If you’ve been experimenting with PLA but can’t quite get your edges right, look no further. 3D printing has undoubtedly changed the world. From the comfort of our own homes, we can create and engineer our own tools, gifts, and more.
Here are 6 tips and tricks on how to keep your PLA overhangs from curling:
- Increase the infill of your model.
- Test your printing speed.
- Reduce the temperature.
- Cool your object down quicker.
- Use mold to support structure.
- Use thinner layers.
After reading this article, you’ll discover some new techniques for keeping your edges smooth on your models and designs. The correct answer for you and your 3D printer may just be one of these tips or a combination of a few.
1. Increase the Infill of Your Model
Your infill settings are what determine how much density goes into your model. The more dense your object is, the more stable and robust it’ll be. Stronger, more stable objects are less likely to curl. Changing the density setting may support your structure.
When changing your infill, you’ll want to consider both the pattern and density percentage that goes into the object. The design of your infill can either make your object more hollow or more dense, regardless of the density you select.
This eight-minute video shows you the strengths of different infill:
Again, your goal with this tip is to make your object more sturdy so the edges don’t curl. Experiment with different infill patterns and densities to see if your object will be more stable.
2. Test Your Printing Speed
If your object is coming out of the printer too hot and too quick, this can cause the edges to curl up before they have a chance to cool down. If you print too slow, the same thing can occur.
You may consider reducing your printing speed to see if this supports the integrity of your model. Alternatively, attempt to speed up printing to see if this works better with the object. You’ll need to test different speeds with different projects, as the density, material, and shape will affect the curling.
This short video has more information on the variations that are caused by printing speed:
To change the printing speed, you can check the software handbook of your printer.
3. Reduce the Temperature
Reducing the temperature may help your edges stay flat.
When your model is hot off the press, it’s more flexible and malleable, meaning you can bend it this way or that way, and it’ll likely stay. If you’re using a cooler temperature, this may reduce the malleability. The project may take longer to create, but it’ll come out more solid.
You should also note that different materials will need to be heated differently. Ensure to check the recommendations for the PLA you purchased so that you don’t have to waste too much experimenting with temperature.
4. Cool Your Object Down Quicker
If you aren’t willing to give up any time for your project with a reduced temperature or speed, you could also just cool your model down quicker.
Hot objects are malleable and can be more flexible to weight or touch. If you’re creating a heavy object, and it comes out pretty hot, then the chances of it bending go way up.
Think of your project like a cookie. Cookie dough, cold from the refrigerator, is soft and malleable. However, a hot cookie right out of the oven will crumble right in your hand, often bending and breaking before you can even eat it. Cooling the cookies will allow them to harden.
Cooling your project will help it harden quicker. You can change the settings of your 3D printer to lower the cooling temperature or increase the fan speed. This will reduce the chances that it continues to shape itself or melt.
If you still need additional cooling support, you can get creative with your technique. You can use:
- A room fan
- A blow dryer on cool
- Your fridge
5. Use a Mold To Support Structure
This method can take a little longer, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
You can create a mold or a support structure to place your object on during the cooling process for your model. If you want your edges to be flat, you can simply put your model in the mold to further cast your shape.
If you’re making a flat object, you can use a baking sheet or another smooth surface to help your objects cool.
Because you’ll want one with no curling, you may have to reduce temperature or speed, which can take a little longer. It’ll be worth it to perfect and speed up your process for your whole batch, though! Or, if you’re willing to go the extra mile, you can 3D print some tools to help your objects keep their structural integrity while cooling.
6. Use Thinner Layers
Another great way to reduce curling is to create thinner layers, if possible.
Some projects will require thicker layers, and if that’s the case, this tip may not work for you. You could consider making multiple thin layers and piecing them together if that makes sense for your project.
Making thin layers helps because it lessens the weight that your object bears.
Think about it like this: if you hold out your arm, it’s pretty unbendable if you want it to be. People can hit it, shake it, or slap it, and you can keep it straight and strong. But if you’re holding a textbook in your hand or weight, it becomes easier for your arm to bend.
Your structure works the same way. Reducing the layers so that your project isn’t bearing a heavy load may be worth trying.
You want your projects to come out ideally and use your materials wisely, so getting curly overhang can be frustrating. All models come out differently, so experimenting is the only thing that can give you the perfect formula for the ideal model.
Some of these tricks can guide you to your best model:
- Changing the infill pattern or density of your model.
- Reducing or increasing the printing speed.
- Lowering the temperature of your printer.
- Cooling your object more quickly.
- Making a mold to support the structural integrity of your model.
- Using thinner layers.