Tips & Tricks

Tips and Tricks

Know the plastic with which you are printing. The two most popular types are ABS and PLA. Each plastic has its own characteristics, such as melting temperature and extruding speed.  Make sure your printer’s profile is right for the plastic you are using.

  • When printing PLA, the platform temerature should be set to 60 degrees.
  • When printing ABS, the platform temperature should be set to 80-110 degrees.

 

A major issue regarding 3D printing is the ability to get the filament to stick to the build platform, this leads to warping, which is one of the main causes of print failure. Hairspray is often recommended to solve this issue however DO NOT use hairspray. This can cause issues with other mechanical parts in your printer and cause it to malfunction.

Some printers, such as the Flashforge Creator Pro come with a build-tak which is extremely suitable for the filament to stick to. However for printers with a plain metal or glass build plate, there are two solutions which can work. The first is a regular glue stick, which is spread over the area which is being printed on. This method is suitable for PLA and short ABS prints, and if applied properly, prevents the print from coming unstuck and falling off the build plate. The other method that works far better involves making slurry-like glue from Acetone and ABS that has affectionately been named "ABS Juice." 

ABS Juice:

ABS Juice consists of about 300mL of pure acetone, which is poured into an acetone-safe bottle. You then add in 8-10 strips of 3mm ABS filament, and shake for a couple of minutes. This is followed by a long soak of a few hours to fully dissolve the ABS Filament.

 

However, one of the biggest things to avoid when making ABS juice is the use of fingernail polish remover that contains acetone, as it also contains extra mineral oils and other chemicals designed to hydrate the skin. This will leave an oily surface on your print bed, and will make it impossible for prints to stick.

One of our favorite applications for ABS juice is when printing with a raft or brim. This mixture can then be used to glue down the model this is especially useful for thin and tall prints. 

ABS Juice is needed for long prints which are made using ABS filament, however may not be neccessary for shorter prints in ABS and also PLA prints, which as explained above just needs a glue stick.

Creator Series:

  • An unlevelled platform can cause many print failures. The best way to prevent this is doing the "Paper test" - using a single sheet of paper to judge the height of your extruder nozzle over the build platform. Set the extruder height at first layer height, then move it to all four corners and the center with the paper between the platform and the extruder. You want to be able to move the paper at all five positions but you also want the tip of the extruder to touch the paper at all five positions.

 

  • Regularly clean your build platform with rubbing alcohol or acetone. The oil from your hands will not allow the object you’re printing to stick to the build platform.

 

  • When you are printing in ABS plastic, make sure you preheat your build platform to its max temperature as preheating will help prevent edge curling.

 


  • When you are printing an object for the first time, do it on the lowest quality setting of the printer. You do not want to find out after hours of printing that the object is 1mm too small!

 

  • To give any ABS print a glossy finish, treat the printed ABS part with an acetone vapor bath. Note: this will not work on PLA. Prolonged exposure to Acetone can also cause ABS to crack and melt.

Mankati:

If your print fails unexpectedly, you can still salvage it through the "resume print' function. Whereby you can resume printing a component from a particular height of completion. Therefore for a failed print, simply place back onto the build platform in the correct position, measure the height at which you wish to resume priting, cut off the 'failed" print areas, and resume printing.

 

Ensure that the Mankati chamber is properly insulated from cold, or kept in a warm enviroment. When printing large ABS objects, the temperature difference leads to large cracks in ABS components as colder temparatures cause the ABS to shrink and thus cause cracks.

 

UP Series:

The UP series does not wait for the build platform to reach the desired temperature before printing. An under-heated platform can result in lack of adhesion and can cause several failed prints. 

A simple solution is to open up the maintenence tab in the UP software, and select "table heat 1hr" and monitor the build platform temperature until it reaches the desired temperature (100 degrees for ABS and 60 degrees for PLA).

Due to the lack of enclosure on the UP Plus 2, it is vitally important to keep the printer in a warm area with minimal breeze. Sudden decreases in termperature can cause ABS to shrink, resulting in cracks and lack of adhesion.

 

Glossary:

The following are some key terms you need to know.

Raft – A technique used to prevent warping and reducing the chance that the print will become unstuck. Instead of printing directly on the build surface, parts are built on top of a “raft” of material that is removed and disposed of post-print. The raft is larger than the part and thus has more adhesion. Objects with flat bottoms generally do not need a raft, and getting a raft off such an object is extremely difficult. However we recommend rafts on parts with lots of support material, and also on objects which are very tall and thin, to provide some extra support for the print.

A raft being printed on a build platform.

A raft being printed on a build platform.

 

Support material – For any part of the model where there is an overhang or gap between parts, a support material is laid down (as it would be impossible to print into thin air). The support material is removed once the print has finished, revealing the desired print. This removal is accomplished by manually tearing away the support from the object, however if a print has support in areas which would be difficult to remove, the support can be printed in HIPs or PVA, which can be dissolved and washed off. This method does requrie a dual head extruder, and not all printers support the use of this material. This method is also useful if your support is leaving a lot of marks on your print after it is manually removed.

Hips