More 3D Printing and Fine Tuning

Hello all!

Lately, I’ve been working with my 3D Printer and I want to talk about some of the things I’ve been doing to get better prints from it.  In my previous post, I forgot to say what 3D Printer I actually have and if I’ve made any modifications to it.  I currently have the Monoprice Maker Select V2 printer.  I only have a singular mod on my printer, and that is a custom filament holder, so there is little to no effect on print quality by this mod.

My venture with trying to fine-tune my printer began when I purchased some new filament, specifically the Hatchbox Blue PLA.  This filament was a great choice because it is a very high-quality filament despite being only around $20 USD.  Before purchasing this I had been printing with the Monoprice Transparent PLA, but that filament had several issues where layers would poorly adhere to each other and it wouldn’t attach to the bed properly.  I’m unsure of why but the new filament has completely fixed this, my layers are now flawless except for some wobble from the printer moving fast.  I also haven’t had to use blue tape or glue on my bed at all since using this new filament.

After getting the new filament I felt a surge of adventure to experiment more with my slicer settings and try to make my prints even better.  For those who may not know, a slicer is a software that takes a file containing a 3D Object and slices it into layers of certain thickness and outputs this as a G-Code file.  This G-Code file is then loaded on the printer and controls what all of the axes and motors on the printer do.

Onto what I changed and experimented with.  The slicer I use is Cura and it’s made by Ultimaker, it’s a free slicer and in my experience works very well.  This is by no means meant to be a post about how to tune your printer, or how to use a slicer, this is just my experience that I find interesting and hope you do too.  I began my experimentation with changing my printing speeds.  While attempting to do complex prints I would get lots of artifacts and ghosting.  I realized that, if the printer is doing a complex print with many small parts, it’s going to shake a lot because I don’t have it braced and its frame is made out of sheet metal.  So in order to fix this, I turned the print speeds down from 60 mm/s to 35 mm/s, a drastic decrease but it worked very well.

The next major change I made with my slicer settings was to find the best flow rate for my extruder.  The flow rate is the amount of filament that the printer pushes out while printing a layer.  I found through some testing that my printer tends to underextrude filament, meaning it needs to push more.  I found that a good setting for my flow rate is around 110%-115%, but this depends on the print.

The final 2 major changes I made were with my temperature and my wall count.  I changed my printing temperature down to 200^\circC from my previous 210^\circC after I notice that the extruder was melting the filament below it over again and ruining prints.  So the Hatchbox Filament is definitely more susceptible to heat than the Monoprice Filament.  The final change I made was my wall count.  The wall count is quite literally the number of walls the printer makes, and with my 0.4 mm nozzle size I was originally using a wall count of 2 for a thickness of 0.8 mm, but this turned out to be extremely fragile in some cases so I bumped it up to 3 walls (Often referred to as perimeters) meaning I have a thickness of 1.2 mm.  This made my prints very durable compared to before and even made complex prints turn out better.

Overall these changes really upped my print quality, and I’m very happy that I can print complex models now.  The testing took a lot of trial and effort but really paid off in the end.  Learning about all of the different G-Code specifics was also a great experience.  And lastly I’ll leave you with the final fruit of my efforts:

A lattice cube torture test I printed.
A benchy test I printed.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!
~ Corbin

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