If you’ve frequently worked with Simplify3D to slice your designs and control your 3D prints, you may have noticed several problems with your results that can arise from time to time. Using this simple guide, you’ll be able to quickly troubleshoot and fix any issue you may be facing using this software.
Here are the most common Simplify3D problems:
- Mesh errors
- Not extruding material at the beginning of the print
- Print not sticking to the bed
- Stringing and oozing
- Blocked nozzle
- Layer shifting and separating
- Stopping mid-process
- Snapped filament
To learn how to better understand and fix each of these problems, keep reading.
1. Mesh Errors
You can usually detect a mesh error when the visual preview is extruded before the actual print looks different from your designed model. There’s a problem with a mesh when this happens, such as a hollow cutout that appears as a completely filled layer.
How To Fix
Luckily, there are several excellent alternatives that can help you fix a mesh error. First, you can let the software itself troubleshoot and solve this problem during the preparation phase it goes through after receiving a G-code.
Another highly-effective way to fix this problem is by manually adjusting the mesh settings. To do so, you’ll need to find and click on the “Advanced” tab, where you can choose a settings menu called “Slicing Behavior.”
In this menu, you’ll have the possibility to adjust some of the elements that impact how Simplify3D reacts to the layers it creates as it’s printing your design.
In short, you will be able to alter how the software processes the mesh. For example, to fill out any possible holes, you’ll want to enable the “Heal” setting. Likewise, you can change the digital mesh and repair it using the menu’s built-in repair tools.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to how you can alter and improve your mesh’s quality, so try out several different setting options found under the “Repair Tab” before giving up on your print.
2. Not Extruding Material at the Beginning of the Print
If you can’t seem to get your printer to extrude your chosen material at the beginning of the process, there might be a problem with the extruder itself or the nozzle.
One of the main reasons this glitch happens is that the extruder is often not adequately primed before the beginning of the print. When using a higher temperature, the majority of extruders are prone to leaking plastic, and this phenomenon is even more common during the preheating process that happens at the beginning of the print.
Due to this leakage, the extruder loses some of its plastic, which causes a delay before the plastic printing material can come out again. By priming the extruder, you fill it up with plastic again, preparing it better to extrude the material upon receiving the command.
How To Fix
On Simplify3D, you can prime the extruder using a skirt, which is the process of drawing circles around the object you’re printing. This will fill up the extruder with plastic and adequately prime it to be more responsive to further commands. Depending on the level of priming you need, you can add or remove as many skirt outlines as you’d like.
Another possible, simpler cause that can lead to this problem is a clogged extruder. Some blockages are bound to collect inside an extruder, frequently dealing with different temperature plastics. In this case, you’ll want to open up the extruder and clean it internally. If you don’t have much experience with this process, it might be best to look for professional help when opting for this solution.
Another way you can fix the extruding material issues is by placing the nozzle in a starting position further away from the bed. When the nozzle stands too close to the bed before the print starts, there won’t be enough space for the material to come out. Using the adequate G-code, you can place the Z-axis in a position that allows enough room for the plastic to come out.
Printing at a too high temperature can often result in inaccurate and aesthetically unpleasant designs. Overheating can cause the material to soften and lose its structural integrity, resulting in a deformed final print.
How To Fix
One of the most common ways to avoid overheating is using external fans to cool down each layer of printing material. Otherwise, if you don’t have access to a fan, you can try to combat overheating by manually adjusting the printer’s settings.
This can be achieved either by:
- Directly decreasing the print temperature
- Slowing down the printing speed
The latter counteracts your overheating problem more indirectly, as it allows the layers more time in between material deposits to cool down. Note that it’s best to use the last two options as a last resort because, in some cases, they can further deform your final result if your print design isn’t compatible with the changes you’re making.
4. Print Not Sticking to the Bed
If you find that your print is prone to detach from the bed, you’ll want to look into several causes that may be responsible for this problem. Remember that the first layer is the most crucial element that determines how well the rest of the layers will stick to the platform when it comes to bed adhesion.
How To Fix
The first solution you’ll want to try is leveling your bed. It may sound like an unnecessary step when you’ve used the same bed axis for a long time, but shifts and imbalances can happen at any moment. Therefore, before moving on to alternative solutions, ensure that the printing bed is entirely level. Doing so can significantly increase the chances of a strong layer adhesion.
Secondly, make sure that the nozzle is just far enough from the bed, as too long or too short of a distance can make it harder for the material to stick. The ideal space between the two components should be around 0.1 to 0.25 mm (0.004 to 0.01 in).
Anything lower than 0.1 mm (0.004 in) won’t allow enough space for the material to extrude, as I also mentioned in one of the previous sections. On the other hand, a distance higher than 0.25 mm (0.01 in) reduces the contact area between the material and the bed, making it harder for it to adhere properly.
Furthermore, always keep the heating bed at an adequately high temperature if you want to avoid the plastic cooling down too much. This would cause the material to contract and pull away from the bed along the edges, making it harder for it to stick to the bed surface properly.
5. Stringing and Oozing
In some cases, the nozzle unpromptedly oozes filament that sticks to the bed surface and your print. This process is called stringing, and not only can it be hard to clean up and remove, but it may ruin the design you’re trying to print altogether. Stringing usually happens when the nozzle crosses an empty space and is a prevalent problem that can be easily fixed.
How To Fix
The first solution you’ll want to try is adjusting your retraction settings. Doing so will make the nozzle retract and pull the filament back when going through the empty space and not ooze the material out.
If this solution doesn’t work, try increasing the speed setting for your extruder. The faster the nozzle works, the less time there is for stringing or oozing. Similar to one of the previous problems, you can also combat oozing by lowering the filament’s temperature.
This will solidify the material more and make it harder for it to leak out. Still, a lower temperature will also decrease the strength of your print, so it may take a bit of trial and error before finding the perfect temperature that maintains the ideal balance.
6. Blocked Nozzle
Sometimes, you may give a “Print” command, but you notice that no material is coming out of the nozzle. Luckily, this problem usually doesn’t require a lot of effort to fix.
How To Fix
One of the most straightforward and intuitive approaches is unblocking the extruder using a needle. After removing the filament, heat the nozzle to soften the material stuck inside, making it easier to remove. Afterward, you can reach for and extract the blockage using a small needle or pin.
Alternatively, you can try to push the material blocking the extruder by using another segment of filament. After going through all the steps mentioned in the previous alternative, you’ll need to remove the feeder tube and try to push the blockage from the top. Apply adequate pressure and force, but be careful not to overdo it, as you can cause damage to the 3D printer or one of its components.
7. Layer Shifting and Separating
Because the 3D technology relies heavily on layer adhesion to produce a structurally sound object, layer shifting and separating can render a print unusable. Therefore, knowing how to prevent this problem from happening can help you save a lot of time and effort, especially if you’re 3D printing frequently.
The first factor that can contribute to imperfect layering is an issue of mechanical or electrical nature. Therefore, after noticing misaligned layers, examine the device. Check whether the belts are being put under adequate pressure and whether the nozzle is properly receiving commands. If not, you’ll need to contact a professional or your printer manufacturer to discuss your options.
Another reason that may be causing layer separating is if you’ve set the printing process at a very high-speed setting. If the motors can’t handle the speed you’re trying to print in, they won’t be able to position themselves adequately, as they won’t have enough time to do so.
How To Fix
Try reducing the speed and check if the layers come out properly aligned.
Alternatively, if neither of the mentioned causes seems to be the cause of the problem, you can try to increase the print’s temperature. Warmer, softer layers are more prone to adhering to one another, which is more challenging to achieve with cold filament. Therefore, try increasing the temperature by some degrees at a time to check if doing so will make a difference in the print’s structural integrity.
8. Stopping Mid-Process
A print that starts out normally but stops extruding material mid-process can be very frustrating. Several reasons can cause this problem, some of which can be entirely avoided by taking a few extra steps before starting the printing process.
The most common cause for this problem is that your printer has run out of filament. Therefore, always make sure to check your spool and examine whether it has enough material before giving the “Print” command.
Another reason the printer may stop working mid-process is a clogged nozzle. As I mentioned, plastic can often build up inside the extruder and block it, making it so the filament can’t come out. You can head over to the “Blocked Nozzle” section of this article to learn how to quickly and easily solve this problem.
How To Fix
Refill the filament and clean the nozzle. If these steps aren’t enough to resolve the problem, then the issue could be mechanical. The motor of your extruder, like many other automated devices, works unbelievably hard throughout the whole print. Without adequate cooling around the engine, it can quickly overheat and stop working completely.
In this case, you’ll want to give the device a few moments to cool down before starting up again. Alternatively, you can also add cooling fans around the printer to help better combat the problem.
9. Snapped Filament
If the nozzle isn’t extruding any material, but the filament spool is full, you may be dealing with a snapped filament. Snapped filaments won’t feed through the nozzle normally and won’t produce a desirable print.
How To Fix
If you notice this issue, the first thing you’ll want to try is to check if there are any breakages or sharp debris in the spool, and if so, remove them. Afterward, swap out the filament and start a print to check if the problem has been resolved.
If the problem continues, the cause probably isn’t the spool or the filament. In this case, you can try loosening the idler tension as well as lowering the print temperature or flow rate if needed.
If you notice that some layers begin to curl and deform, making your model unusable, you’re dealing with warping. You’ll probably need to adjust your print temperature to fix this common issue.
The main cause of warping is too low a temperature, making the plastic contract and curl at the edges.
How To Fix
Using a heated bed, increase the nozzle temperature, and remove any cooling fans. These steps can all be immensely helpful when it comes to warping, especially on larger models. Once your printer has reached a good temperature, the warping should subside.