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The Ultimate 3D Print Quality Troubleshooting Guide 2018

The Ultimate 3D Printer Troubleshooting Guide

You’re here because you’ve either just had a complete 3D print failure, or your prints aren’t quite perfect. We don’t settle for less than perfect, so we don’t expect you to either.

Rest assured the problems and solutions to every 3D printing issue you could experience are explained in this tips & fixes-packed guide to 3D printing.

Each issue has a clear high resolution photograph, a detailed explanation of the subject and a problem solving checklist for how to improve 3D print quality.

This includes instructions for software settings and even best practices for specific prints and materials, where applicable. 

Hopefully this guide saves you hours of frustration - if you feel it's useful to you please share it & tell others! 

Please note: Our guidance within this document is based on findings from extensive tests carried out with our own rigid.ink filament. We're unable to advise on all printers and material combinations though, so if you're unsure it's best to either check with your supplier or experiment within the boundaries of common sense. Your setup will require some trial and error as very few 3D printing issues are identical.

Think this guide is helpful? Bookmark it so you've always got it to hand.

To use the guide:
On desktop: Hover over the thumbnails to zoom in on the image, if you’re not sure of the issue you’re looking for. If you can’t see the issue from the content thumbnails, just take your time and scan through the guide to find the section you wish to read up on.
There is an easy to use, expandable contents list along the left side when the article begins - just click on the problem you’re experiencing to jump to that section.

On mobile: There is a Troubleshoot Menu (contents) at the top of the page for easy navigation. Once open, click on the problem you’re experiencing to jump to that section. Otherwise, scroll down the sections to read up on different problems and find what compares to your prints. The heading beneath each picture can be clicked to expand.


Troubleshoot Menu
  1. First Layer Issues

    First Layer Issues

    The first layer of your print is probably the most important layer. As foundation to your whole print, it is essential in providing proper adhesion to the build plate.

    Many common 3D printing problems stem from a poor first layer. There’s a couple of things that can go wrong when printing your first layer.

    First Layer Issues

    The first layer of your print is probably the most important layer. As foundation to your whole print, it is...

    The first layer of your print is probably the most important layer. As foundation to your whole print, it is essential in providing proper adhesion to the build plate.

    Many common 3D printing problems stem from a poor first layer. There’s a couple of things that can go wrong when printing your first layer.

    Nozzle too close to the bed

    Signs that your nozzle might be too close to the bed:
    • Printed line is way thinner than desired. It might get so thin it turns transparent.
    • Excess filament is squished upwards at the edges of the current printing line creating a rough surface and wavy patterns. (You can feel the roughness when touching it carefully even during the print).
    • Filament is getting torn off the bed when the next neighbouring line is printed.
    • Finished prints are hard to remove from the print bed.
    Explanation:
    • If your nozzle is too close to the bed, there is not enough space between the nozzle and the bed to extrude the proper amount of filament. Excess filament is either squished upwards between individual printed lines or isn’t extruded at all creating additional pressure in the HotEnd.
    • Excess filament that gets squished to the sides and upwards might get torn off the bed on the next pass by the nozzle destroying adhesion and making the top of your first layer very rough to the touch.
    • Excess filament might also get picked up by the nozzle and might drip back on your print later. This is especially common for PETG.
    • If filament backs up in the HotEnd because it cannot get extruded due to the nozzle being too close to the bed, your extruder might even get jammed and start clicking.
    • Squishing your first layer too much into the bed can lead to prints that are almost impossible to remove from the build plate when done.
    How to fix:
    Adjust nozzle to bed distance either by tightening the 3 or 4 levelling screws of your printer and using thicker paper stock for manual bed levelling or by adjusting your z-offset value when using a bed levelling sensor. Make sure you’re not pressing down on your bed when levelling it.

    Nozzle too far away from the print bed

    Signs that your nozzle is too far away from the print bed
    • When looking at the bottom of your printed object, you can clearly make out individual lines with a noticeable gap between each line.
    • During printing the first layer, the individual lines are not touching each other.
    • There’s small gaps where the lines of the infill are not touching the outlines of the wall.
    • The shape of the extruding line is very round. With the proper distance, extruded line is slightly squished, pancake shaped.
    • Individual printed lines are barely sticking to the build plate.
    • Parts are warping off the build plate or become loose during the prints.
    Description:

    If your nozzle is too far from the bed there is not enough filament extruded to properly fill the space between nozzle and bed. The line currently extruding is barely making contact with the bed. Individual lines making up the first layer are not connected to their neighbours and they’re not touching the outlines of your objects wall. All this usually this leads to poor adhesion problems like warping or detaching of your object mid print.

    How to fix:
    Adjust nozzle to bed distance either by loosening the 3 or 4 levelling screws of your printer and using thinner paper stock (receipt paper is good) for manual bed levelling or by adjusting your z-offset value when using a bed levelling sensor. Make sure you’re not pressing the bed upwards while levelling manually.

    Printer specific tips

    • Prusa MK2/MK2S: The Prusa’s PINDA sensor is temperature sensitive and will give false readings if the probe is heated before the mesh bed levelling. Raise your probe a good distance off the bed during the preheat before mesh levelling at the beginning of a print.
    • Creality CR10/Tevo Tornado: Both printers come with a fairly large bed. And they’re not necessarily the flattest. Try leveling the bed not at the outermost corners but rather a bit further in.
    • Wanhao i3: keep your hands well away from the bed while feeling the paper dragging during the levelling process. The stock bed frame is rather flimsy and looking at it sternly screws up the results. Repeat levelling procedure at least 3-4 times or more to make sure it stays level. Try levelling at full printing temp, use Preheat in the menu.
    • Tevo Tarantula: green stock SN04 sensor is unreliable. Level manually and keep your hands well away from the bed while feeling the paper dragging during the levelling process. The stock bed frame is rather flimsy and looking at it sternly screws up the results. Repeat levelling procedure at least 3-4 times or more to make sure it stays level. Try levelling at full printing temp, use Preheat in the menu.
    • Ultimaker 2/2+: The bed carrier flexes a lot when turning the levelling screws, especially the ones in the front. Keep hands clear. Don’t bother with the bed level assistant, just run through it and do the rest manually.

    Filament specific tips

    • PLA likes to be squished more into the bed than other filament types to provide good adhesion.
    • PETG usually prints better with a higher nozzle to bed distance to avoid the nozzle picking up filament that might drip on your print later during the print. Also, the extra distance helps prevent excessive adhesion issue that for example might occur when printing on glass or PEI beds.
    • TPU and Flexible PLA will also adhere stronger than you might like if printed too close to a PEI or specialist bed surface (such as BuildTak).

  2. Prints Sticking Too Much

    Prints Sticking Too Much
    Maybe less common than the opposite problem with prints not sticking or warping, but prints sticking excessively to your print bed may happen. Possible reasons and fixes include:

    Prints Sticking Too Much

    Maybe less common than the opposite problem with prints not sticking or warping, but prints sticking excessively to your print...
    Maybe less common than the opposite problem with prints not sticking or warping, but prints sticking excessively to your print bed may happen. Possible reasons and fixes include:

    Nozzle to bed distance

    Bed Temperature

    Signs your bed temperature needs changing:

    You're printing at the higher bed temperature range and experiencing your prints sticking too much.

    Explanation:

    A hotter bed temperature means increased adhesion.

    How to fix:

    Check you're not printing too close to the glass transition temperature of the material (find rigid.ink GT temps in the datasheet download, in the settings tab on product pages).

    Reduce the bed temperature in increments of 5°C until your print adheres correctly.

    You may also want to consider printing the first layer faster and/or colder.

    Bed adhesion

    Signs you need to reduce your bed adhesion:

    You're printing a 'sticky' filament such as flexible materials or PETG.

    Explanation:

    Some materials are known for adhering extremely well to the bed, check manufacturer information for details.

    How to fix:

    Add a very thin layer of talcum or baby powder onto your bed. Ensure you remove any excess powder.

    Release agent

    Signs you need a release agent:

    You're not using anything on your bed and your prints are extremely difficult to remove. On occasion, it may even cause damage to your bed.

    Explanation:

    Adding an additional film between your bed and the print will ensure that the print will detach taking away the coating with it instead of tearing up the bed surface.

    How to fix:

    Use a thin, even layer of PVA glue stick or vinyl-based hairspray coating on the build plate to act as “release agent”.

    Extrusion multiplier

    Signs your extrusion multiplier needs changing:

    Your prints are sticking too much and are hard to remove. You already tried [nozzle too close] or can’t adjust your nozzle to bed distance. Yet you’re still seeing too much material being extruded while printing the first layer (overstuffed layer, filament is getting squished upwards at the edges of the printed line).

    Explanation:

    The extrusion multiplier will affect the pressure on the material flow onto the bed which will alter the adhesion of the print. Less pressure on the material flow on the bed will lower the adhesion of the print.

    How to fix it:

    Slightly decrease the extrusion multiplier and perform a small test after each change until the adhesion is correct.

    Freezing

    Signs you need to freeze it:

    If you have tried to alter settings and added a release agent without success, freezing could be the way to go.

    Explanation:

    Freezing the print and the print bed hardens everything which makes it easier to remove. Prevention is the best tool though, so we do suggest this as a last option or if it is too late and your print is already stuck.

    How to fix:

    Put the affixed print and bed into a freezer for a few hours. The print should then pop off with some light tapping once cool enough.

    Filament specific tips

    • PETG is known to be strong enough to rip chunks out of glass plates when cooling down after a print or bonding permanently to a PEI bed.
    • Flexible filaments have a habit of sticking way to well to certain bed surfaces. Add Kapton tape for flexible filaments. Peel the Kapton tape from the bed, then the tape from the bottom of your print to minimize the risk of damaging your print when trying to pry it off your bed.

  3. Warping

    Warping
    Warping can be caused by a few different variables but is fairly easy to recognise and resolve. Read below more information on warping and how to fix it.

    Warping

    Warping can be caused by a few different variables but is fairly easy to recognise and resolve. Read below more...
    Warping can be caused by a few different variables but is fairly easy to recognise and resolve. Read below more information on warping and how to fix it.

    Signs of warping:

    Usually it starts in the corners and can progress if the print isn't stopped. The print will start to lift and appear to peel away from the bed.

    Explanation:

    Warping occurs when the physical forces that come into play as a material is cooling down exceeds the adhesion strength of the printed object holding it onto your build plate. Warping is increased, the higher the temperature difference is within the printed object, and/or the higher the difference is between printed temperature and room temperature.

    How to fix:

    • See [Print not sticking to the bed].
    • Balance the printing and room/chamber temperature. Print a little cooler depending on the initial printing temperature. If you're starting at the lowest point in the suggested temperature range, you might want to increase the room temperature instead. The difference between printing temp and room temp shouldn't be too great or you'll experiencing warping.
      To print cooler - start at your current nozzle temperature and work your nozzle temperature down in 5°C increments.
      To increase chamber or ambient (room) air temperature - increase the room or chamber temperature in 5°C increments to reduce the difference in temperature and therefor the tendency to warp. See below for more information on heated enclosures.
    • Print thinner layers. For example starting at a typical 0.2mm layer height, try 0.15mm or even 0.1mm layer height. This will reduce stress on your part during printing.
    • Make sure you’re not setting your bed temperature close to the glass transition temperature of your filament (stay 10°C below). You can locate rigid.ink glass transition temperature in the downloadable datasheet for your material on the product page settings tab.

    If you need more info on warping, causes and fixes, you can view our article on preventing warping here.

    Printer specific tips:

    The CR-10(S) suffers quite badly from 'bowling' - This is where the centre of the glass plate is unsupported to either the metal backplate is bowed downwards or the glass itself is not completely flat. Other versions are doming, twisting, and patches.

    You can fix bowling and twisting by adding 'shims' to support the low areas. We use the white version of masking/draughtsman tape for this as it is thinner (and we think it looks neater than the blue).

    Doming that is caused by a backplate that is warped upwards in the centre can also be fixed this way by adding tape as necessary around the edges and corners.

    Doming caused by warped glass might be fixed simply by inverting the glass plate and using the bowled fixing method.

    It is much harder if the glass plate is actually thicker in the middle as you will be unlikely to be able to completely remove the problem. Just find the flattest side, put this on top, and adjust as best you can.


  4. Inconsistent Extrusion: How To Fix Under Extrusion

    Inconsistent Extrusion: How To Fix Under Extrusion

    3D printing under extrusion is one form of inconsistent extrusion (the other being over extrusion). Unfortunately, it can have a myriad of causes. No 3D printer troubleshooting guide would be complete without the full list of causes.

    Here’s an attempt to classify and list possible reasons and fixes. We also have a dedicated article on under extrusion issues here.

    Inconsistent Extrusion: How To Fix Under Extrusion

    3D printing under extrusion is one form of inconsistent extrusion (the other being over extrusion). Unfortunately, it can have a...

    3D printing under extrusion is one form of inconsistent extrusion (the other being over extrusion). Unfortunately, it can have a myriad of causes. No 3D printer troubleshooting guide would be complete without the full list of causes.

    Here’s an attempt to classify and list possible reasons and fixes. We also have a dedicated article on under extrusion issues here.

    Signs of under extrusion:

    The signs are easy to spot: you end up with weak prints that crumble, crack or tear under even slight stress, you have visible gaps in your objects, walls start becoming see through because solid areas show spongy patches instead.

    Explanation:

    Under extrusion occurs when your printer is unable to supply the correct amount of material needed to correctly print a layer.

    How to fix:

    Under extrusion in general
    • Make sure your filament can unspool freely from the reel.
    • Check the filament path for any blockages or areas of strong friction.
    • Verify the filament diameter is consistent. Especially very cheap filaments suffer from fluctuations in filament diameter. Too thin and there isn’t enough filament fed into the HotEnd, too thick and there might be too much friction to push through the extruder and the related filament path.
    • Check the extrusion settings in your slicer, namely filament diameter, extrusion multiplier.
    • Check proper print temperature and speed. Try printing hotter and slower.
    • Also see [filament not feeding properly].

    If you printer is constantly under extruding, as in: it is not pushing enough plastic, it is best to recalibrate the steps/mm value of your extruder to ensure your extruder delivers the proper amount of filament requested. Once the steps per mm are set correctly, the next step to a proper calibration is to set your extrusion multiplier (also called feed rate) properly. Both steps/mm as well as extrusion multipliers are filament dependent and might even change over time.

    Or it could simply be a matter of you having changed the extrusion multiplier for a recent print and forgot to reset it in your slicer. Also, very often the root cause for constant under-extrusion is a partially clogged nozzle. Cleaning out your nozzle would be a good start. Also check [filament not feeding properly].

    3D printer not extruding mid-print

    You’ve come back to find your 3D printer not printing anymore. This along with coming back to find a ‘birdsnest’ are the two most cliche versions of failed 3D prints. For some reason or another, your 3D printer stops extruding mid print:

    • Filament has stripped or is blocked in the extruder. See [Clogged Nozzle]
    • Filament is kinked, snapped or ran out. The filament has twisted or you got a knot on the reel. See our article How to untangle a tangled spool
    • Filament diameter isn’t consistent. Especially very cheap filaments suffer from fluctuations in filament diameter. Too thin and there isn’t enough filament fed into the HotEnd, to thick and there might be too much friction to push it in through the extruder and the related filament path.
    • You’re trying to print a part with too aggressive retraction 3D printing settings or excessive amount of retractions in a short period of time. Check your 3D printer retraction settings and lower total amount of retractions occurring and/or reduce retraction distance. Sometimes loosening the feeder gear idler pressure onto the filament can help.
    • Overheated stepper drivers. A lot of tinkerers like to increase the Vref of their stepper drivers, often needlessly. This could lead to overheated steppers. Also, when printing high temperature filaments in an enclosed or heated build chamber steppers tend to get considerably hotter.
    • Nozzle clogged mid print. This again can have a lot of different causes. See [Clogged Nozzle]
    • If it happens very early in the print, it might be too much back pressure because the nozzle is too close to the bed. See [Nozzle too close].
    • In general: Try printing hotter or slower. But do not exceed the maximum print temperature of the filament, as it might start to deteriorate in your nozzle and clog. Very common error is to boil rigid ink PLA by exceeding the maximum print temperature.
    • Check for warping. Warped areas are closer to the nozzle increasing back pressure. See [Warping]
    • Monitor nozzle temperature while printing, check for high drops in print temperature.
    • Keep your nozzle clean, especially after switching between different filament types.
    • When using particle filled filaments, consider using a bigger nozzle.
    • Flexible filament got stuck. Flexible filaments are difficult to print with most extruders out there, as they tend to escape the intended filament path and simply get stuck. Try printing way slower, try printing hotter (within the recommended range) and maybe even consider upgrading to a different extruder design specialised in printing flexible filaments.
    • Also see [Filament not feeding properly].
    Under extrusion at the beginning of a print

    Under extrusion at the beginning of a print is common and to a point to be considered normal. It can take a bit to get the flow of filament going, this is where using a skirt if no brim is required comes in handy.

    • Consider using a skirt as this will show how consistently the material is being laid down before you waste filament on the printed object itself.
    • Modify your start code in your slicer to add some extra priming. While you’re checking the codes, make sure you don’t have an excessive retract in your end code.
    • Often, not extruding properly at the beginning of a print is a result of the nozzle being too close to the bed or issues mentioned in the sections above.
    • Check print temperature, you might be printing too cold.
    • Also see [filament not feeding properly].
    Under extrusion after retraction

    During a 3D printing retraction, especially with very aggressive retract settings, there could be not enough filament in the nozzle to properly start the print again at the end of the travel move.

    To fix:

    • Lower your retraction length.
    • Give it a bit extra restart distance to prime the nozzle after the retraction.

    A series of very fast retracts can chew up a filament so that the feeder gear can slip on the damaged filament once you start extruding again.

    To fix:

    • Slow down the retraction speed.
    • Check that the feeder pinch wheel tension is correct.

  5. Inconsistent Extrusion: How To fix Over Extrusion

    Inconsistent Extrusion: How To fix Over Extrusion

    3D printing over extrusion is one form of inconsistent extrusion (the other being under extrusion). Here's information on over extrusion:

    Inconsistent Extrusion: How To fix Over Extrusion

    3D printing over extrusion is one form of inconsistent extrusion (the other being under extrusion). Here's information on over extrusion:

    ...

    3D printing over extrusion is one form of inconsistent extrusion (the other being under extrusion). Here's information on over extrusion:

    Signs of over extrusion:

    Too much plastic is coming out of the nozzle. You will be able to see this on your print (if not when coming out of the nozzle) the lines will be thick, uneven and ‘blobby’ in areas.

    Explanation:

    Over extrusion is when the printer is extruding too much plastic through the nozzle. This can happen because of a few settings being slightly off but read below for how to fix it.

    How to fix:

    Recalibrate the steps/mm value of your extruder to ensure your extruder delivers the proper amount of filament requested. Once the steps per mm are set correctly, the next step to a proper calibration is to set your extrusion multiplier (also called feed rate) properly to combat over extrusion 3D printing.

    Both steps/mm as well as extrusion multipliers are filament dependent and might even change over time. Or it could simply be a matter of you changing the extrusion multiplier for a recent print and forgot to reset it in your slicer.

    Temperature can play a factor in 3D printing over extrusion, so as always ensure you’re printing at the cooler end of the spectrum for your material.


  6. Filament Not Feeding Properly

    Filament Not Feeding Properly

    Proper operation depends on your extruder being able to feed the correct amount of material at any given time. Any messing with the feed of filament will likely ruin your print. Here’s what to look out for. But first, listen closely to the noise your extruder motor is making, it’ll give you a clue.

    Filament Not Feeding Properly

    Proper operation depends on your extruder being able to feed the correct amount of material at any given time. Any...

    Proper operation depends on your extruder being able to feed the correct amount of material at any given time. Any messing with the feed of filament will likely ruin your print. Here’s what to look out for. But first, listen closely to the noise your extruder motor is making, it’ll give you a clue.

    Extruder motor is clicking

    A stepper motor will start clicking when it is skipping steps. That is in the case of an extruder motor when the force required to push the filament further is higher than the motors strength. Possible reasons include:

    Deformed filament

    Remove the filament from the extruder and check how it looks. Is it deformed, as in no longer round but crushed so that its diameter is now wider than it should be? If so you might want to try to decrease the idler pressure on your feeder gear.

    Conversely, if the filament is not crushed, but just has a gouge taken out of it where the hob gear has repeatedly slipped, increasing the idler pressure may restore correct filament feeding. Just don’t overdo it or the problems listed above will likely happen.

    Reduce strain

    This problem is made worse when you’re trying to print something that requires a lot of retractions in a short amount of time. Try to reduce the amount of retractions or set your retracts to be less aggressive.

    Reduce friction

    Check your filament path for excess friction.

    Worn PTFE liner

    A lot of HotEnds, even in direct extruders, include a PTFE liner, i.e. a short piece of Bowden tube somewhere between nozzle and heat break. In most Bowden style extruders, the tube extends all the way from the extruder down into the HotEnd. If this inner tube is worn or degraded (happens when printing too hot, usually above 260°C) the friction increases and might be too much for the extruder stepper motor to overcome.

    Check PTFE liner gap

    If the HotEnd uses a PTFE liner and it is frayed or has been cut at an angle. Any gap there will lead to clogs sooner or later as the melted filament will leak out around the outside of the liner causing the liner’s inner diameter to deform and reduce.

    When using an Ultimaker: check the PTFE coupler in your HotEnd. It is considered consumable and will need replacement on a regular basis.

    Nozzle clogged

    Your nozzle or HotEnd is clogged. This could be any of the benign reasons like printing too cold, or too hot, or too fast, using too much retraction or nozzle to close to the bed, etc. But there are also some mechanical things to look into, especially if the problem reappears after you cleaned it.

    To note:

    If your HotEnd wasn’t assembled properly, a common point of failure here is if the nozzle is tightened against the heater block instead of tightening it against the heat break.

    Pro tip:

    Increase the Vref of the extruder stepper, giving it a little more power to maybe push a bit stronger without skipping. But do keep an eye on the motor and driver temperatures if you do.

    Bowden tube issues

    If you’re using a Bowden extruder, these are also common points of failure:

    • There’s debris in the Bowden tube.
    • The Bowden tube is worn in the inside and has increased friction.
    • The bend radius of the Bowden tube is too high. Consider a longer tube or straighten its path.
    • A common issue with Bowden style extruders is when the tubing isn’t pushed all the way into the HotEnd. Or the end of the tube is frayed or has been cut at an angle. Any gap there will lead to clogs sooner or later as the melted filament leaks out around the tube causing it to deform.

    If the extruder isn’t clicking

    But still no filament is coming out of the nozzle it is very likely we have a problem right around the feeder part of the extruder.

    Check extruder is clear

    Remove the filament from the extruder. Could be a bit tricky. Check its shape. Chances are the feeder gear has eaten away a good part of the filament and dug itself in, i.e. no filament can be transported, as there is nothing left for the gear to grip. This is usually a consequence of a blockage that happened before. So, once you cleaned this feeder section of the extruder of any debris and fed fresh filament in, you’ll still have to find the cause for the blockage that was responsible for this in the first place.

    Adjust idler pressure spring

    Another reason why filament might not get transported properly if the idler isn’t exerting enough pressure to push the filament against the feeder gear. A lot of feeders have a spring that can be tensioned to increase the idler pressure. Or this spring might be missing, broken or collapsed.

    Check feeder gear

    While at it, check that the teeth of the feeder gear haven’t worn. A lot of these gears are made from brass and won’t last forever. Teeth might even be missing entirely.

    Also, the teeth could be gunked up with debris stripped from the filament during normal operation and need to be cleaned - small brass wire brush is ideal for this - but PLEASE, for your own sanity, make sure that no pieces of the brush or debris get into the HotEnd or the path leading to it. Metal particles in a HotEnd and nozzle are not something you ever want to happen.

    Check thermister

    Most firmware versions today will deactivate the extruder motor if the nozzle is not up to temperature. So, it won’t click and not feed anything either. Take a peek at your nozzle temperature, maybe your thermistor stopped working?

    Motor is wildly turning back and forth even with no filament loaded:

    This could be a sign of a loose motor cable either at the board or the motor end, a broken cable or broken or loose pin in the connector. Or a failed motor. Or wrong cable configuration with leads swapped. If this happens, stop what the printer is doing immediately, let it cool down and power it off!

    A broken wire on a stepper can easily destroy a driver chip by creating high voltage spikes as the stepper is connected and disconnected (the same damage can occur if you manually disconnect or reconnect a stepper motor while the printer is powered-up).


  7. Extruder Is Grinding Filament

    Extruder Is Grinding Filament
    Grinding filament is never welcome and not what you want to see but keep reading on how to spot and fix the issue.

    Extruder Is Grinding Filament

    Grinding filament is never welcome and not what you want to see but keep reading on how to spot and...
    Grinding filament is never welcome and not what you want to see but keep reading on how to spot and fix the issue.

    Signs the extruder is grinding filament:

    The picture on the left shows a section of filament after it was manually pulled out of the extruder. You can see the dent where the drive gear dug in deep into the filament, making further transport of this filament impossible. It had to be removed manually with a bit of force.

    Explanation:

    This usually happens when the pressure inside the HotEnd gets too high or if there is anything blocking filament transport. 3D printer filament grinding can be caused by a number of different things, read our 'How to fix:' section to learn more.

    How to fix:

    Deformed filament or filament diameter too thick

    Use good calipers or a better yet a micrometer screw gauge to measure the diameter of the filament coming of the spool and check if it is round or has been flattened. If it is thicker than it should be or no longer perfectly round, return the spool to the manufacturer/seller for a replacement. Cheap filaments often have large fluctuations in their diameter.

    Filament not unspooling from the spool, kinked, knotted or twisted on the spool

    You may be able to see the issue and untangle the knot or remove a layer or two if there is a kink. If you cannot see the issue but your spool will not unspool easily, or it is repeatedly happening, please see our article [How to untangle a tangled or knotted spool].

    Too much friction in filament path (especially common with worn or dirty Bowden tubes)

    Check the filament path is clean, especially if using a Bowden tube. If your Bowden tube or another part has become worn it may need replacing.

    Trying to extrude too much material for the nozzle size

    Calibrate your extruder and reduce your material flow. Especially when switching to smaller nozzle sizes your extrusion settings need to be spot on. The smaller diameter holes are way less forgiving as we’re facing higher pressure trying to extrude through a smaller hole to begin with. Too much pressure and the drive gear of the feeder motor is likely to start grinding instead of pushing the filament.

    Partial (or full) clog in the nozzle or HotEnd
    The nozzle being too close to the bed (bed levelling is off) or too close to the previously printed layer (warping)
    Trying to print too cold

    Check the temperature range of the filament you’re printing. Increase your printing temperature gradually in 5°C increments within the range, staying around 10°C below the glass transition temperature (for rigid.ink, find GT temp in the downloadable datasheets in the settings tab on product pages).

    Trying to print too fast

    Printing too fast, if you haven’t adjusted other settings to allow for the extra speed, can cause issues such as not being able to feed the filament fast enough. Try reducing your speed in 10mm/s increments until it feeds correctly.


  8. Extruder Is Crushing Filament

    Extruder Is Crushing Filament

    Just like filament being grinded, filament being crushed isn't ideal. The issues are often related but can be resolved.

    Extruder Is Crushing Filament

    Just like filament being grinded, filament being crushed isn't ideal. The issues are often related but can be resolved.

    Just like filament being grinded, filament being crushed isn't ideal. The issues are often related but can be resolved.

    Signs the extruder is crushing filament:

    A tell-tale sign for filament being crushed is that is appears deformed. This piece of filament in the picture for example, is clearly deformed and is no longer round. It was crushed between the idler and feeder drive gear.

    Explanation:

    This problem is related to [Extruder is grinding filament] and is usually a precursor of that. This happens a lot when:

    • The feeder gear idler pressure is way too high, deforming the filament while it passes through the feeder.
    • The same part of filament is getting retracted, pushed forward, retracted multiple times. Printing something with a lot of retractions in short order will wreak havoc on the filament, especially if the feeder idler pressure is squeezing the filament a bit too tight.

    How to fix:

    Idler Tension

    If your extruder is equipped with some form of idler tension adjustment, decrease the tension. Lacking that you might be able to modify the feeder in some other manner (for example shortening the idler spring or replacing it with a softer spring). Or try a different, harder filament type or brand.

    Too many retractions

    If the problem is caused by too many retractions, use a slicer software that allows better control and reduce the amount of retractions occurring.


  9. Other Filament Issues

    Other Filament Issues
    The quality and state of your filament plays a vital role to the success and quality of your prints. Here are some common issues with filament to look out for:

    Other Filament Issues

    The quality and state of your filament plays a vital role to the success and quality of your prints. Here...
    The quality and state of your filament plays a vital role to the success and quality of your prints. Here are some common issues with filament to look out for:

    Inconsistent diameter

    If your filament diameter is not consistent, you’ll notice it in your prints. Sections that are too thin will produce under-extrusions or fail to get gripped and transported by the drive gear. Parts that are too thick will over-extrude or even get stuck somewhere along the filament path. High quality filament has a consistent diameter from beginning to the end of the spool.

    Filament slipping

    There could be a thin section on a spool with inconsistent diameter. Or maybe your extruder’s feeder idler pressure is not high enough or possibly the drive gears teeth are worn or gunked up.

    Moisture absorbtion

    Filament will absorb moisture, Nylons and PVA especially, but it can also happen with ‘normal’ filament, even PLA, it just takes longer. Make sure you store your filament in sealed bags with freshly charged desiccant.

    Stale filament

    Filament can go stale, especially after it absorbs moisture or was exposed to UV/sunlight for quite a while. Generally once exposed to the air, we suggest replacing filament over 6 months old. However, if stored correctly it can last much longer and if unopened and stored in a cool, dry space may last indefinitely.

    Brittle filament

    Brittle filament, breaking or snapping may mean stale filament. There are also some of the more brittle formulas, especially for PLA or PMMA, which might snap when passing the drive gear or is bent for example in a Bowden tube at a higher angle.

    A good test for the ‘freshness’ of PLA filament is to bend it to 90 degrees (at room temperature ~20°C) with your fingers. If it snaps, it is stale. Pull 10-15 meters off the reel and try again. You might be lucky - it may only be the top layers that have gone stale.


  10. Clogged Nozzle

    Clogged Nozzle

    Clogged extruders happen. Here are why they happen, how to prevent them and what to do if you have one.

    Clogged Nozzle

    Clogged extruders happen. Here are why they happen, how to prevent them and what to do if you have one.

    ...

    Clogged extruders happen. Here are why they happen, how to prevent them and what to do if you have one.

    Signs of a clogged nozzle:

    Most full blockages will give you an early warning sign by under extruding first, signalling a partial blockage. Sometimes a particle or containment within the filament (guaranteed not to happen with rigid.ink) will lodge in an otherwise clear nozzle causing it to block immediately.

    Explanation:

    Clogged nozzles can happen due to various reasons. Here’s a list of the most common reasons we’ve experienced:

    • Either the filament was printed too hot or had the nozzle distance was too close to the bed.
    • The printer was left sitting idle with a heated nozzle.
    • Dust & dirt might have been pulled into the now clogged extruder HotEnd.
    • The filament was contaminated (some cheap stuff is full of things that shouldn’t be in there).
    • The nozzle has not been regularly cleaned and build up has occurred.
    • The filament you were previously printing, printed at a very different temperature to the current filament.
    • Filament material and/or brand is being switched regularly without cleaning in between.
    • Wood filament was being printed (we’ve had some of the best clogs ever when printing with wood filament!).

    How to fix:

    Prevention is always better if possible, but not always enough or perhaps it’s too late.
    Always check your printer manufacturer’s recommendations first.

    Prevent a clogged extruder
    • Prevent any accumulation in your nozzle by doing pre-emptive maintenance (regularly cleaning).
    • Use a filament filter. This is a small tool that is used (often clipped on) before the filament feeds through the extruder to filter away anything that may be sitting on the filament (dust/dirt). They can be printed and files are available on websites like thingiverse.
    • Make sure never to exceed the recommended HotEnd temperature for whatever filament you’re trying to use. Cooked filament blocks nozzles. This includes staying around 10 °C below the glass transition temperature (rigid.ink GT temp available on downloadable datasheets in the settings tab on product pages).
    • Use particle filled filaments in nozzle with at least 0.5mm diameter or greater.
    • We recommend FLOSS, a high-performance cleaning filament, to make preventive maintenance easy. Extrude a bit of rigid.ink Floss on a regular basis, such as between material changes and the risk of clogs should be lessened drastically. Especially when switching from a high temp material to a low temp one, or when cleaning up after particle filled filaments.
    Unblock a clogged nozzle
    • You can try to dislodge the block in your nozzle with an acupuncture needle, hypodermic needle or an uncoated high-e guitar string. Once you got the clog dislodged, try cleaning filament (see FLOSS, a high-performance cleaning filament).
    • A highly effective yet brutal (if done improperly) way to clean a blockage are so call cold pulls or the “atomic method”. We’ve got an article on nozzle cleaning methods here.
    • Another equally brutal and somewhat dangerous way is to torch your nozzle with a blowtorch (after removing it from the printer first!). The idea is to heat and melt the blockage within the nozzle. This is NOT a method rigid.ink advise for safety reasons.
    • With ABS you could try to soak it in an acetone bath overnight. The acetone should dissolve the blockage but will only work with materials acetone soluble have been used (rigid.ink ABS, ASA, PMMA, HIPS and Polycarbonate).
    • You can do the same for PLA with a bath of ethyl acetate.

  11. Other Blockages

    Other Blockages

    Unfortunately, the nozzle isn’t the only place where clogs might occur. If no filament is coming out of the nozzle anymore the actual blockage might not be in the nozzle itself. You’ll have to check the whole filament path, starting from the feeder to the nozzle.

    • Often, blockages occur right after the drive gear, especially when using flexible filaments. This can be common for some printers, so be sure to read up on if your printer is suitable to print flexible filaments. Modifications can also be printed for some extruders, files are available on websites like thingiverse.
    • Bowden tubes like to gather debris, increasing friction, causing blockages. Inspect, clean and replace as needed.
    • Another notorious spot is where the Bowden tube in Bowden extruders (or the PTFE liner tube in certain HotEnds) meets up with the metal bits. If the tip of the tube is frayed, dented, carbonised or cut at anything but a 90° angle, this is inviting trouble. Also make sure your tube is seated firmly as far in as possible. If the tube moves, for example during retractions, chances for a blockage increase.
    • Right around the heat break. Usually a sign of insufficient HotEnd cooling or too high of a retraction distance.

    Also read our chapter [Filament not feeding properly]

    Other Blockages

    Unfortunately, the nozzle isn’t the only place where clogs might occur. If no filament is coming out of the nozzle...

    Unfortunately, the nozzle isn’t the only place where clogs might occur. If no filament is coming out of the nozzle anymore the actual blockage might not be in the nozzle itself. You’ll have to check the whole filament path, starting from the feeder to the nozzle.

    • Often, blockages occur right after the drive gear, especially when using flexible filaments. This can be common for some printers, so be sure to read up on if your printer is suitable to print flexible filaments. Modifications can also be printed for some extruders, files are available on websites like thingiverse.
    • Bowden tubes like to gather debris, increasing friction, causing blockages. Inspect, clean and replace as needed.
    • Another notorious spot is where the Bowden tube in Bowden extruders (or the PTFE liner tube in certain HotEnds) meets up with the metal bits. If the tip of the tube is frayed, dented, carbonised or cut at anything but a 90° angle, this is inviting trouble. Also make sure your tube is seated firmly as far in as possible. If the tube moves, for example during retractions, chances for a blockage increase.
    • Right around the heat break. Usually a sign of insufficient HotEnd cooling or too high of a retraction distance.

    Also read our chapter [Filament not feeding properly]


  12. Stringing and Oozing

    Stringing and Oozing

    3D printer stringing and nozzle oozing are two common 3D printer problems that usually share the same root cause. Printing too hot and using inadequate retraction settings.

    Stringing and Oozing

    3D printer stringing and nozzle oozing are two common 3D printer problems that usually share the same root cause. Printing...

    3D printer stringing and nozzle oozing are two common 3D printer problems that usually share the same root cause. Printing too hot and using inadequate retraction settings.

    Signs of stringing and oozing:

    The signs on stringing and oozing are usually quite obvious, as seen on the print in the image. There will be bits of filament fraying off your print and some areas of the print will have excess filament where it has oozed. You may also be able to see the filament is very runny coming out of the nozzle.

    Explanation:

    As filament stringing and oozing is often caused by incorrect printing temperature and retraction settings. Printing too hot will cause the filament to be too runny and also mean it will take longer to cool once printed allowing for stringing and oozing. Not having enough retraction can also mean more filament is being extruded and causes these issues.

    How to fix:

    Increase retraction distance

    Increase the retraction distance in your slicer. There’s usually a limit for how far up you can retract filament before you’re running into other issues, but as a general rule of thumb: up to 3mm is ok for most direct extruders, 4-6mm should be ok for long Bowden systems.

    Increase retraction speed

    Increase the retraction speed. Maximum speed depends entirely on your extruder, so it is hard to come up with a valid recommendation, when in doubt try up to 40mm/s. Check with your printer manufacturer.

    Arrange prints closer

    Long travel distances around the build plate tend to make your 3D print stringy, so if you can rearrange the objects to be closer on the bed, this could help against stringing 3D printing. This may not be an option for single item prints

    Increase travel speed

    Try increasing your travel speed in your slicer. Travel speed is the speed the speed the nozzle moved around the print bed. More speed means less time to ooze between layer points.

    Calibrate steps and multiplier

    Whenever you encounter any sort of extrusion issues, make sure your basics are covered - properly calibrated extruder steps/mm and extrusion multiplier, both are key to nice prints. Over-extrusion encourages 3D print stringing. See [Over Extrusion].

    Increase cooling

    Increase cooling fans. Try increase in 20% increments, or try 100% when bridging or excessive stringing occurs.

    In some instances 100% fans may not be enough. Some users fit additional cooling fans or even just put a desktop fan next to your printer to increase airflow.

    Print single objects

    If printing multiple parts at once, try printing single objects instead of placing multiple objects on the build plate. This eliminates all travel moves between multiple objects and will cut down on 3D printing stringing & oozing between multiple prints.

    Filament specific tips:

    • Flexible filament usually needs longer retractions as it stretches while being pulled backwards. However retractions on flexibles is even trickier than actually printing flexible filaments, so you might be forced to go with shorter or even no retraction at all in order to be able to print it in the first place.
    • ASA, like ABS, reacts strongly to sudden temperature changes. If you all of a sudden blast it with full part cooling fans, it might crack.

  13. Overheating

    Overheating

    One of the ugliest forms of bad 3D prints is overheating. Here’s some information on how to spot it, why it happens and how to fix it:

    Overheating

    One of the ugliest forms of bad 3D prints is overheating. Here’s some information on how to spot it, why...

    One of the ugliest forms of bad 3D prints is overheating. Here’s some information on how to spot it, why it happens and how to fix it:

    Signs of overheating:

    Your print has the correct general shape but has deformed where it has overheated. This can be at the start of your print or part way through. See the tip of the (supposed) spike in the image that has become molten because of overheating.

    Explanation:

    Overheating is exactly what it says, the filament has become too hot and isn’t cooling enough. The main cause of overheating is insufficient cooling.

    How to fix:

    • Increase the part cooling fans. If you’re not using 100% part cooling fans you can try increasing up to 100% which should help. This may not be suitable for all filaments though so be sure to check the manufacturers recommendations.
    • Try printing colder to begin with. Sometimes you can get away with a cooler printing temperature for the rest of the print with the same result. Alternatively, reduce the temperature when the printer is approaching the problem area.
    • Print slower, giving the print more time to cool down. Consider the 15 second rule: the time for the nozzle coming back to the same point on your object should not be less than 15s.
    • If your slicer supports it, set a minimum time per layer to ensure proper cooling. This usually results in the slicer dynamically slowing down the print speed to ensure the minimum layer time, which, in this particular case, won’t help all that much.
    • Pro tip: you could add a pause to the layer change script and park the nozzle away from the object for a few seconds.
    • Workaround: try printing two copies of the object at the same time, the travel moves between the 2 objects will increase the layer time and allow for more cooling.

    Filament specific tips:

    • PLA is often printed with 100% cooling fans anyway so if you're seeing overheating, it suggests your printing temperature is too high. We always suggest starting at the lower end of the suggested temperature range and work your way up.
    • ASA does not like fans or draughts. Part cooling fans should not reach more than 10-20% with ASA. A warm ambient temperature is best but that doesn't mean print at the hottest temperature within the range. Try reducing your printing temperature if you experience over heating with ASA.
    • For other filaments that you're already printing at 100% part cooling fans, try adding extra external fans next to the printer to provide further cooling.

  14. Elephants Foot

    Elephants Foot

    A classic problem in 3D printing but don’t worry we’re here to help.

    Elephants Foot

    A classic problem in 3D printing but don’t worry we’re here to help.

    A classic problem in 3D printing but don’t worry we’re here to help.

    Signs of elephant foot:

    You’ll see a flared out 1st layer, making our parts too big. Followed by a concave indentation of the next few lines before things straighten out as the heat radiating from the heat bed diminishes. As shown in the image.

    Explanation:

    The heat from the bed tends to be too much for the filament causing it to flare out. As the print continues higher and the heat from the bed diminishes the print, prints normally.

    How to fix:

    • Lower the bed temperature. Make sure you’re within the heated bed temperature range advertised by the manufacturer. The highest point in the range should never exceed 10°C below the glass transition temperature (rigid.ink Tg are available in the downloadable datasheets in the settings tab on product pages).
    • Increase the nozzle to bed distance slightly. If you’re already at the lower end of the heated bed temperature range, you can try increasing the nozzle to bed distance slightly.

  15. Walls Caving In

    Walls Caving In

    A very similar problem to elephants foot, sans the flared out first layer.

    Walls Caving In

    A very similar problem to elephants foot, sans the flared out first layer.

    A very similar problem to elephants foot, sans the flared out first layer.

    Signs of walls caving in:

    Part of the wall of a print has caved in and then returned to the correct structure after a few layers.

    Explanation:

    The weight of the subsequent layers crushes the lower layers that never had a chance to fully harden.

    How to fix:

    • Lower the bed temperature. Make sure you’re within the heated bed temperature range advertised by the manufacturer. The highest point in the range should never exceed 10°C below the glass transition temperature (rigid.ink Tg are available in the downloadable datasheets in the settings tab on product pages).
    • Set your printing temperature lower. The cooler you can print, the quicker the printed filament will cool, preventing layer crushing and caving.
    • You can also try increasing the cooling fan speed if not already at 100%. Do check with the manufacturer this is suitable for the material you’re using.

    Filament specific tips:

    • PLA is often printed with 100% cooling fans anyway so if you're seeing caving in, it suggests your printing temperature is too high. We always suggest starting at the lower end of the suggested temperature range and work your way up. High quality, pure PLA will be best printed at or below 200°C.
    • ASA does not like fans or draughts. Part cooling fans should not reach more than 10-20% with ASA. A warm ambient temperature is best but that doesn't mean print at the hottest temperature within the range. Try reducing your printing temperature if you experience caving in with ASA.
    • For other filaments that you're already printing at 100% part cooling fans, try adding extra external fans next to the printer to provide further cooling, if reducing the print temperature is not effective enough.

  16. Curling and Rough Corners

    Curling and Rough Corners

    Curling and rough corners is very easy to spot and looks quite the mess compared to the sides of the print.

    Curling and Rough Corners

    Curling and rough corners is very easy to spot and looks quite the mess compared to the sides of the...

    Curling and rough corners is very easy to spot and looks quite the mess compared to the sides of the print.

    Signs of curling and rough corners:

    Rough corners are basically corners that are curling upwards. They are very hard to miss as they only appear to affect the corners of your print. The beams corners in the image is the classic test case to demonstrate 3D print curling.

    Explanation:

    Curling as well as rough corners are another symptom of printing too hot – or insufficient cooling. Printer curling happens a lot when printing overhangs – or in corners.

    How to fix:

    • Try printing cooler. Sometimes you can get away with a cooler printing temperature for the rest of the print with the same result. We always suggest printing at the lower end of the temperature range suggested by the manufacturer.
    • Print slower to give the printed line more time to cool before the next layer is put down.
    • You can also try increasing the cooling fan speed if not already at 100%. Do check with the manufacturer this is suitable for the material you’re using.
    • When printing in an enclosure: open all doors/panels to lower ambient temperature. This may not be suitable for all materials, check with the manufacturer/seller.
    • Workaround: Try a different layer height. In the classic benchy case, printing the benchy at a 0.2mm layer height usually makes the problem disappear while it is really apparent when printing the benchy with 0.1mm layers. In other cases, a lower layer height works better. Experimenting may be needed for your particular print so make one small change at a time and test.
    • Pro tip: Increase overall cooling capabilities by adding more external fans next to the printer or optimizing fan duct design.

    Filament specific tips:

    • ASA does not like fans or draughts. Part cooling fans should not reach more than 10-20% with ASA. A warm ambient temperature is best but that doesn't mean print at the hottest temperature within the range. Try reducing your printing temperature if you experience curling/rough corners with ASA.

  17. Cracking or Layer Separation

    Cracking or Layer Separation

    Cracking can be difficult to differentiate from temporary under extrusion but this section will help you figure it out and how to fix it.

    Cracking or Layer Separation

    Cracking can be difficult to differentiate from temporary under extrusion but this section will help you figure it out and...

    Cracking can be difficult to differentiate from temporary under extrusion but this section will help you figure it out and how to fix it.

    Signs of cracking or layer separation:

    On a first glance, it can be tricky to differentiate between cracking and temporary under-extrusion as both leave gaps in layers or leave the print looking like it’s missing layers. Best way to tell them apart is: cracked layers are clean cuts and might show a bit of an upwards bend or warp, while under-extrusion tends to leave a spongy material deposition in the cracks.

    Explanation:

    Cracking occurs when 3D printing layers separate because of the forces exerted on the print when layers cool at a different rate. Warping forces exceed the layer adhesion strength and the layers simply separate.

    How to fix:

    Lower layer height

    You could be trying to print using a layer height that is too high for your nozzle. Maximum layer height should not exceed 75% of your nozzle size (i.e. 0.3mm for a 0.4mm nozzle).

    Increase temperature

    If you’re printing higher temperature materials (around 230°C or above), you may be printing too cold for that material. Increase your printing temperature in 5°C increment tests until the issue is resolved.

    Reduce cooling

    Slow down or turn off your part cooling fan speed. Avoid sudden large increases in fan speed like when going into bridging mode. We want to avoid drastic temperature changes.

    Use an enclosure

    Protect your print from drafts of cold air. If you’re not using a printer that is enclosed, build your own enclosure around it.

    Round the edges

    If after these changes, you’re still getting 3D print problems with layers separating it may be worth reducing the stress on the corners of the print by rounding the model, reducing the stress on the edges. You’ll notice sharp corners (like in the image above) will crack first as the stress here is greater.

    Change filament

    Some filaments simply have less layer adhesion than others. If you’ve tried all the tips above you may need to seek better quality filament that has solid 3D printing layer adhesion.

    rigid.ink Filament is guaranteed against this. If you're still experiencing this issue with rigid.ink, get in touch and we'll resolve or exchange it for you.

    Filament specific tips:

    • ABS is highly susceptible to 3D printer layer separation due to cold air hitting the print before it has cooled down fully. We suggest no fans for rigid.ink ABS. rigid.ink ABS prints best in a fully enclosed and even heated chamber.
    • ASA can also be very susceptible to 3D printer layer separation. rigid.ink ASA does prefer a warm ambient temperature so a heated, closed chamber is best. However, it can be used with an unheated enclosure or even on an open printer with a simple draught shield (it’s the draughts that matter most!). This is why we suggest using minimal fans around 5-20% fan speed.
    • PLA may suffer from cracking and layer separation problems if you’re printing too cool. Try increasing the printing temperature in 5°C increments, until you get successful layer adhesion.

  18. Layers Shifting & Misaligned Layers

    Layers Shifting & Misaligned Layers

    Some 3D printing issues like this, appear as completely random and isolated events. There are some checks that can be done to fix it though so keep reading to learn more.

    Layers Shifting & Misaligned Layers

    Some 3D printing issues like this, appear as completely random and isolated events. There are some checks that can be...

    Some 3D printing issues like this, appear as completely random and isolated events. There are some checks that can be done to fix it though so keep reading to learn more.

    Signs of layers shifting and misaligned layers:

    As seen in the image, you can see the shift in the print and that the layers are not aligned.

    Explanation:

    Unfortunately issues like this can happen randomly and often part way through a print. The 'How to fix:' section below can also be used as a check-list before you set your print going to prevent this happening.

    How to fix:

    Slow it down

    Trying to print too fast will cause the motors to skip, resulting in 3D printing layer shifting. Try reducing your speed and running test prints.

    Pro tip: check your jerk and acceleration settings as well.

    If also warping or curling

    If you’re also experiencing warping or curling, it could be that the HotEnd simply crashed into a section that has curled upwards. This picture however does not show any signs of warping or curling.

    Check filament is free

    A temporary problem with the filament not unspooling cleanly (a knot or tangles on the spool) might have blocked the movement of the (direct drive) extruder causing your 3D printer shifting layers. See our article [How to untangle a tangled or knotted spool].

    Printer lubrication

    You’ve got mechanical friction on this axis (the X-axis in this picture). Check if your printer moves freely along this axis, clean and lubricate the mechanical parts like smooth rods, lead-screws or rails and check for broken bearings.

    Check belts & pulleys
    Loose belts or not properly tightened pulleys will cause layers to shift as the requirement amount of travel will not be achieved. So, check the belt(s) for the axis affected and if necessary tighten according to the specifications of your printer manufacturer. Also check if all pulleys are properly tightened to the motor shafts for the axis in question. Usually, NEMA motors have a flat side on the motor shaft, it is best to tighten your pulley against this flat side to ensure best grip.
    Pro tip:

    Increase the Vref for this stepper motor to give it a bit more strength

    Printer specific tips:

    • Prusa MK2 - If you’re using a Prusa MK2(S) disable silent mode to avoid 3D printing errors like these.

  19. Layers Missing or Skipped Layers

    Layers Missing or Skipped Layers

    This is often a confusing issue to come across as it may appear as other problems initially. It's important to look at the consistency in the whole layer and compare it to the rest of the print.

    Layers Missing or Skipped Layers

    This is often a confusing issue to come across as it may appear as other problems initially. It's important...

    This is often a confusing issue to come across as it may appear as other problems initially. It's important to look at the consistency in the whole layer and compare it to the rest of the print.

    Signs of layers missing or skipped layers:

    The print has not shifted in any way, but it appears an entire layer(s) is missing within your print.

    Explanation:

    Most likely the layer isn’t missing, but due to a mechanical issue with your Z-axis, there was an uneven step when moving up to the next layer. Can easily be mistaken for [Under Extrusion] or [Cracking or Layer Separation].

    How to fix:

    • Reduce the Z-axis movement speed in your slicer settings.
    • Make sure your Z-axis can travel freely. In some case, if the filament doesn’t unspool smoothly from the reel, Z-axis travel can be blocked or in a direct drive extruder setup the extruder motor might yank the extruder upwards.
    • Check your Z-axis, Clean and lubricate your smooth rods, rails, lead-screw etc. and look for broken bearings. If the error occurs exactly on the same layer in repeated prints, there could also be an issue with a bent or misaligned lead screw.
    • Pro Tip: check acceleration and jerk settings for the Z-axis.
    • Check the exact resolution of your Z-axis (motor steps and properties of the lead-screw) and set layer heights to use full steps. Sometimes, a 0.12 layer prints nicer than a 0.1mm.
    • If this is a newly assembled DIY printer kit, look into the micro-stepping behaviour of your stepper drivers. If this is a pre-built machine, contact the manufacturer for hardware support.

  20. Weak or Under-Extruded Infill

    Weak or Under-Extruded Infill

    This may be one of those problems with 3D printing that you can live with, although it can be an early warning sign of worsening under extrusion.

    Weak or Under-Extruded Infill

    This may be one of those problems with 3D printing that you can live with, although it can be an...

    This may be one of those problems with 3D printing that you can live with, although it can be an early warning sign of worsening under extrusion.

    Signs of weak of under extruded infill:

    Your 3D printing infill looks weak or under-extruded (spongy in appearance).

    Explanation:

    Often due to settings being slightly out, while you may get away with poor infill not affecting the external appearance of your 3D print quality, it provides almost no stability to the print.

    How to fix:

    Reduce extrusion settings

    Most slicers automatically increase the infill 3D printing speed or use a bigger extrusion multiplier/line width than regular outlines. This setting is often proportionally set by applying a multiplier to your general 3D printer settings. If you’re pushing your printer to its limits in speed and extrusion volume, the infill is the most likely place where it starts to fail first. Therefore, either reduce your general extrusion settings, or find the modifier for the infill and reduce that.

    Increase heat on faster prints

    You may be printing too cold for the desired print speed. Printing faster or at higher extrusion rates requires more heat to melt the proper amount of plastic in time. Increase your temperature in 5°C increment tests until the issue is resolved.

    Lower layer height

    You’ll experience infill issues if you’re trying to use a layer height that is too high for your nozzle or extruder. Stick to a maximum layer height of 75% of your nozzle size (i.e. 0.3mm for a 0.4mm nozzle).


  21. Deformed Infill

    Deformed Infill

    Infill is usually printed in a regular pattern, like in a grid, or boxes or even honeycomb structures. If you notice your infill printing deformed there’s a few things you can check.

    Deformed Infill

    Infill is usually printed in a regular pattern, like in a grid, or boxes or even honeycomb structures. If you...

    Infill is usually printed in a regular pattern, like in a grid, or boxes or even honeycomb structures. If you notice your infill printing deformed there’s a few things you can check.

    Signs of deformed infill:

    The pattern of infill appears deformed rather than printing evenly.

    Explanation:

    There may be some settings that aren’t quite correct which is causing deformed infill. If the structure chosen is not suitable extra support may be needed.

    How to fix:

    Infill printed too fast

    With most slicers, the infill is printed at the highest print speed specified, while outlines for example are printed slower. So, the first place to notice too high print speeds is often the infill. Lower your print speed gradually to test if this fixes the issue as you might be printing too fast.

    Decrease skip

    You may have set the infill to skip layers. If the infill deforms, decrease the skip amount.

    Increase infill extrusion width

    Your infill extrusion width may be still be set at a reduced amount (if you were trying to save weight on a previous print). Set it to 100% (or higher) to see if that helps.

    Insert diaphragm
    Some slicers allow a solid diaphragm to be printed every so many layers. This can be used to support subsequent infill layers (and as a by-product, they can increase the rigidity of the structure significantly).
    Print hotter
    Try increasing the print temperature (in 5°C increments) printing faster requires increasing your print temperature to melt enough plastic in time.
    Tighten belts & pulleys
    Loose belts or pulleys could be responsible for a printer’s inability to perform sharp directional changes at higher speeds, which could result in deformed infill patterns, especially if it consists of sharp angles. Tighten the belts & pulleys to stop this problem.

  22. Insufficient Retractions

    Insufficient Retractions
    It may be tempting here to improve 3D print quality by sanding or cutting these sections from the print, and while that’s an OK fix, prevention is always the best way to fix 3D print issues.

    Insufficient Retractions

    It may be tempting here to improve 3D print quality by sanding or cutting these sections from the print, and...