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3d Printing Troubleshooting Guide- Soft or Unclear Fine Details

3d Printing Troubleshooting Guide- Soft or Unclear Fine Details

Soft or Unclear Fine Details

What’s the problem?

Fine details on prints are not clear, crisp, or identifiable. Edges and corners are somewhat curved or soft, and intricate details are imperfect.

Why is it happening?

The most common cause of reduced detailing in prints is layer height. Low resolution (high layer height) settings will necessarily reduce the crispness and quality of fine details.

Nozzle size, temperature, and cleanliness may also affect detail quality. In a production environment, a 0.5 mm nozzle is ideal. For fine details, a nozzle of 0.4 mm or less is good.

Print and fan speeds are two common culprits for unclear details in prints. The filament may not be setting properly before the printer moves on to the next portion, causing the details to squish or melt into each other.

Filament quality is another factor in detail quality. Also, the slightest error in print bed leveling can have repercussions throughout the print when printing at high resolutions.


Increase the Resolution

Increase print resolution; a tighter, lower layer heights produce a smoother finish for most detailed prints.

Nozzle Diameter

Smaller nozzles allow for greater detail printing. However, a small nozzle also means lower tolerance for other issues, so check that your machine is perfectly calibrated.

Maintain Your Printer

Any friction from slightly misaligned rods or loose belts will be instantly apparent in your print. Ensure everything is tight and aligned.

Clean the Nozzle

Clean the print nozzle before all detailed prints.

 Slow Down

Reduce your print speed as slower extrusion is less likely to produce errors.

Use high-Quality Filament

Try switching your filament to a well-reviewed, higher quality product if using a budget filament brand.

Check Platform Level

Re-calibrate your print platform to ensure everything is level and centered.

Ripples in Print (Ringing)

What’s the problem?

The print surface has waves or ripples along the outer layer.

Why is it happening?

There are two primary factors involved in most rippling issues: vibrations and speed.

3D print manufacturers try to make sure that small vibrations created by the motors are kept to an absolute minimum, often by adding weight to the printer body. Weight helps minimize vibrations through the machine, but small vibrations still occur. These vibrations may affect the surface on which the printer is placed, shaking the entire print. Vibrations can also be amplified by poor maintenance and worn linear bearings.

When models are printed too quickly, the material cannot set evenly, which may cause waves or ripples to emerge.

If neither vibrations nor print speed are producing waves, it may be the result of problematic firmware acceleration.


Reduce Vibrations

Make sure that the surface you use for your 3D printer is solid and does not vibrate or move when the printer runs.

Check the printer components

Turn off the printer. Check all bearings, belts, and bolts. Tighten and clean as needed.

Add Oil

Check that all rods are clear of dust and dirt and lubricate all components to ensure everything is well-oiled.

Slow Down the Print

Reduce the print speed and check that the material is setting consistently. 

Adjust the Firmware Acceleration

Advanced users can check the printer’s firmware and adjust the values in the code for the acceleration and jerk. Then, reupload the firmware to the machine.

Scars/Lines on Print Surface

What’s the problem?

Horizontal or diagonal lines appear across the top layer of your print.

Why is it happening?

After a layer is complete, the print head moves to the starting point to begin printing the next layer. At this point, “scarring” can occur as filament oozes across the surface or the nozzle disrupts the new layer.

Combing confines the print head to the printed area of the model. If there is any excess filament, it will extrude across the rest of the print and leave traces of filament.

Overly high temperatures can cause a similar oozing issue with some cheaper or older filaments as the residual heat of the nozzle can melt filament as the nozzle is moving.


Disable Combing

Combing ensures that the print head remains over the printed areas of the model, therefore reducing the need for retractions. This increases print speed but can lead to scarring. Switch combing off and check whether scarring still occurs. Note that this will increase overall print time.

Increase Retraction

Try increasing the retraction amount, which affects how the printer head “recoils” to deal with oozing filament.

Check Extrusion

Reduce the flow rate by 5% and print a calibration cube to check that the filament is extruding correctly.

Nozzle Temperature

The tolerance of high-quality filament should keep this issue from occurring, but your filament’s temperature resistance may be affected by sunlight, moisture, or poor storage conditions. Decrease the hot end temperature by 5ºC and try again.


If the head does not lift high enough from the surface of the print, then the nozzle itself can cause scarring as it travels from one layer to another. On older printers, re-calibrate it if there are no Z-lift or Z-hop settings; otherwise, increase Z-Hop or Z-Lift in 0.25-mm increments.

What’s the problem?

Over-extrusion results in excess material setting on the outside of the model.

Why is it happening?

Often, over-extrusion occurs because extrusion multiplier or flow settings in the slicing software are too high.


Extrusion Multiplier

Check that the correct extrusion multiplier is selected for your filament and printer.

Flow Setting

If the problem persists, decrease the flow setting slightly.

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

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