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3d Printing Troubleshooting Guide- Print Quality Issues

3d Printing Troubleshooting Guide- Print Quality Issues

Messy first layer

What’s the problem?

The print does not stick at the first layer, causing separation, there are unwanted lines on the base, or fine details are blurring.

Why is it happening?

These problems often occur when the print bed has not been properly leveled. If the nozzle is too far from the bed, the bottom surface often has unwanted lines or reduces first­-layer adhesion. If the nozzle is too close, there may be larger deposits of filament than expected, reducing print quality.

Undefined details may be the result of a print bed that is too hot.

Messy first layer

Level the Print Bed

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, re-level the print bed.

Lower Bed Temperature

Reduce the bed temperature in 5-degree increments until a solid, detailed first layer is printed.

What’s the problem?

The model base bulges slightly outward.

Why is it happening?

The weight of the model can put pressure on the lower layers before they have properly set. Heated beds are prone to having this issue.


Balance Bed Temp & Cooling

Lower the temperature of the print platform in 5-degree intervals within +/- 20 degrees of the recommended temperature. Check the height of the fan(s) to ensure the bottom layer is being cooled before new layers are extruded.

Level Print Bed

Print a calibration cube to check the leveling of your print bed. If you notice any issues, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to re-level the bed.

Raise the Nozzle

Raise the nozzle in small increments until the model is printing normally.

Chamfer the print base

If you designed the model yourself or have access to the original file, chamfer the model. Begin by using a 5 mm45º chamfer. This may require trial and error until the bottom layer is straight.

What’s the problem?

The model base bends upward until it is not level with the print platform. This can cause horizontal cracks in upper parts and cause your print to come unstuck.

Why is it happening?

Plastic warps naturally, so filament contraction is often the cause of this issue if the filament cools too quickly.


Use a Heated Print Platform

The easiest solution is to use a heated print platform and set the temperature just below the filament’s melting point. This is normally found on the side of the filament’s packaging or spool.

Apply An Adhesive to the Print Bed

Review the adhesion tip for method on improving adhesion on a print bed.

Try a Different Platform Type

Swap your print bed with one that has better adhesion. Lulzbot uses a PEI (polyetherimide) print surface that offers excellent adhesion. XYZ Printing produces a textured tape for use with non-heated platforms. Zortrax 3D have perforated print beds that improve model adhesion.

Level the Print Platform

Begin the calibration process from the beginning to ensure the bed is level and the nozzle height is correct.

Increase Contact Area

Increase the contact area between the model and bed; most print software allows users to add rafts or platforms to improve adhesion.

Adjust Advanced Temperature Settings

If the problem persists, then you will need to check your advanced print settings both on your printer and in your print software. Try increasing the print bed temperature in 5-degree increments.

Use the slicer software to check the fan cooling power and height; most cooling fans switch to full power at around 0.5 mm. Try setting this to 0.75 mm to improve cooling at the base layer.

It is always recommended that you use glue and regularly calibrate the bed.

Missing or Damaged Infill

What’s the problem?

The print infill structure is missing or broken.

Why is it happening?

The internal structure can misprint for several reasons, but the most common is linked to incorrect slicing software settings. A partially blocked nozzle may also cause this issue.


Check the Fill Density

Check the infill density in your slicing software. 20% density is normal. If your print is somewhat large, try increasing the density slightly to improve the internal support of the structure.

Decrease Infill Speed

Slightly decrease infill speed to ensure that the model infill can set after being printed.

Change the Infill Pattern

Most slicing software allows for variation in the internal structure of a print. The most common patterns are grid, triangle, and honeycomb. Try selecting a different option that may offer more structural support.

Check Your Nozzle

Check and clear the nozzle. Partial blockages may not severely impact the outer walls of a print, but problematic infill printing is more noticeable with minor filament build-up.

Gaps Between Infill and Outer Wall

What’s the problem?

There is a slight gap between the infill and outer walls of the print.

Why is it happening?

In older printers, it was common to see a gap between the infill and the print shell, but as printer accuracy and material quality have improved, this issue is much rarer. As material types continue to increase in complexity, this problem is increasingly likely as some advanced materials are less forgiving than conventional filament.

This issue is most likely due to an overly low infill overlap value. The print order may also cause this issue as a printed perimeter before infill will likely stop or impair bonding between the infill and outer layers.


Check the Infill Overlap

In the slicing software, increase the Infill Overlap value.

  • In Cura, it is 15% by default; Raise it to 30%.
  • In Simplify3D, this setting is accessible by going to Edit Process Settings > Infill > Outline Overlap. Increase the value. This setting is relative to extrusion width, so the % value is in reference to the extrusion width. Ensure that this value remains under 50% or the infill will be printed outside the outer perimeter.

Change print order

Print order is typically an issue for prints with thinner outer layers. Switch the order in which the printer lays down the infill and perimeter layers.

Increase Hot End Temperature

Newer materials like XT-CF20 may be harder to work with compared to conventional filament owing to the added structural components that impede spreading. When printing with these materials, try increasing the hot temperature by 5–10º.

Reduce Print Speed

Reducing print speed can facilitate bonding between the infill and outer layers. Try reducing the print speed slightly and check that the filament is spreading and adhering correctly.

Previous article How to Fix Under Extrusion- What Causes Under Extrusion on Your 3d Prints and How to Fix Them

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