5 Most Common Problems With a Creality CR10: Troubleshooting Guide
5 Most Common Problems with the Creality CR-10: Troubleshooting Guide
This guide covers the most frequently reported complaints of Creality CR-10 users and lists the tried-and-true solutions for each problem.
The Creality CR-10 is a popular affordable 3D printer. Owing to its low price, ease-of-use, and key features, the CR-10 makes a great beginner’s machine. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned 3D printing enthusiast, it’s likely that you have come across one of the few major problems reported by CR-10 users. We found the top five problems experienced when printing with the CR-10 so that you can be prepared the next time your print goes awry. Before troubleshooting, make sure you have a few small test prints ready as many troubleshooting methods require some trial and error.
5 most common CR-10 problems
- Bed adhesion
- Uneven extrusion
- Heater block jam
- Sputtering extrusion
Warping is the bane of all 3D print hobbyists and is the most widely reported problem for Creality CR-10 owners. Warping refers to any deformation involving directional curling or corner shrinking and tends to worsen as the print continues. Warping is easy to spot after the print has finished but may be hard to spot while the print is ongoing as sections of the model will move away from the platform before the print has set. Warping can typically be chalked up to inconsistent temperatures along the model as the thermoplastic sets (and shrinks) while other layers are still being extruded.
- Improve bed adhesion
If curling or warping occurs only or primarily at the print surface, it is likely that bed adhesion is the real culprit. Issues with adhesion can cause other problems in models during printing as well. If you suspect that poor bed adhesion is your main problem, consult the next part of this guide.
To deal with minor warping at the print surface, we recommend giving your printer a slight adhesion boost by using a heat adhesive spray (even conventional hair spray works for most makers) to improve adhesion without permanently affecting the print bed.
For a stronger temporary boost to adhesion, consider using a craft glue stick. Like hair spray, the glue residue can be easily removed for future prints and when using with more adhesive materials.
- Change the bed temperature
The Creality CR-10’s built-in bed is great value for the printer’s price point, but many makers find that it requires a bit of fiddling to get consistently high-quality prints. One major complaint with this printer is slow, uneven, or even faulty heating at the build surface.
Before making any adjustments, check that the print bed is heating up. If not, check your bed settings to ensure that economy mode is off and that the correct temperature is set. If the bed still hasn’t begun heating up for the next print, you may have to replace the bed. If the bed is heating properly but you are still experiencing warping, read on.
According to the temperature range for your chosen filament, increase the bed temperature in small increments until a test print shows good adhesion at the base.
Some makers prefer to avoid consistently checking temperature settings for the machine’s finnicky print bed by installing after-market CR-10 print beds, which include larger size offerings and tend to be more efficient in terms of heating.
- Ensure effective cooling
The CR-10 is outfitted with a cooling fan to lower the temperature of the extruded filament for proper setting. However, cooling too quickly can cause the model to warp.
Before altering any printer settings, check the ambient environment. Because makers are recommended to use their printers in well-ventilated environments, some may have open windows or fans near their work area. This is great for personal safety but may not be ideal for your prints. Ensure that the air temperature is stable in your work environment and that any cool air is blocked from reaching the print.
Then, check the cooling settings and make sure the fans are operating within optimal margins. If they aren’t, change the settings in small increments and determine whether further changes are needed after a test print.
Depending on where warping begins to occur, it can be helpful to complete a solid base before continuing to print the rest of the model. To do so, turn off the print head fans while the first layer is being printed. This allows the filament to bond longer and can promote adhesion to the bed. Increase the cooling rate gradually as the layers progress using the printer’s software.
- Alter the model design or settings
Lowering the print speed can improve interlayer adhesion by allowing the filament to bond prior to cooling, thus reducing the risk of warping. Note that lower print speeds require lower nozzle temperatures, so check to make sure that all your settings are consistent before running the test print.
If altering the print speed did not solve or significantly affect the problem, consider adding stabilizing components to the model. The most common are brims, skirts, and rafts.
Brims refer to a few additional layers added beyond the edge of the model to improve the first layers’ adhesion to the build surface. Skirts offer a similar benefit by provide an offset perimeter for the print. Like brims, rafts provide additional surface area to the edge of the print while also supporting the entire base of the part.
Adding these supports can stabilize the model and reduce layer shifting while printing.
As noted above, warping at the build surface is the most common indicator of bed adhesion problems for the CR-10, but poor adhesion can cause all sorts of issues in prints over time beyond warping. If you notice that larger or heavier prints begin to lift or shift on the build surface near print completion, it is likely that poor bed adhesion is to blame.
- Level the build surface
Consult the manufacturer’s instructions to reset the print bed settings. To fine tune your bed settings, all you need is some patience and a piece of paper.
First, move the nozzle to the left corner of the print bed—approximately ½ inch from each side is sufficient.
Next, place the piece of paper between the nozzle and the print bed. If you cannot get place the paper under the nozzle, slightly adjust the corner of the bed until it meets no resistance.
Once the paper is in place, move the bed corner up in small increments. After each movement, gently move the paper. As soon as you feel resistance, stop adjusting the bed.
Then, repeat this process for the remaining three corners. After each corner has been calibrated, calibrate the bed again to make any final adjustments.
- Clean the bed
Use rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth to remove any debris, dried filament, and dust from the build surface. Check to ensure that there are no scratches or hardened residue that may be impacting first layer adhesion.
- Add a brim, skirt, or raft
Foundation supports don’t just help stabilize prints for upper layers—the additional surface area of extruded still-hot plastic can create a better seal on the build surface.
You may find that there are gaps or skipped layers in your print, particularly with larger models. People have reported several probable causes for this issue when using the CR-10, including poor gripping by the extruder and a misaligned Z-axis rod.
During extrusion, the printer “grips” the filament and pushes it through the hot end. The components that carry out this process may not be capable of providing adequate pressure to push out filament at a consistent rate. Depending on the severity of this issue, you may be able to fix it by hand.
- Adjust extrusion
First, try tightening the extruder arm by adjusting the screw around which the extrusion assembly pivots. Then, slightly increase the extrusion rate (3–5%). This is a good fix for minor skipping issues but may not be sufficient for persistent layer gaps.
- Add external extrusion pressure
If the problem persists, swap out the filament and add external pressure during extrusion. When swapping filament, compress the spring tightly. This causes the bearing to squeeze the filament more tightly and the spring to rest in a more compressed state. Because you are applying mechanical force to the existing parts, you will have to do this every time you swap filament, but it should provide adequate pressure to initiate even filament flow if this issue does not occur all the time.
Note that if you have to consistently apply external mechanical force to ensure proper printing, it is likely that you may need to replace some components or get the printer professionally serviced.
- Swap extrusion gears
If these fixes don’t work, you may have to purchase new extrusion gears with better grip. Always take care when changing any parts in your printer if you are not getting it professionally serviced.
Heater block jam
One persistent complaint about the CR-10 is heater block jamming. The heater block is a crucial element that houses the heating elements around the hot end and ensures consistent heating at the proper times during the print.
- Check the temperature
There are two major reasons that the heater block and hot end won’t extrude filament properly: the heat is too low or too high. Seems intuitive, right?
When the hot end is not heated properly or to a sufficiently high temperature, the filament will not heat to its melting point and will build up in the nozzle. Check the heating specifications for the material that you are using and slightly increase the temperature of the hot end within the manufacturer's recommended range.
When the hot end is too hot, heat creep is typically to blame. Heat creep occurs when the filament heats up too much or for too long, causing the machine to work harder to extrude it onto the build surface and transferring heat to the heater block.
Heat creep almost always occurs when the heater block is not cooling quickly enough after printing, leading to a build up of filament. Check your fans and increase the fan speed in small increments.
Always unload all filament after each print and ensure that the heating element is not left on unless you are actively conducting a print.
- Check the filament diameter
All filaments are manufactured within a specific diameter range to ensure smooth and consistent printing. Lower quality filament, old filament, or spools that have been stored in sub-optimal conditions may have variations in diameter that exceeds these ranges and causes printing problems.
Use calipers to check the diameter at various points along the length of the filament. If these points exceed the manufacturer's range, it’s time to throw out the filament and get a higher quality spool.
You can easily identify sputtering extrusion by evaluating test prints. If the filament looks thin and/or has portions missing, it is likely that your printer is not extruding the filament at an even rate.
- Decrease speed and increase temperature
Flow rate is an essential aspect of print quality that is easy to overlook when tuning settings for a new filament or when setting up a new printer.
Decreasing the print speed will ensure that the filament is laid evenly and has sufficient time to set before the next portion of the print is deposited on the build surface. Increasing the temperature will increase the filament flow rate, which can improve spotty or “broken” layers.
We recommend only changing one setting at a time, and all changes should be in small increments (such as around 3 ℃ for temperature). Have a quick test print ready because you will likely have to print a few until you find the optimal settings for your printer.
💡 To reduce the risk of stringing and poorly set prints, be sure that you don’t change the temperature to more than 10 ℃ above recommended settings.
- Adjust the nozzle height
Adjusting the Z-distance, which is the vertical distance from the nozzle to the print bed, can typically improve layer uniformity and setting. A poor Z-distance setting will cause the first layer to be overly thin.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to reset the bed and nozzle settings. If you are still having problems, follow our more comprehensive bed leveling guide to cover any nozzle or bed alignment issue that could be affecting your print quality.
- Clean the nozzle
Though this is unlikely to be an issue for new machines, consistently using your CR-10 printer without frequent cleaning can lead to a blocked nozzle.
Run a short test print and carefully watch the filament as it is extruded. If it begins to curl as it comes out, there is a partial clog in the nozzle.
The most common method for cleaning the nozzle is to perform an atomic pull. You can also use a thin piece of metal to gently coax the clogging filament through the nozzle. We cover these processes in greater detail in our 3D printing troubleshooting guide.