3D Printing: Tips and Tricks


Several factors come into play when it comes to creating the perfect conditions for excellent print quality. Bed adhesion, layer height, print settings, and print temperatures are all key elements for optimal prints. We've compiled a few tips below to help you with your printing experience. This article is not meant to be followed in exact step order, it is a reference guide for specific tips. 

Jump to: First LayerBed AdhesionAdding a BrimAdding a RaftPrinting Tall, Narrow ObjectsRetraction SettingsOverhangs | Additional Tips


  1. The layer-by-layer building process of 3D printing relies on a flat, level building surface. The first layer deposited on the build surface is the foundation for your print. You will need to: 
    1. Take the time to ensure the build surface is flat and parallel to the head movement.
    2. Set the Z-axis home position for the build plate.
    3. Calibrate the filament feed rate.
  2. Getting good bed adhesion (the print remaining securely stuck to the bed) is also important for the overall quality of your print. If you notice filament sticking to the hot end, or your print peeling up from the bed, you’ll need to improve your bed adhesion. Check the following:
    1. Is the Z-axis home position too low? (measure the first layer thickness and compare to Simplify3D)
    2. Does the material require glue stick to be applied to the bed for proper bed adhesion? (PETG, PVA, Polycarbonate)
    3. Clean the print surface with isopropyl alcohol (Necessary for ABS).
    4. Is the first layer height too thick? (max thickness = 1.5 x nozzle diameter )
    5. Is the print temperature too low? (200-210°C for PLA and 230-250°C ABS)
    6. Is the print speed too high? (above 60 mm/sec)
  3. To give your model maximum bed adhesion as the plastic cools and shrinks, you can add a brim to the base of your part. A brim works best for adhesion around the perimeter of the part. Use this when the part has a large area of bed contact.
    1. You can turn on the brim feature in Simplify3D. Go to Edit Process Settings -> Layer -> Skirt Settings (Check box).
    2. Skirt Layers = 1
    3. Skirt Offset = 0mm
    4. Skirt Outlines = between 5-10


  1. You can use the raft feature in Simplify3D and Slic3r to create the perfect print surface. The filament you are printing with will adhere to itself better than it adheres to anything else. Building a raft under your part is ideal for models that have minimal bed contact. 
    1. You can turn on the raft feature in Simplify3D in the Edit Process Settings -> Layer -> Raft (Check box).
    2. Raft Layers = 2 base + 3 top
    3. Raft offset = at least 3mm
    4. Separation = 0.22mm - 0.25mm for PLA
    5. Raft Infill = 80% - 85%

Print With Raft

Print With Raft Removed

  1. With taller, narrow parts, it is important to make sure the plastic has time to cool and solidify before the next layer prints. If the top layer is curling at the edges, or the plastic is sagging, it means there is too much heat. There are a few ways to mitigate this: 
    1. Print multiple objects at the same time.
    2. Increase the minimum time for each layer:
      1. Slic3r -> Filament Settings -> Cooling -> Cooling Thresholds -> Slow down if layer print time is below
      2. Simplify3D -> Edit Process Settings -> Cooling -> Speed override -> Adjust printing speeds for layers below
    3. Reduce the minimum print speed:
      1. Slic3r -> Filament Settings -> Cooling -> Cooling Thresholds -> Min print speed
      2. Simplify3D -> Edit Process Settings -> Cooling -> Speed override -> Allow speed reductions down to...
    4. Reduce the hot end temperature.
  2. Prints with a small bottom surface area have problems sticking or staying stuck to the bed. This can be solved in a variety of ways.
    1. Add a brim. The larger the brim, the more it helps.
      1. Simplify3D -> Edit Process Settings -> Additions -> Use Skirt/Brim -> Set Skirt Offset from Part to 0 -> Set Skirt Outlines (3-20) based on the how much help the part needs
      2. If a part easily breaks off from the brim, an extra layer or two can help stick the part to the brim. Simplify3D -> Edit Process Settings -> Additions -> Use Skirt/Brim -> Set Skirt Layers to 2 or 3
    2. If there is a lot of support touching the bed, add a base layer to the support. Simplify3D -> Edit Process Settings -> Support -> Support Base Layers to 1
  3. Retraction of the filament at the print head helps to control the ooze of melted filament during a non-print move. The retraction distance is normally set between 0mm -> 4mm. The goal is to set the retraction as low as possible to keep the nozzle clear, but also set it high enough to prevent oozing of the hot end.
    1. If the hot end does not cross the exterior boundary of your model during the print, you may find it beneficial to set the retraction value to 0mm.
    2. If your model is small and any non-print moves of the head are short, a retraction value of 1-1.5mm may be enough.
    3. If the model is large, and non-print moves crossing the outer boundary of your model are long, then 3-4mm of retraction may be necessary.
  4. When printing overhangs without support material, there are two things that will help:
    1. Increasing the filament extrusion rate (3-5% over extruding).
    2. Increasing the number of perimeters in the slicing parameters (3-5 perimeters) Overhang Test
  5. Additional tips:
    1. The hot end temperature for PLA should be between 185-220°C. Increase temperature for:
      1. Thicker layers
      2. Faster print speeds
    2. If the print quality is suffering, first slow down the print speed. This will help you to determine the nature of the problem. Information determined by watching the print process will be easier to see when printing slower.

Image below: The part on the left was printed with the hot end temperature too low. 

Cold Print

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