3D Printing Layer Shift Troubleshooting Tips

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Nothing is less fun than finding that your long print on you 3D printer has failed due to shifting. Here are a few tips to look into if you find that you are having a shifting issue with your printer.

  • Check your belts. If you have belts on your specific printer, make sure they are really tight. Look at your print and determine which axis is shifting. Focus on that belt. A great tip here is to mark your belt and motor gear when you start a print with a sharpie, and see if you are getting slipping. Tighten. Repeat.
  • Check for missed steps. Same as above, mark your belts if you have them. This will show you what might need some tightening.
  • Check the voltage on your stepper motors. Find out what the voltage should be for your stepper motor drivers, use a multi-meter and make sure you have enough voltage heading into them (my Ender 3 for example has upgraded TMC2130 steppers, the correct voltage for these is about .76V)
  • Try different infill patterns. Some patterns jerk the printer around so much that it just can’t keep up, and you will get a shift. Start with a simple infill pattern in your slicer and see if it helps
  • Use a different slicer. I have used Cura, and found that some prints just don’t behave with whatever infill I use, due to the sliced output file. I keep Slic3r on my workstation and load it up there, usually with “different” results – sometimes a complete success, other times with clues to what might be tweaked elsewhere
  • Move the object in your slicer. Sometimes people have success with just moving the object off center in the slicer before exporting it to the printer. Try this if it’s small, otherwise make sure you go through the list above first – or risk printing some plastic trash
  • Slow down the print. My printer defaults to 60mm/s print speed. Some of the objects that I print just don’t like that speed, so slow it down! Try 40mm/s or something and see if your results vary.
  • Replace your stepper. Find the offending stepper driver, and replace it. If you don’t have another on hand, swap the offending axis driver with one that seems to work in your machine and print a test to find out if ordering a replacement might be in the cards for you

Do you have tips that would help with figuring out shift issues with your 3D prints? Let us know in the comments below. Happy printing!

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