Solving 3D Print Stringing: 5 Easy Solutions

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Stringing is a common issue in FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) 3D printers, where melted plastic oozes and solidifies as the nozzle travels across open spaces, leaving thin strands resembling cobwebs or hair on the printed parts. Despite the theory of the nozzle not depositing plastic during travel moves, 3D print stringing can occur due to incorrect retraction settings or high hot end temperatures, especially with materials like PETG, PLA, and ABS.

Thankfully, there are reliable methods to avoid 3D printer stringing. In this article, we will examine five simple solutions to tackle what are the causes of stringing in 3D printing and achieve superior, high-quality 3D print stringing. Let’s get started!

Enable Retraction

3d print stringing
3d print stringing

Enabling retraction is a common and effective method to combat 3D printing stringing. When retraction is activated, the extruder pulls the filament back slightly when crossing open spaces, preventing molten plastic from trailing behind and causing stringing. However, fine-tuning the retraction settings may be necessary to achieve optimal results.

1. Retraction Distance:

The retraction distance determines how far the filament is pulled back. Finding the right balance is crucial, as too little retraction may lead to stringing, while excessive retraction can result in filament unavailability when printing resumes. Test prints and adjustments can help determine the ideal retraction distance based on the extruder type and setup.

2. Retraction Speed:

The retraction speed controls how quickly the filament is retracted. A faster retraction speed reduces the likelihood of stringing, but overly fast retraction can cause filament disconnection or jams. Experiment with different speeds to find the optimal setting for your specific printing material.

3. Additional Parameters:

Slicer programs like Simplify3D offer additional parameters such as “coast” and “wipe” to further refine retraction values. These settings help prevent blobs or zits by wiping off excess plastic or decreasing pressure buildup at the end of the print line.

4. Material and Extruder Considerations:

Different materials and extruder setups may require specific retraction settings. For example, ABS and PLA usually perform well with speeds of 40 to 60 mm/s and retraction distances of 0.5 to 1.0 mm for direct drive extruders. Bowden setups typically require slower speeds (30 to 50 mm/s) and longer retraction distances (around 2.0 mm).

5. Utilize Slicer Settings:

Explore slicer settings like “Retraction Minimum Travel” in Cura, which prevents retraction unless the print head travels a certain distance to prevent filament grinding. Additionally, consider “Combing Mode” to control travel moves and avoid unnecessary retractions.

By mastering retraction settings, you can effectively eliminate 3D printer stringing and gain better control over the quality of your prints. Happy printing!

Set the Right Temperature

3d print stringing
3d print stringing

Temperature plays a crucial role in combating 3D printer stringing. As the temperature rises, the printing material becomes more liquefied, increasing the likelihood of dripping from the nozzle. Lowering the nozzle temperature can reduce this issue, but caution is required not to set it too low, as excessively low temperatures may hinder proper filament melting and extrusion.

Finding the ideal temperature depends on the printing material and other print settings. If stringing occurs, it is generally recommended to gradually lower the temperature by 5 to 10 °C increments. However, it’s crucial never to go below the manufacturer’s minimum specifications. Here are commonly recommended nozzle temperatures for popular filaments:

  • PLA: 180-220 °C
  • ABS: 210-250 °C (90-110 °C print bed)
  • PETG: 220-250 °C
  • TPE: 210-260 °C (20-110 °C print bed)
  • PVA: 160-215 °C (60 °C print bed)
  • TPU: 210-230 °C (30-60 °C print bed)

To identify the optimal temperature for each material, consider using a temperature calibration tower test print. This test allows you to observe how different temperatures affect stringing and helps determine the best temperature setting.

For more comprehensive guidance, our article on the best printing temperatures for different filaments covers the most common materials and can serve as a valuable resource for finding the ideal printing temperature for your filament. By carefully controlling the temperature, you can effectively address stringing 3d printing and achieve high-quality prints.

Adjust the Print Speed

3d print stringing
3d print stringing

Print speed affects 3D printer stringing. Slow nozzle movements can lead to oozing, while faster speeds prevent filament from dripping. Aim for a balance. Verify your printer’s speed and adjust it accordingly. Keep speeds around 190-200 mm/s for most materials. MatterHackers recommends 150 mm/s. Shorten travel paths to minimize oozing, and adjust non-printing movement speeds for cleaner prints.

Thoroughly Clean the Nozzle Before Printing

3d print stringing
3d print stringing

Extended use and a single material, like PETG, can leave residue inside and outside the nozzle, causing stringing. Clean the nozzle thoroughly before printing. Wipe the exterior with a damp cloth while hot and use a wire brush or blade for stubborn debris. Clear the output hole by inserting a needle or drill. If needed, try the cold pull method. If issues persist, consider nozzle replacement. Heat the hot end, remove residual filament, clean, and install the new nozzle. Proper maintenance ensures string-free prints.

Keep Your Filaments Moisture-Free

3d print stringing
3d print stringing

Moisture in the air can lead to stringing as it turns into steam when heated with the plastic. PLA is particularly prone to absorbing moisture, but all FDM 3D printing filaments are hygroscopic to some extent. If severe stringing occurs, it may be due to wet filament.

To dry your filament, consider using a filament dryer like Sovol SH01 or Sunlu FilaDryer S2. Alternatively, you can use an oven or a food dehydrator, ensuring the temperature doesn’t exceed the filament’s glass transition temperature, for around four to six hours.

After drying, store the filament in a moisture-free environment. Airtight boxes, desiccant packs, or vacuum storage bags work well. Options like the Polymaker PolyBox or DIY Rubbermaid containers are excellent for filament storage. Keep your filament dry for better 3D printing results.

Conclusion

In conclusion, minimizing stringing on 3D printers involves a bit of experimentation and fine-tuning of temperature and retraction settings. By taking the time to find the optimal combination, users can achieve excellent print results consistently.

Whether you’re a beginner in 3D printing or facing challenges with stringing, this article has offered valuable insights into the causes and effective prevention methods. Now, it’s time to put this knowledge into practice and enjoy hassle-free, successful printing. Happy printing!

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