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How to Avoid 3D Print Warping

How to Avoid 3D Print Warping

Are parts of your print looking like they are about to come off the printer bed? You have the 3D print warping challenge to contend with. It can happen to even the most skillful 3d printers. Continue to happen until you understand how to put an end to it. This article will show you just how.

When your print warps, it reduces its value. In most cases, especially when the accuracy of every part of the object is crucial, it loses its value altogether, making your efforts futile. We are about to address the issue of warping. We will tackle the problem headlong and find out how you can stop it and enjoy the rest of your printing experience.

What Is Warping?

Warping is the deformation of your print around its corners on the first few layers. The print suffers a curling effect and separates from the printer bed. The print raises itself from the printer bed and deviates from the flatness expected of the print base. Sometimes, the print base may completely detach and fly off from the printer bed.

Warping is a notorious occurrence in printing processes that involve large or long bases. The longer the print base, the higher the temperature required, and the higher the likelihood of warping. This is why some materials that require higher temperatures, such as ABS, are more susceptible to warping than others. Let’s find out what role temperature plays in warping.

What Causes Warping?

It’s common knowledge that objects which allow heat to pass through them are likely to expand as a result. On the other hand, the opposite happens when they contract. Print materials are no exception. Just like other materials, the expansion and contraction of print materials isn’t the problem.

The complication arises from the speed of contraction. Instead of a gradual cooling which will translate to gradual contraction, the print may experience a swift reduction in temperature. When this happens, the temperature change is too sudden for the print to bear, and it begins to react.

The corners begin to rise from the print bed, or the whole of the base begins to pull off. Because 3d printing is designed to produce a specific and accurate representation of an idea, even the slightest of warping could mar or reduce the usefulness of a print. So what do we do about it?

How to Avoid Warping

Thankfully, we can avoid warping. So you can enjoy warp-free prints from here on out. There are several techniques experienced 3d printers employ to ensure the accuracy of the whole print. Here are the ways through which you can put your warping experience behind you for good.

Use an Enclosure 

If your printer has an enclosure-a closed compartment that you can use in shielding your print, it is there for a reason. A printer’s enclosure will give your print some privacy from the effect of external temperature interference. An enclosure will conserve heat around your print and ensure gradual temperature reduction. This technology will do a great deal in preventing the warping of your prints. What if your printer isn’t gifted with an enclosure?

You can make one. An enclosure as simple as a carton box or an IKEA table will do the trick. You can also use methacrylate boxes. Of course, you can find ready-made printer enclosures too. Just pay a visit to a 3d printer parts shop, and you shouldn't have any problem finding the right size for your printer.

Heated Beds

The hotness of your bed is crucial to maintaining a safe warp-resistant temperature. Setting your bed temperature to the degree that is a little below what the filament requires is just right. A hot printer bed ensures that the former layer is almost as hot as the next layer.

This negligible temperature difference creates warp-free conditions. You shouldn’t be in a hurry to commence your printing. Wait for your printer bed to reach the right temperature of between 100 and 120 degrees Celcius if you use ABS before you begin. Apart from ABS, only materials like PETG and ASA require heated beds.

Brims and Rafts

Brims and rafts are substrates that ensure safe printing environments. They both act to reduce warping. Rafts act as a print base, increase the adhesion of the print, and are placed under the printed object.

They will occupy an area larger than that of the print object to make them easier to detach. Brims are placed around the printed objects as the first print layer extensions. Brims do not make contact with the print base and, therefore, pose little or no detachment challenge when you are done.

There is a variation of the brim that is called a skirt. The skirt is a brim that doesn’t contact the printed object. Skirts also help to pre-examine the condition of the machine's operation. For example, you can determine how satisfied you are with the machine's job when the skirt comes out.

Disable the Cooling Fans

The last thing you need in your bid to reduce warping is any form of cooling. Your cooling fans especially. Disable your cooling fans to eliminate the influence they would have had on temperature reduction. You can decide to disable the cooling fans only for the first printing layer. Alternatively, adjust your cooling fan percentage in your slicer settings to lower the speed.

Use a Draft Shield

Draft shields are tall skirts that guard your print against air currents in the environment. You can enable draft shield in slicers such as Cura and PrusaSlicer. Draft shields shouldn’t be too close to the printed object but should be close enough to shield the object from drafts. Generally, the closer the shield is to the object, the better its protection can provide. A 10 mm distance from the object is widely regarded as a safe enough distance.

Use Adhesives

There are several materials of build plates around, from glass, stainless steel, aluminum to PEI film. Each of these materials does not adhere the same to various print materials. Therefore, there is a need to augment the adhesion in several cases. You can increase the adhesive properties of your printer bed by applying adhesives to it.

But not the regular ones. There are glues, blue tapes, and sprayable adhesives that are especially suitable for 3d printer beds. Adhesive solutions in the market include 3DLac, Nelly hairspray, Wolfbite, masking tape, e.t.c.

Clean the Printer Bed Surface

As easy and simple as cleaning your printer bed is, you will be amazed when you discover how much this activity can do to protect the accuracy of your prints. The adhesion of your print to the printer bed is contingent on an obstacle-free printing bed. The presence of grease and dirt will impede the attempts of your prints to stick to your bed.

This lack of adhesion increases the degree of warping that your print is exposed to. Even when your build surface comes with in-built adhesive properties, the presence of foreign particles can hinder adhesion. If you can lay your hands on an ammonia-based cleaning agent or an alcohol and water combo, you are good to go.

Level the Printer Bed

If you print with ABS material, you should worry more about warping. Other materials like the PLA are more resistant to warping than the ABS. To avoid warping, the first layer of your print must come out in the pristine condition. In addition, the filament must be close enough to the entire surface. If any section of the build plate is closer than the others, the filament can damage the previous layer of print when it moves around. One way to make sure of this is to level your printing bed.

The use of self-leveling sensors will go a long way in this regard. While it is possible to achieve accurate prints without them, they are quite helpful in ensuring that your first layers set the right example for the rest of your print. You can buy a self-leveling sensor if your printer doesn’t come with that functionality.

The popular way to level a printer bed without a self-leveling sensor is to slide a piece of paper around the bed and under the moving nozzle. This way, you can inspect the level of contact between the nozzle and the paper at all four corners of the build plate.

Conclusion

3D print warping is a nagging problem in 3D printing, especially if using ABS materials. It can render an object useless and lead to lots of waste in the filament. The major reasons for warping are a lack of adequate adhesion and rapid reduction in the temperature of the first print layer.

These can be corrected. Printers use several techniques to ensure that they don’t have to go through the excruciating experience that warping brings. There are simple procedures like cleaning the print beds to the more technical ones like the use of drafts and setting the cooling speed of the fan.

With these hacks at your fingertips, you can eliminate warping from your list of likely print challenges. Your printing experience can only get more rewarding from here on.

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