No Laws Here

I struggled trying to get really nice 3D FDM prints. Just recently I discovered the errors in my way. I believed the “recommended” filament flow settings were accurate.

They are not. At best a very rough starting point for the newbie.

I laugh every time I see someone ask. “What settings do you use to print so nice?”  Truth is, there are no rules for a “right” settings.  I should laugh at myself.

The current trend in 3D FDM printing is more and faster is better. So, everything is being adjusted to maximum performance and the “old” standard limits are being extended.

There is some good in the “faster is better” hardware development. Fast hardware must be built very rugged and ridged. This creates an overall better hardware platform.

Travel and print movement speeds are the most obvious ways to shorten print time.  The other are to lay down wider and higher layers.

Because of extruder flow limitations, the first “speed demon” printers were rated for the published high speeds only with very low and narrow print lines. Limitations usually found in only the fine print. (Mark this as a clue.)

FDM Extruders are improving and the filament makers are producing some filament designed for high-speed printing with special flow characteristics. So, yes high speed FDM is getting better.

But, my fast printing experience has never produced the nice prints that I desire. I discovered my main failure is that I was using published print line widths and flow rates that are far too high for the nozzle in use.

Here is my “quality” secret revealed: Stay within nozzle limits.  The best line width is 100% of the nozzle hole size.  (I.E. 0.40mm nozzle / 0.40 line width.) Adjust base flow rate to eliminate flow bulging at the nozzle tip. If you are pushing a blob when printing, then the flow is set too high.

This 100% line width increases overall printing times because more lines must be printed, but print quality greatly improves. I also stay at or under 0.20mm layer height as well.

Of course, one can go wider and higher. Perhaps for strength or to save time. But this line width “Secret” is how I get the very best (looking) quality print with FDM.

I also do not exceed the filament print speeds recommended by the filament makers. They know their product best.

There are no “speed police.” Push the speed limits as I have done. That is what 3D printing permits. Personal control. When the desire is the best-looking print possible, it’s not going to be found at the “outer limits”! Ha! Just enjoy the freedom to choose what effect you want.

Don’t fret. I am not making my quality secret a “speed limit law”.


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