Better Cooling for 3D Printer Extruders

Installing a peltier device (TEC) in place of the 40mm cooling fan of an all metal extruder.

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Tired of the summer causing my extruder to overheat and jam I decided to find a solution. I did with a peltier, or thermoelectric cooling (TEC), device. Result: mediocre. Could be useful in special circumstances but is easily overcome if the peltier heatsink is not sufficient.

Fed up with inadequate cooling I decided to change things. Here I added a thermoelectric cooler in place of the 40mm fan. It's also completely silent!

  • 1 × 12V PSU I used a PSU from an old 3D printer.
  • 1 × 12V TEC A peltier device AKA thermoelectric cooler. A few dollars on eBay.
  • 1 × Heat sink Any heat sink that will fit in your machine. It helps maximize the cooling ability of the TEC.
  • 1 × Thermal compound Grease or glue. Depends on your situation.
  • 1 × 3d Printer

View all 6 components

  • 1
    Measure first

    Make sure you get everything that you need to mod your extruder. Measure everything, check the spacing and clearance of parts, and be ready to get creative.

  • 2
    Order what you need, use what you can

    I got most parts from scrap: heat sink from a discarded and very out of date PC graphic card, wiring from old power cables, 12v PSU from an old printer, etc. I had to order the 12V 40x40mm TECs and those took a while, free shipping on e-bay. I also picked up thermal cement (glue). In my case the heat sink was going to be heavy and I was, likely, going to have only one screw to use as anchor. The glue works like thermal grease but adds support I would, and did, need.

  • 3
    Test parts and fit

    The heat sink had to be cut to size. Just chopped it up with a hacksaw and Dremel cutting wheel.

     I used a broken fan to align the holes to be drilled.

    It took a few tries to get the heat sink to clear everything. There was a metal bracket on the print head I hadn't accounted for. I was test fitting on the print head bracket and discovered my mistake.

    Do a test run of the peltier to:

    1. Make sure which side is hot and which is cold. For me the labeled side was cold.

    2. That it worked properly. They're cheap, ceramic, and ship from China in bubble wrap.

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Dennis wrote 11/13/2019 at 22:29 point

What happened to this project? I experimented with thermoelectric elements a few years ago, building a rapid drink cooler. My experience was that for one degree of cooling, you got 3 to 5 degrees of heat on the other side, so it's very clear that you need a fan. Ideally a big fan and an even bigger heatsink with lots of surface area. If you don't cool the hot side properly, the heat goes back to the cold side and then the TEC just wastes energy without actually having any effect...

Anyways, the question remains if you got anything useful out of this. I am currently modding my printer for high temperature filaments and installed water cooling. This allows me to keep the extruder about 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding air, which is not bad. I definitely see an improvement with ABS in an enclosure. But when the air in the enclosure is already hot (which is good), then the cooling struggles (which is bad) and 10 degrees of a difference is not enough. 

Now my idea was: what if I install a TEC to cool it even more? But unlike your approach, I would not install the TEC on the hotend, but rather somewhere further away where I can easily install a big heatsink and a big fan. It will just cool the water after all, and the water delivers the heat from the hotend to the TEC where it can be pumped to the other side. Maybe the hot exhaust air could even be used as a chamber heater.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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