Qidi X Smart 3 revised fan installation

I have been slowly evolving my ideas for fume filtering when using the Qidi X-Smart 3 printer. I should say there is nothing majorly wrong with the fan system as shipped but there always seems to be background residual fumes even when printing PLA. The level of fumes does seem to be dependent on the brand of PLA used.

The rear fan as shipped has no HEPA filtering, it simply vents the chamber into the external air. This fan only comes on during the printing process.

I have previously posted some early ideas for improving this using readily available HEPA filters. Following some discussion with Christian, a fellow X Smart user, we worked together to evolve this further.

The first phase was to upgrade my external fan filter duct design to have both HEPA and a carbon granule filter sections. The carbon granules are sandwiched between two 10 gauge stainless steel meshes and an outer cover holds everything in place.

The result of this looked promising but the axial fan as shipped lacked a decent air flow through the filter stack. This was upgraded to a 6028 centrifugal fan mounted on an adapter plate. The Fusion 360 assembly is shown below.

Below is a simplified cross section view. The internal fan adapter plate flange and the external filter stack are bolted together through the back wall of the printer using the original fan mounting holes and M3 screws and nuts. The fan is mounted on the adapter plate using M4 screws and nuts. There are moulded nut cavities to make assembly easier. The cover plate which holds the two meshes and carbon granules in place uses M3 screws into 3D modelled threads in the corner holes.

As previously posted I had fitted a full size Bento filter to my Qidi ifast. Further discussion with Christian revealed he had fitted the Bento Mini to his X Smart and seemed impressed by the internal air scrubbing action. I looked at the design of the Mini and after some thought changed the carbon cavity filtering walls from a printed grid to using the same 10 gauge stainless steel mesh as used above. The Bento Mini printed well and I was impressed by the thought that had been put into the design. There is a version with a hanging bracket designed for the X Smart 3.

I now had a belt and braces solution – the Bento for internal scrubbing and the HEPA/Carbon filter pod on the rear extract fan. Here are some images of all the components in place and the small terminal strip to interconnect the 24V supply.

The fans used on both assemblies are the same dual bearing 6028 models as detailed in the Bento write up. These are rated at 24V @ 80mA. The axial fan originally fitted was rated at 130mA. I removed the original fan and wired the Bento and the extract fan in parallel and connected this to the original supply feed from the control board via a small terminal strip. The two fans are only commanded ON during printing.

That is my hopefully my last solution but as ever it will depend on actual performance to see whether I notice the difference in air quality. Mission creep is always possible.

As mentioned in a previous post, I designed some booster feet to fit over the existing feet on the printer. These increase the air gap below the printer to allow more air flow. If you print them in TPU they gave extra stability to the printer and reduce resonances.

Here is a link to the STL files and write ups for the simple duct, the fan adapter plate, the two stage filter duct, booster foot and also the modified Bento carbon box and lid with mesh divider walls. Note of late I have been printing with a setting of four perimeters which gives stronger modelled threads.

Thanks again to Christian in Germany who has been a great help in bringing these various mods to fruition.

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Qidi X Smart 3 tweaks

From the title you will have guessed that I could not resist the temptation to buy an X Smart 3 while they were on special offer at GBP299.

The X Smart 3 is a lovely little machine. It prints excellent high quality models at a very fast speed. My testing suggests around a third of the time as on my Qidi ifast but of course it has nothing like the same chamber build volume.

I have had some issues with the X Smart 3, some of which were finger trouble on my part and some that needed recourse to Qidi’s excellent support team.

Attached to the link below is a ZIP file that has the full write up detailing my modifications to the X Smart 3 to add a LAN socket, modify the processor fan operation and to add extension feet to raise the body of the printer to allow more air flow. The ZIP file contains the PDF document and two STL files, one for the extension feet and one for a printed template to aid positioning the hole for the LAN socket.

Note that the LAN connection will not appear on the printer control panel but is visible by the Qidi Slicer application. The IP address allocated will be automatically defined and you will need an application like Fing to discover what this is. The control board will be discovered as a Raspberry board.

Since the above write up I have progress on a HEPA filter housing for the X Smart 3 rear fan. Below is a write up on this and some changes I also made to my i-fast. Note that since posting this write up I moved the rear fan filter housing inside the chamber so that the fan is pulling air through the filter rather than trying to push it through. This worked out nicely with the rectangular shaped filter housing.

I have also made a replacement top cover with a large HEPA so air can get in and out of the chamber to mitigate having to leave the lid off.

Update – Fan Noise

The only remaining frustration with the printer is the power supply fan noise. This is present all the time the printer is running whether under full print load or just on standby. Unlike the ifast the X Smart 3 only has one power supply. It is therefore impossible to get the power supply to switch off when it needs to be on to run things. Contrast the ifast where it goes completely quiet. There are suggestions that there maybe better substitute power supplies that have proportional speed fan control driven by the supply current demand. I debated this but decided there would still be noise even when backed off.

My solution is a bit steam age. I bought in an Alexa compatible AC switch. I now tell Alexa to turn the printer on and off. Much easier than trying to get round the back of the printer to the power switch.

On the subject of Alexa devices, I also bought in a Google/Alexa air quality monitor so I can check the VOC level around the printer. This seems to be quite sensitive and suggests the HEPA filter modifications are working.

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Qidi X Smart 3 special weekend pricing

Worth considering ?

For those of you considering getting or upgrading a 3D printer, Qidi are offering their X Smart 3 on a special weekend price reduction from £399 to £299. This is a lot of printer for the price with a heated enclosure and fast printing speed. You can watch a review by Aurora Tech here.

I have no affiliation with Qidi but have a great respect for the company, their products and their superb support infrastructure.

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Stop losing Qidi ifast 3D prints down the chamber front gap

A simple solution

I love my Qidi ifast but one issue kept cropping up. At the front edge of the chamber there is a gap that seems to be a black hole for small prints. They sometimes ping off the build plate when it is being removed from the chamber and rattle down the slot to be lost underneath the machine. They don’t simple drop out from underneath the machine but instead end up lodged on the cover plate to the power supplies. Lifting the machine to remove this plate is a nightmare job as the machine is so heavy. I usually end up printing a second model. There is a similar gap at the rear of the chamber but this is much less of a problem.

There is a YouTube video showing how to a print protective cover for the front and the back black hole slots. This looked interesting but was a long print run and involved double sided tape.

My solution is to use some aluminium ‘expander mesh’ with some 3D printed fixing clips. The mesh is Gauge 10 and is cut as a 70mm wide trapezium shape with the two sides measuring 500mm and 485mm. I sprayed it black to blend in. Here is a picture before and after fitting.

Here is the Fusion 360 graphic of the clip and the download link for the STL file.

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Fitting a Bento air filter to a Qidi ifast 3D printer

Hopefully less tickly throat and itchy eyes?

For some time I have been subjectively conscious of fumes created by my 3D printers.   There has been quite a lot of general comment about this problem in the technical press.  I mostly use PLA for my prints using my Qidi ifast and Sindoh 3DWOX.  If you believe the press, PLA is the least likely to cause irritation.  However, my office is small and the printers are both close to my desk so any fumes are likely to be immediately adjacent to my computer activity.   If I do a long print run, I can sense the fumes as a background smell and as an irritation to my throat.

The geography of my office and workshop are such that moving the printers is not an option nor is finding some way to vent to the outside world.   The Qidi ifast is a huge machine and finding a new home for it would be difficult.   Transferring both machines into the workshop would expose them to a residual albeit low level of moisture (nothing rusts in the workshop so it can’t be so bad).

I came across the Bento filter unit which is a free download from Printables.   As an aside Voxel in the US sell Bento kits.

The concept of the design is to house a complete filter unit inside the printer chamber where it acts as a recirculating air filter (a ‘scrubber’). This only acts on the air circulating within the chamber.   This should avoid creating cooling drafts across the print job which might be the case if high volumes of air were being ventilated in and out externally.

The unit is visually shown opposite. It has four sections all stacked one on top of the other.  The air in the printer chamber enters the top section which contains a commercially available HEPA filter cartridge.  The next section is a carbon filter.  This has an inner printed magazine containing carbon pellets. The fan section is next with two fans pulling the air through the two filter sections.  The bottom section is the air exhaust duct. The design is rather well conceived with each of the two filter sections clipped together using small magnets.  This makes these two sections easily demountable for filter maintenance.  The fan tray and exhaust duct are held together with screws and brass inserts that pick up on the fan mounting holes.  

Circulating the air into the unit via the top section and exhausting at the bottom is a nice idea. In the Qidi ifast the print head stays at a constant height and the print bed moves down as the print builds.  The print head activity remains at a constant height to the filter input.  There is a lot of web discussion on fitting the Bento to Bambu Labs units but little about use in other printers so some head scratching was needed on how I might implement the Qidi ifast installation..

Here is a link to ZIP file containing my write up of how I installed the filter in my Qidi ifast together with the STL files for the modified fan tray, exhaust duct and microswitch mounting block.

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