Here are some of the most commonly received 3D printer / 3D printer troubleshooting-related questions and answers we receive at Micro Center:
Q – My 3D printer won’t turn on; how do I fix it?
A – Most 3D printers have an external power supply or power cable that always needs to be plugged in during operation. First check to make sure this is plugged in to both a working outlet and the printer. Also check that the power switch on the back of the printer is switched to the “On” position. If these do not resolve it, you may have a defective printer or cable.
Q – Why can’t I get anything to print?
A – Check the level of the print bed. If the nozzle is pressed too firm against the print bed, it may be blocking the filament. Re-level it so it’s slightly off the bed so filament can flow properly. Also make sure that you have filament left on your spool. If you don’t, you’ll need to replace it with a new spool. Feeding gears can also cause the filament to be trapped behind the hot end and will need to be fixed.
Q – Why is my nozzle clogged and how do I fix it?
A – Your nozzle may have bits of clumped filament or dirt inside which prevents filament from extruding. You can attempt a cold pull on the filament to clear the block, or you can also use a paperclip or cleaning kit to clear it.
Q – Why is the filament breaking and how do I prevent it?
A – Filament may dry rot over time in which case you’ll want to replace the filament altogether. The feed tube could be blocked, so make sure that there are no wires or objects in front of it to prevent breaking. The filament can also get tangled on the spool, and you’ll want to untangle it before inserting into the feed tube.
Q – Why is my filament burning?
A – Your nozzle may be too hot. You can attempt decreasing the temperature in increments of 10 degrees until it’s not burning anymore. The filament may be clogged in the nozzle in which you’ll need to clean it out.
Q – Why is filament is coming out of the sides of my hot end?
A – This can be caused by a gap being between the components of the hot end. This typically requires either reassembling the hot end and nozzle or tightening the pieces together when it’s at max temperature. This will ensure there are no additional gaps for the filament to exit through.
Q – How do I keep my printer from stopping midway through a print?
A – Make sure that you haven’t run out of filament and replace when needed. Check to make sure that the filament is not burning, as this will cause it to clog throughout a print. If it’s turning black/brown, make sure to lower the temperature so it doesn’t burn.
Q – Why isn’t my print sticking to the print bed?
A – Your print bed may not be level, so try releveling it. The bed could possibly be dirty, in which case it would need cleaned (even oil from your fingers can cause this). You can try using an additional adhesion on the bed such as a glue stick or heat resistant tape, like painters or decorator’s tape. You can also try adding a brim or raft to the original layer, and make sure that your first layer isn’t too thin.
Q – Why are my supports not printing properly?
A – Your supports may not print properly if they’re not sticking well enough to the bed, so try adding a brim or small platform beneath it. You can also add thickness to the supports themselves or even add supports yourself with the slicing tool to better support the model. If this fails, make sure your filament isn’t brittle or dried out.
Q – My first layers are coming out messy; how do I fix it?
A – This can be caused by the temperature of the nozzle or the printing bed being too hot. It could be an issue with the leveling of the bed, so try re-leveling it. Being too far away can cause it to print too thick and not stick, and it being too close can cause it to not adhere or not print enough filament.
Q – Why is my print flexing/bending on the print bed?
A – Make sure your temperature is correct for your type of filament. If it’s too high, it may cause the print to cool slower and shrink or warp while other layers are printed. Make sure the bed is level as this can cause it to warp later in the print. Also check that the nozzle is the correct distance from the bed, as it can cause it to be squished against the bed or be printed too thick.
Q – How do I keep the edges of my print from warping?
A – This can be caused by an unleveled print bed. You’ll want to make sure that the object you’re printing has plenty of contact with the bed for the first few layers so that it adheres enough to stick; a small area for initial layers raises the chance of warping. Make sure you’re using the correct filament, as most filaments other than PLA require a heated bed.
Q – My infill isn’t printing well, how do I fix this?
A – Infill for larger prints or that are directly below a horizontal surface may require a larger percent of infill. If it looks too thin, try decreasing the infill print speed as this can cause weak infill layers. Try using a different infill shape, as some work better than others (triangle, square, hexagons, etc.). Also make sure the nozzle is extruding at full capacity as a clog can cause it to under extrude.
Q – Why are there gaps between the print infill and walls/shell?
A – This may be caused by the temperature being too low, so try adjusting accordingly. You can also increase the infill overlap in your slicer software, but don’t go over 50% overlap. Try changing the printing priority to print the infill before the shell (most slicers default to shell before infill). Try lowering the print speed, as this will help avoid the nozzle missing small gaps.
Q – Why is my print infill visible on the outside of the print?
A – Try to increase the thickness of the outer shell in your slicer or modeling software. You can also try to lower the infill gap slightly in 5% increments at a time. Also remember to level the bed as this can cause misaligned infill.
Q – How can I prevent cracks/gaps between layers?
A – One way to prevent this is to adjust extruder temperatures; printing at too high of temperatures can cause them to cool too slowly and shrink later in the print, and lower temperatures can cause it to not be printed at the proper width/height. You can also reduce the fan speed, as cooling the print too quickly can cause layers to shrink, warp, or separate.
Q – How do I fix my layers not lining up properly?
A – Make sure that all belts are the proper tightness; being too loose or too tight can cause them to not make the proper movements during a print and cause layer jitter. Ensure that your pullies are moving around gears smoothly, and make sure to keep rods slightly lubricated for smooth belt rotation and not bent out of shape. Lastly, make sure that the platform that your printer rests on is stable.
Q – Why is my print missing layers and how do I fix it?
A – Make sure the rods are not bent and the pulleys are moving smoothly, oil rods when needed, and replace rods/belts if necessary. Locate bearings that are loose or worn down and replace when needed. Make sure there is no debris or blockage on these components.
Q – The details on my print aren’t printing properly; what causes this and how can I fix it?
A – To keep from losing small details you’ll want to decrease the layer height to get more resolution in your prints. Next you can try to decrease the printing speed as this will also increase print resolution. You can also use a nozzle with a smaller diameter if able. Finally, always make sure to keep the printer level, clean, and well lubricated, and always make sure your filament is not dried out.
Q – How do I fix my model when it’s stringy or drooping on the sides?
A – You can fix this by lowering your extrusion speeds to make sure it’s not over extruding compared to the speed. Also make sure that your extrusion multiplier is correct in your slicing software, as well as having the correct filament diameter checked in the software.
Q – How do I fix my model when it seems too thin or weak?
A – You can fix this by increasing your filament flow to make sure an even layer is being extruded. Also, make sure that your filament diameter is correctly set in your slicer software. Lastly, always make sure to clear the nozzle of debris.
Q – Why does my model have stringy filament on it and how do I fix it?
A – Stringing is normally caused by a lack of retraction, so make sure this is enabled in your slicing software. You can also reduce the minimum travel distance on your print in increments of .5mm until it eventually is fixed. You can always just trim these strings off as well, as they normally are incredibly thin and fragile and can be removed easily.
Q – My print is losing size when printed; how do I fix this?
A – Always make sure to check your slicing software for things such as the dimensions compared to your pre-slicer model, the slicer scaling, and the poly count. All of these can cause your model to be the incorrect dimensions once printed. You can also try printing a test cube to compare with the model, as this will tell you whether it’s the model or the slicer. Lastly, always make sure the nozzle is clean and clear of debris.
Q – What should I do if I can’t get my print to come off my printing bed?
A – Using a scraper or palette knife is always the easiest way to remove most prints, just make sure to wait until it’s cooled enough. If your bed is heated, you can also remove it and insert it into an oven at around 100 degrees Fahrenheit but do this cautiously. You can also try adding small holes in the bottom of the print (if you can edit it) to lower the amount of area sticking to the bed.
Q – How do I send a model from my slicer to my printer?
A – This depends on what your printer offers. If it has wireless capabilities, you can print wirelessly from your slicing software if it’s connected to your network. If it’s not wireless, you’d need to hard wire it to your computer, or you can use a storage device such as a flash drive to download the file from the slicer to the printer.