Dialing in print temps

Ok, so yesterday I was printing PLA at 223C, and today it’s 199, so let’s discuss this a bit.

It would seem that 3-D printing should be considered an “Art” one that with constant active attention by the user making little adjustments from start to finish realizes nice prints. It is simple but has specific steps.

After loading your filament and testing extrusion in Pronterface. To load filament, turn on head only and insert filament after trimming off any end bulges, the extrusion should easily push out of the head, when performing this step I usually turn the temps much higher to clear out the head, after the filament is loaded with the clamp, and the clamp is tightened you can hit extrude in Pronterface. I set this to 22mm to make sure my filament is ok coming out it should flow freely. Use tweezers to pick up the extruded pile of filament, don’t use your fingers or you can burn yourself on the extruder head.

  1. Adjust Z-Height to .20mm (3x5" card thickness) from bed surface or model (for printing parts onto existing models)
  2. Set bed and extruder temp to first layer settings (Usually slightly higher bed and extruder temps) turn fan off to prevent curling. If model curling occurs, your extruder head may not be 90 degrees square.
  3. Make sure you have incorporated a skirt or brim to avoid having to tweezer the pre-extrusion ooze from the tip of the extruder as the print commences.
  4. Watch how the first several layers print, you want to have the lowest temps without over-bumps and over-extrusions, the layers should be flat yet not stringy, look for non-adhesion to the build surface, if you don’t have adhesion, your extrusion temp is too low, your extruder head is crooked, or the build plate is too cold or the build plate surface is wrong, like you should have a more adhesive surface like painters tape applied to your build plate. If painters tape is not “working” try using some 90% alcohol with a paper towel to increase it’s ability to adhere o the extruded filament. While the first layers print, you can determine your max temp and you min temp for the particular spool of filament.
  5. Using Pronterface you can adjust the extrusion temps up and down while you print, turn it up till it down till the filament barely comes out, then turn it up till you have perfectly flat layers without clumping on gap fills, or the filament comes out looking flat like the flyer in the pamphlet says.
  6. Watch your print! As it prints it can get messed up, if it does, you may have to start over, avoid extruder head collisions, look for parts of the model that stick up and would cause the extruder head to collide with the model, (this is caused by curling) if you see something like this, turn your printer off or cut that collision piece off, or use a hot knife to melt it out of the way. There are worse things than simple non-adhesions of layers, collisions and broken extruders are some of them.

If anyone can think of other helpful hints for all of us Newbies, feel free to add them below.

Another thing you can do to “TUNE” your prints while they are printing if you see a problem developing, is use the “TUNE” option on the TAZ while printing, this great feature allows you to adjust many print variables while it prints, including, temp, flow, fans, and others. Easy to use and should be more expounded upon in the literature as a great feature to use when you see things are starting to go south with your print.

Today’s settings brought to you by Matter Control, for when Slic3r just can’t produce a good complex print. I did have to make some adjustments in the TAZ console from the stock PLA setting in MC, such as: Speed 93, flow 93, temp 197C. But a very difficult to print model seems to be doing well and may actually finish after 20 or so tries with Slic3R. I got some laughs out of the tries but overall frustrating to have to try so many times to get it to print. BTW- I tried to add my Matter control slice file and it wouldn’t let me, but the speeds are stock, so the above setting should let you print tall, complex models in PLA with Matter control g-code generator.