10 Simple Tips to Improve Your 3D Printing

The Makershop team offers you today a list of 10 simple tips to improve the rendering and quality of your 3D prints, but also to optimize your settings to save time and efficiently maintain your 3D printer.

1  Print with a raft

Use a raft to have a better grip on the board for complex pieces. This will prevent you from having parts that come off (‘Warping’ phenomenon) after a few minutes, or even a few hours, of printing. The raft is a thick layer of filament that is positioned between your plate and your part to improve adhesion. A simple but effective tip.

1 bis If your piece is thin and fragile

Prefer the use of adhesive tape, adhesive spray, or a brim* for better support. The raft may be difficult to remove and/or damage your part.

2  Opt for PLA

Testing different materials is interesting and positive to perfect your experience in 3D printing situations. However, be sure to use the materials according to your needs. If your part does not have a particular mechanical or functional purpose, or if it is not intended to remain outdoors, opt for PLA!

This material is by far the easiest to print and the most stable. With PLA, forget about the problems of warping, shrinkage, and slight discounts that you may encounter with materials such as ABS. Even for functional parts, it is strong enough for many prototypes.

3  Carefully calibrate the Z-axis

In the ‘Home’ position, and therefore also during your prints, your nozzle must be 200 to 400 microns from your printing plate, no more! To carry out your Z-axis calibration, take a sheet of paper or a business card: they must pass between the plate and the nozzle and lightly touch both. Your filament must be applied to your plate, and not deposited from 1mm or 2mm. Remember to make adjustments fairly frequently to avoid lags and misfires. Some machines like the Zortrax M200 Plus for example are equipped with precise automatic calibration of the plate.

4  Find the right temperature/speed ratio

This is a crucial point. As the printing temperature increases for a given material, it will be less viscous, and more liquid. This more fluid consistency will allow you to print at higher speeds than at lower temperatures.

Conversely, a more viscous filament (less heated) will have to be printed more slowly to avoid excessive retraction of the toothed wheel of your extrusion system (which ‘regulates’ the flow) and premature clogging of your nozzle.

If printing at a higher speed (and therefore a high spectrum of the material temperature) seems more tempting, the finishes will be better with a more viscous filament and a lower speed. It’s up to you to distinguish between a rapid prototype and a part requiring beautiful finishes. Even if your printer is capable of reaching 200 or 300mm/s, a speed of 50-80mm/s is generally optimal to obtain a beautiful result, and limit nozzle obstructions and under-extrusion.

5  Orient your model and limit the supports

It is possible to turn and flip your model, the results can be improved depending on the printing axis. Adapt your pieces to the length and width of your tray. Furthermore, it is important to limit the generation of support for your part as much as possible. You will consume less material and less time, and you will experience less warping.

6  Prefer filling rates of 10% to 30%

This is the optimum filling range to ensure the good quality of the parts. Beyond 30/40%, the pressure exerted by the material on the walls of your print may slightly deform it, or, at a minimum, alter the linearity of your walls. If, however, you must go beyond this rate, prefer printing temperatures at the lower end of the temperature range of your material (less liquid, faster solidification, less flow, and deformation).

Maintenance tips

7  Store your filament spools carefully

Let’s start at the beginning! A good print is above all a print with a good filament. Only premium filaments at Makershop! Everything therefore depends on their conservation. It is essential to maintain their original quality. Some filaments are more sensitive than others to their storage environment ( PVA for example is extremely sensitive to humidity, PLA to cold).

8  Clean your tray…but not too much

A plate without plastic residue is essential to ensure the flatness of the printing surface. However, you use adhesive lacquer or glue to optimize the adhesion of your parts. With a deck that is too clean, there is less adhesion. At Makershop the trays are never ‘too clean’ 

9  Maintain your nozzle

A nozzle is not a consumable, and a clean nozzle ensures clean printing. To make it last, maintain it. A simple and effective way to do this is to use cleaning filament regularly, especially when you change materials. In addition, at the slightest indication of nozzle clogging, carry out cleaning such as the Atomic method for compatible printers ( Ultimaker 2+ or Leapfrog HS for example). Many problems reported by the after-sales service are only the consequence of clogged nozzles, think about it

10 Test and re-test

There is no universal truth for temperatures, speeds, or shrinkage for printing your material. Depending on the material manufacturer, the printing environment (particularly ambient temperature), the shape/structure of your model, and your printer, the optimum printing settings for your material can vary significantly (hence the temperature ranges often wide indicated on the reels). Don’t hesitate to try different combinations to find the right one. It’s a little time to spend at the beginning, but a lot of time saved later…

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