3D printers can produce remarkable creations, but they can also face frustrating issues. From blobs and stringing to poor adhesion and layer separation, 3D printing has its fair share of challenges. Luckily, most common 3D printing problems stem from simple fixes like adjusting settings or using the right materials. With the right techniques, you can get your 3D printer creating smooth, accurate, professional-quality prints. This guide covers seven of the most Common 3D Printing Problems and proven solutions to help you achieve printing success.
- Under and Over Extrusion
One of the most prevalent 3D printing issues is under or over extrusion. This refers to the printer pushing out either too little or too much melted plastic material out of the nozzle as it prints each layer.
Under extrusion leaves gaps in between extrusions, compromising print quality and part strength. This stems from the extrusion multiplier setting being too low or using the wrong filament diameter. Over extrusion can cause excess melted plastic buildup that makes the print look like it’s melting. This is usually due to the multiplier being set too high.
To fix under extrusion, increase the extrusion multiplier slightly in your printer software, like by 5-10%. For over extrusion, lower the multiplier incrementally. Double check that you have the right filament diameter entered as well. Dialing in the perfect multiplier and diameter will solve most under and over extrusion issues.
Stringing refers to thin strands of plastic left between sections of a print, almost like hair. It’s caused by the nozzle continuing to ooze and drip melted plastic when it shouldn’t be extruding. This issue typically arises when printing small models with lots of starts and stops.
Stringing usually indicates a retraction issue. The retraction settings control how much filament gets pulled back into the nozzle during travel moves. If retraction distance is too low or retraction speed too slow, ooze will occur. High nozzle temperatures can also increase stringing.
Increasing the retraction distance to between 1-5mm and the retraction speed to between 40-60 mm/s can help eliminate stringing. Lowering nozzle temp 5-10°C can also help if oozing is excessive at higher temps. Finally, some filaments like PLA are more prone to stringing than ABS, so material choice plays a role too.
- Layer Separation and Splitting
Layer separation is when printed layers split apart or delaminate during printing. This results in splits in the model, compromising strength. Proper bonding between layers is essential for cohesive prints.
Excessive layer height is a common cause, as too much material extruded at once leads to poor adhesion. Low nozzle temps can also prevent layers from fusing correctly. Insufficient cooling or a heated chamber that’s too hot may play a role as well.
Reducing layer height closer to your nozzle diameter helps, like 0.2mm for a 0.4mm nozzle. Increasing nozzle temp 5-10°C can improve layer bonding through better melting. Adding a cooling fan or reducing the chamber temp also helps solidify layers faster to prevent curling and splitting.
- Blobs and Zits
If you see random blobs or zits of excess material marring your print surface, it’s likely a retraction issue. These occur when the nozzle drips or oozes when travel between sections. This leaves spots of plastic behind on the printed model.
As with stringing, improper retraction settings are the main culprit. If the nozzle doesn’t fully retract during travel moves, it will still ooze material. Coasting and wiping settings can also contribute to blobs if not calibrated properly.
Tweaking retraction distance and speed can help reduce blobs, but you may need to enable coasting and wiping in your slicer. Coasting has the nozzle stop extruding slightly early when finishing a section to prevent oozing. Wiping tells the nozzle to wipe across an area to pick up any excess residual plastic.
- Warping and Curling
Warping refers to corners or edges of a 3D print lifting up and away from the print bed. Curling is when edges or corners deform and bend upward. Both issues stem from stresses created as subsequent layers are printed.
Curling and warping generally occur when layers cool and contract at different rates. This causes mechanical stresses. Poor adhesion to the print surface can exacerbate curling as the bottom layers detach. Insufficient cooling or a heated chamber that’s too hot may also contribute.
Adding a heated print bed, using a bed adhesion material like glue stick or hairspray, or switching to a higher-temp material like ABS can reduce warping. Slowing print speed for the initial layers improves adhesion. Adding a cooling fan and reducing the heated chamber temperature will help as well.
While 3D printing brings boundless potential, it also poses unique troubleshooting challenges. However, armed with the right techniques and a systematic problem-solving approach, you can overcome most common 3D printing issues. Adjusting slice settings, maintaining ideal environmental conditions, and choosing the right materials will have you achieving smooth, accurate, professional-quality prints. With patience and persistence, you’ll develop the knowledge to turn your 3D printing problems into successes.