If you own a 3D printer, chances are you're always looking for ways to improve print quality. After all, even the best 3D printers produce prints with less-than-perfect fidelity to the digital design. Whether your prints are coming out fuzzy, warped, or with visible layers, there are a few easy things you can do to get better results. In this blog post, we'll share 10 tips that will help you improve 3D print quality.
1. Level your bed correctly. An incorrectly leveled bed can cause your prints to come out warped or with uneven layers. Most 3D printers come with an auto-leveling feature that makes it easy to get the bed level just right. If your printer doesn't have an auto-leveling feature, you'll need to level the bed manually. This can be a bit tricky, but there are plenty of tutorials online that can show you how to do it. The basic idea is to adjust the height of each corner of the bed until it's perfectly level.
2. Adjust the Z offset. The nozzle on a 3D printer needs to be set at the optimal distance above the bed (known as the Z offset) for best results. You can adjust the Z offset by using the printer's software or by adjusting the screws on the machine itself. Experiment with different distances until you find one that produces the best results for your prints.
3. Use a brim. A brim is a thin band of plastic that is printed along the edge of a part to help keep it from warping or curling. It's especially helpful for small parts or parts with overhangs. Most 3D printing software includes a brim option, so make sure to enable it when you're printing parts with overhangs.
4. Use supports. Supports are pieces of plastic that are used to hold up overhanging parts of a print while it's being printed. They can be especially helpful for prints with lots of overhangs or intricate details. Most 3D printing software includes support options, so make sure to enable them when you're printing parts with overhangs.
5. Temperature and humidity levels can also have an effect on print quality. Warping and curling are two common problems that can be caused by excessive heat or moisture in the air. If you're having trouble with these issues, try keeping your printer in a room with stable temperature and humidity levels. We recommend keeping the temperature between 21-23 degrees Celsius (70-73 Fahrenheit) and the humidity level below 50%.
6. Use the right type of filament. Different filaments produce different results. For example, PLA filaments tend to produce smoother prints with less warping than ABS filaments. If you're not happy with the results you're getting, try switching to a different type of filament and see if that makes a difference.
7. Choose the right slice thickness. The slice thickness is the thickness of each layer in your print. If the slices are too thick, your print will have visible layers; if they're too thin, your print will take longer to finish and be more likely to warp. The ideal slice thickness varies depending on the type of filament you're using and the size of your printer's nozzle, but it's usually between 0.1 and 0.3 mm.
You can adjust the slice thickness in your slicing software (the software that converts your 3D model into instructions for your printer). Most slicing software has a "Quality" setting that lets you choose between "Fast" (lower quality/thicker slices), "Medium" (medium quality/medium-sized slices), and "Fine" (high quality/thin slices).
8. Slow down the printing speed. Slowing down the printing speed gives the filament more time to cool between extrusion cycles, which reduces warping and stringing (when small bits of filament get pulled away from the main body of the print). How much you need to slow down depends on the type of filament you're using and the size/speed of your printer, but as a general rule of thumb, slowing down by 50% should be enough to prevent issues like warping and stringing without significantly increasing print time.
9. Increase infill percentage. Infill is the solid material inside a printed object that gives it strength and rigidity; most printed objects have an infill percentage of 20-40%. However, if you're printing an object that doesn't need to be strong (like a vase or ornament), you can save time by increasing the infill percentage above 40%.
10. Maintenance. As with any machine, proper maintenance is key to keeping your 3D printer in good working condition. One important tip is to keep the printing bed clean. This will help to ensure that your prints come out looking their best. Another important tip is to clean the nozzle on a regular basis. This will help to prevent clogs and ensure that your printer is able to print smoothly. Finally, it is important to check the bolts and belts on the 3D printer frame on a regular basis. Loose bolts can cause the frame to become misaligned, which can lead to poor print quality.
There are a number of factors that affect 3D print quality. By making even small changes to these factors, you can see a noticeable improvement in your prints. If you're having trouble with specific issues like warping or curling, try adjusting the temperature and humidity levels in your printing environment. By following these tips, you should be able to achieve much higher-quality prints.
If you're looking for the best 3D printers under $500, you've come to the right place. We've rounded up the top machines that offer the best bang for your buck, so you can get started on your 3D printing journey. Click the link below to see our top picks. And if you're still not sure which printer is right for you, we've also got reviews of the best 3D printers for kids and the best 3D printers for miniatures. Just click the link below to see our top picks. Happy shopping!