At AprintaPro we want to streamline the 3D printing process by developing powerful solutions for maker! As part of this we want to provide a Guide to 3D Printing from setup to printing to service and care. Also a growing troubleshooting Guide will come soon.
Troubleshooting, manual and more
for 3d printing
A GROWING GUIDE TO 3D PRINTING
UPDATED WEEKLY – STAY INFORMED!
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Nozzles – which one?
Service & Care
Slipping extruder gears
All FDM 3D printers use a small drive gear which grabs the filament and presses it against a bearing or another drive gear. This drive gear has sharp teeth that allow it to grip the filament. If the filament is unable to move, the drive gear keeps spinning and it can grind away enough plastic from the filament so that there is nothing left for the gear teeth to grab on to. If this happens on your printer, you will usually see lots of small plastic chippings from the filament that have been shredded away. You may also notice that the extruder motor is spinning, but the filament is not being pushed in the hot end. To solve this problem, you can try:
- to increase the nozzle temperature by 5-10 degrees so that the plastic flows easier.
- to change the printing speed, if the extruder tries to push the filament faster trough the nozzle than the hot end can melt it. Reduce it by 30% to see if the problem is resolved.
If the extruder slipped, make sure that the drive gear of the extruder is clean, because the plastic shreds can fill in the teeth of the drive gear. If this happens it is more likely that the drive gear slips again.
Filament diameter Settings
The most common filament diameters are 1.75 mm and 2.85 mm but there exist many more. But these measurements have different tolerances which can vary from 0.01 mm to 0.1 mm. So, make sure you measure your Filament with a calliper on 4 to 5 points on the first meters and calculate the average diameter, before you use it. Use the calculated result, to set either the filament diameter or the extrusion multiplier to the correct value. The most common method is to set the filament diameter to the standard measurement (1.75 mm, 2.85 mm etc.) and change the amount of extruded material over the extrusion multiplier. (Attention: The extrusion multiplier is the percentage of extrusion for the specific diameter.) Below you will find screenshots showing where to change the settings on Simplify3D, Cura and Slic3r.
Use a printer enclosure
While the heated bed keeps the bottom layers of your part on temperature, it may struggle to keep the upper layers of the part from contracting once you start printing taller parts. In this situation, you may find it useful to place your printer inside of an enclosure that can help regulate the temperature of the entire build volume. Some machines may already include an external enclosure specifically for this reason.
Use a brim to increase the surface area
A brim is a printed structure which is attached to your print and increases the surface area of the part to stabilize it or to increase the adhesion. Brims usually have 10-15 outlines and may be 1-2 layers tall
Use and adhesive and/or heated bed
There are many types on the market like PrintaFix, glue stick, other wipe-on or spray-on adhesives or print surfaces like PEI, Buildtak or even unheated bluetape.
For PrintaFix we recommend the following settings:
PLA: first layer 210°C (410° Fahrenheit) no heated print surface
ABS: first layer 235-245°C (455-473° Fahrenheit) with 5mm brim and a 100-105°C (212-221° Fahrenheit) heated bed.
PET-G: first layer 225°C (437° Fahrenheit) and a 70-80°C (158-176° Fahrenheit) heated bed.
You can also use your slicer’s settings to increase the extrusion width and height for the first layer only – this results in pumping out proportionally more material, which not only smooshes the plastic against the bed more extensively, but also makes the first layer more resistant to little adjustment errors – therefore, there is really no need to get the bed perfectly flat and bump-free down to the last 10µm.
Usually you take 130-150% of the layer height for the first layer.
Setting the right nozzle height
To set up the proper nozzle height or more accurately, set the correct zero position for the Z-axis helps reduce warping. Most 3D printers do not have a way of sensing when the nozzle touches your print surface, they just rely on an endstop or a separate sensor to probe the bed. For both cases, you usually need to manually set the zero position. The exact procedure differs from printer to printer, but the general idea is usually the same:
Make sure the nozzle is clean and ideally, heated up so that any boogers will get wiped away by the paper.
Use a thin piece of paper for stiffer beds (about 90g per m2 or 0.1mm thickness) and a thicker paper for springy beds (about 300g per m2 or 0.25mm thickness, e.g. a business card).
Adjust the endstop or sensor offset until you can feel a slight resistance from sliding the card around when the printer is at the zero position for the Z–axis. Most printers have a semi-automatic mode, by which the printhead travels to several defined spots on the print surface and you have to set up the nozzle height manually. If not, start in the centre of the bed for a first rough adjustment, make your way around the bed and repeat for each adjustment point. Move the printhead as close as possible to the adjusters and tweak them until you get an even resistance with the calibration cards at each of them.
- Calibration cards
Needle or wire method
For this method, you need an acupuncture or hypodermic needle , so that you can try to remove the blockage. Obviously, you’ll need a needle or wire that is small enough to fit into your nozzle bore, typically 0.4 mm. We don’t recommend using a drill bit instead, because they break more easily than solid needles and worst of all, can permanently damage the nozzle if you are not careful. Preheat the nozzle to your regular printing temperature for each material and start poking with the needle. Be careful not to burn yourself. The goal is to break the blockage so that it slips through the nozzle. The next time you push filament through the blockage will slip through the nozzle together with the filament. You might have to go through the cycle a few times and push through a bit of filament by hand to check if you have managed to break up the blockage sufficiently.
- Cleaning Needle for your nozzle e.g. Nozzle 0.4mm / Needle 0.3 to 0.35 mm
A cold pull works best with slippery, soft materials – like Nylon filament. Again, heat up your hotend to the working temperature of your Nylon or Polyamide filament, push it through the hotend as far as possible, ideally, until your previous material is cleaned out, which obviously is going to be somewhat hard if your nozzle is completely clogged. Then have the hotend cool down. What we recommend is to set the hotend to 110, 120°C and just keep on pulling on the filament while the hotend is heating until the filament plops out in one piece. Then cut off the impure end of the filament, fully heat the hotend again and repeat the process until the pulled end of your filament comes out clean and you’ve restored good flow through the nozzle. Usually, two or three passes should be enough.
What we recommend is to set the hotend to 110 – 120°C and just keep on pulling on the filament while the hotend is heating until the filament plops out in one piece. Then cut off the impure end of the filament, fully heat the hotend again and repeat the process until the pulled end of your filament comes out clean and you’ve restored good flow through the nozzle. Usually, two or three passes should be enough.
- Nylon Filament about 1m (about 3 feet)