Have you wondered how a laptop looks like when you take a thermal image with the computer working normally and not loaded to the maximum, well you don’t need to anymore. As you can see from the thermal image the chassis of the laptop is having a pretty evenly spread temperature, meaning that the cooling is working well and is well balanced. If there is some hotter area this is usually where the processor and the video card are located as well as the exhaust of the laptop cooling that blows out hot air is. Do note that the lower part of the screen of the laptop has a higher temperature than the upper one, this is due to the fact that at the bottom of the display usually the manufacturers put some electronics that is responsible for powering up the backlight of the screen. In the future we are going to be looking up at some other notebooks, taking thermal images with different usage scenarios, so that you can see the difference.


Here is an example of a thermal image of exhaust ventilation that can be misleading only judging things based on the visual information with false color without taking a look at the temperature representation of the colors. On the image it may seem that the temperature of the exhaust ventilation and cooling fan is much higher than that of the surrounding environment including the cold wall. In fact however the temperature of the exhaust vent is just a few degrees Celsius more than that of the wall, something that happens due to the fact that the motor of the fan in the exhaust fan gets hotter while operating as well as due to the hotter air going out through the vent. The conclusion, when looking at a thermal image do not get a false impression by just looking at the false colors used for temperature representation – look as what values does the colors represent and what is the minimum and maximum temperature value of the temperature range represented on the image.


We have decided to take a look at how the extruder of a FDM/FFM 3D printer looks like in terms of temperature when seen through a thermal camera. Normally 3D printers that extrude thermoplastic materials used as their filament material operate with a temperature of their extrusion nozzles in the range of about 200-250 degrees Celsius, though some materials may work with a bit lower or higher temperatures. The thermal image above shows the extruder of a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer heating up to 230 degrees Celsius and getting ready to start printing with PLA thermoplastic material. The reported temperature by the printer is about 200 degrees Celsius at the time of taking the thermal image and the thermal camera shows about 165 degrees Celsius on the outside of the aluminum heating block where the heater cartridge is placed and to which the printer nozzle is directly attached. The temperature detected by the thermal camera is a bit lower than that of the 3D printer’s thermal sensor due to the fact that the aluminum heating block is covered with ceramic thermal insulation and taped over with Kapton tape, so the external temperature over the insulation is expected to be a bit lower.