#13: This is a Hobby
#12: Slicing Matters
#11: Print profiles
#9: Have a little help from your friends
#8: Materials matter
#7: Keep an eye on things
#5: Understanding support
#4: Rafts, Brims & Skirts
#3: Get sticky (but only if you have to)
#2: Print on glass… or any good bed
#1: Bed leveling & The first layer squish
Whether you’re thinking about buying your first 3D printer or maybe you’ve gotten one recently and are trying to figure it out, or perhaps you’ve been at this for a while, in this article I’m going to show you 13 things about 3D printing that I wish I knew when I got started that hopefully will save you some time.
A little bit of background here. About five or six years ago, a friend of mine recommended a book called Makers by Chris Anderson. So, Makers is all about people who want to make things and create things, and use different technologies to do them, and one of the explanations he gave in this book was that in the future, almost everybody would have a 3D printer in their house and could basically manufacture whatever they wanted. And I thought that sounds pretty incredible, but pricing for 3D printers at the time was through the roof. It was pretty crazy and it’s come down so much just in the last few years.
A couple of years ago I was able to buy the PrintrBot Simple Metal for about $700. It was my first 3D printer, I was very excited about it, and I just loved digging into it and feeling like I could create anything I wanted to right in my own house. I quickly realized, however, that it was not so easy to start 3D printing. I had to tweak and adjust and modify. I threw away so many prints that had failed. There were just so many things I didn’t get and it took me quite a while to understand some of those things.
So fast forward even further, just a little while ago, I picked up a Tevo Tornado from GearBest. Now, this printer is night and day compared to my first printer. While this is still a great printer, there are several things that you get with a more modern printer nowadays. Not to mention the price. This printer costs $340 while this one was about $700. So less than half the price, I was able to get some features like a heated bed on here, a huge volume. I can print about 300 millimeters square by 400 millimeters tall. So that’s about 12 by 12 by 15, and imagine printing a Darth Vader helmet all in one go, or a ukulele, a football helmet; anything like that you could print all at once because of the huge build volume that you have access to with this.
It’s got a great interface. I can make a lot of adjustments and controls right here on the printer, and pretty killer. So, let’s jump into these 13 things that I think will save you a lot of time. I’ve actually polled a bunch of my buddies who have 3D printers and even an online community of people who 3D print to try to find out what kinds of things took them a while to get used to. So let’s take a look at what they are now.
The number one on this list, and probably number one most important is bed leveling and that first layer squish. What I mean by that is first, let’s start with bed leveling for just a moment here. Bed leveling is making sure the bed or the area that gets printed on is actually nice and flat, and it’s all equally distant from where the actual print head or the hot end is going to go. So if you’ve got, for example, your print head, or sorry, your hot end is close to the bed right here, but on the other side it’s a quarter inch away or even an eighth of an inch away, then you’re going to have problems and your print is not going to stick as it gets further away from the hot end. So you want to make sure that your bed is nice and level. Let’s take a look real quick at how to do that.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a piece of paper. Make sure it’s just a standard piece of paper and not something super thin or super thick. You want to move your hot end to each corner of your bed. Starting in the first corner, you’re going to put it in that corner and then slide your paper underneath. Ideally, the paper should fit snugly underneath the hot end, in between the hot end and the bed, and actually have some pole or some resistance when you try to move it around. If it doesn’t fit under there at all, your hot end is too close to your bed. If it fits in there easily and can move easily, your hot end is too far away. You want to find that happy medium where it’s tugging on the paper, but it’s actually still able to slide under there and fit okay. Your piece of paper is usually going to be a pretty good gauge of a level bed.
Proceed to do that on each of the remaining three corners and then you’ve got a level bed. I also recommend that after you do all four corners that you move back to the first corner to make sure your other three adjustments for example, didn’t mess with that first one. So, maybe go through it a couple times real quick and you’re in good shape. Many printers today actually come with bed levelers or you can attach or by a third party bed leveler to attach, and that will actually do a lot of the work for you in getting it to just the right spot. But if you have to do it manually, it’s really not a big deal. It just takes a couple minutes and you don’t have to do it every time, just whenever things start to get out of whack, which happens over time.
Now, the bed leveling has everything to do with that first layer of squish I mentioned. That first layer squish, what I mean by that is making sure that that first bead that goes around that first layer of whatever it is you’re printing adheres really well to the bed itself. And the distance that you have between your hot end and your bed is what makes the actual first layer of squish occur properly or not occur properly, resulting in a failed print most likely. The gist of it is, like you see in this quick illustration here, you want your bead of your first layer, what’s coming out of the hot end to squish down onto the bed just a little bit, so that it creates a semi-circle rather than a full circle, and certainly not a flattened pancake.
If you have to err on one side of the other, err on the side of making it a little bit too squished because then you’re going to get good adhesion and it’s not going to go anywhere. But if you do it too round and too high off the bed, it’s just not going to grab onto the bed and then you’ll likely have a failed print. That’s my number one tip and probably the reason for most failed prints with 3D printing.
Tip number two, print on glass. Different printers are going to come with different printing surfaces and a lot of them have different attributes. Some are really great, some are not so great, but I think it really makes a big difference to keep things consistent and print on glass for a few reasons. Number one, glass is very dense, very hard and very flat. That makes things a lot easier when you’re printing. Because of the density, it spreads the heat out really evenly. It does a really good job with that. Because of the hardness and because of that nice flat surface, you can scrape things off of it really well, and a lot of times it cools down really well, making it easy to pop a print off rather than have to really pry at it and work at it. So printing on glass just in my opinion, makes things so much easier.
On my Tevo Tornado for example, that actually came with these two printing pad surfaces and they tend to have some issues over time, like most pads do. There can be bubbling because of the adhesive underneath. Different things can go wrong with it. So, what I did was I actually went to the store and bought a six pack of 12 by 12 mirror tiles for 10 bucks. So for 10 bucks, I was able to upgrade it. I’ve got lots of extras if I need them, and now I’ve got that really nice surface. And the mirror part is cool, just to see that reflection as it’s printing and everything, and then that is so much easier to work with. So I definitely recommend using glass if you can, or a mirror tile of some sort.
A lot of times you can get your glass cut specifically at the hardware store, or cutting glass is super easy. You just need a little bit of glass cutting oil and a glass cutter that cost a couple bucks. You use your line along a straight edge, make your slice basically with a glass cutter and then snap it off, and you’re good to go. It’s actually a lot easier than most people think. So definitely, print on glass.
One other nice thing about printing on glass is that you can go to the dollar store and get a six pack of these handy little razors with straight edges, and you can use those to pry things off, to clean your bed off, to get under the brims that you print and we’ll talk about that in a minute. And it just makes it really easy to clean things off. Your glass is just a perfectly hard smooth surface. It’s difficult to scratch or to damage, so using a little razor blade with that is perfect and it gets you exactly what you want in a 3D printing situation.
Another cool thing about the Tevo Tornado is that it actually has a glass bed underneath the adhesive and the pad that comes with it. So if you want to spend about an hour and a half or so, you can actually remove that pad, clean off all that adhesive, and then you’re printing right on that glass that comes with it. And that’s what I would recommend doing. I’ve been a little lazy and haven’t actually gotten to doing that on mine. I just threw that tile on top and it’s doing the job, but it’s got glass. You may as well use it, so I’ll probably get to that pretty soon and save myself from having that extra weight on top.
Now tip number three, you’ve got to get it sticky. You’ve got to make that bed, whether it’s glass or something else, you’ve got to make sure it’s nice and sticky. There are a hundred different recipes for doing this and lots of ways that people have suggested. I’ve tried all kinds of stuff and found some that work really well. One of my best friends, Aquanet Hairspray. Aquanet actually sprays really sticky stuff onto the surface and I can’t imagine putting that stuff in your hair, but I guess it works. But it’s actually, almost like spring 3M adhesive onto your thing and it helps things stick really well. That’s what I use for almost all of my prints.
I have tried other things, and another one is to use glue sticks, just your standard school-supplied glue sticks, and those work excellent. The downside to those is they leave a mess and you have to scrape that up between prints and you get this white flaky stuff all over, so not my favorite. But if you’re having problems with the adhesion on your bed, glue sticks are a great way to go.
Another thing that a lot of people try is just using painters tape or masking tape on the bed, putting a new fresh layer every few prints or whenever it gets damaged, and that gives a nice texture, kind of a tactile surface for it to grab onto when you’re doing that first layer. Now, those types of things work great for PLA or for TPU or for different printing materials like that, but if you’re doing ABS, which is a little bit different beast, then with that, what you’re going to want to do is take some acetone and create a tiny puddle of it and then use some more ABS, maybe a failed print or a little spool, a little round bit of ABS, and actually spread that around.
The acetone is going to break down the ABS a little bit and leave the sediment on there, which causes it to have a nice sticky surface and it’s basically you’re sticking ABS to other ABS, which makes for a good printing surface. So whatever method you choose, you just got to make sure you’ve got a nice sticky surface for that first layer to adhere to so that everything else can build properly on top of that.
All right. Tip number four is rafts, brims, and skirts. What this is is the bed adhesion. It’s basically almost as important as that first layer, but not quite. But what it does is it says, how do you want to enhance how this object actually sticks to the bed? So let’s talk about those three. Let’s start with a skirt. A skirt is what I use on most prints. All the skirt does is it actually goes around and outlines your print, whatever it is, with a few layers, and it doesn’t actually contact the print itself. It’s mostly just to get that material flowing out of the hot end right at first, and gives you a few minutes or maybe a minute to try it and check and make sure that everything looks good, and that your first layer is going to work out okay. I always recommend doing at least a skirt if you’re not going to do the others.
Next up, brims. What a brim is just think of it like the brim of a hat. It’s attached to the hat itself or attached to the model in this case, and it’s a nice flat area that sticks down to the bed, and usually you can actually set the width of that or how many times it goes around and that just gives you more adhesion, more area to stick to the bed to help your model stay in place. I recommend brims for most prints if you just want to add that little extra bit of adhesion. It also serves the same purpose as a skirt, which is, allows you to see that everything is coming out okay, clean out that hot end a little bit in case you switched filaments for example. But it also is not ideal for really big prints where it’s going to take up let’s say 50% or more of your surface.
For something that’s actually quite big, you might want to use a raft. Now, a raft is just what it sounds like. If you think of a raft as something that you put in the water and build and put in the water, it’s something that goes underneath that you stand on top of or sit on top of. This is the same thing. So it’s actually going to create a nice little raft underneath with a solid surface basically that sits underneath and acts as a buffer between the bed and the print itself. So it gives great adhesion. One downside of the raft is that you actually don’t get as clean of a bottom surface on your print as you would if you printed directly onto the bed itself. So those are your three types.
The general rules are, if you’re not worried about it sticking and you’re having a good sticky experience with your bed, things are working out good there, then go with a skirt. That way you just have a test. You’d make sure everything looks good, and then it goes. It doesn’t use too much filament either. If you know you’re going to need some extra adhesion and your print is less than, let’s say, 25% or less than 50% the size of your bed, then in that case you’d want to use a brim. And if it’s going to be a larger print that’s going to take up more than half of your bed, maybe go with a raft in that case.
Tip number five, understanding support. Support is really essential in a lot of different prints. On some prints, the design of it is such that you’re going to have to have some support. What support does is builds up a removable temporary column basically, or a pattern that will support the new print that’s going to actually be part of the model that needs to sit on top of that. So for example, if you imagine printing the letter C, then the bottom of it is probably going to print okay, but anything that comes up and hangs over the bottom, so that whole top part of the C needs support, your 3D printer has to have something to print on. You can’t just print on thin air and expect that to work out. It has to have something underneath it.
Or if it’s a more moderate angle, nothing too severe, then it can overhang a little bit. Most printers can print anywhere from 30 to 45 degrees of overhang, if you’re lucky. If you go anything past 30 for example, you might be a little bit risky as far as making sure that angle comes out okay. So it depends on the printer, it depends on the model, it depends on the material that you use. If you’re unsure, try printing with support.
Another thing with support is that you can actually really modify using a slicer like Cura, some software that will slice up and get your model ready. You can really modify what the support does. You can determine how thick it is, how far apart each line or grid is. You can determine how much of it to lay down. You can determine where to put it. There’s all these different settings that you can tweak, but out of the box, something like Cura as a slicer, is it going to let you say supports on or supports off? And then you’re also going to have the option for supports everywhere versus supports directly from the bed only. What that means is, for example, if I’ve got a letter V and I want to just do anything that’s attached to the bed or it goes up right off the bed, it’s going to do my supports underneath that letter V.
If I had something that wanted to print on top of that, like an O for example, then I would need to actually have support everywhere so that it can support the top of the O, so it’s not printing onto nothing. So, that’s why it’s important that you understand the distinction between supporting everywhere and just supporting from the bed, and all of the different options that you have with support. Like anything else, that’s something that you’re going to want to play around with and experiment to make sure you have a good understanding of what your printer is capable of.
One last thing with supports is a lot of models don’t actually need them. Sometimes you can do some pretty crazy stuff like this ukulele here for example, requires zero support because the angles are not severe enough in any one location for it to have to do that. A few parts are a little risky or a little tricky I guess, like these holes that are cut out up here. They actually don’t use support, but you can see it doesn’t do a perfect job. In this case, it’s not a big deal because I can use a standard drill bit and just mill those out to clean them up. But that’s something you’re going to want to be aware of. So if you can get away without using support, that’s ideal and you’re going to have a lot less to clean up.
Number six is Octopi. I love Octopi. What it is is if you’ve ever heard of a Raspberry Pi, it’s a little $35 computer that you can buy, and it has built-in wifi and it has Bluetooth and it uses micro USB to power it. It’s got HDMI and USBs and then IO ports, all this cool stuff. Really awesome little package for 35 bucks, or you can even buy a little bit older one for even less if you want. With the Raspberry Pi, you can load an image or an operating system onto it called Octopi. With Octopi, you can keep that plugged into your 3D printer all the time and that acts as a dedicated computer basically for your 3D printer. And that gives you some really cool options. I’m going to tell you the first couple and then I’m going to move into my next tip, which will cover the last one.
First thing it gives you is remote access to it. You can actually cancel a print, pause a print, start a print, keep an eye on the temperature. You can even keep an eye on the actual layers that it’s building. You can even preview the layers and see exactly how it’s going to build something as it goes using Octopi, which is super cool. You can do all kinds of neat things. It will also load all of your old prints. So if you just want to leave your bed ready for printing whatever, you can scroll through, grab a print that you’ve done in the past, start it up and let it run.
One of my very favorite things that Octopi lets you do is visually keep an eye on your print as it goes, and that takes us into tip number seven, which is keeping an eye on things. You’ll notice on my setup here, I have this rigged get up here, but it does the job. What I’ve got is a webcam that actually costs $8, $7.99 I got on Amazon. I’ll put a link in the description if you want to pick one of these up. And with that, what it gives you is the ability to keep an eye on your print from anywhere because it’s hooked up to Octopi. I didn’t have to setup drivers, do anything. I just plugged it right into Octopi, into my Raspberry Pi, and it immediately just works.
One of the things that Octopi gives you is the ability to do time lapses and real time monitoring. The real time monitoring is essential because a lot of times I’ll start a print right before I go to work, I know I’m going to be there for eight or nine hours, and that way I can keep an eye on it from work and make sure everything is okay. If it’s not working, then I remote into my Octopi and I can actually cancel the print to not waste a bunch of filament or make a big mess, which is pretty great.
In fact, not too long ago I was trying to print a ukulele and it’s a three and a half day print. And about two days into it I was in California, I was in another state. I happen to check on it and I saw that it had blown up and things were getting pretty messy and the print had failed, and so I was able to remote in and cancel the print. And yes, I wasted a little bit of filament, but it would have been so much worse if I let it run for the next day and a half spitting out filaments and making even more of a mess. This is why I tell you there are going to be some ups and downs. You cannot expect things to be perfect all the time, but with Octopi, I was able to minimize the damage that occurred and the waste that occurred. This little camera is only $8. You can definitely buy a nicer, higher end one if you want to do higher quality time lapses and things like that.
One of the things I love about Octopi is you can actually do what’s called a Z access trigger. So you can actually say every time you go up to the next layer, then I want you to take a picture and then compile that into a time lapse, and then you end up with something like this, where you’re just watching the thing just build right up and you’re not doing anything. I just hit download of that video as soon as I’m done and it’s already ready for me and the settings are all right there. It’s pretty rad.
All right, tip number eight. Tip number eight is materials matter. There are lots of different materials that you can choose from when you’re doing 3D printing and depending on your printer, you may have access to a wider range of materials. If you’ve got, for example, a heated bed, that’s going to help you out a lot with certain materials. So, the first and probably most common material that you’re going to use is PLA. PLA is basically a plastic that seems to be engineered. I don’t know if it was engineered specifically for 3D printers, but it’s definitely the most popular. It comes in all kinds of colors and there are also, this is one of the things I wanted to cover, there’s different qualities of PLA. I’ve actually used some junk PLA before in some of my printing and it’s clogged my nozzle on a regular basis because it’s just not a very cleaned out or filtered material. And so you want to stay away from things like that, so you want to go with brand names that you trust.
For example, Hatchbox is a really popular filament creator. Their brand basically is respected because it’s going to give you something that’s clean and good. Again, I’ll put links in the description if you want to check out some recommendations that I have for good filaments that I’ve used and that I trust that I’m not going to have to worry about. Now, filament typically cost somewhere in the neighborhood of anywhere from 20$ to $30, or let’s say 15$ to $30 for a one kilogram spool. These are the spools that they come in. One kilogram is about 2.2 pounds and typically, that’s going to be about 300 meters of filament. One cool thing with your slicer software, like Cura for example, is it’s actually going to show you as soon as you’re ready to prepare a model, it’ll show you how much filament it’s going to take in meters. So if you think I’ve got this one and it says it’s going to take 50 meters, you know that you can do about six of those approximately in one spool, so that’s helpful to know.
Now another thing that you can try out is using TPU. TPU, you’ve probably heard of it because of phone cases. TPU is a soft material that’s actually quite flexible, and I love that you can actually 3D print with this. Here’s a phone case I printed for example that’s actually got TPU. It’s white, it’s flexible and it’s got that movement to it, but I just did it right here on my 3D printer. I did print this one with supports and I will say the supports are more difficult to remove when you’re using TPU. But for a case where you need something that’s flexible and not hard like PLA, TPU is the way to go.
Now, just like with PLA, you want to make sure that you go with TPU that you can trust, something that’s been well-reviewed. I’ll put a link to this TPU that I’m using down in the description, and there’s actually just lots of possibilities when you consider that you can print something that’s flexible. You print it out into one shape, but it’s flexible, have some movement, has some give. Obviously, phone cases or iPad cases is a go-to suggestion for something that you can print, but you can print handles with this. You can print replacement parts that need a little flex, all kinds of cool stuff, so you can go to town with TPU.
Another material that’s really cool and popular is ABS. ABS is different than PLA in the sense that it’s a lot more finicky to work with. It’s also stronger. It’s actually able to be used outdoors. You can leave this outside and it’s going to be pretty strong and resilient to the sun and to the natural conditions, but it’s also more difficult to work with. You definitely need a heated bed. And in most cases, I’d recommend actually an enclosure around your 3D printer in order to use ABS. The reason is as it’s printing, it’s very sensitive to movements in temperature, changes in temperature to breezes, anything like that. So by creating a very consistent environment inside your 3D printer, you’re going to have the best luck.
And most of the time what happens with ABS is it starts to warp on the bed. You’re going to do that first layer and it’s going to go okay, but then eventually it’s just going to start to warp and tweak on the bed and that’s going to ruin the rest of your print. So, that’s why while very capable and has certain applications, it’s not one of the easiest things to work with. So you’re going to want to keep that in mind. Probably not what you’re going to want to do for your first print or your second print. Get started with PLA and then work your way into ABS.
The last material I want to talk about is wood filament. There are other materials, I’m just going to cover these for here, but wood filament is super cool. It actually is a mixture of actual wood with the PLA plastic, so it’s considered PLA. I’m not sure what the ratio of maybe sawdust or wood or whatever it is they put into it to PLA is, it ends up looking mostly like just standard PLA, kind of a brown or beige PLA. But the cool thing is this stuff, you can actually sand it and you can stain it and you can treat it like wood, especially if you print a little bit more of a solid piece or you have a thicker shell on the outside for sanding and that sort of thing. So this is pretty cool.
You can see here I’ve printed my Learn to DIY logo, my logo mark using this wood PLA and it came out really cool. Here’s one of my obligatory prints for wood PLA. You got to print a Groot with your wood PLA. It’s just your rite of passage essentially as a test print for your PLA. So here’s Dancing Groot. I haven’t even put it together yet, but you can see this texture that it has and it has this really cool look to it. And Groot seems like a natural selection for something that you would print with wood PLA.
Number nine on the list is also a really important one. Have a little help from your friends. What I mean by this is you want to make sure that you’ve got support from other people who are experiencing 3D printing, who have experienced it, maybe who even have the same printer as you. So for example, one of the places I really like spending some time on and getting some help is on a Facebook group called Tevo Tornado owners, and so I’ll put a link to that in the description so you can hop on there too. It’s a private group, but you can get invited in, no problem. And what this does is it allows you to really talk to other people who have that exact same printer as you and get some help.
There are hundreds of people on the Tevo Tornado Facebook group for example, and so there are new posts all the time. There’s people asking questions that are the same questions that I’ve had, especially getting started. And then there’s people showing you different hardware upgrades, different printed upgrades that you can do for addressing some of the issues that have been found with that specific printer or with 3D printing in general, covering all the bases, and it really is helpful to help you get to understand some of the issues that other people are going through so you don’t have to go through them yourself.
In addition to these social media groups, which I think are super helpful, there’s also forums, usually for 3D printing or even for specific printers or different materials even and different things like that. You can also go to different websites. Some people have blogs, and of course YouTube is always … I’m a little biased I guess, but always a great resource for finding tips and different ways to be a better 3D printer.
Number 10, this one is a lot less known I’ve discovered amongst the people I’ve talked to with 3D printing, but it is ironing. Ironing is just what it sounds like. If you imagine you’re ironing your clothes, what you’re doing is using heat to get something smooth, right? So with ironing, that’s actually an option and Cura and most slicing software where what it does is on the top layer, and obviously this will only work for the top layer, but on the top layer of whatever you print, it’s actually going to run your heated hot end over the top of that surface without extruding any material. So all it’s doing is melting nice and smooth, everything on the top. And this makes a night and day difference.
It basically makes the top of your material look like it was printed on glass, just perfectly smooth and really good looking and it even glosses it over. It’s actually really great. Maybe it’s not something that you want to use for all applications. Sometimes you like that texture that you come out with with a standard print. But if you want a nice, smooth, glossy top on yours, iron it. Just enable that ironing setting and that’s in Cura, you can go into the different settings, do a quick search for iron and you’re going to find that right there. Enable that on your prints and you’re good to go.
One caveat with this is, as you would imagine, it does add to the print time. So for example, on my Learn to DIY logo here that I printed, this is a pretty big print. It’s an 11 inch disc that I created here, and it was going to add four hours to actually do all the ironing on this one. And I decided I don’t want to do that because I was going to sand it and stain it and everything anyway, but that gives you an idea that it can take quite a while to do the ironing on something. But if that’s what you want, then it’s going to give you a really cool look.
Tip number 11 is print profiles. In your slicing software, a lot of times it will come preloaded with some different profiles. So for example, you may be able to select PLA and coarse, and what that’s going to do is auto fill in all of your settings for you. You can customize them in there, but what I found is really helpful is getting to know my printer and how things come out well. I’ll actually go in and tweak a bunch of things like the speed, the travel speed. I’ll tweak the actual resolution, the layer height. I’ll tweak the temperatures a little bit. Maybe the first layer of temperature will be a little bit different. And depending on the material and the quality that I’m after, I’m going to use different settings.
So once I get all those settings dialed in, I’ll go in and save that as a profile, a printing profile. And what that allows me to do is either use that exact same profile on another print later, or at least use that as a starting point and then make my tweaks from there. That way I don’t have to try to remember, what was it that I did for that one print that came out this way? I can actually just go in and load up that profile. If you name it with a descriptive name, it’s going to make it a lot easier and then you can save those and you’re not going to have to do so much redundant tweaking of settings in your slicer.
Now, speaking of slicers, slicing matters. That’s tip number 12. There are a lot of settings in here. It can be really daunting and overwhelming to look at all these different things. And then in most of your slicing software, you can actually enable a bunch of additional settings or you can hide them. I’ve got quite a few on here, but not as many as some people I’m sure. But even looking at these a lot of times I think, “Oh my goodness, is this where I wanted it to be, or was this something that I accidentally adjusted at some point? Is this going to actually work for what I’m doing?” So there are all kinds of different settings in there and I will say a few things.
One, you want to check out your retraction and that’s when it actually pulls the material up as it leaves, as it moves around, as it travels so that it doesn’t leave strings and that kind of thing. If you’re getting strings, then check out your retraction settings. Your speed is going to be really a big deal. If you’re finding that your levels, or sorry, your layers are adjusting or you’re having issues with things like that or that it’s just doing a sloppy job, that your edges aren’t very smooth, then consider slowing down the speed to something a little bit more manageable. And that just is common sense to think that if you’re trying to draw a picture for example, and you’re going as fast as you can, you’re not going to be very accurate. 3D printers are amazingly accurate at high speeds, but the higher the speed, the greater the chance that you’re going to have a failure in there somewhere, or at least some inaccuracy.
Also, you want to make sure to play around with the settings for your temperature for both the bed and the hot end, and make sure that you’re doing those according to what your material that you’re using is. Now, I’ve done some research and found that people say they will swear by having a 180 degree hot end on for PLA for their prints, and then the next guy will swear by having 230 and say that’s all he uses, it works perfect and anything else messes up. That’s a 50 degrees Celsius difference. And so there is no right answer necessarily for this, but typically for PLA, if you’re going to keep this in the 220 range and maybe your bed around 60, maybe 70, then usually that’s a good starting point and then you can adjust from there.
Now my final tip, tip number 13 is that this is a hobby. When I was getting really frustrated with 3D printing and all of the different settings, and things just not working and I felt like every print was failing and I just couldn’t get that first layer right, and I get the first layer right and then it would move over and the layer would adjust and mess up the whole print after four hours of a print. Or like that ukulele, two and a half days, two days. It can be really frustrating if you let it. So my coworker, the guy in the office next to me actually has a 3D printer and he’s new to it. And he said, I’m approaching this like it’s a hobby. I know things are going to go wrong, but I’m going to learn how to get good at it and I’m just going to enjoy the ride and the process, and see if I can print out some cool stuff.
But he helped me understand that you can actually do this and have those errors and have those mistakes, and be okay with it, and realize that you’re experimenting, you’re learning. And like any hobby, it’s going to take time to get good at it. So that’s my last tip and I think definitely one of the important ones is to make sure that you’re actually treating this like a hobby. Try to have fun with it and not just expecting that it’s like a Xerox printer or a printer that you print your paper on. You expect it to just work and be consistent and do the same thing every time.
I hate printers by the way, regular printers, but I don’t have that same attitude with 3D printers because I’ve realized that it’s just something you have to tweak and play with and get good at. You’re going to have failures and that’s just part of the learning process. So if you go into it with that attitude, you’re going to have a good time, you’re going to create some really cool stuff, and I think you’re going to enjoy 3D printing.
Now in the comments, I would love to hear all of the things I missed. I’m sure there are a lot of tips that I missed with these 13. These are just what I consider the most common 13 based on the people I’ve talked to and in my own experience. So if you’ve got a comment, a tip for someone who’s doing 3D printing, something that you’ve learned that really helps, let’s hear it. Let’s start that discussion and get that going in the comments below. Do you have any questions? Leave those there too. Maybe we can get some help here from other 3D printers, the people who are using 3D printing, and I’d love to hear what everybody has to say and what they have to offer on this.
Now a few quick things to wrap up here. If you want to get a Tevo Tornado, I’ve actually got a coupon code, Tornado US, with a capital T and a capital US, that you can use to get a discount on it where it will actually always be at a fixed price of $329. That’s a pretty killer deal for such a large printer, a very capable printer and one that I trust and I’ve been using for a while and really enjoying. The other cool thing about the Tevo Tornado is the support that you get with it, being able to get all these answers to the different questions that you have and knowing that there are so many other users out there. So a very cool deal. Be sure to check that out.
Also, I mentioned the book, Makers. If you’re into Audible or want to get into some audio books, then Audible is a great way to go. You can use the link in the description, yes, I know, lots of links in the description, to get a free trial that will actually give you not one but two free audio books. So check that out if you’re into audio books or wanting to give that a try. It’s a trial. You don’t have to keep it, but you can see if you like it. I’m pretty sure you will.
Lastly, if you want to follow me on social media or on my website, I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and I post there all the time. I’ve also got a whole slew of articles on my website at learntodiy.com. You can find an article about this very topic, 13 tips for 3D printing, and I’ve got a whole right up there that you can check out. And if you’re into DIY, home improvement, things like that, then please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. I’ve got dozens and dozens of videos, and on there I’m doing everything from building a clubhouse to hiding your TV wires, to adjusting the links on your watch, to 3D printing. So all kinds of maker, DIY sort of things. That’s what I enjoy doing and that’s what I share on YouTube. So consider subscribing there if that’s of interest to you. Thanks so much for watching and we’ll catch you guys on the next one.