A Strategy for Obtaining Great Prints

Hello Michael
While looking for some posts about Simplify3d infill, i found this article. I’m relatively new in 3D printing (ca. 250 printing hours on an Ultimaker 2). There are lot’s of good tips in here (none I wouldn’t agree with). If I had read that earlier, it could have saved me quite some poor results. I would strongly emphasize too, to keep notes on every print, to work systematic and keep the stuff clean.
I’ve learned quite a lot from printing calibration pieces, which can be found in Thingiverse. In the meantime I have modified my printer with an improved feeder, a better fan bracket and a hotend with easily exchangeable E3D nozzles (the Ultimaker 2 is a quite good printer, but has much room for improvement).
I’m quite impressed from the TAZ 5, which is on my evaluation list for my next 3D printer.

Many thanks for your great compilation of your experiences, which assures me, that I’m on the right way.
Kind regards and happy printing

Thanks Paul. little bit of time and controlled experimentation up front will pay dividends for the rest of your life!

After being very negative on S3D versions 1 & 2 I decided to re-purchase 3.0 and give it one last try now that they have infill patterns. I just started with it yesterday so we’ll see how it goes. If anything comes out of that I can add here, I certainly will.


Thanks for the informative post. My desk is now littered with 18 75mm disks, each labeled with target thickness, actual thickness, head speed, extrusion temp, bed temp and filament diameter. I am making test disks now that are sized right, smooth and adhere to the bed.

The only thing I would add is dialing in filament thickness is essential. You should measure your filament often and develop a filament and head fudge factor (my ABS from Gizmo Dorks is labeled at 2.85, measures generally 2.82, puts out .24 mm if rated at 2.75 with a requested .20 layer, .215 mm if rated at 2.82 - the measured value and hits the magic .20 if under rated to 2.81 or 2.80). You need to run the test disks at each rating and at each extrusion temperature. If you bump up your temperature or lower it to address some first layer issue or adhesion issue, then you need to recalibrate your filament thickness to make certain it is putting down .20 when asked for .20.

Other than that I will echo what was said: Setting up a printer for accurate printing is a laborious process that requires copious note taking and the use of the scientific method. Change one variable at a time and test, measure and conclude.

My standard print process now is to run the bed calibration pattern to A) warm up the printer/head/motors and B) to make micro adjustments based on thermal shift from the last printing, then run a .4mm disk print to verify first layer adhesion as well as interlayer adhesion.

Welcome to the club BlueRidgeDog! You will be rewarded with precise, predictable prints!

The comment on filament diameter is important, especially for the 3mm filament as there seems to be more variability with it.


mhackney - excellent post. I found it extremely interesting and informative (I’m a complete noob). Keep it up.

Glad it helped. Good luck!


Wow! great guide, thank you for sharing it, it help me think through a few of the issues I was having with my Taz4.

Glad it was useful! I even come back and re-read it myself when I run into issues.

I really appreciate you taking the time to put together a guide like this. It is very helpful for new people like me. I did have one question however. During the part where you reduce the temperature 5 deg and extrude 50mm to see if it extrudes well, could you describe what you mean by “well”? Does that mean extrudes at all? Or are you observing some other property of the extrusion like fluidity or perhaps consistency of flow? Thanks so much.


Wow, I just posted about trying to find some great resources and after a little snooping around I found this! Well thought out and well written! Thank you for the resource, as a beginner I can definitely say that this will come in handy.

Thank you! I am almost done with my new book and some of this (plus a lot more, photos, drawings, etc) is in it. Hopefully done this summer.
3D Printing Strategies - The Art of Perfecting Your Designs and Prints is the working title.


Nice, I look forward to checking out all the helpful resources once it is done. Best of luck

Great guide!

If I may also recommend, It’s important to look at where you set up the printer and what surface it’s on. I have a limited space set up, and it’s important that not only is there enough clearance, but that the whole printer can sit level on it’s little legs.

Any recommendations for a tried and tested caliper for doing the measuring?

Any digital caliper in the $20 price range, 6" capacity is fine. These are inexpensive Chinese products and they are all about the same.

Those are inexpensive indeed, but do they break quickly?

Not if used thoughtfully.

just read your introductory to printing thanks! I needed that since this is my first printer

Glad you liked it. I am working on a book that includes a significant update to this and a lot more. Hope to have it out in June.


What a comprehensive and in-depth guide. Bookmarked!