Slow and Steady Prints the Best

What failure looks like…

What failure looks like…

I’m doing some 3D printing to make cases for air quality sensors. I know that 3D printing is one of the slowest way to make a case and I’m going into Hull Makerspace to play with their laser cutter this week to see if I can make stuff much more quickly, but I happen to have a 3D printer and it seems sensible to use it. However, it has not been plain sailing….

I’m using some new filament, and when you do that you have to learn the right temperatures to work with it and how friendly it is. The new stuff has not been very friendly. Mainly because it didn’t want to stick to the print bed. The print bed is the surface upon which the printed object is laid down by the print head.

When 3D printing the most important stage of the print is putting the very first layer on the print bed. If this doesn’t stick, everything else is going to end up a like a ball of wool (see above). And I couldn’t get the new filament to stick properly. Even after spending ages adjusting the bed level and height, changing temperatures and adding adhesive I’d still get terrible results.

curaprintspeed.PNG

I’ve found that the key to success is to print the first layer very slowly, giving it time to take hold. The snag is that slow printing takes ages. Fortunately the latest versions of printing tools have come to my rescue. The latest version of Cura (the magical tool that I use to convert 3D models into printer commands) lets you set the speed of the first layer print.

There are so many print settings now that the settings process also contains a search function. If you search for “speed” you can find the initial layer print speed settings as shown on the left.

If I use the settings shown I get quite astonishing levels of print adhesion. In fact I can do away with glue completely and print onto smooth glass, which gives a fantastic finish.

I’ve now gone from having a problem getting the print to stick to having a problem getting the printed piece off the printer. But I’m very happy with that.