Salmon skin, zebra stripes & moiré are 3D print imperfections that make your models look bad. Many users have experienced these issues on their 3D prints but want to figure out a way to fix it. This article will explain salmon skin affects your 3D prints and how to finally fix it.
To fix salmon skin, zebra stripes and moiré in 3D prints, you should upgrade any outdated stepper motor drivers with TMC2209 drivers or install TL Smoothers. Dampening vibrations and printing on a stable surface works great as well. Increasing your Wall Thickness and decreasing print speed can solve the issue.
There are more details behind fixing these print imperfections, so keep on reading for more information.
What Causes Salmon Skin, Zebra Stripes & Moiré in 3D Prints?
Salmon skin in 3D prints is named that because the walls of your model give off a pattern that actually looks like salmon skin, the same as zebra stripes and moiré. Here are some factors that might cause these issues in your 3D prints:
- Outdated stepper motor drivers
- Vibrations or printing on an unstable surface
- Low wall thickness or infill wall overlap percentage
- High printing speeds
- Replace worn out belts and tighten them
Here’s an example of the zebra stripes that one user experienced on their Ender 3, since they have older stepper drivers and a mainboard. With newer 3D printers, you are less likely to experience this issue.
How to Fix Salmon Skin, Zebra Stripes & Moiré in 3D Prints
- Install TL-Smoothers
- Upgrade your stepper motors drivers
- Decrease vibrations & print on a stable surface
- Increase Wall Thickness & Infill Overlap Percentage
- Decrease printing speed
- Get new belts and tighten them
1. Install TL Smoothers
One of the main methods to fix salmon skin and other print imperfections like zebra stripes is to install TL Smoothers. These are small add-ons that attach to your 3D printer’s stepper motor drivers, which protect the voltages of the driver to stabilize the vibrations.
Whether these work mostly depends on what board you have on your 3D printer. If you have a 1.1.5 board for example, these won’t be needed since the feature is in-built. This is more for older board, but these days, modern boards don’t need TL Smoothers.
It gives you smoother movements on your 3D printer and has proven to work with many users. I’d recommend going with something like the Usongshine TL Smoother Addon Module from Amazon.
One user who installed these said they lead to a noticeable difference in print quality, as well as being easy to install. Noise gets reduced as well as do help fix print imperfections like salmon skin and zebra stripes.
Another user explained how they block voltage spikes that cause irregular stepper motion, which lead to those print imperfections. They smooth the motion of your steppers.
The installation is simple:
- Open the housing where your mainboard is
- Disconnect the steppers from the mainboard
- Plug the steppers into the TL Smoothers
- Plug the TL Smoothers into the mainboard
- Then mount the TL Smoothers inside the housing and close the housing.
Someone who installed them on just the X & Y axis said it helped to eliminate their salmon skin issues on 3D prints. Many people that use an Ender 3 say it works great.
Check out the video below on how to add TL Smoothers to your 3D printer.
2. Upgrade Your Stepper Motors Drivers
If none of these other fixes worked for you, the solution might be to upgrade your stepper motor drivers to TMC2209 drivers.
I’d recommend going with the BIGTREETECH TMC2209 V1.2 Stepper Motor Driver from Amazon. It provides you with an ultra-silent motor driver and is compatible with many popular boards out there.
They can lower heat by 30% and lasts for a long time with printing due to their excellent heat dissipation. It has great efficiency and motor torque that saves energy in the long-run and smooths your stepper motor movements.
If you have these newer stepper motor drivers installed, you won’t need TL Smoothers since they address what smoother do.
3. Decrease Vibrations & Print on a Stable Surface
Another method that works for reducing salmon skin imperfections is to decrease the vibrations in your 3D printer. These can happen due to having screws and nuts loosen over time from 3D printing so you want to go around your 3D printer and tighten any screws and nuts.
You also want to decrease the amount of weight on your 3D printer and have it on a stable surface. Some people choose to change their relatively heavy glass beds for another bed surface to decrease weight.
A good stable surface can help reduce print imperfects like salmon skin and zebra stripes so find a surface that doesn’t vibrate when it moves.
4. Increase Wall Thickness & Infill Wall Overlap Percentage
Some people experience their infill showing through the walls of their 3D prints which looks like a form of salmon skin. A method to fix this is to increase your Wall Thickness and Infill Wall Overlap Percentage.
A good Wall Thickness to use to help with this issue is around 1.6mm while a good Infill Wall Overlap Percentage is 30-40%. Try using higher values than you are currently using and see if it solves your problem.
One user who said his infill was showing through fixed it by adding another wall to his 3D print and increasing his Infill Wall Overlap Percentage.
5. Decrease Printing Speed
Another method to fix these imperfections is to decrease your printing speed, especially if your 3D printer isn’t secure and vibrating. As you can imagine, higher speeds lead to more vibrations, which then result in more print imperfections in your walls.
What you can do is decrease your Wall Speed, though the default setting in Cura is to be half your printing speed. The default Print Speed in Cura is 50mm/s and Wall Speed is 25mm/s.
If you’ve changed these speed settings, it could be worth decreasing them back to default levels to see if it fixes the issue. I would recommend to do the previous fixes though because this mostly fixes the symptoms rather than the direct issue.
One user mentioned that decreasing his print speed resulted in less ripples on the surface of their 3D prints, as well as lowering their jerk & acceleration settings.
6. Get New Belts & Tighten Them
One user mentioned that one of the key things that helped eliminate imperfections such as zebra stripes, salmon skin, and Moiré was to get new belts and make sure they were tightened up properly. If you have worn out belts, which can happen when they are too tight, changing them can fix this issue.
I’d recommend going with something like the HICTOP 3D Printer GT2 2mm Pitch Belt from Amazon.
Many users love the product and say it’s a great replacement belt for their 3D printers.
Here’s a specific video by Teaching Tech on how you can fix moiré on your 3D prints.