Quick fixes for common 3D print failures

Hi, my name is Josh, I started as an intern here at Authentise a few months ago and now I have been promoted to software developer.

It is true that most of the prints fail due to either bad calibration or incorrect slicing settings. One of the main things that has happened to me though is bad adhesion. Even on a well calibrated printer, with the correct settings, this can be a problem but there are a few easy steps to ensure that your prints stick. Since I joined the company I have learned a lot about 3D printers and I will share in this post some of my findings.

Leveling the Z-axis

Here you want to ensure that the bed is level as well as the appropriate distance away from the head where the filament escapes.Starting off I like to use a card or a piece of paper. Sometimes a piece of paper makes it too close though, so I recommend just a regular business card.

The main thing you will be calibrating is the center of the bed, where most of your prints happen, but you also want to ensure the bed is leveled in each corner, especially next to knobs or screws.o find out whether or not the bed is too close, I like to have a slight resistance against the card when leveling and try to make all points on the bed the same amount of resistance.

Your prints can also tell you what you need to focus when leveling: If the bottom layer is squished and extended out a little bit further than the other layers, or if the bed is too far from the nozzle, you will be able to see gaps in your bottom layer. A good bottom layer consists of the outer perimeter being flush and smooth all the way to the bottom. If you look at the bottom of the print you should be able to make out the exact paths of the print head instead of it all being smushed together. With layers like that it will be very hard to take your print off your bed and if the bed is too far it definitely won't stick.

Using blue tape (painter's tape) is also very popular. If you have a glass bed or aluminium.air spray can also be a handy primer for your print bed. If you can invest a little more, zebra plates and BuildTak also look like very good solutions:

Here at the Authentise we currently use Buildtak and we really want to try Zebra Plates. If you have used them and want to share your experience with us, tweeting to @authentise.

Slicing for success

Now let's make sure your slicing setting are helping you:

First layer speed - The first layer is the most important layer when it comes to a successful print. Take your time on it, lower the speed and increase your chances of success.

Extrusion Width - Increasing the Extrusion width buy 25% or 50% can help your print stick by extruding more filament. But be careful, as it can also mess with the height of the filament and cause your hot end to grind against the plastic. Don't over do it!

Increase layer height - Layer height can drastically change your prints as well as cut down the print time, but when it comes to adhesion it can make a print stick or not. If you are having problems with adhesion, try increasing layer height to around .3mm or higher if necessary.

Adding a raft or brim - I normally try to avoid using rafts unless there isn't that much of the print touching the bed. They can fix adhesion problems but it does use a lot of extra filament.

Adding a skirt - If your printer takes a few seconds to start getting a good flow of filament, a skirt can really help by priming the nozzle and making sure the filament is coming out smooth before it starts the real print.

Adding more base Layers - Adding more solid base layers can help with adhesion as well, but unfortunately it is usually not as successful as the other tips above.

Corner lift

Another problem very similar to adhesion is corner lift. Corner lift is where the outside corners of a print lift from the build plate. It happens because when the plastic starts cooling down, the material contracts, pulling up the bottom of the print. The are more likely to be affected are the corners and here are some ways to work around this annoying problem:

Raft - A raft can also help here. It will surround the corners with more surface area, giving it more strength to stay in the form, instead of curling up. The one downside is still the extra filament used. You can learn more about rafts here.

Raft

Mickey Mouse ears - If you have modeling experience, one of the quickest and cleanest ways I've come across is adding what we call "Mickey Mouse ears" onto whatever corner or side is curling up. Mickey Mouse ears are small circular discs that you add to the edge of whatever is curling to give it more connection to the bed. It works like a raft would, without the drastic increase in filament and the risk of not being able to take the raft off. They will bend and snap off, and then you can smooth or cut out the edge with sandpaper or knife, depending on how clean it comes off.

Mickey Mouse ears
Mickey Mouse ears

As I said earlier, this is very similar to adhesion: bed leveling could be causing the corner lift. It just won't stick to the bed as good as it could.

Be centered

One last tip for those of you using heated beds: Being too close to the edge of the bed could be a problem as well since the bed gets cooler the farther you are from the center. Centering your print to the bed can work miracles.


Hope you find my tips useful. Do you have other tips you would like to share? Tweet to @Authentise. and we will post them here!