Things I Wish I Knew When I Started 3D Printing

It is said that patience is a virtue and that the best things in life are worth waiting for. Sadly, this is not always the case with 3D printing, especially when during the final hour of printing you see your precious print peel away from the bed, leaving you with nothing more than a snub-nosed T-Rex skull and broken dreams (breaks my heart to this day).

Whilst Wippit does take care of everything on the digital side of 3D Printing, it is up to us as the users to make sure that our printers are in appropriate conditions to produce the best outcomes. Fortunately, with a little bit of preparation you can easily avoid issues that may compromise your print hours after it has started, here are a few that I follow whenever I begin a long print:

1.Use Sufficient Build Plate Adhesive (If Required)
Some printers may require additional build plate adhesion, most common types are blue tape, glue stick or hairspray. For blue tape make sure that it is stuck securely to the build plate and not peeling off at the edges. For glue and hairspray, a thin and even application will be enough to help the first layer of the print stick.

2. Check Your Filament:
Before starting make sure that you have enough filament to complete a print! This may be an obvious point but one that can be easy to overlook.

3. Look for Filament Obstructions
In addition to making sure that there is enough filament, make sure that it has been loaded correctly, take the time to ensure that it is not obstructed by anything (such as the filament in the spool being tangled). This can be checked by extruding a small amount of filament with the hot end raised above the print bed.

4. Make Sure the Printing Environment is Conducive to 3D Printing
Something that you might not have thought about would be the environment in which your printer is located. Ideally you want to be printing in an environment that is away from sources of drafts, at a stable temperature (preferably not too cold) and low humidity. Consider purchasing shields that are available for some machines to protect the print bed from the surrounding environment. Extra tip, keep your filament away from humidity and consider sealing it when it is not being used for prolonged periods of time.

5. Bed levelling
Unless your printer is capable of automatic levelling, this is quite possibly the most difficult thing to get right when preparing to print. Unfortunately, there is no way to do this other than by trial and error. Follow the procedure of calibrating by using a sheet of paper or test by printing the first layer of a large object.

6. Check that the Nozzle is Clear
Sometimes after prolonged use, the nozzle of your printer may be prone to clogging or poor extrusion. After removing the filament take the time to clean out your nozzle before reloading with filament (machine maintenance is a pretty big topic so we’ll save that for its own post!) If you find that your nozzle is still prone to clogging, consider unloading the filament whenever the printer is not in use.

7. Consider Printing in Multi-Part
Wippit gives you the option to print products in a single print with one click (such as the amazing foldable tanks). However, as convenient as this is, these prints can take a very long time to finish. By printing these items as multiple parts you get the same product but in the form of several shorter prints. This gives you more control and would save a lot of time if something goes wrong during the print (particularly if you are facing any of the issues that have been highlighted).

And for now, that’s about it! There are still more things to be covered with this topic but for now this should be enough to get you off the ground.

3D Printing is very much a learning experience. The more you print the more you begin to learn about the quirks of your machine and how best to address issues as they arise. The most important thing is to just have a bit of patience and you will be rewarded with some truly amazing and unique designs that you can say you printed yourself!