What are 3D Printer Problems and its Maintenance?

Some Important Questions you need to answer before reading this content:

What are 3D Printer Problems and its Maintenance?
What are 3D Printer Problems and its Maintenance?

Some Important Questions you need to answer before reading this content:

  • Do you use 3D printers?
  • Have you faced any problems while using your 3D printer?
  • If yes, do you know how to fix your 3D printer?
  • There might be a lot of concerns regarding the common problems in 3D printers.
  • Need not worry. Here, we will learn about 3D printer issues and their possible solutions.

Common 3D Printer Problems and Maintenance

Here is a brief about 3D printer repair, problems, and maintenance tips.

First Layer Adhesion Problem

The first layer plays a vital role in getting a successful print. Also, first-layer adhesion is one of the most common problems in 3D printing. If the first layer does not adhere properly to the print surface, the print may move, resulting in an inappropriate outcome.

The 3D printer user must strike a balance between print stability and its convenient removal. Here are a few workable solutions to layer adhesion problems: 

Tip 1: Bed leveling is important: 

The first and foremost step is to level your print surface properly, or else the first layer does not stick properly. If your printer has automatic leveling, run the leveling sequence.

Tip 2: First layer bed temperature: 

Some materials need a heated bed allowing the print to stick to the bed. Thus, you need to adjust the temperature at which your 3D printer prints the first layer. Raise the nozzle and the bed temperatures by around 5 °C. As plastics melt better at a higher temperature, these simultaneously lead to proper adhesion to the bed.

Tip 3: Print Speed: 

A slower printing process means the plastic will take more time to melt. Thus, you need to set the print speed to the optimum level found in slicing software. When the print speed is high, the bed adhesion is lower. 

Tip 4: The nozzle Height: 

Maintaining the height of the nozzle at the optimum level is also important as it affects the layer adhesion. It can go up to 0.4mm nozzle, though a one-time process, but it should be done properly. If you set the nozzle too high from the bed, the deposited layer will not adhere properly, and if the height is adjusted too low, the nozzle sweeps the deposited material.

Tip 5: Fan Speed: 

During the first few layers, keep the speed of the fan low. For ABS, it is advisable to switch off the fan completely.

Tip 6: External Adhesive Agents: 

During initial layers, external adhesives like tape, glue, or ABS slurry can be helpful in proper layer adhesion.

Tip 7: Bed Adhesion Helping Tools: 

Helping tools like brim, skirts, and rafts are present in all slicing software. They help with adhesion by preparing the nozzle for the smooth flow of plastic. Moreover, brims and rafts provide a large surface area for better adhesion.

Nozzle Failing to Extrude Material

A nozzle fails to extrude material during print when the scarce filament extruder. It is the most common problem faced, especially by new users. Due to this, the resultant strength and the quality of the print do not meet expectations. The users can easily identify the issue if they notice dots in print, missing layers, gaps, or partly small lines.

To troubleshoot the problem, here are some possible reasons and their corresponding solutions:

Tip 1: Nozzle Clogging

Clogged nozzles are the most common cause of insufficient extrusion. Whether the clogging is partial or whole, it can ruin your 3D prints. Nozzle clogs are due to several reasons, such as when dust accumulates or when fine particles cling to the filament. These particles later stick to the nozzle's walls, and when they fill up in sufficient quantities, the nozzle blocks.

Another possible reason could be the regular plastic material that remains inside for a long duration leading to blockage. Usually, this happens when each print filament is not removed. With a wire brush's help, you can brush the nozzle sometimes. Even with the help of an appropriately sized nozzle cleaner, you can take off the leftover material.  But at times, the user may have to clean or remove the nozzle (with the manufacturer's help) and unclog the same to fix the problem.  

Tip 2: Nozzle Height

If the nozzle height is set very close to the build plate, the extruder might not be able to deposit the requisite amount of material onto the bed. Hence, setting up an appropriate nozzle height is important.

Tip 3: Priming of Nozzle

Each time you start the print, ensure you begin it with priming. When the extruder is heated, the material inside the nozzle starts melting and then drips from the nozzle. This deferred extrusion happens due to the initial oozing of the material.

Tip 4: Issue with the Filament

Manyeliminatee damaged filaments go unnoticed. The issue arises when the filament is not stored properly. It keeps deteriorating due to surrounding conditions as the filament can break, moisture accumulation leading to several printing issues. Even below the drive system, the filament breaks into two while printing. Due to this, the print head continues to move in the stipulated order, but the extrusion stops completely. 

Weak Infill

Infill density and pattern play a vital role in 3D printing. It enhances the strength of the parts as well as maintains the shape and stability of the model. Thus, it is important to manage the infill carefully.

Here are some tips to resolve the weak infill issue:

Tip 1: Check extrusion width: 

Throughout the printing process, users usually keep the same extrusion width. This mistake keeps the powerful tool underrated. Users do not understand how advantageous the extrusion width settings are when printing the infill. When the large extrusion width is allotted, the infill becomes substantially stronger.

Please note: Due to this fact, the more the extrusion width, the more the amount of material deposited. Hence, the large extrusion width should be allotted only for bigger models. If tried with small models, the infill pattern may overlap.

Tip 2: Maintain an optimum print speed: 

Make note that the infill adds to the strength of the printed part. Thus, maintaining an optimum print speed is important to maintain the infill. Instead of printing the infill faster, set it at a lower speed.

Tip 3: Usage of suitable infill pattern: 

The user can experiment with the accessible infill pattern in the slicing software to eliminate weak infill issues. A few infill patterns are tough, and some are easy to remove. 

Warping

If the deposited material cools down quickly, the material contracts and ends lift high leading to warping. Users may notice cracks in print due to warping.

Here are a few tips to resolve the problems occurring due to warping.

Tip 1: Set the bed temperature: 

Use a heated bed while printing with materials to eradicate the problem of warping. The main motive behind this is to keep the first layer heated. It keeps the preliminary layers intact with the build plate, escaping the warping problem.

Tip 2: Modify the fan speed: 

Adjusting the fan speed is important. The user should switch off the fan completely or set the fan speed to a minimum using advanced slicer settings for the first few layers. This step keeps the deposited material hot for a longer duration.

Tip 3: Adjust optimum ambient temperature (Enclosure temperature)

Enclosed 3D printing is always recommended. However, an expensive affair keeps the issues such as warping and nozzle clogging at bay.

So, when the user maintains the enclosure temperature, it eliminates the warping issue. Further, making printing easy.

Tip 4: Add new build plates: 

Adding new build surfaces and plates such as PEI (Polyetherimide) adds an extra bed adhesion. The additional layers and build plate enhance the build plate.

Tip 5: Use the bed adhesion tools

Users can use bed adhesion tools like Brim and Raft, available in Slicer software, to reduce and avoid warping issues.

Stringing or Oozing

Stringing, also known as oozing, happens when small strings of plastic on a 3D-printed model stay behind. It occurs when the extruder moves out to the new location and plastic continues to ooze out of the nozzle.

Retraction is one such solution to this issue that helps in countering stringing. So, when the extruder finishes printing one part of your model and if the retraction is enabled, the filament draws backward into the nozzle to prevent oozing.

Again, the filament is sent back into the nozzle when the user starts printing, allowing the plastic to extrude from the tip.

Below are some retraction settings like retraction speed and distance present in the slicing software settings and additional settings that can help counter oozing problems.

Tip 1: Retraction Distance

The distance the filament pulls back is the retraction distance. When more plastic retracts from the nozzle, the oozing from the nozzle reduces while moving.

Usually, the direct-drive extruders may need a retraction distance of 1.0-2.0mm, whereas Bowden extruders may need a retraction distance of about 5-10mm due to the extensive gap between the extruder drive gear and the heated nozzle. If the stringing issue continues, try to increase the retraction distance by 1mm and see the result.

Tip 2: Retraction Speed: 

The filament draws backward speed is the retraction speed. Thus, checking and setting this parameter is important. If the retraction is too slow, the plastic slowly oozes down through the nozzle and starts leaking even before the extruder moves to its new destination.

If the retraction is swift, the filament inside the nozzle may separate from the hot plastic or may break filament into pieces.

However, the ideal value of the retraction speed can only be known by experimenting with the kind of material you are using. Ideally, the retraction works well between 20-100 mm/s.

Tip 3: Heater temperature: 

Once you have finished the retraction settings. It is the most common cause of stringing. When the temperature is very high, the viscosity of the plastic in the nozzle lowers and then leaks out of the nozzle easily.

If the temperature is too low, the plastic hardens and stops oozing out, affecting the print quality. If your retraction settings are perfect but still facing difficulty, reduce the temperature by 5-10 degrees and check the final print's quality.

Tip 4: Travel speed: 

The amount of time required when the extruder can ooze when moving between the parts is the travel speed. So, when the traveling reduces, stringing can also be reduced. Thus, the travel speed of the nozzle should be increased to minimize oozing.

Tip 5: Avoid long travels: 

Stringing happens when the extruder moves between two different locations and plastic ooze out of the nozzle. Check the slicer settings to understand how to control the free movement of the nozzle to avoid crossing an open space altogether. Find the shortest route to the next deposition point and reduce stringing.

How to Fix Your 3D Printer?

  • Want your 3D printer to work well for a long duration?
  • Opt for regular servicing.
  • Yes, you read it right.

A composite system requires timely servicing and repair. If you have the skill and the knowledge, you can move ahead with it but if not, connecting a professional for 3D printer repair as well as for 3D printer maintenance is helpful.

Here are 10 ways to help you maintain your 3D printer and evade the related problems:

  •  Clean the Enclosed build chamber: 

The area in which the complete 3D printing happens is known as the build chamber, which remains a bit messy.

It is important to vacuum the chamber at a medium speed so that small pieces of the material do not clutter the printer.

  • Carry out regular nozzle clean-up activity: 

One of the most common reasons that hinder the activity of the 3D printer is nozzle clogging. Over a period, this problem happens to persist. To avoid surprise 3D printer downtime due to clogging, clean the nozzle at regular intervals. Depending on the printer's workload, the maintenance activity should be scheduled every 3 or 4 months. Though a difficult task, consulting the manufacturers can make cleaning easy.

  • Lubricate all three axes: 

The printer head and the three axes of the 3D printer work in continuous motion. It is proven that when the parts move against the other surface, some lubrication is required for the printer to operate smoothly. In the case of axes, lubrication fades away after some time, and it becomes extremely important to keep them lubricated, or else the resultant prints may not fulfill your expectations.

All you need to do is:

  • Clean the guide rails and lead screw by removing settled dust (if any), 
  • Then grease it.
  • Pulleys and belts are also the moving parts of the 3D printer. During fast printing, the constant motion and persistent shocks lead to loosening pulley screws and sagging of the belt, affecting the print quality.
  • Regularly tighten the pulley screws and test the belt for tension. If you notice that the tension in the belt has reduced, either tighten or replace it.

Scrap with Caution: 

Do not use a sharp scraper to remove prints from the build plate, as it may damage the build plate. If you want to, use a scraper with caution to avoid any damage, or use rafts to print. However, more material will be used, but it is easy to remove from the build plate. Also, retain the print quality and the printer.  

 FINAL THOUGHTS

Hopefully, the above-mentioned details on the 3D printers’ common problems and their solutions will be helpful.

Whether you are using the 3D printer for the first time or have experience, these issues are faced by each 3D printer owner. All you have to do is schedule a maintenance time for your 3D printer and carry out all the maintenance activities to avoid unnecessary 3D printer downtime, further increasing its lifespan.

Regular 3D printer maintenance helps you keep the expensive 3D printer repair work at bay. Further, ensuring a high-quality printing experience.