Avoid distortion in 3D printing – warping

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How to avoid distortion during 3D printing

You are the proud owner of a 3D printer, you are more and more experienced and strong from your successes you launch yourself into the printing of a larger part, it is then you realize that after a moment that one of the sides of your object lifts up, retracts, it is warping.Don’t panic, this phenomenon is known and common in the field of 3D printing, if it can be confusing when you just started knowing that there are solutions.
We often tend to incriminate the printer and especially our settings for this kind of problems when often the causes are external. That’s why today, I would like to talk about warping and how to minimize the effects that external elements can have on our work (especially for long impressions).

I will share with you a few tips that I find useful in solving these problems. Here we go, let’s go.

The heated bed

Maybe printing is more like physics / chemistry. I’m sure you still have in mind factors such as barometric pressure, humidity, temperature, etc. that play a role. One of the first causes of warping is that plastic cools much too quickly. The heated bed is very important here. Because when the plastic filament is deposited on top, it allows the plastic to cool more gently. If PLA can print without a heated bed, it is really mandatory for ABS printing which really requires slow cooling. Generally avoid printing in a cold environment. Below 10°C, the risk of warping is very high. We often want to put our printer in our garage or in the basement, already because our workshop is located there and because the lady doesn’t like the noise generated by the printer very much:). These rooms are often colder, so we have to find a solution to keep our impression warm, that’s what we’ll see below.

An enclosed enclosure

It is no coincidence that some 3D printers are sold in a closed box. Again, the goal is to insulate the printer as much as possible from the outside to avoid draughts or other temperature fluctuations that could compromise your impression. This is perhaps one of the most important elements (with the heating bed) that will allow you to avoid deformations. If you can’t afford to buy a closed printer, you can build your own enclosure with two IKEA LACK tables. I did a tutorial on this subject.

Rafts or no rafts?

Racks are essential for me, they really help to hold your object down and minimize shrinkage. Be careful though, I already had the case where my raft diaper held so well, that a thinner part of my piece ended up splitting. Well, that happened when I wanted to take the room off the heated bed. So take it easy when you want to remove your object. Printing will not be finished until the object is in your hands.

Fill ratio

For large and long runs, I have noticed that printing with 20-25% fillings helps, because there is less plastic and less shrinkage force exerted on your print, but just enough to prevent the structure and exterior walls from deforming. Whenever possible, try printing without lower layers and see what happens, it also seems to reduce curling. There’s almost an infinite number of shapes to print, so it’s subjective, but big prints like a map or something that takes up a lot of surface on the construction plate, it seems to work well.

Do not hesitate to share your experience by leaving a comment, perhaps you have experienced some solutions not mentioned in this post to solve warping problems.

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