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What To Do When Your 3D Printed Walls Are Too Thick

3D printing is far from perfect, and sometimes you might end up printing what seems like a terrible mistake. Printing 3D walls of a specific width can be challenging as factors such as printing material, and machine settings can cause your walls to come out too thick. 

If your 3D printed walls are too thick, you should check your filament, speed, linear advance acceleration, and printer tolerance. When printing walls, pay close attention to shell thickness to fine-tune the wall thickness. Play with the layer settings if your printer doesn’t have shell thickness.

Let’s go through some reasons why your 3D printed walls are too thick and how to fix them. 

Why Your 3D Printed Walls May Be Too Thick

Identifying why your 3D walls are printing too thick is a complicated task. 3D printers are complex machines, and 3D printing software has countless settings that could affect wall thickness. 

Let us walk you through some common reasons why 3D walls are coming out thick. 

Filament

Filament type and quality will have a significant impact on the end product. Variations in filter diameter and composition can result in inconsistent prints. As much of the filament available is inconsistent, you may just need to adjust your settings to better deal with a new filament. 

Similarly, moist filament can result in rough and inconsistent prints. Since PLA can absorb humidity very easily, you may just be dealing with wet filament. To avoid negatively affecting your end product, always dry your filament before printing to prevent moisture problems. 

Speed

When 3D printing, the rate of extrusion (printing) will stay stable. However, the speed of the nozzle may vary depending on how it needs to move to print your walls. If your printing speed is too fast, you may notice irregular wall widths with thinner centers and thicker edges. 

Linear Advance

Linear advance seeks to correct the nozzle speed issue described above by regulating nozzle pressure to even the extrusion flow. Not calibrating your 3D printer each time you use a different filter can result in uneven extrusion and walls that come out too thick (or too thin). 

Acceleration

Your walls may be coming out too thick if your acceleration and jerk settings are too aggressive. 3D printing is all about finding the right balance between printing speed and speed quality. 

If you are worried that your 3D walls are coming out too thick, try decreasing the printing speed. Although slower printing speeds can impact total print times, it should positively affect print quality. 

Printer Tolerance and Dimensional Accuracy

Printer tolerance and dimensional accuracy can affect the precise measurements of your walls. Printer tolerance is a setting you input to let your machine know how accurate it needs to be. If your walls are coming out thicker than intended, you may just need to decrease your printer’s tolerance. 

Dimensional accuracy deals with the 3D printing capabilities of your machine. Generally speaking, the higher the quality of a machine, the higher the dimensional accuracy. 

  • The average dimensional accuracy of a 3D printer is +/- 0.5mm (0.02in). This means that the final print may end up measuring 0.5mm (0.02in) more or less than the specified diameters. 
  • The dimensional accuracy of a high-quality 3D printer is +/- 0.1mm (0.004in). This makes these printers 400% more accurate than average 3D printers. 

Check the dimensional accuracy of your 3D printer to ensure that it can print within your desired specifications. 

Minimum Thickness per Type of 3D Printing Material

Another factor to consider is how thin you can print your type of filament. Each printing material has its physical limitations that restrict how thin you can print with them. Check out our table for the minimum and recommended thickness settings for the most common filaments. 

MaterialMinimum ThicknessRecommended Thickness
PLA0.8mm (0.031 in)1.5mm (0.059 in)
Nylon0.8mm (0.031 in)1.5mm (0.059 in)
ABS0.8mm (0.031 in)1.5mm (0.059 in)
Verowhite0.6mm (0.024 in)1mm (0.039 in)
Transparent0.6mm (0.024 in)1mm (0.039 in)
ABS-Like0.6mm (0.024 in)1mm (0.039 in)
Rubber-Like0.8mm (0.031 in)2mm (0.078 in)
Visiclear0.6mm (0.024 in)1mm (0.039 in)

How To Print the Perfect Wall Thickness

Printing the perfect wall thickness takes patience and some trial and error. First, you need to understand the anatomy of a 3D-printed wall. 

3D printed walls, depending on thickness, are generally made up of four parts: 

  • Top layer 
  • Infill 
  • Walls 
  • Bottom layer 

Of these four parts, all but the infill are called the shell. The shell is the only part of the walls that you can see from the outside, so it heavily impacts the appearance of your walls. 

To ensure walls of perfect width, you should pay attention to shell thickness. 

Shell Thickness

Unfortunately, most 3D printing programs do not have specific values for shell thickness. Instead, you will need to play around with your program’s line count and layers settings.

By increasing the layer thickness, you can get a shell thickness of about 0.8–1.0 mm (0.031-0.039 in).

Wall Width

Wall width is usually measured in either line count or wall width (mm). You specify how many times the nozzle should pass through with line count when making the wall. 

You should always use line count to set wall width or use a multiple of your nozzle diameter when defining wall width. This is because your nozzle has physical limitations on how thinly it can print, so if you select a wall width that is not compatible with your nozzle, you will likely end up with irregular walls. 

Layers

Layers are measured similarly to wall width but refer to your wall’s top and bottom layers.

Similarly, you should use line counts or a multiple of your nozzle width when setting the measurements of your layers. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re 3D printing walls that come out too thick, you may need to adjust some of your printer settings and check the quality of your filament. Pay attention to the following: 

  • Filament quality and density 
  • Printing speed 
  • Linear advance settings 
  • Acceleration and jerk 
  • Printer tolerance and dimensional accuracy