Top 7 problems with 3D printing

 At Mean Gummy Lizard we make files for modelers, wargamers and tabletop enthusiasts. We want to give you as much help as we can to make printing our files or any files as easy as possible.

Below we have listed the top 7 problems you encounter when printing 3D. We believe these cover at least 80% of the problems you may encounter. For more complex or mysterious problems we recommend Simplify3d.com

Bed leveling

If the bed of your printer is not properly levelled you may encounter one of the following problems. Your first layer may not stick to the bed because the extruder head is too far away from the bed and the filament already too cool to stick when it hits the bed.Layer may stick on side but be lose on the other. This means that your bed is tilted so the extruder works properly on one side but is too far away from the bed when it reaches the other side. Layer may stick on side but be lose on the other. This means that your bed is tilted so the extruder works properly on one side but is too far away from the bed when it reaches the other side.

To fix this problem you can manually adjust your bed with the screws and knobs under the bed and on its side if it is visibly tilted and then use the auto levelling function or auto level it right away.

Unclean bed

If the bed is dusty or greasy the filament will not stick to the surface.

Temperature of bed too low

Same here, if the temperature is too low the first layer won`t stick to the surface. If your printer provides a heating for the bed – use it. If not try to print in a rather warm room. Avoid carrying the printer from a cold garage or shelf in the basement to the actual printing place without allowing it to properly warm up. This make take an hour!

Filament of poor quality

A number of problems can occur in the filament which are already “inbuilt”. The diameter may vary which causes an uneven feed of filament to the extruder as the quantity goes up and down with the diameter. The manufacturer may have added too much or too less of one or the other component or the quantity is distributed unevenly within the filament.

Another common problem is the tendency of PLA filament to absorb moisture from the air around. Always store it in a dry place!

Last but not least, filament degrades over time. Whether you stored it for too long or you got a rather old package, degraded filament will break or “grease” or in short just not do the job it should.

This is one of our failures. caused by poor filament, wrong bed levelling and impatience (speed too high)

Extruder too cool

Cold plastic doesn`t bond. If your layers don`t stick together try to increase the temperature.

This problem usually occurs when you change filament or increase the amount of filament extruded.

Printing too fast

Sure, none of us is keen on waiting hours for the parts we print. We want to assemble, paint and play AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! You have to resist the urge to “ speed up the process”. 3D prints take time. Lots of time. Of course some things can be sped up but unless you are very experienced or willing to spend time in tries and errors use the speed recommended by the provider of your .stl files.

Never change a winning team!

Well, of course you may and SHOULD change your settings as required. What I actually mean is the famous What-did-you-do? Question of all IT professionals working with users.

This really is the most important point of all. You might spend hours searching for a mistake which actually isn`t there. There is a famous story in the industry I used to work in. A manufacturer suddenly faced huge ups and downs in the quality of their products. They literally turned their whole factory upside down to find the reason. They checked and double checked the raw material, they covered every corner with CCTV to see if their very experienced staff suddenly did anything wrong during production. They experimented with the machine settings. After two years they found that their problems suddenly emerged at the same time they had introduced a new electronic measurement system. The system was sensitive to temperature fluctuation and produced wrong measurements.

You see, even a dozen engineers didn`t ask the simple question: What did we change? What is different today?

Always be aware of what you changed! A new filament, even from the same manufacturer, can behave different compared to your old one. It might require a higher temperature or a different speed. Printing speed might be perfect for one item but disastrous for another.

Only when you are sure that yesterday`s settings and materials are exactly the same, only then start checking for other faults.

Checklist

  1. Did you change anything?
  2. Bed level?
  3. Is the bed clean?
  4. Is the room temperature ok? Did you allow the printer to warm up?
  5. Is the extruder warm enough?
  6. Did you store the filament “dry and high”? Does it look uneven regarding the diameter? Does the colour change over its length? Does it feel “greasy” when you touch it?
  7. Are you losing patience and printing too fast?

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