Where years ago 3D printing was this almost magical and unthinkable technology that only big businesses could afford, it is now an increasingly accessible technology, with 3D printing units small and simple enough to operate from home. As the practice of 3D printing becomes more common, there are a growing catalogue of mistakes that people are making that should really be avoided.
If you’re a burgeoning 3D printing enthusiast, here are some of the key mistakes to avoid:
1. Using the Wrong Materials
Everyone has their favourite 3D printing filament, but that doesn’t mean you can just use it with every printer and in every situation. Different filaments are useful in different situations, depending on what kind of quality you want to create, what kind of finish, and what kind of added qualities you want the finished product to have.
Some have a natural water resistance and chemical resistance, and some have finer, more professional finishes. Some are cheaper and easier to use if you’re a beginner, and some are a suitable challenge for more advanced users. In the end, choosing the right filament to suit your level, experience, and purpose is incredibly important.
2. Failure to Keep Nozzle or Print Bed Clean
The basic principle that allows 3D printing is that they heat up the filament to the point where it liquifies and can be channelled through the printer nozzle to form the shape and form that you want. That heat and transfer process leaves the nozzle in need of cleaning, to remove excess filament.
Nozzles that have remnant filament blocking the way will negatively impact the next printing job that you try to do. The 3D printing process is one of extraordinary precision, and anything that gets in the way of that precision will have a negative knock-on effect on the rest of the job. This brings us to the next common mistake.
3. Failure to Get Print Bed Level Correct
One thing that people often forget about the 3D printing process is the three-dimensional aspect. That sounds like a big thing to “forget” but when we’ve been so used to two-dimensional printing for so long, that thought process has become like second nature to us. When 3D printing, we can get the extra dimension right by ensuring that we have the print bed — the floor of the printing enclosure — set up correctly.
The print bed has to be at the right height, of course, and it has to be level. When it is positioned correctly, then the first layer will be laid down by the print nozzle perfectly, and once that happens, all the others should fall into place, too. An improperly set up bed means the first layer can be off kilter, which ruins the rest of the printing process.
4. Incorrect Wall Thickness
“Wall thickness” refers to the distance between the model’s surface and its opposite surface. When designing and setting up the printing configuration, there should be a minimum wall thickness set. If you get the wall thickness wrong at any point, it could lead either to the object not printing at all, or it printing but parts of it being incredibly frail and unable to support itself.
5. Printer Not Calibrated Properly
Many mistakes in 3D printing can simply be traced to not setting up the 3D printer properly in advance. As we’ve mentioned, 3D printing is about precision, and that means that all the settings on the printer have to be precisely laid out for it to work properly. Beginners can have the advantage of using printers that are pre-calibrated, but more advanced users run the risk of errors as they have to set up the machines themselves.