6 Critical Parameters for 3D Printing Success

If you’re just getting started with 3D printing and don’t understand why your part isn’t printing correctly, try adjusting these parameters. These are also optimized for robotics R&D: a bit tougher with less focus on looks. We are using the Ender Pro v2 and the Creality Slicer 1.2.3. Make sure your slicer program has all parameters shown. For Creality, click Expert > Switch to full settings…

Temperature

For default PLA, a bed temperature of 60C and nozzle/printing temperature of 200C works well. If you’re using carbon fiber polycarbonate filament to increase the build strength, change the bed temperature to 100C and the nozzle temperature to 250C to make sure the filament is melted properly.

Support

There are 2 types of support. If type=”Touching buildplate,” it’s the first thin layer under your main part that keeps the part in place while printing. In most cases, you’ll want to use Platform adhesion type=”Brim” for ease of use. Click the “…” and increase the lines if the part is falling over.

The 2nd type of support is type=”Everywhere.” In the below picture, it’s the white supporting structure that gives builds with “cliffs” a place to melt plastic onto.

To view either of these in your slicer’s simulation, click the top right camera “view mode” and click “Layers.” Move the slider to see how the support will be built.

Nozzle Size, Layer Height, and Shell Thickness

These are arguably the most important “advanced” parameters and they are all dependent on each other.

  • Nozzle Size–This is the size of the extruder’s nozzle. The default size of .4mm is good, but increasing this to .8 drastically improves part strength and lowers build time, at the cost of resolution. Conversely, .2 drastically improves resolution for tiny parts, but increases build time.
  • Layer Height– This is how high in depth (or Z) the printer moves up for each layer. This should always be no larger than 80% of the nozzle size. A larger height decreases build time, but a lower height improves part density.
  • Shell Thickness–As shown in the below image, shell thickness is the number of layers for subcomponents, which affects part strength. Too many layers, though, can cause parts to fuse. On average, this should be double the nozzle size.

Orientation

Even if we are printing a flat circle, 3D printers can only print either in the X or Y direction. Rotating your part by 45 degrees drastically increases the strength of a part because instead of 2 layer lines connection, which has a lot of empty space, you’ll have 2 “staircase” lines connecting. Rotating 45 degrees is almost required for single nozzle layer line subcomponents in a build.

Conclusion

3D printing complex parts can be a challenge, but learning what each parameter does is the best way to debug problems. While these are some of the most important parameters for increasing part strength, there are still many more things to consider when printing.