Tips to improve 3d print quality

In this article, we share with you the top tips to improve 3D print quality. Our tips cover nearly everything; from improving surface finish, fixing stringing issues, printed layer issues, and some general print improvement tips.

Improve 3D print quality

With it’s roots dated back to the 70s, 3D printing or lesser known as additive manufacturing has added to the technical sector in numerous ways. Approaching a 3D printer for the first time and trying to improve the print quality can be a bit daunting, but with some time and practice producing the perfect print is not an uphill battle.

Listed below are a few ways to assist upgrade your 3D printing experience and improving print quality

Improve surface finish of 3D printed objects

Using Cooling Fans

Using an active cooling fan especially with the PLA after the first layer with the fan set at 100%.  Along the print lines, it has to be ensured that the fan blows directly at all angles of the print. The best type of cooling fan is the one that wraps around the nozzle and aims downwards directly at the print.

If the fan is used only on a particular side of the print that side will have a higher surface finish.

The side with the fan used upon it, will have a higher surface finish as compared to the other side. In case a fan is unavailable in the direction of the print then you can use two fan ducts, opposite one another. With the assistance of PLA and active fan duct printing superior quality products is highly possible without any worries of print lines and warped one can easily be printed along with extreme angles.

We generally avoid using fans on materials which heats up, mainly the ASA or ABS. Parts that do not use active cooling fans next layer should be printed only when the previous layer cools down to get a superior print quality, which ultimately increases the print time.

Set the print speed for the outer layer

Print layer time can easily be set on your slicer to obtain a better outer surface finish. Outer shell walls should be printed with slow settings than the rest of the print. In case of the end 3 prints with, 0.4 mm of nozzle and 0.2 mm layer height, the outer layer to be slowed down to 30 mm/ sec and acceleration should turn to 500 mm/sec sq for better outer surface finish. Slower speed proper material gets extruded and slower acceleration helps reduce posting.

Hotend should be tight

If one has upgraded or replaced the hotend,  it is highly essential to tighten the hotend properly. A company fitted hotend is generally very tight and stable. So this process is important only if you have replaced or upgraded the hotend of the machine.

When the hotend is at room temperature try shaking it, if it does not move at all then you are good to print else it is advisable to tighten your hot end before printing.

Fix the printed layer issue

Getting the perfect first layer

The first layer forms the base of the printed objects it should be stamped well to ensure the overall quality of the print. If it is too close, the first layer will squish and will weld everything together and which in turn will affect the moving parts, making the machine difficult to function. You can adjust the nozzle with the help of a Feeler Gauge and perfectly level the print bed manually. However it should he noted that keeping the hotend too close to the printer can also damage the nozzle. If the print bed is too far, the layers won’t joint perfectly and it will affect the strength of the print.

Bent lead screw

A lot of times a consistent pattern of irregularity is visible in your prints, It is really hard to fix a bent lead screw, it is advisable to simply replace it with a new one. To check a bend in the lead screw, you will have to take it out and roll it over any flat surface, preferably a glass. If it is not bent then the Z-axis coupler can be inspected and fixed.

Temperature Issue

In some cases the extruder nozzle is not set on a constant temperature and shoots up and down with consistency. This can lead to layer inaccuracy, in order to fix the temperature, issue the printer can be PID auto-tuned.

Tips to Avoid Stringing

Turn On Z – Hop

Z – Hop is a technique in which the printer nozzle moves in an upward direction over the printed area before it finally moves towards a longer non-printing distance, to avoid stringing. Once the Z – Hop is turned on, the difference can be spotted easily.

Z – Hop should not be used on inexpensive machines because it is not perfect. It is advised to prevent the nozzle from dragging onto the prints or knocking off the parts. Print time is also affected because of the longer print path

Print one part at a time

This technique reduces the travel, which in turn can reduce print irregularities. Therefore printing one part at a time can result in a reduction in stringing. This can also be achieved by placing the parts opposite to each other or to the sides which are not going to be visible, this will conceal the irregularities in the final product. In the slicer settings ensure that the combing is turned on. On the slicer settings one can also activate print sequence as well, mostly one at a time however, this works on small parts only.

Increase the travel speed

The quality of the print does not get affected by the travel speed. This won’t be true if the jerk in acceleration is high enough to cause motor skips or the frame gets rattled all over the place. If both of these things are taken care of then there is no problem with your print. This will reduce the print time and dwindle the oozing and stringing. The less time the hotend travels the lesser will be the oozing preferred travel speed of 150 – 200 mm/sec and acceleration to 1500 mm/sec sq CoreXY can generally print faster than cartesian and Dalten can print even faster than CoreXY.

General Printing improvements

Replace worn-out nozzle

Replacing the nozzle on time is very crucial for good print quality. Brass nozzle wears out faster when compared to hardened steel.

It is generally advised to replace the brass nozzle in couple hundred hours of print time.

Hardened steel nozzles are preferred over the brass nozzle because of their durability.

It is very important to buy a good quality nozzle from a verified supplier, always try buying an original nozzle.

Tighten the Belt

Lose belt can affect the print tremendously. A springy belt can reduce the Z wobble in print and reduce the print quality. Adding a belt tensioner to the printer is one solution that fixes this issue. If the printer does not come with a belt tensioner one can easily find it on Thingiverse and print it. It is only a one-time job to, disassemble the belt and add a tensioner to the printer, it improves the print quality which can not be achieved with the loose print belts. Ensure that you do not tighten the belt extremely as it can cause binding. A perfect belt is stringing to touch and not too loose, that it can be stretched.

Get a perfect overhanging

To improve overhanging decrease your layer height or increase the extrusion width. This ensures the availability of a perfect overhanging. However it is important to keep in mind that the angle of the overhang should not exceed by 45 degrees, this is done to make sure that each successive layer has ample aid on it.

And finally be your own critic and never be disheartened in case of failed attempts at 3D printing. These tips can be extensively useful in showcasing positive impact on your prints, if followed with utmost perfection.

Also read: PLA Smoothing: adding class to 3D prints

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