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5 3D Printing Mistakes You Will Make and How to Avoid  Them

5 3D Printing Mistakes You Will Make and How to Avoid Them

3D printing is replacing most traditional manufacturing processes these days due to the relatively cheap costs of 3D printing. The 3D printing process involves several skills among which is the ability to operate the 3D printer itself. Mostly for beginners, you may encounter several mistakes which result in poor prints.

If you're just watching, you might think creating prototypes with 3D printing is an easy process. But the truth is that it is somewhat difficult and care must be taken to get good prints in the usual length of time. Otherwise, you'll have wasted your effort and time.

Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid in 3D Printing

We’ve listed some common 3D printing mistakes you'll most likely encounter and ways to avoid such mistakes below. If you're just beginning your journey in 3D printing, knowing these beforehand can help you prevent making these mistakes. If you already find yourself making one of these mistakes, these tips contain information on how to avoid any of the listed mistakes in the future.

1.    Using the wrong printing material

Failure to use the right 3D  printing material is a very common problem especially among beginners and even experts sometimes. You must know the type of materials the printer can work with, as well as the best-suited material for your 3D design.

A lot of people fail to realize what materials are best suited for their printer's type and 3D design and this can yield poor prints, and of course waste of time and effort put into it. People make this mistake out of ignorance and sometimes nonchalance to gain significant knowledge about 3D printing before venturing into it.

To avoid making this mistake, you must understand that different printer types use different materials. And also, each of these materials have different properties. Some are softer than others, some are stiff, some are applied in high precision projects, others might only be advantageous for projects with lesser accuracy settings. The properties vary with materials.

You must understand that it is very important to choose the right material to get a satisfactory result. The end product of your 3D project is mostly dependent on the materials you use. So, you must ensure you are equipped with adequate knowledge about the different materials your printer can work with to know which might be best for your project.

2.    Overlooking the wall thickness

This is another very common 3D printing mistake most people encounter. The thickness of the surface tends to be overlooked which leads to errors in the print. To make a satisfactory product, you must calculate the minimum wall thickness your model needs. If the wall is too thick, inner pressure may cause undesirable effects. Also, a wall too thin might be prone to cracking, subsequently breakage due to the fact that the printer may not be able to print some parts of the model.

There are several factors that affect wall thickness: the alignment, as well as the size of the overall design. You must take this into consideration in order to calculate the minimum wall thickness that can hold your model.

Note that an increase in wall thickness does not necessarily contribute to the strength of the item. A wall too thick, as we have earlier mentioned, can cause unsatisfactory results. Calculating the minimum wall thickness needed is the key to a desirable print.

Many mistakes are made from initial lack of knowledge. To avoid a repeat, you must try to acquire the knowledge needed. Also, to avoid the mistake of poor prints due to overly thick or thin walls, you will have to find resources online about how to choose the necessary wall thickness for a model. This should not be overlooked but taken seriously to make successful prints.

3.    Incorrect slicer settings

If you want to make successful 3D prints, one of the things you must make sure you do is use the correct slicer settings. You can totally waste your time and effort on a project if you use an incorrect slicer setting. Although, some printers come with default settings that can serve as a basic starting point for beginners to print with. Over time, you may need to experiment and vary other settings (like glow rate, temperature, line width, and so on) for various projects. 

You may not necessarily need to vary the setting before it is wrong. The slicer settings that work for one material might be incorrect for another material. So when changing materials, whether between different variations of a certain material or from one material to a completely different one, ensure the previous setting is adjusted to suit the new material.

Sometimes when you download models, you're provided with settings that allegedly work well. However, you'll need to take precautions still, in the sense that something might render the setting ineffective. An example is using the temperature given for a brass nozzle on a hardened steel nozzle. Meanwhile, the temperature for hardened steel needs to be a little bit higher because brass is a better heat conductor. An error can also come from your build surface. If you incorporate another material on your bed surface, glass, for example, you may have to increase the bed temperature because of the extra layer of material.

To avoid making this error, you must take into account everything that might make the slicer setting ineffective: the nozzle, the build surface, materials, and so on. Then you can make use of calibration towers for each new material. And ensure you dial in the accurate settings in your slicer for successful results.

4.    Wrong levels of bed and nozzle height

The hardware end of things of the 3D printing process is just as important as the software processes. The 3D printing process involves much more than getting a design and all the processes required before printing. You must be able to set the bed and nozzle height to give the desired result. The most important layer of every layer of a 3D print is the first layer. The way the bed and nozzle heights are leveled influences how well the first layer is and subsequently, the entire print.

For many printers, you'll be required to do the leveling of the print beds yourself. For manual leveling, the 3D printer cannot do much as regards verifying the location of the print heads when it's in a particular direction. The best thing you can expect from the printer is the verification of the print head at 0.00mm on all three axes using the X, Y, Z end-stop switches.

You can trust your 3D printer to make precise and accurate movements along the X, Y, and Z-axis. However, all this will be in vain if the print heads are not properly leveled in the first place.  The 3D printer can not tell you whether the leveling is correct or not, it will only continue the precise movements unless it is automated. Automated printer heads are stress-free in this regard.

For printers where print head leveling is done manually, you'll need to set the nozzle along the Z-axis (which is the height) such that it extrudes seamlessly on the build bed at the required position, otherwise, you might encounter errors in your prints.

To avoid this, you can opt for automated printers with auto-leveling systems such as BLTouch. Or you can learn manual bed leveling skills or techniques. With constant practice, you'll never go wrong.

5.    Purchasing a bad 3D printer

You may be very skilled in 3D printing but still, end up making poor-quality prints. Sometimes, the mistake is not from what you do in making the print. It might be a single mistake of buying a bad 3D printer. If you didn't know, you might end up getting frustrated with the whole process due to the poor prints and resources spent on repairs.

The fault on the 3D printer might be from poor packaging and delivery leading to broken parts, poor assembly of parts in the factory, wrong angles of joining plates, cheap and ineffective hotends, warped threaded rods, and so on. These low-quality printers can really affect a print's quality.

There are some recognized companies who buy parts and do a proper assembly of these parts to make good printers. You might opt for a cheaper low quality one, but if you add up the frustration of getting low-quality 3D prints as well as the money and time spent on repairs, you'll find out that it just isn't worth it.

Instead of giving up something you probably enjoy doing, or later spending money to buy a better one, you'll find that getting a good one from the start is a more preferable option.

Therefore, to avoid the mistake of first purchasing a bad printer, do research on recognized printers with good reviews from satisfied customers and avoid all the issues that come with a bad printer.

Conclusion

The 3D printing process might seem like an easy and stress-free process sometimes. But it requires a level of dedication to make successful prints. You can encounter mistakes and learn from them. Or you can be better prepared for such mistakes and how to tackle them. However it is, you must make minimal mistakes to make quality prints.

This article has provided some of these common mistakes you might come across as well as tips on how to avoid them. Implementing these can go a long way in providing the satisfaction you can get from 3D printing.

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