The Importance of 3D Printer Lubrication & Maintenance
3D printers contain many moving components that require lubrication in order to keep the printer operating optimally. With high temperatures, speeds and in some cases vibration, having the right lubrication solution is essential to minimising maintenance and protecting printer components for long-term use.
Bearings, threaded rods, rails, wheels and screws are common components whose performances are majorly successful or unsuccessful by lubrication.
Frequent usage of the 3D printer can lead to lubricant dry-out, spillage or contamination – if using unsuitable, lower-performing lubricants. These can lead to premature printer failure, unexpected downtimes, costly repairs, noise and squeakiness, and worsened printer performance.
The global 3D printer market is expected to reach a value of £28 billion by 2026, growing at a rapid rate of 22.5%. 3D printing played an important role in supporting aerospace manufacturers recover from the pandemic, and is quickly growing due to its increased ease of use in the development of customised products.
It’s therefore essential that 3D printer manufacturers utilise the most suitable lubrication solutions to improve the quality, reliability and profitability of their printers.
Common 3D Printer Failures
Common 3D printer failures arise from:
- Lubricant dry-out, spillage or contamination
- Lack of protection from corrosion (reaction with water, humidity, chemicals)
- Lack of protection from wear and friction
- High exposure to dust and debris
- Overheating of components
- Faulty components
These problems can lead to jammed nozzles, damaged filaments, failing bearings, stiff components and ultimately premature printer failure.
Consequently, they cause unexpected downtimes and repair costs, but they can also negatively impact the quality of end product, due to components being put under extended stress and not being able to perform to their top standard.
Effectively lubricating and protecting 3D printer components with the right solutions prevent the most common 3D printer failures.
Top 3D Printer Lubrication & Maintenance Solutions
- Lifelong lubrication
- Resistance to lubricant dry-out, spillage and contamination
- Wear and friction resistance
- Corrosion protection
- Stability at high temperatures
- Humidity and water resistance
- High load-carrying capacity
Overall, leading lubricant brands such as Krytox and Molykote tailor their products to provide reliable, premium performance in a variety of specific applications and environments, from those in extremely high temperatures such as 3D Printers and furnaces, all the way to oxygen-safe solutions for medical apparatus.
Our recommended 3D printer lubrication solutions are:
Krytox GPL 226 is a high-performance grease that has successfully been used for lubricating bearings within 3D printers. This grease provides a controlled viscosity to bearings moving in sharp movements for long periods of time, enabling them to withstand high temperatures when the printer is in use. In addition, this grease provides anti-corrosive and anti-wear properties, protecting the bearings from premature damage.
Molykote 4 is a grease-like compound that can be used as a seal and lubricant for cable connectors, battery terminals, switches, rubber and plastic O-rings and as an assembly lubricant for various metal-on-plastic and metal-on-rubber combinations. It is low volatility, water-repellent, chemically and thermally stable and odourless; making it a popular choice for repairs in small spaces.
Molykote 111 is a lubricant and sealant used for electronic connections, O-rings and various rubber/plastic components within 3D printers. It provides good resistance to chemicals and excellent resistance to water and humidity.
It’s important to ensure that the components are clean and clear of previous lubricants before applying these solutions.
BC 3900 Isopropyl Wet Wipes are low-lint, fast-evaporation wipes that can be used for cleaning 3D printer components before applying lubricants. These wipes are compatible with all Antala stocked lubricant and adhesive systems.
Molykote lubricants have effectively been used in managing vibrational loads, reducing thread failure, lubricating bearings, avoiding microwelding of pipes, and sealing industrial furnaces – proving their durable performance in challenging environments.
In addition to lubricants, our adhesives can also be used in 3D printer manufacturing to optimise their performance.