3D printing has revolutionised the way we develop and manufacture products, but as with any technology, 3D printers still occasionally experience problems.
From failed prints to layer adhesion issues and more, these are some of the most common problems you may encounter while 3D printing and the solutions to help overcome them.
What Are The Most Common 3D Printing Problems?
3D printers are extraordinary machines, with many predicting the technology to transform society as we know it today, although modern 3D printers do not come without their challenges.
Despite 3D printing technology's rapid development over the previous two decades, many operators face infuriating quality control issues, automation challenges, or exposure to hazardous materials.
While 3D printing technology has experienced exponential growth, many users struggle with over or under-extrusion problems, stringing, layer splitting, print surface imperfections, and gaps between the outline and print infill.
While your printer machine problems may seem overwhelming initially, most of them are easy to fix.
Before wasting enormous amounts of money on a new machine or pulling your hair out in frustration, we created this article to help provide quick fixes to the most common 3D printing problems.
Over Or Under Extrusion
The most frequent problem associated with modern 3D printers is over or under-extrusion.
Conventionally, over or under-extrusion occurs when the 3D printer does not produce the required amount of plastic.
While current 3D printer models are known for their automatic capabilities, if the machine is incorrectly programmed, it will either extrude too much or too little plastic from its nozzle.
Correctly programming your 3D printer is the most challenging part of the printing process, with inexperienced operators often submitting the wrong parameters.
If your printer leaves noticeable gaps between each additive layer or infill, the probable cause is under extrusion. It is enormously challenging to correctly program your 3D printer's parameters, with the issue frequently leading to the machine producing less plastic on each layer than required.
Under extrusion will directly impact the end product's quality and aesthetic. However, extrusion can also result in severely compromising the physical model's structural integrity, which can lead to critical mechanical failures.
Conversely, if your printer pushes out too much plastic material on each layer, your model may seem to be melting. While over-extrusion is easier to fix than under-extrusion, both problems can be avoided by correctly programming your machine before it initiates a wasteful printing process.
How To Fix Over Or Under-Extrusion Problems
Over or under-extrusion tends to occur when the incorrect layer multiplier setting is selected. Modern 3D printing software enables users to choose a specific extrusion rate.
The extrusion rate setting is enormously beneficial to experienced operators as it allows for highly customised designs, although it poses great challenges to inexperienced users.
If you have selected the correct extruder temperature and multiplier setting and are still facing issues, the likely cause is a faulty filament diameter.
Fortunately, solving over or under-extrusion problems is usually a straightforward process. To fix the issue, you must adjust the extrusion multiplier until it produces the correct amount of plastic material on each additive layer.
Another common problem experienced by current 3D printer operators is known as layer splitting or separation.
Current printing processes usually require multiple layers to be systematically placed on top of each other. However, if you select the incorrect parameters or the plastic material's temperature is too hot, there is poor adhesion and the layers can split apart.
Suppose even one-adhesive layer splits apart or is separated from the plastic layer below. In that case, the entire printing session will be rendered useless as the end quality and design's structural integrity will drastically diminish.
It is essential to ensure that your 3D-printed model's interlayer linkage bond is flawless. Otherwise, your design's main parts will warp, split, or separate, leading to unnecessary financial and environmental waste.
Layer splitting is usually caused by excessively tall models, decreasing their structural integrity. Moreover, plastic material utilized in the process can occasionally be pushed through the nozzle tip too quickly, negatively impacting the layers' diameter size.
On rare occasions, layer splitting can be caused by incorrect temperatures, decreasing the strength of the layered bonds.
How To Fix Layer-Splitting Problems
Fixing layer-splitting problems will require operators to finely adjust the nozzle's height until it is effectively aligned with its diameter.
Furthermore, reducing the height of your physical structure while slightly increasing its heat should instantly remove any possibilities of frustrating layer-splitting problems.
Layer separation is a 3D printer killer, as the model cannot be saved after a single layer has not been correctly aligned. However, slight refinements should instantly fix the problem.
Stringing, which looks like hairs or threads, usually occurs during high-temperature and pressure prints. Tiny quantities of warm plastic material induce the stringing effect.
If you are 3D printing at an unsuitably high temperature, the utilized plastic material and its nozzle can leave long stringing traces across your model.
While 3D printing stringing problems can be frustrating, they do not render the entire process useless since operators can manually shave the hair-like stringing off once the end product has settled.
However, stringing is wasteful while dramatically increasing labour requirements and associated costs. It should be noted that 3D printing small and complex designs will increase the likelihood of users experiencing stringing problems due to the minimal proximity.
Mostly, 3D printing stringing problems are induced when users apply the incorrect nozzle retraction length settings. It is essential to accurately program your 3D printer's retraction distance and speed. If the retraction distance is too short, the nozzle will leave hot and sticky plastic material traces behind it.
How To Fix Stringing Problems
Despite being aesthetically unappealing, stringing problems can generally be solved with a few minor changes.
If your prints show signs of stringing, you must correctly configure and adjust the nozzle's retraction speed and distance. Solving stringing issues will require minute adjustments, with the modifications being implemented in 1-millimetre increments.
Furthermore, your nozzle's temperature can be too high while extruding plastic materials, even if it accurately aligns with the manufacturer's standard parameters.
3D printers often run at a higher temperature range due to various external factors than manufacturers predict, wasting and oozing valuable plastic materials.
Modern and high-quality 3D printers should never produce an end product with visible print surface imperfections.
Various surface imperfections, especially chunky protrusions, visible after the 3D printing process has been completed are an accurate indicator of a lower-grade machine.
Conversely, when a 3D printer can automatically and systematically manufacture end products with no noticeable blemishes on their surface, the machine and its operator will be of the highest quality.
However, even if your machine contains the most premium parts currently available and is being operated by an experienced user, surface imperfections on the end product remain a common 3D printing problem.
Prevalent surface imperfections such as zits or blobs are caused by 3D printers experiencing unnecessary software or hardware variations, especially after the machine has recently been turned on or off.
Fortunately, it is easy to identify where the machine's challenge, experienced in the form of too much variation and surface imperfections, is coming from.
If you notice any unusual surface imperfections as the 3D printer layers its first perimeter, experts agree that the cause can be traced back to your machine's retraction settings.
At the same time, if surface imperfections become noticeable during any other phase of the 3D printing process, it is usually caused by incorrect coasting settings.
How To Fix Surface Imperfections
Correctly and accurately programming your 3D printer's parameters before the physical process is initiated remains modern machines' most critical and influential stage.
Generally, surface imperfections are easy to fix, with the process being far less complicated than other common 3D printer problems. Correctly adjusting your 3D printer's coasting and retraction settings will permanently remove any surface imperfection visible on the final product.
In addition, allow the machine to warm up before starting your first printing session, as this will remove any frustrating software or hardware variations.
It should be noted that 3D printers frequently run at slightly higher temperatures than manufacturers claim, often causing unfortunate surface imperfections.
Noticeable Gaps Between Outlines And Infills
Occasionally, 3D printers operating at their maximum capacity can result in gaps becoming visible between the print's infill and outline.
While noticeable gaps between a 3D print's outline and infill are not aesthetically appealing, their likely cause can typically be traced back to decreased layer bonding or incorrectly programmed outline overlaps.
If you notice any gaps forming between your prints' outlines and infills, immediately stop the process since your product will lack its required structural integrity.
How To Fix Noticeable Gaps Between Outlines And Infills
Wasting expensive materials is exasperating, to say the least. However, by slightly slowing your printing speed while adjusting its infill joint configurations, the industry-wide problem can customarily be solved without significant effort.
3D printing has come a long way in terms of technology and capabilities, but it still poses challenges for some users.
From over-extrusion to stringing and surface imperfections, the most common problems encountered while 3D printing are usually quick fixes with the right knowledge and understanding.
By understanding and addressing these problems, you can ensure that your 3D printing sessions are successful and produce high-quality results.