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Tuning your 3D Printer

Once you have a 3D printer, "dialing in" and maintaining it can make all the difference. Nothing is more frustrating than a 3D printer that is not correctly adjusted.

3D printer assembly and pro build tips

While some 3D printers come fully assembled, most 3D printers require some final assembly before you can start printing. Here's an example of what you're looking at.

If you already have a printer, you can also use this video as a tune-up guide. Are all the members squared up? Is there any binding or wobble on any of the print axis? Is the print bed warped or out of level? Any of these problems will prevent a good print.

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How to tune your slicing settings

As some have noted, 3D printing is as much an art as a science. "Dialing in" – correctly adjusting your printer values – will make a huge difference.

Here's a video that shows you ways you can take your slicer profile and tweak it for better results. This video covers extruder calibration, flow rate/extrusion multiplier calibration, temperature, speed and retraction calibration.

It sounds complicated, but Michael takes you thru each setting, step-by-step.

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3D Printing Troubleshooting Guide

Updated annually, this troubleshooting guide from All3DP magazine describes just about every problem you might have with your printer and  how to solve it.

Covers everything from print nozzle and filament issues to prints that won't stick, warping, gaps and fine detail not printing correctly.

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Micro All In One 3D printer test

Not sure what's up with your 3D printer? Try printing this test item. It combines:

  • overhang test
  • bridging test
  • stringing test
  • sharp-corner test
  • tolerance test
  • scale test (is 14 mm really 14 mm on your printer)

The closer your printer can come to printing this item correctly, the better your future prints will be. Featured in the How to tune your slicing settings video.

5 ways to ruin your filament (and how to fix it)!

Sort of a "what not to do" video. Thomas Sanladerer goes thru five things not to do with your 3D printer filament. You want to avoid:

  • Tangling the spool,
  • High temperatures & moisture,
  • Pets and small kids,
  • Printer feed issues, and
  • Cooked filament.

All the issues are easy to address and will make for better printing experience.

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Better Quality 3D Prints Using MAGIC NUMBERS

The stepper motor(s) that control your Z axis (height) has a magic number. Figuring out that magic number and specifying a layer height that's a multiple of this magic number will make your prints a lot more uniform.

If your Z stepper motor magic number is 0.04 mm and you print 0.1mm layers (a default on most slicers), you'll get banding and layer artifacts that will disappear if you use 0.08 or 0.12 mm layer heights.

Chuck explains all this and shows you how you can calculate the magic number for your 3D printer.

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Easy Way To Level Your Bed

Chuck shows you an easy way to level your bed. He uses two G-Code files: the first to position the nozzle above the adjustment screws and the second is a test print for live adjusting of the bed. When this is completed your printer is ready to print.

You can download the two G-Code files for free and modify them if needed to work with your printer using the YouTube page link.

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Filament Issues

Never underestimate the difference your filament can make. We've use both CCTREE and AMZ3D PLA filament with our Ender 3 printer. Both cost about $20 for a 1 kg spool. But they are very different when printing.

With the CCTREE PLA filament, we leave the print bed heat off as the filament sticks nicely to the textured build surface as-is. Turn on the print bed heater and the PLA sticks too well – it's almost impossible to pry off.

The AMZ3D filament is not as "sticky" and requires the bed to be heated to around 40 C to get it to stick correctly.

Test every spool of filament to see what temperatures work best for the print nozzle and heated bed. You'll find your settings will vary between manufacturers, filament colors, and even between individual spools.

As you may have guessed, we like the Ender 3 from Creality. Our webmaster got one for about $225 from Amazon. The print quality is amazing and you can't beat the price. Highly recommended.

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