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Can Z-Hop Cause Stringing? 5 Things To Know

Stringing in 3D printing is when your printed item comes out with little strings attached to it where the printer slightly printed or leaked. Stringing can ruin your printed items, and you want to prevent it. But does Z-Hop cause stringing?

Z-hop can cause stringing when there is excess printing material on the nozzle when it travels between surfaces on your object. To prevent this, you can adjust the Z-Hop settings for speed and distance or lower the temperature of your printer. You also need to keep your nozzle clean.

This article explains five things you need to know about Z-Hops and how to prevent stringing when you use it.

5 Things To Know To Prevent Stringing When Using Z-Hop

Z-Hop is a useful feature to have on 3D printers, but not when it is causing stringing. 

To resolve the issue, you need to understand how Z-Hop works and why it is causing stringing. Then there are multiple ways to prevent stringing, including optimizing your retraction settings, adjusting your print temperature, and keeping your nozzle clean. We explain all five of these steps in more detail below. 

1. Understand Z-Hop and Z-Hop Stringing

You need to understand how and when Z-Hop should be used. When Z-Hop is enabled, your 3D printer’s nozzle will retract when it is not printing, which prevents anything from affecting the item while the nozzle is traveling. 

Without Z-Hop, the nozzle does not retract every time it needs to travel between surfaces on your 3D object. Z-Hop prevents scratching and excess printing, but it also increases your print time. 

When Z-Hop is not enabled, excess printing material will come off the nozzle as it drags along the printed object instead of in the air across the object. In contrast, when Z-Hop is enabled, the excess printing material gets dragged from section to section, causing stringing. 

2. Optimize Your Z-Hop Settings

Z-Hop retracts the nozzle when traveling between areas on your printed object, but there are two ways to customize this retraction. 

  • Adjust the retraction distance. This metric is how much the nozzle retracts every time it travels. A higher retraction distance can decrease the stringing since there is more time for the nozzle to drip off excess printing material before moving to the next area. While this can decrease or prevent stringing, it will increase your print time. 
  • Increase your retraction speed. Doing this will not slow down your print speed. Higher speed means strings may be released from the nozzle before it starts to travel, which means no stringing. 

This video on Youtube from Maker’s Muse shows you how to change the retraction settings on your 3D printer, which fixes the stringing while Z-Hop is enabled:

3. Adjust the Print Temperature

When your printing temperature is high, your printing material is hotter. And the hotter it is, the more liquid it is, which causes dripping from the nozzle. When Z-Hop is not enabled, a higher temperature does not matter since any hot liquid coming from the nozzle stays on the object’s surface. 

However, when Z-Hop is enabled, the hot liquid drips from the nozzle as it retracts, and it continues to drip when the nozzle travels to the next surface, which causes stringing. 

Try lowering the print temperature to prevent stringing. When the temperature is lower, the print material is not as liquid, so it is not as prone to dripping when the nozzle retracts. 

4. Keep Your Printer and Nozzle Clean

Over time, your nozzle will build up residue from the printing materials, which can cause increased stringing. When Z-Hop is enabled, your nozzle is more likely to drip and string. Having excess residue in the nozzle will just make the stringing start sooner.

Starting the printing process with a clean nozzle means there is nothing to drip out and string when the nozzle travels from surface to surface. Even for the longest of prints, starting with a clean nozzle and implementing the other steps in this guide will prevent stringing with Z-Hop.

If you are not familiar with cleaning a 3D printer nozzle, check out this video from Thomas Sanladerer on Youtube. It shows you how to clean it, preventing stringing, clogging, and other nozzle issues. 

5. Know When to Turn off Z-Hop

Finally, recognize that you do not always have to have Z-Hop enabled. With Z-Hop turned off, you can prevent stringing, and your print will be ready faster since the nozzle does not need to retract and hop every time you have open space. 

While Z-Hop works if you have something detailed and want to prevent scratching, for basic prints with little detail, you can turn off Z-Hop without affecting the outcome or quality of your print. 

And, if there is little to no spacing that needs to be “hopped,” having Z-Hop on does not make any difference. 

If you turn on Z-Hop when you do not need it to be on, you might end up with unnecessary stringing. Although the stringing will not be across the spaces on your print, since you do not have many, the nozzle can still leave strings on the surface when Z-Hop is enabled. Stringing on your print surface is much harder to fix compared to stringing on the gaps.

So, while Z-Hop is a great feature to use on your more detailed prints with lots of gaps to hop, more basic prints do not need Z-Hop enabled. If it is enabled when you do not need it, you will end up with unnecessary stringing and a longer print time.

Final Thoughts

Z-Hop on your 3D printer can cause stringing, but there are four steps you can take to prevent this. Understand why Z-Hop causes stringing so you can decide whether or not you want it enabled. 

Then, make sure you optimize your Z-Hop settings to have the best retraction distance and speed set. Also, keep the print temperature low, so the print material is not too liquidy and dripping during the printing process, and keep the nozzle clean, so no excess residue drips from the nozzle to cause stringing.