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Troubleshooting Prints

Learn about various potential print issues and how to overcome them.

Community → Support → Troubleshooting Prints

3D printing in its nature takes a bit of patience and a lot of learning, especially if you have never done it before. The topics discussed below are things that should be taken into consideration when you are designing and printing parts. It is also important to note that you should make sure you have good quality filament to begin with before printing. Filament should be stored in a dry place where there is no condensation as moisture can ruin the material.

View the gallery below to visually identify print issues that may be similar to yours and then click on the image to get a more in-depth explanation. If you still have questions, feel free to ask our community in the forums.

Warping

Warping

Asymmetrical Circles

Asymmetrical Circles

Stringing

Stringing

Ugly Overhangs

Ugly Overhangs

Waves & Ripples

Waves & Ripples

Pillowing

Pillowing

Under Extrusion

Under Extrusion

Filament Grinding

Filament grinding

Cracks

Cracks

Shifted Layers

Shifted layers

Warping

Warping is the most common aspect of 3D Printing! Warping happens when the layers start to cool down and the plastic begins to contract. The so called glass transition temperature. These contractions causes the plastic to pull in on itself into the shape of a “bowl”. There are several reasons why warping may happen and how to avoid it:

  1. You want to make sure you are using good quality Blue Painters tape. Do not use spray or glue on your aluminum bed as that will cause the auto-leveling to cease functioning. The auto-leveling requires the aluminum bed to be clean so your hotend can make contact with it and detect it.
  2. Make sure there is no oil on the build plate from fingerprints or dust. We recommend wiping the blue painter’s tape with alcohol using a paper towel to remove any containments. It’s also good practice to wipe the aluminum bed before laying down the blue painter’s tape to ensure the tape sticks well. NEVER POUR ANY LIQUID ONTO THE ALUMINUM BED! Alcohol is flammable and doing so can start a fire if it drips onto the circuit board inside the printer. Not to mention, your printer is also likely to get permanently damaged if the circuit board gets wet.
  3. Try to play around with a combination of temperature and speed. If you’re printing too hot, too slow, the plastic is more likely to warp.
  4. Make sure your bed is auto-leveled. If your nozzle is too far away from the bed on the first layer, it won’t be able to squish the plastic to promote adhesion.  See this page (link coming soon) on how to auto-level.
  5. Make sure you are printing at ambient normal room temperature. If you’re printing in a cold environment (like your basement or garage), then warping is more likely to happen.
  6. Ensure that the blue painter’s tape is well taped to the bed or it will peel off easily.
  7. If you’re printing the part all the way up to the edge of the blue tape, it is more likely to pull the tape up off the bed and warp. We recommend you position your part so that the perimeter of the part is as far away as possible from the perimeter of the blue tape. Alternatively, you can cut longer pieces of blue tape.

A built in feature in cura called “brim” is another great way to help keep your print from warping. This feature puts what looks like the brim of a hat on the bottom layer of your print to help fight against the pulling forces of the cooling print. Since this brim is only a single layer thick it is very easy to remove once the print is complete.

Another option is also to enable the raft option in Cura instead of a brim. Brims are useful for tiny prints, whereas rafts are good for large objects in order to detach them from the bed more easily.

You want to make sure that the infill lines on your first layer are touching each other and that there’s no gaps in between.

Warping
Asymmetrical Circles

If you’re seeing that circular features in your prints are not symmetrically circular, it means that your belts are not tight enough or that they’re unevenly tight.

There is a common misconception that belts should sound like guitar strings. This is not true. If you flick the belt, you should notice it slightly vibrate back into place.

If a belt is not tight, you will need to open up the printer by unscrewing the three screws that hold the aluminum print bed, lifting up the bed and then lifting up the three surrounding panels on the printer. Make sure to remove the circuit board from the standoffs and the extruder from the bottom plate. This will allow you to lift the cylindrical panel so you can get to the motor’s screws.

Once you have access to the motors that move the carriages up and down, un-tighten the four screws that hold the motor to the bottom bracket using a T10 screwdriver. Do not remove the screws completely, just a turn or two should do. Then push down the motor while re-tightening the screws. Check to see if the belt is now tighter than it was before. If the belt is too tight, the motor won’t be able to turn properly.

After you have re-tightened the belt(s), you will need to redo the auto-level procedure as your belts’ mm/step have slightly changed due to being re-tightened. Do not edit the config’s mm/step, simply re-run the auto level gcode script.

Asymmetrical Circles
Stringing

Stringing is often the result of poor retraction. Retraction is when your printer’s nozzle “sucks” the plastic back in when it finishes printing a segment of your print and travels to a new point to start printing again.

You should first make sure that retraction is enabled in Cura. This setting is found on the “Basic” tab in the form of a checkbox when you are in the full settings mode (Expert -> Switch to full settings…). Make sure this box is checked.

There are several settings you can try playing around with to lessen or eliminate the effect of stringing:

  1. By default the Delta Go settings in Cura have a 0.10mm z-hop under Expert Settings tab. This may create a bit of stringing. You can turn this off by changing the value to 0. Note that you’ll have to take extra precaution that your layers don’t warp up, otherwise the hotend may hit it. With Z-hop enabled, it helps to make sure your hotend doesn’t hit the layers as it travels.
  2. Experiment with different temperatures when printing. Just make sure that you don’t lower it so much that you develop under-extrusion issues because the plastic will be too solid to push out the nozzle.
  3. See if increasing the travel speed helps. This will lower the time the plastic has to ooze out the nozzle in between segments of your print.
  4. You can also increase retraction, although our recommended print settings are already tested to work well. Increasing retraction may increase your print time very slightly because the printer has to wait for the extruder motor to finish retracting the filament. Do NOT increase your retraction over 1.50mm as you are likely to jam the hotend on your Delta Go 3D printer.

On some prints that have a lot of gaps in between features you may experience slight stringing. If the stringing is very thin like a spider’s web, it is usually advisable to just remove it post-print by hand instead of fiddling with settings that you then might need to revert back to for other more common prints.

Also, make sure that the extruder motor is not overheating. This is common when you’re printing many features on a single print that have very small surface area, thus forcing the extruder to constantly push and pull the filament every few seconds instead of pushing the plastic for the most part.

Stringing
Waves

Ringing is the result of vibrations in the print head due to the inertia of sudden moves. It is commonly found around sharp corners or text.

Decreasing the acceleration of the printer will make a big impact on the reduction of ringing without affecting print speed too heavily. You adjust this setting by going to Maintenance > Advanced > Motion settings.. Try 3000, 1500 or other values and see how that affects your print.

Waves & Ripples
Overhangs

Ugly overhangs are probably one of the most common issues that arise when printing objects that have a steep slope or curvature that is protruding outwards.

The reason that overhangs sometimes do not turn out well is very similar to why curling happens. The perimeter/wall of the layer that is curling, is not anchored in place by a previous layer because it printed in mid air.

Thinner layers tend to curl up more than thick layers due to the fact that they are lighter, but on the other hand, they can also be helpful if they are printed at low temperature since because they are thinner, they will solidify faster.

There are several ways to try and remedy this issue:

  1. Make sure that you have a fan cooling the overhang as soon as it is printed so that it “freezes” in place.
  2. If your overhang is falling down, try using supports. Supports can also help if your overhang is curling up, as they will pull down on the layer and anchor it.
  3. You can also try slicing your model into thinner layers, this will create more successive steps and shorten the distance that each layer is protruding outwards. Whereas thick layers will jump out more as they are printed.
  4. Try slowing down the print in conjunction with a lower temperature.
  5. See if rotating the model around to minimize the angle of the slope(s) helps. You may need to add supports if the model is now not laying flat on the print bed.
Ugly Overhangs
Pillowing

Pillowing usually happens when solid top or bottom infill layers don’t have enough time to cool down and therefore curl up. This usually occurs when the infill of the object is too low and there’s nothing for the first layer sequence of the solid infill layer to sit on and therefore it has to be printed over an empty void.

There are several ways to try to overcome this:

  1. Try increasing the infill depending on the object. Usually 25% or up is good. If the object is really small, you can actually get away with printing at 15% infill, which is the setting we usually print with. As the objects get bigger, you want to make sure there’s a support structure such as a crosshatch infill under the solid infill layer.
  2. Try lowering down the temperature.
  3. Try printing slower so your printer has enough time to deposit the plastic.
  4. Increasing the thickness of top/bottom solid infill layers also helps. We recommend having solid infill layers anywhere between 0.6-0.8mm. As the solid infill layer builds up, the last layer will finally make sure that all the gaps are closed. With very thin layers, the strands are more likely to break. A good way to remedy this is to lower the printing speed so that you can make sure you don’t have under-extrusion issues.
Pillowing
Under Extrusion

This is usually a sign that your hotend has jammed or there is microscopic debris inside of the brass nozzle causing a blockage. It can also mean that you’re printing too fast at a low temperature or that you’re using low quality filament that is not suitable for our all-metal hotends.

There are a few things you can do to try and fix this:

  1. If the extruder is “skipping” (you can see and hear this if you look at the extruder’s hobbed pulley), then your hotend is jammed. To un-clog it, increase the temperature slightly by 10-20 degrees so the heat creeps up the hotend a bit and push the filament by hand into the extruder while you hold the extruder lever down. After pushing it for a few seconds, pull the filament out of the printer and cut off the tip that has expanded and caused a clog.You’ll also need to clean your drive gear (the toothed gear mounted on the extruder motor that pushes the filament) from any filament debris. After a jam, it’s likely that residue got left between the teeth of the drive gear. We recommend you use a can of compressed air or a nylon brush to clean it. You can use the hex key that was included in the box with your printer to un-tension the set screw in the drive gear so you can take it out for cleaning.

    Tip: If you can’t pull the filament back out, it may be that it will not get through the push-fit on the hotend. You’ll need to use a 7mm wrench to unscrew the push fit from the hotend’s aluminum heat sink and then pull the filament out.

  2. Check to make sure you are not using some cheap “no name” filament. While you may save a few bucks on some plastic filament, it does not mean that it will print well. We recommend you purchase our filament as we test it on a daily basis on our printers and it’s guaranteed to work.
  3. Make sure you’re not printing too fast for the temperature you set. If you’re printing too fast for the set temperature, the plastic will not have enough time to melt inside the hotend before being pushed out by the extruder. Try increasing the temperature by 5 degrees or lowering your speed by 10 mm/sec. If you set the temperature way too high, the plastic will also clog as the heat will creep up into the cold zone of the hotend (where the fan is mounted).
  4. If you’re printing something small or a part that has a lot of small features, the extruder will retract the filament more often as it travels from one part of the print to another. If it doesn’t have enough time to push out the filament before retracting it again, the hotend will clog. There are two ways to fix this:
    a. Lower the printing speed so retractions are slower, or lower the retraction amount.
    b. Increase the infill. If you’re printing something really small, sometimes it’s just best to print it at 100% infill to make sure enough plastic is deposited to keep the printed object from breaking.
  5. Measure your filament’s diameter at least five times in different spots using digital calipers. For example, if your filament measures around 1.65mm, but in Cura you set it to 1.75mm, your printer will not push enough plastic through the nozzle. Make sure the filament diameter in Cura corresponds to the actual diameter of your filament (the average diameter).
  6. You can also try cleaning your hotend’s brass tip to see if that helps remove any debris. (Remember, keep your filament stored in a dust-free environment or else the hotend will clog!)
    a. Remove the filament from your printer.
    b. Un-hook the hotend platform from all the magnetic arms.
    c. Unscrew the push-fit that holds the filament tube from the hotend (using a 7mm wrench will help).
    d. Heat up the hotend to 155-175 degrees and wait until the temperature is reached while holding it in your hands. (Careful to not burn yourself!)
    e. Push in some PLA filament until you cannot push it anymore or until you see just a bit of filament come out the nozzle and immediately pull it out. You should hear a “pop” sound and you should see some debris on the tip of the filament. It’s a good idea to clean your hotend after using abrasive filaments such as brass, copper or metal.
Under Extrusion
Filament Grinding

Filament grinding is almost always related to a clogged hotend. This is when the extruder is attempting to push the filament into the hotend but instead of the filament moving, it sits in the same spot and the teeth of the hobbed pulley shave away the filament.

To learn how to un-clog your hotend, read the instructions written for “Under Extrusion” on this page.

This can also be the result of not pushing your filament all the way into the hotend (when you thought you did) because you couldn’t push it past the tube anymore. This usually happens if you do not cut the tip of your filament sharp enough on both sides to create the shape of a “cone”. Therefore the tip of the filament may get stuck at the seam between two parts because the tip is too sharp on one side. This is why it’s best to cut it in the shape of a “cone”.

Filament grinding
Cracks

Cracks usually happen when you’re printing in a really cold environment. Make sure that you print ambient to normal room temperature.

Cracks
Shifted Layers

Shifted layers usually happen due to the hotend hitting the printed object while it is traveling from one point to another over the print.

  1. If you’re printing really thin layers (under 0.15 mm), try turning on z-hop by going to Expert > Open expert settings > Z shop when retracting. Set the z-hop setting to 1-2mm. This will have the hotend move up 1-2mm before traveling to a new point on the print. Note that you may now have extra stringing on your print because the hotend will hop from one point to another and won’t be wiping itself on the print.
  2. Make sure your part is sticking to the bed. If it begins to warp, it will cause the hotend to hit the printed object.
  3. Finally, a somewhat unknown fact, is that sometimes it’s not the printer or the slicing settings that are at fault. It’s possible that the model itself has issues that need to be fixed. You won’t be able to see this by looking at the model and it’s rarely possible to notice it when checking the sliced layers. The way to fix this is to clean up the model using Netfabb’s online model repair tool. You can also download the free version of Netfabb and fix it from within the program using the repair feature. It’s good practice to run models through Netfabb’s online repair engine before attempting a print as it can help clean up the model and as a result generate cleaner gcode instructions for your 3D printer. Even if your model prints without issues, this can help reduce print time and make it print nicer.
Shifted layers

Still can’t find the answer to your failed print?
Send us a picture and we’ll add it to the print guide with an explanation!