How Long Can a 3D Printer Run – Is it Safe Overnight?

How long can a 3D printer run? The answer might surprise you, but the most common 3D printers don’t provide a limit on how long they can operate.

In fact, there are several anecdotal reports of people who printed for 5 consecutive days without interruption, as there’s no maximum run time.

That’s not to say you should continuously run your 3D printer.

We definitely recommend that you take precautions in order to extend your printer’s life.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss some issues that may arise if you leave your 3D printer on for extended periods, as well as the typical duration it takes for a 3D printer to print.

Operating your 3D printer for extended periods

When operating your 3D printer for extended periods, you will inevitably run into problems.

The most common 3D printing problems when printing anything that’s intricate or large include:

  • Running out of filament
  • Needing to watch the print the whole time
  • The power may go out mid-print

Running out of filament

Large prints can use up a lot of filament, and you may run out if you're not careful.
Large prints will take longer to complete and require lots of filament. You’ll need to make sure you have enough filament to complete your print.

When printing, the larger the print, the more surface area, and the more material that’s required, the longer it will take.

As a result, you should plan for enough filament to last throughout the full print without interruption as some 3D printers include a pause option, while others don’t.

If your 3D printer does have a pause option, it can be enabled through the free 3D printing software on your computer or the control panel on your 3D printer.

The pause option means you won’t run the risk of running out of filament. Once you pause it, you can just refill the spool before restarting.

Read our related article, How Long Can You Pause a 3D Print? Will it affect the quality? Let’s find out!

It needs to be attended

According to the operating manual for 3D printers, it’s recommended that a 3D printer not be left unattended.

It’s better to play some computer games, watch a movie, or engage in another activity in the room while keeping an eye on your 3D printer.

That said, some people often leave the printer unattended for most of the print.

If you take this approach, be aware that it’s against manufacturer guidelines and that things can go wrong mid-print.

A common issue is the 3D printer stops moving mid print. If you’re not around to catch it, it could put a damper on your project.

The power may go out

If you experience a power outage, you’ll need to restart your 3D print from the beginning.

Before starting a lengthy print, you’ll want to keep the weather in mind.

If you experience frequent power outages during summer showers or winter snowstorms, it’s best to save the long projects for later.

If you’re really dedicated to your prints, you can consider getting a backup power source to keep the printing process going when the electricity goes out.

Is it bad to run a 3D printer for a long time?

Running your 3D printer for a long time won’t hurt it.

A 3D printer has an expected life span of 5 to 10 years but the actual lifespan of a 3D printer is determined by its use.

So, the more you use it, the more wear and tear it will accumulate.

3D printers, at the low end, cost around $300.

Which, even if it only lasts you 3 years instead of 5, or 5 instead of 10, the overall cost is still pretty good.

Overall, you can continuously print for as long as it takes to complete your project.

Just keep in mind that it’s probably a good idea to pause the print or go piece by piece for bigger projects to give the printer a break.

Read our related article, How Long Does 3D Printing Take? Here’s how long you can expect printing to last!

What kind of 3D prints take the longest?

The 3D print designs that take the most time to complete are those with enormous or detailed patterns.

Larger prints require more filament, which takes longer to print than a smaller design that uses less filament.

If the pattern is complex, the printing arm must make more movements.

This includes printing a tiny amount of filament at one end of the design before moving and printing a small amount of filament at the other.

Over time, the numerous halts and starts add up, extending overall production time.

Want to see an extremely long print job? Watch the video below, it’s certainly impressive!

Read More: How Small Can a 3D Printer Print? Mini prints are entirely possible! Here’s how small you can REALLY print.

Can You 3D Print Overnight?

Overall, while it’s not recommended that you leave your 3D printer unsupervised, it technically can be left to print overnight, and many users have done just that.

Although, it’s recommended that you keep an eye on your 3D printer while it’s in use to make sure that the filament doesn’t run out.

Likewise, you need to keep an eye on your 3D printer in case the filament jams or gets stuck feeding through.

If you’re not observing your 3D printer while it’s printing, and something goes wrong, you’ll need to stop the print and start from the beginning again.

can a 3D printer run catch fire?

If you don’t store your 3D printer’s filament correctly, it can become extremely hot and cause a fire if left unchecked.

If you want to avoid the danger of your printer catching fire, keep any unused filament away from heat or an open flame.

Additionally, when working with heated filament, be sure to have a fire extinguisher on hand at all times.

How much electricity does a 3D printer use?

It can be dangerous to leave a 3D printer on overnight or unattended.
3D printers use around 50 to 125 watts of power each hour.

Running a 3D printer for an extended period of time will use more power than printing something less complex.

Do 3D printers use a lot of electricity? A 3D printer uses around 50 to 125 watts of power each hour.

If the room temperature is low and you need to raise the flatbed temperature, the usage may rise by 30%.

What is thermal runaway protection in 3D printers?

Thermal runaway protection is a safety feature in 3D printing technology that detects when something appears to be wrong with the printer’s heating.

When the Ender 3 firmware is activated, this code halts the heating process if the goal temperature is higher than the actual temperature by a significant amount.