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New! Need a starting point

hazmatt99
(@hazmatt99)
Trusted Member

Hello! So I'm very new to 3D printing and would like some help with slicer settings for prints.

I'm using a TRONXY model XY-2 Pro with a Titan extruder. The rest of the parts came standard, 0.4mm nozzle, 10 inch heated print bed, etc. I've been using TRONXY's provided slicer based on cura. 

I've done several prints so far both for finished products and for calibration and while some of the settings I'm messing with do make sense to me I'm still very inexperienced and I'd like to get ahead of the problems I'm likely to cause in the future stumbling in the dark lol.

Looking for direct assistance or reference to existing educational material for the following things:

1. General basic settings for prints, layer height, nozzle temp, print speed, etc. Focusing on minimal defects and quality, I can try to optimize print time and material usage later. (Only concerned with PLA right now but if it's convenient I wouldn't say no to recommended settings for other common materials)

2. Print bed issues. I think it's a tempered glass bed? Relatively flexible but overall rigid, since I started using it I've been having trouble with leftover material getting stuck to it, most recent print was really bad it basically pulled the bottom of the print off. Looking for ways to clean it without damaging it, preventing material from sticking in the future (slicer settings, or if I need to buy a different type of print bed I'm fine with that)

3. Maintenance. I know there are several things I should be checking over time to see if the hardware integrity is starting to wear down, I just don't know how. Any recommended tools or tests for belt tension, nozzle wear, or any other parts that get replaced frequently? General part lifetimes to replace for preventative maintenance?

4. UPGRADES! I'm fully aware I got a bargain 3D printer, is there a recommended model I should look at getting in the future? Focusing on reliability and range of use/materials

5. Calibration. I found a bunch of files on the interwebs to tweak certain qualities, though the instructions weren't clear on what settings I should actually be messing with to make changes and improvements. I've attached the STLs for the calibration prints. Basically just looking for the factor(s) that affect each the most so I can run my own experiments.

I realize this is alot in one post but I hope I kept it concise enough to be tackled easily. Lemme know if you need more information to be able to help or if I basically need to break it up into smaller chunks.

Thanks!

Quote
Topic starter Posted : 09/04/2021 7:27 pm
Pablo
(@placherre)
Member Moderator

Hi Hasmatt99!

Thank you for posting and sharing your experience! What you are going through might be useful for other members as well.

The equipment you have is a nice entry level FDM printer like the Ender 3 Pro. Learning to manage the correct adjustment and settings will give you very good results.

Since you are starting in the 3D printing world, I would recommend you to start with the basics settings; by doing this, you will be able to identify the response to a certain modification. For example, if you change temperature and retraction, you will notice different results in bridging and stringing. As a beginner, the best thing to do is print the calibration files (temperature tower, bed leveling, etc.). So, you are in the correct starting point, and as you get more confident and experienced, you will be able to print large scale projects. Like the saying: “Practice makes the master”.

I would recommend the following rules as a must when starting a new print:

  • Bed level and clean.
  • Nozzle and Bowden system clean (from old material).
  • Check for loose bolts (adjust them if you find one).
  • Make sure the steppers are free to move.
  • Make sure the wheels from carriages aren't loose on the rails.

So now, going in depth with the specific information:

1- Every material and supplier will require different settings. When buying a new filament, always check on the spool the range of temperatures (bed and nozzle). Most PLA’s have good results when working with 200°C for the nozzle and 50°C for the bed. Remember that the Glass Transition Temperature (GTP) for PLA is close to 60°C. The temperature range for PLA varies between 175°C and 210°C. The temperature tower is a great starting point in order to know at what temperature your filament works best. In addition, some other settings will affect the final quality of your model: speed, retraction, flow rate and cooling (among others). Regarding this ones, I could mention the “regular” settings for PLA (remember it might change with the one you have):

  • Bed Temperature: If you are experiencing warping (when the model detaches from the bed), then you should increase the bed temperature in 5°C increments. Despite other materials, PLA doesn’t require an adhesion helper. On the other hand, if you experience the “elephant foot” phenomenon, that indicates that the temperature is too high. Elephant's foot is known when the first layer of the model is wider than the rest. An example is shown in the following image:
Elephant Foot
  • Nozzle Temperature: If you notice bad layer adhesion, you should increase the temperature of the hot end (in 5°C increments also). Also, if you notice the extruder stepper is skipping, that means the temperature is low (the filament is stucking on the nozzle). Also, when printing with black PLA, it is recommended to increase the temperature 5°C in comparison with other colors. In the following picture you can see oozing and stringing:
Stringing and Oozing
  • Speed: With PLA you could print between 30 up to 90 mm/sec. I would recommend you set this item in 50 mm/sec as a starting point. Printing to fast will affect the final result: too slow would deform the model because the nozzle stays too long (remember that is a hot tip), and too fast won’t allow the correct cooling of the deposited layer.
  • Retraction: This settings configures the amount and speed of filament taking back when the hot end moves from one place to another or when changing layers. The correct calibration avoids the stringing problem (which affects the quality of the print). For PLA, you could set the retraction in 6 or 7 mm and the speed between 20 and 30 mm/sec (25 mm/sec is a good starting point). When retraction is poor, it looks like this:
Insuficient Retraction
  • Flow rate (AK as Extrusion Multiplier): By default, this value is 100%, but you can change it between 90 and 110%. This value affects how much filament is extruded. For example, if you see your model is experiencing under extrusion (weak prints that crumble, crack or tear under even slight stress, you have visible gaps in your objects, walls start becoming see through because solid areas show spongy patches instead) you could increase this value (you can notice changes by making 5% increments). But, if you increased this value and the print quality hasn’t changed, then you should change the temperature setting. As a beginning, leave this value in 100%. Under extrusion looks like this:
Under Extrusion
  • Cooling: This setting will affect the layer adhesion. Normally for PLA, the speed is set up at 100%. When printing with PLA, the GLP is low; therefore, the filament deposited must be cooldown as quickly as possible.

Remember to record the changes you make, in order to relate the results you will obtain. Also, if you have different suppliers, you will notice that settings will be different. Would you share a screen capture of your settings?

When leveling the bed, have in mind the following picture as a reference pattern:

First Layer Pattern

2- Regarding the bed, since you have to replace it, I would recommend you use silicon glass (3 mm thick). This material is cheap, easy to clean and models are easy to remove when the bed has cooled down. When buying the glass, remember to tell the supplier to chamfer the edges, in order to avoid sharp edges. In this case, you would have to adjust the Z end stop switch. Before doing it, let me know because too much information will overwhelm you.

3- The recommended maintenance will depend on how much time the printer is working. The basic check should involve general cleaning, check for loose screws and electric connectors, nozzle cleaning and Bowden system cleaning (even a 0.2 mm debris could cause headaches). In a weekly check you should check for belt tensioning and lubrication. A monthly inspection should involve electronic boards cleaning (you will be surprised how much dust could be accumulated). Always remember to perform this tasks with the power cord unplugged from the equipment.The recommended tools will depend on your printer; but, for most suppliers you should have 1.5 to 4 mm Allen Wrench and 6-8-10 mm wrenches. I would recommend you to have the following spare parts:

  • Nozzles: Despite changing it due to wear, you could have other diameters in order to change the print quality.
  • Silicon Cover: They could damage and affect the temperature variation in the hot end.
  • Extruder kit (gear, pulley, spring).
  • X and Y Bet: Be careful when checking the tension. It shouldn’t be tensioned too tight, since the drive pulley is timed (the belt will skip if it is too loose).

4- For now, I would recommend you to start printing with the default design. Because, at this stage, you could make involuntary changes that will affect your printing. Since the equipment is very reliable, you will not have problems. Since PLA is a very forgiving material, you won’t have to make changes in your machine.

5- I would recommend you to try the calibration files from the following link: https://members.io3dp.com/downloads

There, you will find the files that will help you improve your settings. For example, you will be able to print the temperature tower I mentioned before, which is similar to the bridging test you shared. The difference is that the tower has different temperatures and will help you to find the correct setting.

I hope I was able to help you and clarify some ideas. It might look like a lot of information, but you will assimilate it. Like I said before, it is a matter of practice as well.

Please, keep me updated with your prints and I will help you with any difficulties you might have.

Kind regards,

Pablo

ReplyQuote
Posted : 12/04/2021 4:53 pm
hazmatt99
(@hazmatt99)
Trusted Member

Thanks for the help!

I can already see I was doing alot of things wrong and I can make a few changes to set myself up for success.

As a quick follow-up, do you have a recommendation for an enclosure/ventilation setup? It occurred to me that printing in a high traffic open room without an enclosure or filter might be less than ideal lol.

ReplyQuote
Topic starter Posted : 17/04/2021 3:10 pm
Pablo
(@placherre)
Member Moderator

Hi Hasmatt99!

I am glad I was able to help you! It is always recommended to set a basis set up in order to improve from there. Therefore, every time you make any changes, you now where to start; furthermore, do not make too many changes at the same time, because you will not be able to identify the real cause of a certain result.

Regarding the enclosure, PLA is a very forgiving material which will not cause you problems. But, it is better if you have your machine away from any current of air which will affect your print. For example in my own case, I have mines away from the two doors of the room; in that case, if there is any air current, it will not affect it directly. On the contrary, when I am printing with PETG I try to keep the room temperature stable and I try to avoid opening the door.that connects the outside of the room. In conclusion, as far as you keep your equipment away from any air current, you will be fine when printing with PLA.

Once you have a project printed, please show me the results in order to see the changes.

Good printing!!

Greetings,

Pablo

ReplyQuote
Posted : 17/04/2021 3:29 pm
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