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MAKE fan Michael Schaller send along this project he built at home to deal with one very important factor of the 3D printing experience: noise. From Michael-

Just for background: I live in an old house that doesn’t have good insulation. We have some neighbors that live below us and sound travels really easily through the floors and walls. I wanted to do long prints, especially at night, but you could hear the printer all through the house. I built this using some off-the-shelf materials to dampen the sound. An added advantage that I didn’t consider at first is that it keeps the inside of the cabinet at a warm temperature (~110º F) during the build. I thought it might be a problem, but I think it actually produced more consistent parts because it reduced the shrinkage of the plastic during the build.

My wife called it the ‘fire box’ because she was worried about it catching on fire, but after monitoring the temperature for a few builds I stopped worrying about it.

Project Steps

Modify the Filing Cabinet

Remove the drawers from the filing cabinet, pulling them all the way out (there’s usually a latch you have to press to get them to come out completely).

Use a saw or dremel to cut the back end of the top drawer off so only the face of the drawer remains. This is mostly just cutting by eye and doesn’t need to be perfect. Make sure to grind any sharp edges down afterwards so no one gets cut.

Depending on the size of the printer and the filing cabinet, you may need to remove additional metal from the bottom drawer such as the folder hanging pieces. Go ahead and check by placing the printer onto the drawer and sliding it back into the filing cabinet. Make sure the build area and power switch are accessible. If not, cut away.

Drill a hole through the top of the filing cabinet where plastic can enter. Drill holes at the back of the filing cabinet where the power cable and USB cable can run.

Add the Sound Dampening

Cut the carpet into patches that fit the inside walls of the filing cabinet (top, back, sides, front, bottom). If you can, use one patch to do the 2 side walls and back wall — folding the carpet in at the corners. This helps prevent more sounds escape. Make sure not to cover up the sliding rails of the lower drawer, it may take a couple pieces to leave this section uncovered. Use an adhesive such as Gorilla Glue to attach the carpet to the walls of the filing cabinet. Place carpet patches on the bottom of the drawer and the inside of the front faces of both the drawers as well.

Use the foam insulation and spray into any corners or places where the metal cabinet is exposed (again, not near the drawer rails).

Cut a hole in the top piece of carpet to allow for the plastic filament to enter the filing cabinet.

Reassemble the bottom drawer into the filing cabinet – it should slide nicely.

Insert and connect the cables and plastic. You may want to coil some extra cable underneath the bottom drawer so it has somewhere to go as the drawer slides back in.

Place the rubber mat on the floor underneath the filing cabinet. Any extra carpet pieces can be placed inside the cabinet underneath the bottom drawer to further dampen.

Print! Try it out and see how well it works at reducing noise. You can monitor the temperature with a digital cooking thermometer to see if its getting too hot — mine never did.

Extra Credit / Next steps

I didn’t do this but, attaching the top drawer face to the bottom drawer face would be a nice addition or adding a latch so it closes securely. Otherwise it’s just pressed in and resting on top of the bottom drawer which seems to work, but isn’t ideal.

Adding a light and a window would be great. Like an oven where you can see what’s cooking.