3D Printing Speed:  How to Get the Best Setting for PLA?

3D Printing Speed: How to Get the Best Setting for PLA?

3D Printing Speed: How to get the Best setting for PLA

If you are new to 3d printing, maybe you note that it is hard to balance the printing speed and quality.

When you use a faster printing speed, the quality of 3d print will not so good. Either, slow speed means that you need to spend much more time.

In this post, we will explain the details of 3d printing speed and how to get the best setting for PLA.

  • What is The Speed Setting in 3d Printer?
  • How Do I Get the Perfect Print Speed Settings?
  • What is a Good Print Speed for PLA?
  • Does Print Speed Affect Quality?
  • Printing Speed Calculator

  • How Fast Can 3D Printers Print?

What is Speed Setting in 3d printer?

When we talk about the 3d printing speed, most of us think that it is the moving speed of the extruder. They move around from one layer to another. The faster or slower decide the printing time for the part. Actually, it’s not.

To get good quality print, we need to set the best setting for speed. The speed contains so many parts; extruder speed is just one of the most speed types.

Print Speed

3D print speed is the primary speed setting that will take effects on 3d prints. As the name “print speed” implies, it determines the speed at which your printer motors move. And these motors comprise the extruder motors and the X and Y axis motors. Note that the outcome of your printing mainly depends on the selected print speed.

Now let’s break down the complexity of the print speed. The setting of the print speed has four sub-settings, which are;

  • Infill speed: The print speed reduces the printing duration with quality printing strength.
  • Outer wall shell speed: It reduces slightly to boost the quality of the surface of the print.
  • Inner wall shell speed: It works to reduce the time spent on printing while sustaining the strength of the print.
  • Top/Bottom speed: Generally, it is slightly reduced to boost the prints’ surface quality.

Travel Speed

Travel speed is the speed rate of the 3D printer’s print head when it is not extruding plastic. Increasing the travel speed can drastically reduce the duration used in printing. But too much increase of the travel speed can result in a misaligned layer of the model or print failure.

Retraction speed

Travel speed is the speed rate of the 3D printer’s print head when it is not extruding plastic. Increasing the travel speed can drastically reduce the duration used in printing. But too much increase of the travel speed can result in a misaligned layer of the model or print failure.

Shell, Infill, and Layer Height

3d printer speed not only decides by “speed” alone and is also affected by the extruding thickness and plastic of each layer. So, let me briefly tell you some general information about how each of these concerns the speed rate of your print.

1. Shell thickness: In this setting, the extruded plastic use to forming the outlines of the 3D model. An increase in the shell thickness will not only result in increased consistency and strength. But also cause a notable increase in the print duration.

2. Infill: This describes the inner structure of the 3d model. The density of this internal structure has a remarkable effect on the print speed. Higher infill density will lead to higher strength and longer print time.

3. Layer Height: This influences how quickly your print will finish. The higher your layer height, the thicker each layer of your 3D prints and the shorter the print duration. Adjust your layer based on the required print resolution.

How Do I Get the Perfect Print Speed Settings?

The best way to get the perfect print speed of your 3D printer is by starting it at the default speed setting. That’s 60 mm/s and then increasing it by five mm/s. These are settings that you arrived at after consistent trial and error on the test prints. The perfect print speed setting entirely depends on the type of print you are settling to go for.

If your print speed is set to a very high speed, it may result in overheating due to insufficient cooling. If your print speed is set at a low rate, it may result in the deformation of the prints. This deformation is a result of the extended setting of the nozzle on the plastics. Hence, always consider the print’s temperature and the thickness of your filament.

The materials also play a critical role in the perfection of your print speed. Some materials enable you to in an instant and get incredible quality.

What is a Good Print Speed for PLA?

3d printing PLA

A good print speed for PLA is a spot that gives it a good balance of print quality and speed. And this falls between 40-60 mm/s range. Based on your 3D printer setup, type, and stability. Your PLA speed rate can reach 100 mm/s and above easily. When compared to Cartesian, Delta 3D printers are going to permit higher speeds.

I’d recommend sticking to this range. But there are instances where using higher print speed and the results were fantastic. The low maintenance nature of PLA allows increased speed without risking the quality as well. But don’t over increase the speed.

Does print speed reduce print quality?

There have been several numbers of controversies on the effects of speed on the quality of a print. Generally, when you are yet to optimize your printer, lower rates make 3d printers better quality. But a high speed has a more negligible effect when you have fully optimized your 3D printer. This optimization is a result of knowing how to set the printer’s settings. That will directly affect 3D printing speed without compromising the print’s quality.

If you use lower infill settings, will your print strength be reduced? The less infill you use, the less strength of your prints. Like I have said earlier in this post. When the print speed is too high, it will result in print failure and most likely render the print useless.

When you have, using the recommended 5mm/s increment for adjusting it. It will be much easier for you to detect the best speed rate for your printer with excellent quality.

Printing Speed Calculator

The printing speed calculator is a digital calculator available on the Internet. It is designed to solve 3D printing speed settings and related challenges, which are printer configuration or finding the best parameters for their desired speed.

This calculator helps you find the maximum printing speed that you can reach with the current structure of your 3d printer. Enter your layer height, nozzle size, line width, and choose the material you will be printing.

How Fast Does a 3D Printer Print?

It depends on the material you are printing. Like how large the part is, what orientation it is in, the alignment of your print object, and the internal support style. Materials-wise, the weaker and cheaper materials you use, the faster it will get the print done. PLA is usually quicker to print but is not as heat resistant or tough as ABS.

Although some things are so small that the printer can get it done in a couple of minutes, some other prints can take a couple of days to print. So one of the most significant factors is time. More material = more time.

Orientation can also have a significant effect on it. The more vertical layers you have, the longer the print will take. How fast your printers print also depends on the internal support. What you are making matters, but for you to decide. It highly depends on what you need or wants in terms of speed versus strength.

And if it sometimes has to go fast, the quality can easily compromise. You can get better results in 3D printing at lower speeds. But you will get the best result when it is optimized.

Summary

Suppose you use the correct printing speed and suitable materials. 3D print can be efficient and effective. There are no specific settings to get the best result. It differs from different types of material and printers.

You should print test prints inconsistently. It is the only method to get the best setting.

How to Fix 3D Prints Zits and Blobs?

How to Fix 3D Prints Zits and Blobs?

How to Fix 3D Prints Zits: The Ultimake Guide

Not every problem in 3D printing will cause a catastrophic failure of your project. In some cases, the error manifests as minor blemishes and imperfections. 3D print zits are a typical example. You might still end up with a relatively solid 3D print, but it’s not going to look as good as you likely would have envisioned.

Undoubtedly 3d print zits and blobs are the cases. These are surface imperfections created by unwanted variations in filament extrusion. The good news is that you can likely avoid these defects by changing a few slicer settings.

What Are Zits On 3D Prints?

what are blobs and zits on 3d prints

Blobs or zits typically take the form of small bumps on the outer surface of 3d print. Upon closer inspection, you may notice that a single chunk or zit is exclusive to just a single layer. This should already clue you in the root cause of blobs and zits.

Another feature is that the blobs and zits are distributed almost uniformly across the entire outer surface. It implies that the surface defect is not just a one-off problem. There is likely a systemic problem in your 3d printer or slicer that is causing a reasonably consistent error.

There can be several possible causes for blobs or zits in your 3D print. However, all of them will result in inconsistent extrusion. Regardless, print quality will undoubtedly suffer when 3D printing blobs and zits are left uncontrolled.

What Causes Zits On My 3D Print?

As with most 3d printing issues, there can be several different but related causes for 3d print blobs.

Too much filament

In a way, blobs and zits are the opposite of layer gaps in 3d print. They represent spots where too much filament are extruded. If zits and blobs have become a common problem, you can try to keep a close on your 3D printer while it runs and identify when and where they occur.

Do zits and blobs appear at the point where a layer starts or stops? This means that there are short bursts of extra filament when the extruder starts or stops a layer. If this is the case, you likely need to refine your retraction settings.

Pressure is too high on the extruder

Too much pressure on the extruder will make it more likely to end up with excess filament in unwanted spots. This extra pressure can cause by several factors, including improper printing temperature, speed, and retraction setting.

Printing speed is too high

Printing at very high speed or extrusion multiplier settings can be a significant cause of blobs and zits. Higher print speed means that filament is delivered faster to the extruder and hot end. This causes undue pressure on the extruder and makes it harder to control the flow of molten filament.

The optimal printing speed will vary based on the 3d filament type you are working with and other settings such as the printing temperature. We suggest setting a default printing speed according to manufacturer recommendations and adjusting if necessary.

Retraction, coasting, and wiping settings

Retraction plays a massive role in potentially avoiding blobs and zits. However, unnecessary retraction can also cause them. The key here is to strike the perfect balance and to take advantage of coasting and wiping features.

The prevailing good practice to avoid zits and blobs is to retract only when necessary. Having no retraction is ideal because it ensures that there is constant and continuous extrusion of filament. However, your model may have significant gaps that the extruder needs to cross. In this case, enabling non-stationary extrusion will help avoid blobs at points where extrusion stops.

Avoiding retraction is even more critical if your 3d printer has a Bowden extruder. In a Bowden setup, retraction is made more complex by the extra distance between the extruder and nozzle. This makes retraction more disruptive if you aim to make extrusion as smooth and consistent as possible. Direct extruders are less problematic but still may not retract perfectly.

If retraction is necessary, make sure to dial in the optimal settings. The retraction distance defines how far the filament will pull back. Anywhere between 1 to 5 millimeters can work. The optimal location can vary based on your filament type and 3d printer settings. We recommend starting at the minimum set and increasing by 0.5-millimeter increments.

Retraction speed refers to how quickly the filament will be pulled back by the extruder. Too slow, and there may still be enough pressure in the extruder nozzle to cause blobs, zits, or string. Too fast, and there may be a delay when the printer needs to start to extrude again. The minimum retraction speed should be around 20 millimeters per second but can be increased up to 100 millimeters per second. It’s a good practice to start at the minimum value and increase by 20 mm/s increments.

Coasting is another feature worth exploring. When coasting is enabled, extrusion stops just before a layer is finished. This means that any built-up pressure in the extruder will cause the filament to ooze out so that you do not end up with zits where the layer terminates.

Wiping is only a slight variation to coasting that has the same goal. Instead of releasing built-up pressure on an empty spot, wiping adds to the filament that has already extruded.

Wiping is worth considering if you’re worried about seeing under-extrusion at the endpoints of a layer. Coasting and wiping settings can be refined to control the volume of filament that will be extruded solely by the built-up pressure in the nozzle.

Printing temperature is too high

An excessive printing temperature makes your filament behave more like a fluid. The melted plastic can more easily ooze out of the nozzle and cause 3D print zits or blobs.

You can consider reducing your printing temperature by increments of 5 C. This will make the melted filament less fluid and less prone to oozing out. However, shallow printing temperatures can also cause problems related to layer adhesion. You will likely also have to adjust the printing speed to account for the lower nozzle temperature.

Extruder pathing

Extruder pathing refers to controlling where the nozzle travels when doing an empty run. It helps to eliminate unnecessary retraction. If you can not stop it, you can reduce the number of times that the filament needs to retract. Improper extruder pathing will result in heavy retraction and a higher likelihood of zits and blobs.

Some slicers offer an option to “Retract only when crossing open spaces,” although the exact wording may vary from one slicer software to another. When this feature is enabled, retraction is no longer done when the print head movement crosses through internal spaces. This is less problematic as any zits, blobs, or strings will not be visible from the outside.

Simplify3D offers an alternative with the “Avoid outlines for travel movement” feature. When this feature is enabled, the travel path of the nozzle will be automatically altered so that it will never cross the outline perimeter of the print. If this is possible with your model, this means that you can finish the entire 3D print without having to use filament retraction. This powerful feature can help avoid zits and blobs among other extrusion-related issues.

How To Prevents Zits On 3D Prints?

The reasons listed above should already give you an idea of the measures you can take to avoid 3D print zits and blobs. Aside from changing a few 3D slicer settings, hardware tweaks can also influence print quality.

Clean your nozzle

clean the nozzle

Any dirt or residual filament on your nozzle can cause extrusion issues. This may not be apparent initially but will most certainly cause quality issues down the road.

In the case of 3d printing zits, any solid residue left inside the nozzle contributes to increasing the pressure of the extruder nozzle. It will more likely for the melted plastic to ooze out of the nozzle and create zits and blobs.

The best practice is to set regular schedules for cleaning your extruder nozzle. The easiest way to do this is to brush the interior of the nozzle with a metal-bristled brush. In case of heavy fouling, you may have to soak the nozzle in acetone for a couple of hours. It’s necessary if the filament residues in the nozzle have been burnt and solidified.

Keep your filament dry

Printing with filament saturated with moisture is probably one of the worst things you can do. Not only are you going to end up with lots of quality issues, but you can cause damage to the internal components of your extruder.

Detecting wet filament is easy. As wet filament enters the heating block, the moisture in the filament will start to boil and evaporate. This will create prominent popping and hissing sounds. You can expect many of your layers to have gaps or a pock-marked surface in terms of print quality because of the space that the moisture leaves as it evaporates.

Within the heating block, the evaporation of the moisture is more likely to cause your filament to form residues. As the residual filament builds up, it can cause clogs to increase the pressure in the extruder nozzle. A clogged nozzle will be very hard to achieve uniform extrusion and make 3d print zits and blobs more likely to form.

Printing with wet filament is so problematic that you’re better off stopping the print and starting over again.

To ensure that you’re printing with dry filament, always keep your filament in an airtight container with some desiccant. If necessary, you may dry your filament in a special filament desiccator. Drying the filament in an oven is also an option, but only if your range has reliable temperature controls.

Do a test print

red-benchy-boat.jpg

Even with the best-laid plans, there are still many things that can go wrong with your 3d print. If you’re working on a massive project, it can lead to lots of wasted filament. If you’re unsure about your settings, the prudent thing to do would be to do a test print.

The ideal test print is a model that is small but has lots of different types of details. Some in the community refer to these test models as “torture tests.” Think of it as a calibration print before you go and spend an entire day printing your actual model.

The most popular torture test by far is the classic Benchy. This is a good choice for a test model if you’re dealing with zits and blobs as it has a relatively large smooth, and curved surface.

A test print should consume less than 20 grams’ worth of filament and print within an hour or less. Consider it an investment in your time and filament material that will keep you from wasting more of them down the road.

How To Remove Zits On 3D Prints?

Ideally, it would help tweak your 3d printer settings to avoid 3D print zits and blobs altogether. However, minor defects after printing can still be salvaged. Post-processing is a natural part of the 3D printing process.

The best and most straightforward method to deal with zits and blobs is to sand them smooth. Sanding removes any of the excess plastic on the 3d print, leaving a more unblemished surface. You can use different types of sandpaper with progressively increasing grit numbers. You can also set the Z-seam so that the seam position is at a less visible area.

Aside from eliminating zits and blobs, sanding will also remove visible traces of layer lines. This will leave you with an overall improved aesthetic. Polishing and painting generally result in vastly enhanced 3d print surfaces.

Summary

In the context of 3D printing defects, blobs and zits are pretty low in the hierarchy. They generally do not cause a 3d print to fail and can be remedied with some post-processing. However, they can still be a headache if you’re aiming to make your 3D print look as perfect as possible.

Zits and blobs can usually be traced to improper 3d printer settings that cause issues in extrusion. Fortunately, this also means that you should fix the problem with some changes in your slicer software settings. Dealing with zits and blobs is relatively easy after some experience with printing.

How to Avoid Over-Extrusion in 3D Printing: The Ultimate Guide

How to Avoid Over-Extrusion in 3D Printing: The Ultimate Guide

How to Avoid Over-Extrusion in 3D Printing: The Ultimate Guide

Over extrusion is one of the 3d printing problems that you can encounter. Depending on how lousy over-extrusion is, your print can suffer from minor quality defects or poor structural strength.

In most cases, you can address this simply by making a few changes to software settings, such as print speed, layer height. It can also be hardware-related and will require more work to solve. Check out some of our tips on identifying and solving over-extrusion in 3d printing

What Is 3D Printing Over Extrusion?

what is over extrusion in 3d printing

Over extrusion is a 3d printing troubleshooting caused by excessive extrusion of filament. This will ruin the aesthetics of the model. Worse cases of over extrusion can even compromise the structural integrity of 3D print. It is possible regardless of the 3d filament type you’re using or the brand of your 3d printer.

You can notice 3d printing over extrusion from some tell-tale signs. These include blobs, strings, drooping layers, or layers that are overly thick. If you spot any of these signs, we suggest that you address the underlying cause right away. If allowed to run, your 3d printer will likely suffer from a jammed nozzle. It is a problem that is much harder to solve.

What Causes Over Extrusion?

With too much filament material, the print can end up with dimensional inaccuracies and poor overall quality. To solve over-extrusion, we need to know the underlying factors that cause this issue.

1. Printing Temperature is Too High

It is probably the most common cause of an over extrusion problem. When the filament is heated, the viscosity reduces and takes on a more fluid characteristic. It is fine when the material is under the proper circumstances. That is the very essence of using thermoplastic materials for 3D printing.

However, any filament only functions well within a specific temperature range. Beyond this range, the filament becomes more fluid than intended by the 3d filament manufacturer. This makes it difficult to control as the print head moves, even with retraction enabled.

2. The Extrusion Multiplier Is Too High

As we know, 3d printers feed filament to the nozzle by the rotation of an extrusion gear, which connects with a motor. The running speed of the motor runs is dictated by the “extrusion multiplier” or “flow rate” settings in your slicer. Under normal circumstances, the default 100% setting of the extrusion multiplier works perfectly fine.

When the extrusion multiplier is too high, you will likely end up with too large layers. This will mess up the dimensional accuracy of prints and distort any delicate details. And what’s more, the excess material could end up with a clogged nozzle.

3. Other Errors In Slicer Setting

In any project, you need to make sure that the slicer settings line up perfectly with the 3D printer hardware. In over-extrusion, incorrect slicer settings on filament diameter and nozzle size can be possible root causes.

For the most part, your slicer software can set 3d printing parameters ideally based on your 3D model. However, it cannot detect the size of your filament and the diameter of your nozzle – these are parameters you will need to input by yourself. Extrusion problems can happen if the slicer settings do not correspond to your actual hardware.

3D Printing Signs of Over Extrusion

The first step in solving a problem is identifying it. Over-extrusion is not immediately apparent in the first few layers of a 3D printing project but should be easy to spot later.

In the case of over-extrusion, these are the warning signs to look out for:

1. Stringing or Blobs

string in 3d printing

String is the most obvious warning sign of over-extrusion. Errant blobs and filament strings can appear when there is an excess of molten filament in the hot end. Excessive stringing is also quite common when the printing temperature is set too high.

We can remedy 3d printer stringing and blobs by post-processing. However, excessive stringing will ruin the prints. If you spot stringing and blobs early on in your project, it would be best to intervene.

2. Drooping Layers

drop layer on prints

Over extrusion will almost create layers with non-uniform thickness. This will result in messy layers with excess filament, they are seemingly oozing out of the shell of the print. The stability of the layers will also be compromised as the weight of the extra filament causes the layers to droop down.

Drooping layers can significantly ruin the outer dimensions of a finished print. You can sand down with minor protrusions. In most cases, the dimensional inaccuracy will not guarantee after the post-processing.

Typically, It takes several layers before over-extrusion becomes apparent. This makes over extrusion more problematic, as you could end up spending a few hours on a project before finding out you will need to start over.

The effects of over extrusion are more aesthetic but can drastically reduce the visual appeal of your finished print.

How to Fix Over Extrusion 3d Printing?

Over extrusion is considered one of the most accessible 3d printing problems to solve. Because the solution usually only involves making a few adjustments to slicer settings.

Here are some of the possible ways to fix the problem. They arrange in the sequence which one you should try first.

1. Lower the Printer Temperature

The first thing to check is the print temperature for your project. Is it within the recommended temperature range based on the 3d filament manufacturer? If you still have room to reduce, then do so only in small increments. Reducing by 5 °C at a time is recommended.

When taking this step, note that it’s perfectly possible to set your printing temperature too low. This can result in poor bed or layer adhesion. Make sure to still stay within the recommended temperature range. Adjustments to print speed may also be necessary when reducing the extruder temperature or nozzle temperature.

If the problem persists while you’re already at the lower end of the temperature range, you need to look for other solutions.

2. Adjust The Flow Rate or Extrusion Multiplier

The extrusion multiplier setting determines the rate at which the extrusion gears move the filament forward. In most slicers, this parameter setting is 100% in default. However, you are free to increase or reduce the material flow as needed.

The obvious solution is to reduce the extrusion multiplier setting on your slicer if you’re experiencing over-extrusion. You must still be careful when doing this. Increasing in small, gradual increments is best – about 2.5% at a time.

Again, reducing the extrusion multiplier by too much runs the risk of going into the under-extrusion territory. Watch out for incomplete layers or gaps between adjacent extrusions. If these signs become noticeable, then re-adjust your extrusion multiplier to slightly higher numbers.

Just keep in mind that reducing the extrusion multiplier will also significantly affect printing speed and total printing time.

3. Check 3D Filament Diameter

Getting the extrusion right requires perfect coordination between the nozzle, extruder gears, and heating element. You need to play your part in making sure that all the info the slicer needs is accurate.

One crucial piece of information is the diameter of 3d printer filament. The slicer uses this value to calculate the rate of extrusion needed for your model. Supplying the wrong filament diameter will undoubtedly lead to extrusion problems.

Inputting the incorrect filament diameter is a widespread reason for over-extrusion. When you switch over from one filament to another, this can also happen if the filament you are using has poor diameter consistency.

The best method is to take a caliper and measure your filament diameter in three different spots. Ideally, the measurements should be within 0.5 millimeters of each other. Take the average of your measurements and input that value into your slicer. This may not exactly be 1.75 or 3.00 millimeters, but every bit of accuracy helps.

3. Check Nozzle Diameter

The slicer setting with the proper nozzle diameter plays a huge role, not just in extrusion. Other parameters such as shell thickness and layer size also depending on nozzle size.

If you’re experiencing over extrusion, there’s a chance that your slicer is set with the wrong nozzle diameter. A simple correction of the nozzle diameter value should address the problem. If you have the option to swap out your stock nozzle for a larger one, that can also help avoid over-extrusion.

3. Check For Wear and Tear In Nozzle

wear noozle

The worn-down nozzle has a larger opening than you expect. This situation will be familiar if you always use the brass nozzle with your 3D printer.

The larger opening nozzle means that the printer will extrude more material than what the slicer program intends. If your nozzle shows signs of wear and tear, it is best to replace it with a spare nozzle.

4. Increase Movement Speed

When 3d printing a complex model, empty runs are unavoidable, an “empty run” is a short period when the print head is moving, but no extrusion is taking place. This is typically a transition from one layer to the next. Empty runs can be problematic because the molten material left in the nozzle can droop down and cause stringing.

Increasing the movement speed or travel speed is the easiest way to shorten these empty runs. There is less chance for the molten filament to drip out of the nozzle. However, there is also an upper limit to the print head’s travel speed.

Swift movement can create excess vibrations and cause the print head to overshoot its target. Layer shifting is a common sign of a print head that is moving too fast.

5. Enable retraction

When the printer is doing an empty run, the retraction allows a portion of the plastic filament to be pulled back within the extruder. This reduces the pressure on the molten plastic inside the nozzle, making it less likely for the molten material to forms blobs or stringing. The measure may be more commonly needed when working with flexible tpu filament.

When the plastic material goes through the extruder’s heating, it is essentially converted to its molten form. This material remains molten and will inevitably drip down into the build plate. Retracting the filament could delay this happening.

Over extrusion is more likely at high nozzle temperature and using flexible filament. In these cases, you may have to fine-tune settings such as retraction distance and retraction speed. However, over retracting can also be an issue as it can cause a nozzle jam or filament stripping.

If you have trouble fine-tuning settings to avoid over-extrusion, we recommend testing them on a minimal model. The standard benchy would be a good “torture test” that will not waste a lot of time and filament. You also can access other free STL files in the online community for 3d printing. Over-extrusion usually isn’t apparent on the first few layers of a print, so you will have to be patient to test your settings.

Summary

As far as 3D printing problems go, over-extrusion is far from being one of the worst. The silver lining is that you know your 3D printer is extruding – you have to hold it back. Over-extrusion is relatively easy to solve with just a few tweaks in your slicer settings.

Getting extrusion just right in a 3D printer requires perfect coordination between the many components. You need to provide the slicer with accurate information, which will calculation based on your model.

As long as you’re working with suitable filament and proper settings, the prints should not suffer from an over-extrusion issue.

How To Cleaning 3D Printer Bed: The Ultimate Guide

How To Cleaning 3D Printer Bed: The Ultimate Guide

How To Cleaning 3D Printer Bed: The Ultimate Guide

Cleaning a 3D printer bed can be tricky. Ask anyone who has tried to do so. Excess 3d filaments and other grime are not always easy to remove from the print bed.

However, when you don’t clean them, it is worse. A dirty print bed means you will likely run into printing issues such as reduced proper bed adhesion.

Reduced bed adhesion can be a nightmare. You need the printed parts to stay stuck to the bed while printing, else what you are printing can fall apart. This wastes time and material. But removing dirt, oil, dust, and grime from the print bed can be a complex process.

Below we talk about how you can successfully clean different kinds of print bed surfaces.

Glass print bed

glass printer bed

The glass print bed is a universal print surface for 3D printing. Borosilicate glass is the most common material used for this printing bed surface.

Glass print beds with heating abilities are better for adhesion and also easier to clean.

When to clean it

How often you should clean your glass print bed is linked to how often you use it. The more frequently you use it, the quicker it accumulates dirt and grime. The more times you need to clean it.

Generally, here are a few tips to keep in mind as regards when to clean your printer bed:

First, after every printing session, scrape the print bed you worked on. This is to avoid residual buildup of filaments and other materials on it.

After a while, you might notice that prints no longer stick as well to the print bed. They may even entirely stop clinging to the print bed. This usually occurs in a month or so.

When this happens, this is your cue to do more than just regular scraping as your cleaning routine. It would help if you tried scrubbing your print bed through with soap and water.

After a while (2-4 months on average), scrubbing with soap and water may no longer cut it as a cleaning option. When this happens, you will need more advanced solutions. It would be best if you tried Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) then. IPA is a very tough and effective cleaning solvent that should get your print bed cleaning done nicely.

How to Clean glass printing bed

Glass beds are a preferred printing bed type among 3D printing experts. A reason for this is that they make it easy to print 3D objects with smooth surfaces. However, glass plates are often coupled with adhesives to help enhance the printing process.

However, these adhesives, as well as filaments, need to be removed after every printing session. Else they will cause issues with your printing. Below we look at a couple of ways you can effectively clean your glass print bed.

The easiest method, and the one you should do after every printing session, is to clean the print bed with a scraper.

If you are trying to scrape on an excellent surface, you may have a difficult time. To make it easier, raise the glass bed temperature, so it matches the melting point of your filaments. This makes it easier for you to scrape off the debris gently. Be gentle and careful during the scraping process. Otherwise, you may damage the printing surface.

Sometimes scraping may not be enough. Then you will need to use soap and water for your cleaning procedure. It is essential before doing this that you detach your printer bed. Else the water might get into sensitive parts of the printer and cause damage.

When using water, it should be warm water. It is similar to the reasoning behind heating the print bed before scraping. It would help if you softened the filaments so they come off quickly. The soap water also effectively cleans out the adhesive agents used during printing.

Sometimes these methods are not effective at cleaning. You can look at advanced cleaning solutions. These include window cleaner, concentrated isopropyl alcohol, acetone, sterile alcohol pads.

Which of these agents you eventually end up using depends on some factors. Chief among these is the kind of material you want to clean off. Also, ensure the solutions are not extremely powerful, so you don’t damage your print bed.

The isopropyl alcohol should not be less than 70% concentrated. When using acetone, ensure you get a cloth pad or a paper towel to wipe the surface. You apply acetone to the cloth then wipe the surface with it.

Keep in mind that acetone is a highly flammable substance. Consequently, you should do your cleaning with it in a well-ventilated place.

PEI print bed

PEI Printer bed

Polyetherimide, also names PEI, are adhesive plastic sheets. It is a kind of surface for your print bed. It is regarded as a relatively “maintenance-free” build surface.

PEI can work with all types of filaments on heated or unheated print beds. Also, they do not require additional adhesives before use.

When to clean your PEI Bed

You should clean your PEI bed after every use. This helps prevent filament residue and other contaminations from building up on the surface. When your printer has been lying idle for a few days, it might accumulate a bit of dust. You should do mild cleaning then.

When you notice the PEI print bed surface isn’t sticky as usual, this is your cue to clean it. Loss of adhesiveness is typically due to the buildup of filament residue and debris on the surface of the printer bed. At this point, you may need a stricter approach to cleaning it.

How to clean PEI bed

Cleaning your PEI print bed surface can be done using some methods. The more intensive the use of the print bed has been, the more challenging your cleaning approach. Here are a couple of cleaning methods that work fine for cleaning a PEI print bed.

Cleaning a PEI print bed with acetone or brake cleaner works pretty well, even in tough cases. Acetone and brake cleaner are pretty strong agents and should be used cautiously with most surfaces.

However, a bonus is that the PEI surface is resistant to possible damage caused by the use of acetone or brake cleaner. This is as long as you don’t go overboard with the cleaning process.

Stubborn filament residues that won’t come off quickly are an issue for many 3D printers. However, Acetone and brake fluid are top solutions for this issue. Cleaning with acetone should not be done very often. Else the surface may become brittle. A week or more is an appropriate interval between cleaning sessions with acetone.

Not all cleaning cases require acetone. Sometimes all you need to do with your PEI surface is just essential cleansing. This is especially when the surface is just dusty or slightly dirty. Here, you can dampen a cloth pad with soapy water and wipe the surface gently.

Isopropanol works well for standard or intermediate level cleaning on PEI surfaces. It is best for cases that require more than a simple wipe with soapy water and do not need acetone or brake cleaner level cleaning.

When using isopropanol, first ensure the surface is excellent. This is because the substance is volatile and evaporates quickly. Therefore a warm feeling will lead to even quicker evaporation. Let the shell cool, then apply isopropanol.

After applying isopropanol, you should wipe the surface gently with a paper towel, a cloth pad, or a soft sponge. The isopropanol solution used should be 99%.

Adhesive Tape

Adhesive tape

There are different kinds of adhesive tape. Two examples are painter’s tape and polyamide tape. Painters tape is a thin paper coated with a pressure-sensitive adhesive that is quickly releasing on pressure.

Polyamide tape can withstand high temperatures up to 280°C and coat on one side with silicone adhesive.

When to clean it

There are different kinds of adhesive tape. Two examples are painter’s tape and polyamide tape. Painters tape is a thin paper coated with a pressure-sensitive adhesive that is quickly releasing on pressure.

Polyamide tape can withstand high temperatures up to 280°C and coat on one side with silicone adhesive.

How to clean it

Adhesive tape is relatively difficult to clean. However, you gently scrape the surface with a spatula to remove residual filament. Scrap gently and evenly so you don’t damage the tape.

During cleaning, you may come across areas where the tape is peeling or torn. You should patch these areas carefully and evenly. The places you should look out for are those where the most movements occur.

You will eventually need to resurface the bed. To do this, you should scrape and peel off the previous layer of tape. The mattress underneath can be cleaned with soap and water to remove residual adhesives.

After cleaning and drying, you can proceed to lay a new layer of tape. To do this, you should stretch the tape across the entirety of the bed, then press any air bubbles from below the tape till the surface becomes as level as you can get it to be.

Raft Vs Brim, What’s the Difference?

Raft Vs Brim, What’s the Difference?

Raft Vs Brim, What’s the Difference?

Raft or Brim is one of the ways that you can solve common problems encountered in 3D printing. Although convenient and effective, there are also drawbacks to using rafts and brims. What are rafts and brims, and when is it ideal to use them?

Why Do We Need To Print With Raft and Brim?

Both raft and brim support the objective of making sure that the base layer of your model prints perfectly. A raft or brim enhances bed adhesion by providing a larger surface of contact between the print and the build platform. This prevents common issues such as warping.

A raft or brim can also provide mechanical reinforcement for prints with very small or weak supports. This can often be the case if the model has a small contact surface with the print bed.

Using a raft or brim dramatically increases the reliability of your 3D printing process. Although an extra 3d printer material would be needed to use, this is still less wasteful than scraping a project because of warping issues or mechanical failure.

What Are Raft and Brim in Cura?

what is brim in 3d printing

The brim is an outward extension of the first layer of the model. The primary purpose is to increase the contact surface between the first layer and the print bed. This reduces the likelihood of issues related to poor bed adhesion such as warping. Brims are pretty popular because they offer substantial benefits without using up too much filament.

A raft is distinct because it’s an entire mesh that is printed below the first layer of a model. It can be several layers thick and extend outwards from the dimensions of the model’s base layer. After printing, this raft has to be separated from the finished print and disposed of. A raft provides a more reliable bed adhesion solution but inevitably consumes more filament.

what is raft

When To Use Raft Or Brim In 3D Printing?

Between the two, which one should you be using? Rafts and brims are practically interchangeable. However, knowing the ideal situations to use them will help you optimize the use of your filament.

Most 3D printing professionals prefer to use brims simply because they use less filament. If your design has a large base, then having a brim should be enough to avoid bed adhesion problems. Having a large and robust base is practically necessary when working with a brim. This makes it less likely for you to damage your print during brim removal.

A raft is treated as the last option when you have terrible warping problems. It’s a foolproof solution but uses up a lot of filament. Raft removal can also be a complex process, especially if you fail to fine-tune the raft settings in your slicer.

Using raft is primary ideal for 3D printing of models with thin supports and small bases. Rafts will serve as extended bases, providing better bed adhesion and mechanical support.

Aside from heavy filament usage, a drawback of printing with a raft is that your print will likely come out with a rough bottom surface. This will need to be sanded and polished, especially if you’re 3D printing commercial products or professional prototypes.

Raft and brim On Cura

If you want to use rafts or brims in Cura, start by enabling all settings’ visibility. Just click the “Settings” button at the top-right corner of the window, going to the “Configure Setting Visibility” sub-menu, and checking the box to “Check All.” This should make rafts or brims visible in your workspace.

To print with a brim, you will have to designate values for the following settings:

brim setting
  • Brim width is the measure of the distance between your model’s base and the outermost edge of the brim. At least 10 millimeters should provide ample bed adhesion enhancement.
  • Brim line count is just another way to specify brim width. Instead of measuring distance, this setting allows you to set how thick the brim will be based on the number of lines. Enabling this setting will override brim width. 
  • Minimum length is the length of filament that use to print the brim. Until this value is reached, more lines of the brim will be printed. Again, this is another measure of brim width and can be overridden by choosing any other options.

Brim only on the outside is an option for printing the brim only on your model’s outer edges. This may be necessary if your model has an inner edge where removing the brim would be very difficult. 

Raft settings can be a bit more complex. You will have to be more careful when printing with a raft, as improper settings can result in a lot of wasted filament. There is also a danger of the raft sticking a bit too well to the print’s base layer, making it very hard to remove.

  • Raft air gap specifies the distance between the top layer of the raft and the bottom layer of your model. Setting the space too far will result in the raft not sticking well enough to your print. However, a setting that is too low will make removing the raft very difficult. A baseline value for this should be half the width of your nozzle, but you may still need to make a few adjustments.
  • Raft top layers pertain to the number of top layers that the raft will have. This affects the thickness of the raft as well as the quality of finish for its top surface. If you find that your raft has a rough top cover, you may need to increase the number of top layers. It should not be necessary to go beyond two.
  • Raft extra margin determines the distance between the base layer of the model and the raft’s outer edge. This defines how well the raft sticks to the print bed. Since you have an entire sacrificial layer adhering to the print bed, a raft does not need to be as wide as a brim. A setting of 5 millimeters should do fine for most cases.

You can find all the options under “Build Plate Adhesion” settings in Cura. As you would know by now, brims and rafts are helpful beyond just enhancing build plate adhesion.

Brim vs Raft In Large Parts

If you’re printing a model with a large footprint, the assumption is that it also has a large surface of contact with the print bed. This means that a brim should provide just enough of an upgrade on bed adhesion without suffering any adhesion issues.

In this case, it’s worth a shot to try a brim first before resorting to a raft.

Raft vs Brim In Warping

In terms of the prevention of warping, a raft is a much more effective measure. Since the raft acts as a sacrificial layer, there is virtually zero chance of your model’s first layer exhibiting the common signs of warping. Just make sure to follow the standard guidelines for warping prevention, such as slowing down, cooling, and printing slow.

Brims can still be effective against warping, although there may be a bit more uncertainty about the results’ quality. You can still end up with warping problems if you set the brim too thin or if your print bed is not hot enough.

Brim vs Raft In Bed Adhesion

Both brims and rafts are equally effective in improving bed adhesion. The more critical factor is the size of the footprint of the brim or raft. This depends on the settings that you input in your slicer.

The concept is pretty simple – increasing the surface of contact between the filament and the print bed complements the filament’s innate adhesive capabilities.

Raft vs Brim For Edge

If you want to preserve the quality of the edge of your model’s base layer, then a raft might be the better option for you. A raft does not directly contact the edge of the model, making it less likely to cause visible damage during removal. However, there is the compromise of heaving to deal with a rough bottom layer.

A brim is printed directly in contact with the base layer of your model. With the correct settings, you should be able to peel the brim right off without causing any damage. However, they can still leave behind sharp corners after the removal, which would have to be trimmed off with a knife or deburring tool.

How To Remove Raft and Brim From 3D Print

When done right, removing a brim should be pretty easy. In some cases, a brim can be removed by hand, just like peeling off a piece of the plastic wrapper. The worst-case scenario would be having to use a knife or deburring tool to remove the brim. You may end up with sharp edges which need to be sanded smooth.

Removing a raft will take a bit more work. This becomes more difficult with a denser raft or if the gap between the raft and the bottom layer is too small.

The best way to remove a raft is to insert a scraper or knife between the raft and the bottom layer of your model and very gently separate them. You will need a combination of both slicing and lifting motions. This is hard at first but should progressively become more accessible as more of the raft is removed.

When working with a raft, you can expect the finished print’s bottom layer to have a very rough finish. You may need tweezers to remove some of the residual raft material and sand the surface smoothly after.

Summary

Although there many ways to improve bed adhesion and avoid warping in 3D printing, printing with a raft or brim is the go-to option when nothing else seems to work, rafts and brims are incredibly reliable. Still, they will use up a substantial amount of filament.

There will also be some extra work needed for post-processing. Arguably, any compromise is better than having your print ruined because of poor bed adhesion or warping.