5 Common 3D Printer Problems Caused by 3D Filament
Is it my printer? Is it the temperature? Is it the filament? Remember back in the dot matrix days, and your printer was offline and you called the IT department to fix it? The home hobbyist in today’s world especially with a new technology introduced such as 3D printing needs a “go to” guide to troubleshoot the most common problems. The customer service provided by 3D printer companies for most printers is very immature. Here are the top 5 problems you may encounter that point directly to 3D filament.
1. Roundness or diameter inconsistency - The spool has different areas of the filament that feed through the extruder nozzle which causes clogging
Advice: Unfortunately with this problem there is no fix. You need to switch filament or ask for a refund. You can measure the diameter using a small tool to ensure that is the problem. The tool you might want to invest in is http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:89044 - Filament Width Sensor. Smaller more inexpensive tools are available, just google vernier calipers.
2. Objects found in the Filament - Extruder nozzle continues to jam or not feed properly
Advice: If you have transparent filament, examine some of your prints for foreign objects or possible material found in the filament. In the event the manufacturer is running different types of production with their machinery, the 3D filament from time to time will have other materials found in the filament. In certain types of foods you will see the message, “May contain nuts” - this is because the manufacturer is running several different things through the same machinery. Although there is no fixes, we would recommend you exchange the filament for another spool.
3. Air Bubbles found in your prints - Tiny bubbling occurs, usually found in ABS
Advice: This is primarily caused from improper storage or packaging of the filament. There could be a puncture in the vacuum seal that has allowed humidity to enter which causes moisture. Moisture is prevented by properly packaging the filament with silica gel or you if you have a spool open you may place it in a container with some white rice to prevent moisture.
4. Extruder continues to clog and bubble over - No foreign objects are found nor is the roundness an issue
Advice: PLA filament will typically melt at a higher heat than ABS. Its possible that you have a piece of filament that has hardened inside the nozzle. We suggest if you are printing with either PLA or ABS you run a purge to ensure the temperature will extrude any excess from a previous print before you start another project especially if you are using a different type for the current print.
5. Filament continues to break off in the middle of the print - Temperature is correct and tension is set correct
Advice: Different suppliers use different size spools, the real issue here is the manufacture didn't properly cool the filament before it was wound onto the spool. We would recommend asking for an exchange rather than skipping your supplier, typically the cooling systems on extruders alert the machine operator if there is an issues and less than 1% on a production run of 5000 spools are found with this issue.