How to Fix 3D Prints That Keep Falling Over & Failing (Supports)
When you are 3D printing your models, it’s not uncommon that a 3D print can suddenly fall over or start detaching from the bed halfway through the print. If this is something that is happening to you, this article will show you how to finally solve that problem.
The best way to fix 3D prints that keep falling over is to improve the bed adhesion and the first layer settings. Another way you can also fix this is to add additional supports to tall features and the base to keep them from toppling over.
This is the basic answer that you can use to help stop this problem of 3D print supports failing or coming off the bed, but for the more in-depth answer, keep on reading.
But first of all, before we get into all the solutions, let’s look at why 3D prints fail or fall over.
Why Do Your 3D Prints Fall Over?
3D prints can come loose from the bed or even start popping off the bed for a few reasons, most of which have basic fixes. Some of the most common reasons for failure are:
- Incorrect or inaccurate print bed or first layer settings
- Absent or insufficient print supports.
- Overheated extruder motor driver
- Printing fast without enough cooling
Let’s look at some of these issues in detail.
Poorly Leveled Print Bed or First Layer Settings
A good 3D print starts from the ground up. If the print bed and the first layer settings are not properly adjusted and calibrated, the 3D print can fail or fall over. When some of my 3D prints came off the bed, it was definitely due to the first layer in many cases.
One common cause is that of warping, especially during long prints. The edges of the print can curl up and begin to detach themselves from the print bed leading to it falling over.
Gravity also plays a role in this. If the footprint of the first layer is not large enough to balance or stabilize the print, it will detach and fall over. This is especially true in the case of top-heavy, long, narrow prints.
Another thing, if the print bed isn’t stable, the print can wobble and fall off when the printer is traveling during printing.
Absent or Insufficient Print Supports
Supports are very important in 3D printing. We all know the role they play in stabilizing prints, holding up overhanging features, and generally making printing easier.
However, if you don’t use supports or you set them up the wrong way, the final 3D print can end up failing or falling over.
Most slicers come with default support configurations, but as we know, sometimes these can end up being insufficient for the print. So, for the best print experience, you have to get in there and tweak the settings a little.
We’ll talk more about that in later sections.
Overheated Extruder Motor
An overheated extruder motor on your 3D printer can contribute to 3D prints possibly falling over, especially on direct drive systems. If you come to back to your 3D print and see that it fell over, you want to check how your motors are doing.
Stepper motors can handle high temperatures, but the problem arises when the heat transfers to the filament at the gear, which leads to the filament softening too early and causing jams.
When the extruder pathway isn’t clear, you can easily get inconsistent extrusion and this can lead to your 3D print failing halfway, or even layer shifting.
This problem gets even worse when you are 3D printing tall, narrow models.
Printing Fast Without Enough Cooling
When printing tall narrow objects, the hot end’s travel path during a single layer is very small. As a result, sometimes the layer does not get to cool first before another one is deposited on top of it.
3D printed objects work in layers, most of which need to have a fairly sturdy foundation to build on top of, so having layers that haven’t cooled enough can result in uneven layers. After many layers, it can contribute to your 3D print coming off or detaching from the bed.
Now, these are just a few of the reasons why your 3D print can fail or fall over. In the next section, we’ll look at how we can solve these issues.
How Do You Stop 3D Prints from Falling Over?
Now that we’ve seen the issues that can make 3D prints fall over or fail halfway, it’s time to look at the solutions. The good news is that most of these issues can be solved relatively easily.
So, to stop your 3D prints from falling and failing, make sure you follow these steps;
Ensure Your Print Bed is Properly Setup and Stable
Even if your print isn’t falling over, for the best printing experience, you always have to set your print bed up properly.
To prepare the bed for printing, here are a few steps to follow:
- Make Sure the Bed is Clean: Debris, material buildups, and other foreign matter on the print bed can interfere with the print. Always clean the bed with appropriate solvents like Isopropyl Alcohol to remove the buildups and ensure a smooth printing surface.
- Level the Print Bed Properly: A level print bed makes printing easier and smoother. You can do this easily with the paper method if you do not have automatic bed leveling.
- Check All Screws, Bearings, and Belts: This is very important, especially if your printer is a Cartesian printer. Check all the mechanical components and tighten or replace them if needed to prevent wobbling or shifting during printing.
- Use an Adhesive or Printer’s Tape: Adhesives and printer’s tape help with print adhesion. They make sure the first layer sticks and stays on the build plate without slipping or shifting. Hairspray or glue stick are common options that users get successful prints with.
Make Sure the Print’s Footprint is Stable
The 3D print’s footprint refers to the part of the print in contact with the print bed. Like I said earlier, gravity can topple 3D prints, especially if they are too top-heavy. A large footprint helps stabilize the print and avoid toppling.
Basically, you want to have a large surface area on the build plate to create a stronger foundation underneath the 3D print, rather than having large overhangs and bridges.
Using a good orientation is vital to making sure your 3D prints don’t come loose from the bed.
For models with small footprints, it best to use rafts and brims. Rafts and brims increase the surface area of the print in contact with the bed, thereby ensuring greater stability.
Use a Thick First Layer
A thick first layer can also help with stability. Over-extruding the first layer makes it thicker and wider, which in turn enhances the print’s stability.
The extra thick layer creates a bigger footprint. This bigger footprint makes the print stick to the bed better and stops it from moving about while printing.
You can change the settings in the slicer to over-extrude the first layer. If you are using Cura, you can set the first layer percentage as 110%.
For other slicers, a good rule of thumb to use is to make the first layer 1.5 – 2x thicker than the nozzle size. Also, to print it properly, slow down the extrusion speed.
Your slicer should also have a default initial printing speed which is lower than the operating printing speed so the first layer is more accurate.
Use Additional or Thicker Supports
Slicer software like Cura and Simplify3D generates support for the print automatically. However, if the print is falling over, it might mean the supports are not enough.
There are several ways you can manually tweak the support’s settings to ensure they print well and also stabilize tall prints as needed.
So, to combat prints falling over, here are some tips on using supports:
- Use a Thicker Support Density: Supports with thicker densities are stronger and can support the print better. Thicker supports use more material, but it provides that extra stability. Having a support density of at least 20% is ideal.
- Change the Support’s Shape: Single, slender supports fail easily, especially when supporting tall, narrow objects. You may have better luck using Tree Supports or simply using a support pattern like Grid or Zig Zag.
- Increase the Support’s Footprint: Supports are susceptible to gravity too. For maximum stability, make sure they have a wide footprint on the print bed too. Supports usually do very well when printed on top of a raft.
- Manually Add Additional Supports: As I said earlier, sometimes computer-generated supports might not be enough. You will need to go into the slicer and add your supports manually. You can do this quite easily on Simplify3D and Cura. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-73JiRN9ns
Use A “Sacrificial Tower”
A sacrificial tower is a structure that’s the same height as your print, located some distance away from it on the print bed. Using this can help reduce the rate of failure of tall, narrow prints.
The sacrificial tower helps by moving the hot end and the heat it produces away from your print between layers. This gives the object more time to cool, which results in less warping and reduced print failure.
Using this method increases filament usage, so be sure to tweak the tower’s print settings appropriately to reduce that.
Print Slow and Increase Cooling
Fast printing can also be the cause of 3D prints falling over and failing halfway. Printing fast without inadequate cooling can cause all sorts of problems. These problems range from warping to layer shifting, which leads to print failure.
The motion of the print bed and the nozzle can even destabilize the print and make it topple over.
So, printing slow and increasing the cooling rate can also help reduce the rate of print failure.
You can do this by:
- Decreasing the hot end’s temperature (it depends on the print material).
- Increasing the part’s cooling fan percentage for better airflow.
- Increasing minimal layer time.
Check and Calibrate Z-Axis Hardware and Settings
You should check hardware, like the grub screws, belts, guide rails, bearings, nuts, etc., for defects if you are having trouble with prints. If these components are defective or improperly aligned, your 3D model may fail halfway.
Proper calibration of these parts depends on your printer’s model. So, if you discover any problem while troubleshooting, you should check the manufacturer’s website or forums for help.
How to Fix 3D Printer Not Printing Supports
Another common problem that can occur is that the 3D printer will not print supports, or the supports can fail halfway during the printing process.
To fix your 3D printer not printing supports, you should check the “Preview” of your print to ensure supports are actually set up properly for your 3D print.
You can fix these problems by adjusting the print settings. Here are some quick tips to ensure your supports print smoothly.
- Use a Reliable Slicing Software: The slicing software is responsible for generating and placing the supports most time. For the best results, make sure you go with reliable ones like Cura or Simplify3D.
- Print Slow and Reduce Printing Temperature: Supports are usually thinner and more delicate than the 3D print. So, to avoid melting the supports, over-extrusion, and warping, it’s best to print slow with enough cooling.
- Preview the Model Before Printing and Add Supports Where Needed: Often, the supports generated by the software might be inaccurate. To avoid print failure, always preview the model and use additional supports where needed before sending it to the printer.
Well, that’s the end of this article. I hope I’ve been able to solve your problems with the tips I’ve given. Happy Printing.