Many customers have asked us why do 3D prints warp?
In our last 3D printing blog post we reviewed how 3D printer enclosures help prevent 3D print warping. In this blog post we will specifically review how to stop 3D print warping with PLA material.
PLA is a basic filament which is perfect for beginners or experts because of its easy-to-use nature, quick printing speeds, and affordable price point. While PLA is a great filament to use, it can sometimes warp when printing. After reading this 3D printer warping guide you should be on your way to making some of the best 3d prints.
Warping is when an object being 3D printed curls up on the edges. It can be extremely frustrating and can waste a large amount of filament, but this can be prevented through a series of techniques.
Some of these techniques include bed adhesion boosters, print bed temperature, 3d bed leveling, extruder nozzle temperature, and the print surface material. The more time that a user spends working with PLA, the more experience the user will obtain in perfecting the prints.
Print Bed Adhesion
Whenever 3D printing, it is extremely critical to get the first layer of the print to stick to the print bed surface. Many times, the first layer of the entire print will determine the outcome of the 3D printed object. Because of this, if a first layer seems to have any issues at all, it could be very beneficial to restart the print before any more errors might occur. If the first layer is adhered to the print bed properly, it will minimize the chances of warping and give improved results. Some ways to improve the chances of the first layer being successful are: applying a PVA based glue stick onto the print bed, putting painter’s tape onto the print bed surface, or applying a specialty adhesion product that will help the first layer stick.
The extruder’s print temperature has a large impact on the outcome of a print because too low of a temperature will not allow the layers to stick to each other properly and too high of a temperature will cause the filament to over extrude (too much filament coming out of the extruder). If the first printed layer does either of these two things, try to find the median between over extruding and under extruding. For PLA, common temperatures of the extruder range from 200°C to 210°C. Along with the extruder’s temperature, speed alterations in the slicing software can also help prevent warping. While PLA can be printed as high as 200 mm/s, if warping problems are occurring, consider slowing down the speeds on the first layer so that it can get a good grip on the print surface.
Print Bed Temperature
The print bed temperature is also a contributing factor along with the extruder temperature because without the proper printing temperature, the material will not stick to the print bed. PLA does not require a heated bed to print but using a heated print bed could minimize the chances of warping. Be sure to avoid heating up the print bed too high, or the print itself will be extremely soft when removing it from the print bed. Temperatures from 40°C to 60°C can be ideal for stopping warping on PLA. When printing with a print bed temperature of 60°C, let the print cool before removing it from the print bed. Otherwise, the object printed could be soft enough to bend when removing.
No matter if the 3D printer has a semi auto bed leveling system, or it has a fully automated bed leveling system, the correct leveling has the capabilities to minimize warping. A common way to check is to determine if the nozzle is the correct distance from the print bed. Slide a piece of paper between the nozzle and print bed. If the paper slides very easy between the nozzle and print bed, the area of the print bed in which the nozzle is located, may need to be moved closer to the print bed. If the paper does not really slide at all between the print bed and extruder nozzle, then the nozzle needs to be higher up from the print surface.
If the nozzle is too close to the print surface, it is extremely crucial for the print bed to be moved away as soon as possible because the nozzle can dig into the print bed and leave a permanent indentation. When the paper slides between the nozzle and print bed with some resistance, but can still be moved without ripping the paper, the leveling in that area is likely to be very close to perfect. When the leveling is perfect, the first layer of a print has a high chance of gaining the correct layer height. As a result, the extruding filament is not being either pushed down into the print bed because the leveling is too close or falling from the extruder nozzle because the leveling is too far away.
Print Surface Material
Even though PLA sticks to a wide range of materials, it is still important to ensure that the print surface on the 3D printer has one of the prime materials that is used for PLA. A few of these commonly used materials for PLA include: PEI, Glass, BuildTak, and acrylic print surfaces.
With all these factors being correct, there is a chance the PLA object will be printed without warping. It only takes one of these factors which can cause a print to be unsuccessful, so it is important to check each of these things when a print starts warping. One of the most likely culprits for warping is the print bed leveling. Over time, the print bed surface may become unlevel due to the vibrations caused by 3D printing.
Especially when starting out with a new 3D printer and using the default settings, altering the extruder temperature can vastly improve the results of a print. If the objects seem to barely stick to the print surface on the default settings, try raising the extruder temperature 5 or 10 degrees. PLA warping can be prevented with these factors being checked, altered, and improve upon whenever prints seem to be unsuccessful.