How to improve print quality without expensive hardware upgrades – Guide

Perfect quality prints are not always easy. It often takes patience and some tweaking to get to know your printer and filament of choice. If you have any quality issues, we recommend that you check your configuration and change only one thing at a time before trying a new print. Then make notes about the change and how the new print differs from the previous one. When you change too many things at once, you don’t know what made the difference! And a little bit of advice before we start: be patient and don’t expect perfection right away. Each print is an opportunity to learn something and improve the quality of the next one. Technology can be beautiful when all systems fail, but when your hardware or software investments aren’t working, delays are costly and frustrating. Xerox Intelligent Workplace Services are designed to help businesses of all sizes avoid this hassle and expense, in part by helping you print less. Slow print time can be caused by a high resolution setting, memory issue, and/or driver choice.

Tips to improve print quality without expensive hardware upgrades

Level the bed and set the Z offset

The most fundamental way to improve the quality of a 3D print is to ensure that the table is completely level and that the nozzle is set at the optimal distance above the table (this is known as a Z offset). To manually level the bed, you can use a sheet of paper or feeler gauge to determine the distance between the nozzle and the bed at various points on the table. When the (clean) nozzle is an appropriate distance from the bed, it is a bit like Goldilocks: the paper or gauge will have minimal resistance when pulled, but will also slide under the nozzle without force. Repeat this procedure two or three times to ensure accuracy. Alternatively, you can install a bed level sensor like a BLTouch to automate the process. Of course, this incurs the cost of the sensor and the effort of updating the printer’s firmware, but it will save you time in the long run!

Test the temperatures

The temperature of the nozzle or nozzles, if more than one, directly affects the appearance of the nozzle. final print out. If the nozzle is too hot, it may leave strands of filament between the separate parts. When printing high parts, high temperatures or inadequate cooling can melt the previous layers, resulting in malformations. When you plan to print a tall object, include a one-centimeter cube on the opposite side of the build plate in your slicer. This removes the hot nozzle from the print between layers and allows time for cooling. If there are strands of filaments between the structures, use a wall structure or slime shield, a common structure feature in slicer programs. On the other hand, controlling the printing plate temperature helps with print adhesion and prevents other defects. When printing, the layers of a model contract as they cool, which can cause the bottom edges of the print to pull away from the build plate. Problems such as warping can be an indication that the bed temperature is too low or that you should watch the bed adhere. However, when the bed temperature is too high, the model may develop elephant foot. This is an indication that you should slightly reduce the table temperature for the next print.

Update the build surface

An important part of your printer that affects the materials you can print with and the surface of your printed objects is the build plate. Different build boards produce different textures on the underside of the print: bedding materials like glass, PEI or Kapton tape leave a smooth surface, while glued polycarbonate sheets or paint tape leave a matte finish. If you are using spray or glue on the surface as an adhesive, use just enough to stick to the print. Too much glue or spray makes it difficult to remove the print as well. Forcing removal can damage the print or, if sufficient pressure is used, break or warp the plate. Experiment with different surfaces and stickers to see which method not only works best with your setup, but also leaves a finish that complements the print.

Guard Up with maintenance

Every 3D printer has its own outstanding features and probably a few things that need attention to improve print quality. For example, Creality’s Ender 3s are some very popular printers that could still benefit from some upgrades. But optimizing your printer isn’t just about mods. It involves a lot of small steps like keeping the bed clean and lubricating the rails according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. As we mentioned earlier, you must level the bed regularly, and calibrating the extruder is also a maintenance task that should not be neglected. If the printer has two stepper motors for the Z axis, check regularly that the gantry is at the same height on each side. If you are experiencing some unexplained quality issues, check to see if there is any kind of flickering anywhere in the frame. Make sure screws and straps are tight and all 90 degree angles are straight. If everything is fine on the hardware side, don’t forget to check the manufacturer’s website for updated firmware.

Treat the filament carefully

Many filaments are hygroscopic, meaning they love water, absorbing it from the surrounding air. Exposed filaments, especially ABS, nylon and flexible materials, absorb moisture, resulting in problems. The wet filament expands during extrusion as the water turns to steam and bubbles out of the plastic. The filament crackles or crackles as it moves through the nozzle, and when observed closely, something that looks like smoke may be present. The biggest problem, however, is that the print will be rough when finished. Store spools in plastic boxes with desiccant between uses. If the damage is already done, in some cases it is possible to dry the spool of filament in the oven for a few hours at very low temperatures. Otherwise, building your own heated wastebasket that powers your 3D printer is a fun and easy project!

learn your slicer

We couldn’t have a list of tips to improve the quality of 3D printing not to mention slicers. A slicer is what converts a 3D model into the instructions (known as G code) that drive the printer. The slicer controls the temperatures and movement of the printer, whether additions such as supports or rafts are printed, and numerous other factors about the printing process. Learning the possibilities of all the different settings will help improve quality no matter which slicer you choose. There are many slicers out there, many of which are free, but if you are looking for a certain feature, you may need to consider the paid options as well. Just don’t jump to a different slicer when some prints come out uneven: it’s likely the settings, not the slicer, are to blame for whatever issues you’re seeing. Research the issue and change one setting at a time. Print again and see if it helps. There are a lot of settings to understand, but here are some tips to get you started. If the print isn’t as perfect as it could be, a possible quick fix is ​​to see if your slicer has a “fine” or “hyper” quality setting. This will slow down printing a bit, but the results may be worth the wait.

add supports

FDM 3D printers work by pushing the molten filament that binds to the layer below it. When there’s no layer underneath it can bond with, you’re basically asking your printer to print on air! If a bridge is too long or the angle of a ledge is too high, the impression will sag or even fail completely. If you activate supports on your slicer, bridges and ledges can be devised, but it takes a bit of research and experience to know how and when to use them. There are different types of brackets that suit different models and a number of additional settings that you can adjust to perfection. Just note that when using brackets, a little post-processing (such as trimming and sanding) may be required to hide the fastening locations. But more on that later!

To close Up gaps

Gaps that appear in a 3D print are usually related to overextrusion or underextrusion. A good place to start is to take a look at the flow rate (known as the Extrusion Multiplier in Cura). When changing this value, do so with small adjustments followed by a test print with each change. E-step calibration can also resolve extrusion issues. Other types of gaps can be caused by insufficient perimeters. When printing something in detail, small holes may appear on the top and sides. Quality issues along the sides can be helped by slowly increasing the amount the perimeter overlaps with the infill. Alternatively, if the speed is too high during infill production, the extruded filament may not stick to the perimeter as the nozzle is moving too quickly for the filament to form a bond. In this case, reduce the print speed. Just don’t go too far, as other issues can arise, which we’ll cover next.

Adjust speed and movement

Print head speed and movement have a clear impact on print quality. For example, after pasting the first layer, you can sometimes see a line where the nozzle trails across the surface or perimeter of the print. This could be caused by a lack of filament retraction. Additionally, some slicers have the ability to instruct the printer to increase the nozzle height while traversing empty spaces. See if this is included in your slicer’s advanced settings as it can prevent accidental collisions. While it may be tempting to increase movement speed to be as efficient as possible, too much speed can quickly lead to a reduction in quality. Ringing or echoing on edges or print features, is caused by vibrations from the extruder motion. To correct the problem, reduce the print speed. However, make sure the extruder is still moving fast enough; if it is too slow, the printed area can overheat and cause other quality problems.

Final note

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