Extinguish as necessary

Not ESP8266 related, but important enough (and techie enough) to bear further dissemination through the IoT/Maker/DIY communities.

Hackaday published a short feature on this today and it looks as though two basic flaws with the Anet A8 3D printer can work together to cause a serious fire.  The summary is that there is no check for thermal runaway of the print-head in the printer’s default firmware and the heating element is prone to coming loose from the body of the print head itself.  This is what can result from that combination:-

Burned Anet A8 Printer
Anet A8 printer remains (picture courtesy of http://www.thissmarthouse.net)

John, the owner of this ex-printer, freely admits that some of his self-printed add-ons undoubtedly contributed to the conflagration, however the two defects noted above appear to have been the combined root cause.

By all accounts, the A8 is a decent enough printer which sells at a very competitive price, so there are probably a lot of them out there.  Apparently there is third-party replacement firmware (“Marlin”) available for this unit which does include thermal runaway protection for the print-head, so if you own an A8 an upgrade sounds worthwhile.

John mentions that had he not had an extinguisher to hand, the outcome of this incident could have been a good deal worse.  The takeaways from this are:-

  • Don’t ever leave a running 3D printer unattended
  • Regularly check that the heating element and temperature sensor are both firmly attached to the print-head
  • Upgrade to “Marlin” firmware if you’re using an A8
  • Keep an extinguisher and/or fire-blanket close at hand when using equipment which produces temperatures capable of causing ignition
  • Install a smoke alarm over your 3D printer



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