How to find optimal 3D printer settings. Part 3

How to find optimal 3D printer settings. Part 3

Now when the number of consumer class 3D printers is growing at a significant pace it is also possible to hear from some of the beginner users that they have been disappointed in 3D printing and that it has not lived up to their expectations. However, more experienced 3D printer users will tell you that consumer class 3D printers are capable of quite impressive things. So why is there such a big difference in opinions?

There might be several answers to this question, for example, finding the best filament for 3D printer or correctly calibrating the device. However, the key to success is finding the optimal 3D printing settings. Experienced users have more expertise in this field while beginners are still struggling and face large fail rates that make them feel disappointed.

We are here for you to share our experience and help you to get the best result. In the previous two articles Part 1 and Part 2 we introduced you with five of 3D printing parameters and described their influence. In this article we will continue with few more 3D printing settings:

6. Retraction. When 3D printer faces a gap or a discontinuous surface on a particular layer where filament should not be extruded, a good way that helps to make sure it actually happens is to pull some of the filament back. That is called retraction. So unless the printable detail is a solid cube or any other detail that has only continuous surfaces without any gaps, you should definitely pay attention to retraction. The more discontinuous surfaces the detail has the more often the filament will be retracted.

There are two 3D printing settings related to retraction- retraction distance and retraction speed. Undesired strings on the printed detail and oozing are the most visible defects that you will notice if you will set improper retraction. This usually happens when retraction distance is insufficient. However, long retraction distance can result in getting your nozzle clogged when there is too much filament retracted. This can also depend on filament type. Therefore based on our experience the optimal retraction distance would be minimal distance that does not create undesired strings. Typical retraction distance values would be in range from 1 mm to 3 mm.

Bad 3D printing retraction

Regarding retraction speed our suggestion would be to keep it similar to other speeds, for example, travel speed. You should also make sure that the travel speed is not too slow because otherwise there will be more time spent to move the head from the last point where the filament was extruded to the next, and hence the higher probability that some filament will ooze.

7. Shell. The name already gives it away that shells are the outside walls of the detail. In the previous article we told you more about infill and from this perspective infill is structure build within the space inside the shells. The reason why shells are sometimes also referred to as perimeters is that if you look at the detail from two dimension perspective layer by layer then you can see that shells are the perimeters of the object. In some cases they could also be called “loops” depending on the slicing software that you are using.

3D printing shell and infill

The most important 3D printing setting related to shells is the number of shells which means the number of vertical layers of shell there will be built. The more shell layers the detail will have, the thicker the shell will be, therefore the stronger the detail will be. However, adding more shell layers will also increase time spent for printing and also depending on detail’s geometric characteristics slightly increase filament consumption because these solid layers would otherwise be filled by infill that typically is less than 100 percent. If the visual factor is the only important aspect for the printable detail, then this parameter will not play big role. However, if the detail will also have functional role and it has to be strong to endure some pressure, then you should increase the number of shells. Also if the detail has to hold any liquids and you want to be sure that it will not leak or if it has to be impermeable for some other reasons, you can increase the value of this setting.

As we told you previously in this article our goal is to help you by sharing our expertise and experience. However, there are numerous other 3D printer users and each of them have their own experience. To get the insights of their experience, we would recommend you to go to filament platform and take a look at and compare filament reviews. These 3D printing materials have been tested and reviewed by 3D printing community members that have shared their experience in structured and easily understandable way. You can take a look at the photos of 3D printed details and filament test results to see what exact 3D printing settings were used to get this outcome and therefore get a good idea whether it is good quality filament and what would be the preferred 3D printing settings. This 3D print material platform is there for you to learn how to choose filament and understand what are the best 3D print materials.

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