Max's Recommendations for the 3D Printer
Initial Setup of the printer
- Always calibrate the bed height (with a clean extruder nozzle) if the ambient temperature has changed by 5 degrees F, or if it has been a few weeks since its last use.
- Keep your entire printer setup and filament in the driest location possible
- Beware of alternatives to PLA like ABS because they most likely require a fume hood or well ventilated area.
Before a print
- Make sure PLA feeds consistently early on in the build, or else you may waste your time.
- Half of this is the rate that it flows out (use Extruder submenu -> Extruder Position to test this). If this is bad, lubricate the extruder. Look it up.
- Other half is the direction of flow: It should flow straight down unless the dried ink is holding itself up and preventing this. If the flow is biased in some direction, you need to clean the extruder with a high E guitar string or an acupuncture needle. This can be done with the nozzle still mounted on the printer. Look up if needed.
- Use painters tape (I recommend “Frog Tape”) to adhere better to the base of prints taller than 10 mm.
- Don’t confuse radius and diameter when designing models. You may notice early in the print by looking at the size of the base layer
- Estimate and ensure that you have enough PLA on the running spool.
During a print
- If the model moves at all, you likely need to restart. Even in the best cases of realignment, there may be catastrophic deformations in the model structure.
- If the corners begin peeling, tape down the base layer (without blocking the printer from constructing the actual model).
- Wide prints need this because the temperature on the bed can vary by a 3-10 degrees. The bed is the most consistent in the middle square, reaching to the top of the warning label. The bottom of the label is about 10 degrees Celsius cooler than the center. When the edge of a print reaches as far out on the bed as the warning label, you ALWAYS need to tape the base layer.
Play with the following controls when troubleshooting prints
- Bed Temperature - Slows contraction of base while upper layers print
- If you are noticing that the bead of 3D ink is too thin, and not adhering, turn extruder temp from 195 degrees F (default) to 205 or higher.
- Fan Speed - allows you to more quickly cool printed layers.
- Pause the print from the SD card submenu when touching model
Tips for keeping PLA unoxidized and happy:
- Don’t touch wherever possible, with bare hands or dirty tools
- Don’t leave exposed to air and attached to printer for long periods between prints. If it’s going to be a few days before your next print, cut the PLA above the extruder and put the spool in a zip-locked bag, preferably with a bunch of silica gel packets
- Don’t get the printer’s grease on the PLA
- Cover the PLA spool with a loose bag (no dangly bits) while it is mounted on the printer. If done correctly, it simply blocks debris and dust from accumulating on the plastic. The spool should be able to rotate on the handle without the bag creating significant drag.
Tips for keeping the printer happy:
- Allow the extruder to cool down fully before shutting off the printer. There is a function called ‘cooldown’ in either, quick settings or extruder submenus.