Austins Top Tips for 3D Printing

Having trouble with your 3D printer? Is the quality not what you had hoped? Here is a list of my top tips to get through the most common issues. Filament Jams: You probably haven’t owned a 3D printer long if you haven’t experienced a filament jam or two.
  1. The first step is to check the printing temperature for the material you are using. I typically shoot for an extruder temperature of 230°C when working with ABS and temperatures of 210°C and 105°C when working with PLA and flexible filament respectively.
  2. If all settings check out, remove the nozzle and place it under a controlled flame until plastic melts (<10 seconds). A paperclip can then be used to clear out the molten plastic from the nozzle.
  3. If the clog is deeper in the extruder, keep the nozzle off and heat up the extruder block to load filament. Allow the heater block to get up to temperature and then feed filament into the top with some light pressure. Continue to apply the pressure for about a minute or so to allow the clogged portion to soften. The first couple of inches extruded will be the hardened material that formed the clog. If you are still having trouble, look into disassembling the extruder head on your 3D printer and pulling the blockage out manually.
Filament not sticking: Bed adhesion can be a major problem leading to a large waste of time and filament.
  1. I have found the quickest and easiest solution to wipe off any excess material from the bed with a piece of cloth and spray a thin layer of hairspray (1 second max)
  2. If the bed needs a good cleaning acetone works well to dissolve away PLA and ABS. Afterward use a little bit of rubbing alcohol and a clean cloth to rid most of the surface from oils and residue.
  3. If you are still having issues with filament not sticking, go into the advanced settings of your 3D printer and slow down the base layer (~10 mm/s) and turn down the cooling fan power. This will allow the filament a longer time to adhere to the surface before cooling into a brittle state.
Stock Setting Adjustment I have fine-tuned the settings with our 3D printers at the PDC to improve the quality, print reliability, and efficiency. The following settings are just a few I found useful. Quality:
  • Extrusion Temperatures, should correspond to material type
  • Extrusion speeds, <40mm/s increased my quality drastically from ~90 mm/s default settings. Even slower speeds on first layers and outlines provide a better finish.
  • Shells, Increase number of shells for a more solid outside layer
  • Layer Height, I use 0.10 mm for higher quality prints and 0.20 mm for faster prints.
  • Infill Density, lower the percentage of infill and the less filament is used
  • Infill Pattern, hexagonal infill provides a good balance of material usage & strength
  • Support Angle, higher support angles requires less support. Supports will not be used until the overhang exceeds the angle (I recommend 75°).
  • Support Layer Height, usually 0.20 or higher for reduced printing time
  • Rafts and Supports are not required for every part you are make just give a visual inspection if it really needs supports or a raft to print on
I hope you found this useful. Good luck on bringing your ideas to life!