the breathable nature of the tent will limit the internal temperatures that can be reach, and is more affected by ambient temperatures.

However this means the psu and control board should be happy being left inside. If extended high temperatures are reached these components should be relocated to outside.

As might be expected there was little if any reduction in noise.

Where to get it

The Phot-R tent featured above is the 60x60x60 collapsible version available from amazon *HERE for £16.95.

Similar enclosure options

Grow Tent

Growing on the photo tent enclosure, another alternative use of an already existing product is a grow tent. Used for growing exotic fruits, herbs, vegetables or seasonal fruits out of season, this option may offer improved thermal and sound insulation over a photo tent and has dedicated vents.

The above 60x60x60 grow tent is avaliable *HERE on amazon for £29.95.

Printer designated enclosure

There seems to be little availability of universal 3D printer fabric enclosures. However if you have a LulzBot TAZ or Mini  you are in luck!

The Lulzbot nylon enclosure is listed on digikey.co.uk for £64.74 HERE.

Universal enclosure on Kickstarter

Althought the funding period ended Mar 28 2016, an interesting project for a universal 3D printer enclosure with filter system founded by James Nordstrom can be found HERE. 3DPrintClean filtration systems have a patent-pending recirculating filtration technology  within a fabric enclosure. Offering 600mm squared and 800mm squared and suitable for almost all printers. Kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/64537310/3d-printer-lightweight-enclosure-and-filtration-syhttps://www.3dprintclean.com/products

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