Cracking is categorized by a print developing a split in between layers. It is generally caused by some parts of a print cooling faster than others.
To prevent this from happening, we ensure that our build area is kept at a stable temperature, free of excess wind currents.
Characterized by lower levels of the print lifting away from the build plate, warping occurs when the bottom of a print cools unevenly to the top, a common affliction to 3D printers.
To tackle this issue, we use heated build plates on all of our machines, and activate them on every print. We use different temperatures for different materials, to guarantee that regardless of the selected material, the base stays flat.
Curling is like warping, except this generally affects the top layers of a print. The edges of a print become distorted, potentially resulting in sharp edges and weakening the print’s structure.
Often a side-effect of excess heat, we make sure that we print at the optimum temperature to completely factor out this issue.
Build Plate Detachments
This occurs when the base layers of the print detach from the build plate, resulting in a failed print.
This can happen for multiple reasons, for example, the extruder hitting the print, knocking it off the build plate. Or, heavy warping can result in detachment as well as excessive curling.
We have multiple methods of adhesion for each different material that we use. This enables the print to stick to the build plate, meaning that detachment becomes nearly impossible.
We use UPS (uninterruptible power supply) to compensate for any power outages.
Normally, a blackout would result in the loss of a print, resulting in the process having to be restarted. Thanks to our UPS, you can rest assured that your print will be safe and sound.
Air printing occurs when a hot end continues plotting its programmed route, yet there is no material being extruded. This results in a failed print. Often, the last few layers would also be under- extruded, and renders the print irretrievable.
However, if under-extrusion did not happen, one may set the printer to carry on from a layer above the last successfully extruded line.
A typical cause of air printing is when heat travels up the filament and melts it. This results in the filament drive gear pushing on melted material, and clogging the gears. To tackle this, our filament drive gears are located at the back of our machines, making this problem extremely rare.
Some machines are better at printing certain materials than others. This is commonly attributed to the hot end nozzle design. Some printers have larger nozzles, resulting in more heat being produced, affecting surrounding instruments. In some cases this can burn the filament, clogging the hot end. This would generally require deconstruction and a thorough cleaning.
Malta 3D Printing also uses different machine for each type of material. This, combined with the aforementioned methods successfully eliminates any nozzle design and drive gear issues.
Wavy Surfaces (uneven finish)
This is when a product has wavy, uneven lines on its surface. This is generally attributed to the XY belt not being tight enough.
We regularly service our machines to prevent this.
Bubbles/notches on Final Print
Bubbles occur when air pockets get trapped in the print. This is caused by the temperature of the extruder being too high, resulting in the hot end boiling the plastic.
As it cools, the air bubbles get trapped in the print, meaning it becomes a permanent fixture in the final model.
To cater for this, we always use the appropriate printing temperature for all materials and colours (if you have read thus far you will know that correct temperatures also prevent many others problems).
When this occurs the lines of filament that make up the print may have gaps in them, or may suffer uneven extrusion.
Under extrusion has various causes, such as using weak, humid or fragmented material, as well as filament with excess air bubbles. Furthermore, undesirable temperatures can also increase the likelihood of under extrusion.
Malta 3D Printing uses premium filament, purchased from reputable brands including: MakerBot, taulman 3D, and NinjaFlex. This material has been purchased due to its special properties and reliability, as well as the filament guaranteeing against the issues mentioned above.
Additionally, all our material is stored in a cool and dry environment, negating all humidity concerns.
Burn marks appear as brown or black marks on or within the print. Burn marks are a result of the hot end temperature being way too high.
Alternatively, curling may occur, causing a part of the print to be repeatedly hit by the hot end nozzle, initially melting the surrounding areas, eventually burning the print.
As previously mentioned, we always print at optimum temperatures and have measures in place to prevent curling. Therefore, we do not encounter this problem.
Print discolouration can appear when two or more colours are present towards the base of a model.
This occurs when some of the previous filament is still left over when changing printing materials. This leads to discolouration and colour streaking.
To counter this, we purge our machines upon each material change, to ensure the previous filament has been completely removed.
Cuts, Scrapes and Bruises (to technician/staff)
Since the build plate and the extruder require heat to function, as well as numerous moving parts (the gantry, the X and Y axis belts, the build plate, the filament drive gears etc.) our technicians are often in the line of fire, frequently falling prey to the epic dangers that manifest themselves in the dark nooks and crannies of 3D printing.
All jokes aside, there are multiple parts at work in a 3D printer and care must be taken when working with them, otherwise one may end up losing some finger prints. It is always important to make sure you turn off the machine before preforming any major maintenance and leave it sufficient time to cool after doing so.
Also when trying to remove rouge bits of filament make sure to use the pause function if your machine has one, as to prevent your fingers getting snagged in one of the moving belts.