In 3D printing, a downside called layer splitting is not impossible. What is layer splitting? Layer splitting is an occurrence where some layers in your 3D model do not stick properly to the previous ones (as seen in the picture above). This occurrence can then distort the overall look of your 3D model; detailing and overall smoothness is affected. You see, it is not only the detailing of your 3D model that would be affected, there is a high probability that the model would eventually split apart due to incoherent layer adhesion.
Very often, high printing speed, low temperature, slow flow rate and extruder issues are common causes of layer splitting. This content is then focused on how best you can prevent layer splitting in your 3D prints. Please do well to follow through.
- Increased Printing Temperature: Amongst the most frequent causes of layer splitting is a low printing temperature. You have to make sure that the temperature value of your extruder is of the required value. If not, the layers would not be able to adhere to each other properly. Enough temperature is required to melt the layers of filament to each other, and at the same time, the temperature most not be too high. When we look at the required extruder temperature value of 3D printers generally, they vary according to the particular printer. This is why you have to pay particular attention to the temperature value of your 3D printer. Use what the manufacturer prescribes. So, if you are getting layer wobbles, increase the temperature of your extruder to the prescribed value. If this does not work, you can try to increase the temperature gradually above the prescribed value.
One thing you can do is to increase the temperature by 5°C at intervals until the layers start adhering better. This should do a lot of good.
- Increased flow rate: If the filament coming out of the extruder nozzles comes out slowly, there is a high probability of layer wobbling and splitting. This would create infill gaps and spaces in your prints because the speed at which the extruder nozzle does the infill is slow.
What then should you do? Make sure to increase the rate at which the extruder dispenses the filament. This way, more filament is extruded and layers adhere better. Do not just increase the flow rate without some prescription. You could make do with increasing the extruder flow rate at an interval of 2.5% to avoid oozing and overflow.
3. Effective Cooling System: This may not occur to you at first, but it is a critical factor in 3D layer splitting. One thing you should pay attention to is the cooling system of your 3D printer. No matter how standard all your printing settings are, a redundant cooling system can thwart what should be a detailed and fine 3D print. If the fan of your 3D printer is not working properly, you would most likely end up with splatted layers. How is this so?
You might think that your fan is working but it is not. Normally, a cooling system should allow 3D layers some time to adhere to each other while still warm before cooling them down. If your fan is working at its top speed, the layers would become cold before getting a chance to adhere to each other. So, one thing you can do is to regulate the speed of your fan to a medium speed to fix this problem.
- Regulated Printing Speed: The logic here is that if your 3D printer prints too fast, the layers would not adhere properly. Not only the layers, but the detailing and the overall print would also not look good. When the nozzles move at a fast speed there would be lines of imprint on the surfaces of your 3D print, more so, the layers would not have time to stick to each other.
To fix this, simply adjust the printing speed of your particular printer to a moderate level in your slicer settings. Adjust the speed in intervals of 10mm/s to gradually regulate the speed. Gradually, you would start to see results in layer adherence as you adjust the speed.
- The disparity in nozzle size when compared to the layer height: This is a technical glitch which impacts the layer adherence of your 3D prints. If you are using a nozzle size that does not correspond with your printer’s layer height, the layers of your 3D prints would not form accordingly. For most 3D printers, the nozzle diameter is between 0.2 and 0.6mm. Now, to get quality layer adherence, follow these guidelines:
- Make sure that your layer height is 20 per cent smaller than the nozzle diameter;
- So, if you have a nozzle diameter of 0.6mm, your layer height should not be larger than 0.5mm and;
- Always make sure that the nozzle is very big and sizeable. This way, you are better poised to have quality adhesion.
- Clear and neat extruder: If your extruder and its nozzles are clogged with particles and residues of printing filaments, layer splitting would most likely occur. Here, the filament would have a ‘tough time' escaping the nozzles, thereby, impacting negatively on the whole printing process.
Simply clean the pathways and corners of your extruder and its nozzles. You can do this by pushing a tiny and straight wire through it to push out the particles. For effective cleaning, remove your extruder and follow the following cleaning processes:
- use a brush with brass wires to effectively clean off the particles;
- use acupuncture for hard particles;
- use a nylon filament for cold pulling which would make it easy to remove particles from such nozzle.
I can assure you that thorough cleaning of your extruder and its nozzles would improve the overall quality of your 3D models; your layers would also adhere better.
- Use a Standard Filament Quality: A filament of bad quality would give you a 3D print of bad quality. You have to employ a filament of good quality to ensure that all details are highlighted and layers are well adhered. Storage is one factor that can have impact on the quality of your 3D filament. If too much moisture penetrates a particular filament, it would reduce in quality. So, make sure the quality of your filament is preserved by storing such in an air-tight environment, especially nylon filament.
However, if your 3D printing filament is damp with moisture, you can heat it making use of an oven temperature. For PLA filament, use an oven temperature of 40-45°C, ABS (80°C), and Nylon (80°C).
- 3D Printing Enclosure: If the seven solutions above do not yield desired results, you could enclose your printing space, especially when you are printing in a cold environment. Doing this would keep the operating temperature constant and layers would have enough time to stick together. Note: This is the last resort as one or all of solutions number 1 – 7 should work.
What would make your solution(s) effective is to identify the particular cause(s) of layer splitting in your 3D printer. This way, you would be able to tailor your solution(s) accordingly.