How to Fix A 3D Printer Printing Too Thin


A 3D printer is complex machinery, to say the least. Involving many processes and several components, various issues could prove to be bothersome to the user. One of these is a 3D printer printing unacceptably thin, but this article is going to show you how to get rid of this nuisance.

The best way to fix a 3D printer printing too thin is to increase the temperature of your nozzle so that the filament has more of a liquid consistency, allowing easy extrusion through the nozzle. You can also try increase the flow rate in your slicer settings, especially if this happens after using a different material.

This phenomenon is also known as under-extrusion so there are several ways that you can fix it, since there are many ways why it happens in the first place.

An inaccurate filament diameter could be the reason why the printer is producing undesirable prints. The correct optimization here could troubleshoot the problem for good.

Simply explained yet, the following article is an in-depth analysis of under-extrusion that identifies the problem at its base, and provides the reader with quality information regarding the unwanted trouble. Keep reading, therefore, to better understand under-extrusion, and how to fix it.

What is Under-Extrusion?

As described briefly above, under-extrusion is when an unsatisfactory amount of filament comes out of the extruder and on to the printing bed to form a part.

What really happens is that there is a setting in the slicer that dictates how much of the printing filament will leave the extruder.

Since there’s no telling how much the material truly leaves the extruder, there’s the prospect of less material extruded than what the software of the printer required it to be.

All that leads to the formation of gaps between the layers. These are termed as missing layers. Additionally, the appearance of the formed print will portray holes, and as if there is missing plastic in some places.

The visible gaps are undesirable and provide an unprofessional look. This mainly results when the layers of the print aren’t bonded together well when insufficient material is extruded, leading to spaces between the prints.

On a side note, there may not be easily seen layer gaps at all. Instead, under-extrusion is often observed in the form of a weak, fragile model that is prone to breakage just with the bare force of your hands.

Thus, under-extrusion is when there are noticeable gaps in the print, and also when the model itself has become brittle.

A Common Test to Identify A Thin Printing Printer

To recognize that the problem indeed is under-extrusion, there’s a small test that can help narrow down the possibilities to this issue.

A genuine method to evaluate involves printing a basic 20 mm cube having 3 bordered outlines. If there is good adhesion atop the cube and the perimeters are sticking together closely, then the issue isn’t under-extrusion.

However, if there are noticeable gaps and holes among the layers and adjacently as well, the case here is under-extrusion.

Also, if there happens to be a clicking sound originating from one side of the printer, mostly left, then that is another indication of under-extrusion. This occurs due to the overall resistance in the feeding mechanism of the extruder that the thermoplastic material cannot get the better of.

Now that we know when we are facing this hassle, let’s get to the part where we determine what goes wrong and leads to it.

What Causes a 3D Printer to Print Too Thin?

A big deal about under-extrusion is that you’re going to get a different answer each time you ask a solution for it. This is why we’re going to list and describe the possible causes of this 3D printing worry so users can have an easier time spotting it.

Excessive Speed

3D printing is a reasonably time-consuming process, and the speed you opt for determines the overall quality and the smoothness of the whole operation.

Best believe that you’re not going to get anywhere if you need high-quality prints in a hurry. The rate of the flow has to match the print speed, otherwise under-extrusion is bound to happen.

Print Temperature

One of the most key factors that play a part in ensuring a productive printing experience is temperature.

The most common instance of under-extrusion is when the print speed is far more than the temperature at which the plastic is melting.

If this particular setting isn’t attended to carefully, under-extrusion can be due to low, and high temperatures both.

A high temperature causes under-extrusion because of heat creep- an irregular spread of heat all over the hot-end, affecting the melting thermoplastic. Therefore, it causes the material to contort instead of solidifying. This produces friction and only a small percentage of the filament actually comes out the extruder nozzle.

The Filament and The Feeder

The feeding system of a 3D printer serves one major function- to supply the extruder with the filament.

Henceforth, an issue with the feeder could attribute to under-extrusion. What goes wrong oftentimes spurt from the feeder’s tension settings.

When the settings are kept absurdly low, the knotted wheel in the feeder isn’t able to firmly grip the material and feed it ahead to the print head.

On the other hand, when the tensions settings are too high, the material is gripped with such force, that the filament ends up deformed. This contributes towards an inadequate supply of filament to the print nozzle, causing under-extrusion.

The Filament Spool

Filaments are often unable to be processed when they are wound on the spool incorrectly. Jamming can happen when the printer itself does not properly remove the filament threads.

Furthermore, when the spool is about to reach the end, it has an added curliness to it, which produces friction in the Bowden-style tube of the 3D printer, if there is any.

Inappropriate Diameter of The Filament

Thermoplastic materials used for 3D printing come with specific diameters with 1.75 mm, and 2.85 mm being widespread. It’s highly advised to ensure that the filament you’re using matches with the printer settings, and its software.

An Obstructed Nozzle

Filament residue and leftover can sometimes accumulate in the extruder nozzle. This makes it hard for the nozzle to push out filament on to the printing bed, giving rise to the hassle of under-extrusion.

The Solutions

Listed below are the most common troubleshooting techniques that work perfectly fine for under-extrusion.

The Speed and Temperature

As print speed and temperature both are very crucial in preventing under-extrusion, the combined optimization of both is what takes the cake.

It’s recommended to increase the temperature by 5 degrees initially. This helps find the sweet spot where printing is optimal.

Alongside the temperature increment, printing slowly with accuracy always goes a long way in forming the best possible prints.

Cleaning, Settings, and Error-Free Diameter

Leftover filament in the nozzle is common when one switches to a high-temperature thermoplastic filament to a low-temperature one, like PLA. The residue left behind stays there, impeding the process of filament extrusion.

A common fix is heating the print head up to 260°C followed by a quick insertion of a thin needle about the size of the nozzle’s diameter. Getting it inside, and merely moving it around takes care of any obstructions or blockages.

Next, we have the appropriate feeder settings relating to the tension. The correct tensile settings of the feeder makes it sure that the process of getting the filament to the extruder is neither harsh on the filament, nor too soft, instead, just right.

Lastly, we have the essence of the precise filament diameter. The advice here is to use calipers for measuring the filament yourself. We can’t expect under-extrusion not to occur when the slicer has been told 3 mm, while the diameter of the filament, in truth, is 1.75 mm.

Attending to The Spools

A seamless printing experience is only possible when everything is rightly set in motion. This includes faultless winding of the filament spool so there are no loose ends, and overlapping does not occur.

Unwinding and rewinding the spool is great to certify the removal of any unnecessary knots, which can potentially halt the printer to proceed.

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