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How to Solve the Most Common 3D Printing Problems

What do you do when you are trying to run a 3D print and it just doesn't come out right? Undoubtedly, you'll have faced a situation where your prints come out skewed, with a rough surface finish, with blobs or with plenty of stringing.

You have been tweaking your slicer settings for hours, wasted meters of filament and gotten to the point where you become quite desperate. Don't despair, help is within reach!

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The good news is, if you have a problem there is likely someone who had the same problem before. Even better, they may have the solution as well. Thankfully, several enthusiasts have compiled excellent 3D printing troubleshooting guides. I have resorted to these many times when trying to dial in a new printer or when trying to get rid of a particular nagging issue.

Here are some of the best and most comprehensive troubleshooting guides on the web:

3D Printing Troubleshooting Guides

Print Quality Troubleshooting Guide by Simplify3D

The Print Quality Troubleshooting Guide by Simplify3D is my go-to place when trying to hunt down 3D printing problems. Compiled by the makers of the Simplify3D slicer, this easy-to-navigate guide has a comprehensive library of solutions for the most common 3D printing issues.

The well-photographed pictures let you quickly identify the problem that you are facing. Drilling deeper, you'll find step-by-step instructions and software settings to improve your prints.

https://www.simplify3d.com/support/print-quality-troubleshooting/​

Note: some of the suggested software settings pertain only to the Simplify3D slicer and cannot be replicated in other slicing software. Still, most of the suggested solutions are universal and in my opinion this is currently the best 3D printing troubleshooting guide out there.

Simplify3D Troubleshooting Guide

Visual Ultimaker Troubleshooting Guide by 3DVerkstan

Another excellent troubleshooting guide has been compiled by the guys over at 3DVerkstan, a distributor for the Ultimaker 3D printers. Although the guide is geared towards Ultimaker machines, it contains a lot of information that is applicable to every other 3D printer as well. Make sure to take a look next time you run into print quality issues:

3DVerkstan Troubleshooting Guide

RepRap Print Troubleshooting Guide

The Reprap Project Wiki also has a pictorial guide for 3D print troubleshooting. While quite comprehensive in terms of the number of issues listed, I find this guide a bit more difficult to navigate. Compared to the above guides, the solution descriptions are very short and not always self-explanatory, especially not for the novice 3D printer user.

Still, the Reprap troubleshooting guide touches on some calibration and mechanical issues not covered elsewhere:

3D Printing Communities to the Rescue

The above resources are great but sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where you are facing an issue that needs a bit more interactive troubleshooting. Especially when you are facing an issue that pertains to your specific make of 3D printer it comes in very handy if you can ask other users for help.

Here are a few forums or user groups that I can recommend in case you are stuck and the above guides didn't provide the right solution:

Reddit

With close to 50.000 users the 3D printing sub-reddit has a big community of users which makes it a great resource when troubleshooting.

If you trying to hunt down a particular quality issue with a print, there is even a dedicated sub-reddit called FixMyPrint. Simply upload your images to Imgur and post the link to Reddit and wait for the comments to flood in:

Google+

Though Google+ may have been proclaimed dead by some, there is actually a large and active 3D printing community. 3D Printing is by far the largest community with over 240.000 members. Well-known experts such as Josef Prusa, Thomas Sanladerer, Nils Hitze, Brook Drumm and many others hang out here. Within the community there is a sub-section called Questions/Help, the go-to place for 3D printing problems and solutions:

https://plus.google.com/communities/117814474100552114108​

3D Hubs Forum

Though not specifically dedicated to troubleshooting 3D printing problems, the 3D Hubs community is another place where you are guaranteed to find knowledgeable 3D printer users: 

Wise Words from an Expert

Back in 2011, renowned 3D printing expert RichRap wrote a post on 'The Art of failure – When 3D prints go wrong and lessons from failure'. While this may be less of a troubleshooting guide, I still feel it deserves to be listed here since it contains some interesting lessons-learned. Further, this also goes to show that we all were beginners at 3D printing at some point:

Failed 3D prints

Failed 3D prints © RichRap

I hope you find these 3D printing troubleshooting guides helpful. If you know of any other helpful resources, other than the ones listed above, let us know by leaving a comment below.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
Ronald Sperling - April 24, 2016

I have a FlasForge 3d printer it heats up and the extruder is working but when it starts to print it won’t move to the X or Y or Z ???
I also have a CTC 3d printer it is almost the same printer.
It also has the same problem???
I have asked and asked and it seems nobody can help me???
Please help if you can.
Ron.

Reply
    Yves - April 24, 2016

    Hi Ron,
    I’ll drop you an email to see if I can help.

    Reply
Andy - May 19, 2016

I have an Ultimaker 3D printer and I was having trouble with the filaments I was using. It seemed like there was something wrong with the printer because every filament i used would cause problems. After a few days i finally figured out it was the alignment of the filament that was causing the problems! Thanks for the additional forums! I will save them just in case I have future problems.

Reply
    Yves - May 25, 2016

    Hi Andy,
    Great to hear that you managed to fix your Ultimaker. Happy printing!

    Reply

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