How to Prevent Zits and Voids in 3D Printing

3D printing is revolutionizing the way we create and manufacture parts, and it offers a fast, easy-to-use process that is increasingly available to small businesses and hobbyists.

Several issues may arise during 3D printing that can affect the finished product, and one of them is zits and voids. Fortunately, there are ways to fix these issues. But before that, let’s look at what zits and voids are.

Zits and Voids in Detail

Zits are small bumps or raised areas on the surface of a 3D print. They result from various 3D printing mistakes, including incorrect filament diameter, excessive retraction, or insufficient cooling, resulting in brittle layers in the design.

Voids, on the other hand, are empty spaces inside a 3D print that can occur for similar reasons. While zits and voids may not seem like a big deal, they can be very frustrating, but understanding the cause and dangers can help you avoid them in future prints. There are many ways to avoid zits and voids, as we’ll explore here…

1. Use the Correct Filament Diameter

One of the most common causes of zits and voids is using the wrong filament diameter. Most 3D printers have a specific range of diameters that they can use, so it’s essential to check what size your printer uses before buying any type of 3D printer filament.

If you’re unsure what diameter filament your printer uses, you can usually find this information in the manual or online. Once you know the right size, measure the filament carefully before loading it into your printer.

2. Avoid Excessive Retraction

Another common cause of zits and voids is excessive retraction. Retraction is the process of pulling filament back into the extruder to prevent oozing. While a small amount of retraction can be helpful, too much can cause problems. You may need to experiment to find the sweet spot.

3. Use Adequate Cooling

Insufficient cooling is another common cause of zits and voids. 3D printers usually come with a built-in cooling feature; however, you may need to add other fans to ensure the filament is adequately cooled to prevent problems from occurring with the layer adhesion, leading to more perfect and consistent prints.

4. Clean Your Nozzle

You risk getting zits and voids on your printed parts without a clean nozzle. To prevent this from happening, you must develop a routine process for regularly removing dirt, grease, and other particles from the nozzle to ensure that the filaments flow correctly and that your 3D prints look flawless.

To clean your nozzle, remove it from the extruder assembly by gently pulling the retaining screws that hold it together. Soak the loose nozzle in isopropyl alcohol for 15 minutes before cleaning it with a brass wire brush. You can then use a paper towel or cloth to carefully dry off any remaining residue before attaching it back onto your 3D printer.

5. Ensure the Filament Is Dry

Ensuring that your filament is dry is a crucial step when 3D printing. If there is too much moisture in the filament, it can cause inconsistency in the material. Inconsistency leads to blobs and zits sticking out from your print, and voids underneath the design. This causes a decrease in the quality of the parts and could damage your printer.

To avoid this, always store your filaments in a cool and dry place; this will give you great results every time. Also, it’s essential to use desiccant bags in your filament storage to help absorb any moisture in the air. You can simplify things further by fine-tuning your spool holder and enclosing it in an airtight container. You can also purchase filament dryer boxes equipped with a fan to keep your 3D printing filament dry.

6. Calibrate Your Printer

Calibrating your 3D printer correctly can also help avoid those issues. Calibration helps maintain a consistent layer height and temperature throughout the printing process, hence your 3D-printed objects will have fewer zits and voids. When calibrating, make sure to pay special attention to bed leveling, flow rate, temperature, extruder and nozzle height, and first-layer adhesion.

7. Use Proper 3D Printing Speed

It’s essential to find the perfect balance of speed and quality when 3D printing, as too slow a speed can increase the risk of imperfections forming in print, but too fast may lead to uneven deposition or shifting layers.

Take your time to experiment and observe your parts as they are 3D printed. You will eventually find the ideal speed for your particular machine, reducing the chances of having voids on your finished designs.

8. Enable Coasting

Enabling coasting in your 3D slicer is important in preventing zits and voids. Coasting is a setting that tells the printer to stop extruding the 3D printer filament for a short period before starting the next layer. This can help to prevent zits and voids by giving the filament a chance to cool slightly before starting the next layer; this allows suspended molten plastic particles to settle into the surface, leading to smoother overall prints.

The technique requires precise calibration settings and careful attention during the print job, but when done right can quickly help create a much better finish with surface defect corrections relative to standard 3D printing operations.

9. Use a Brim

A brim is a thin layer of plastic that surrounds the base of your print, and this helps to improve adhesion and prevents warping, both of which can lead to defects.

Without a brim to stabilize the surface of a model, zits and voids can form and spoil an otherwise incredible creation. Because of the increased contact with the build platform, brims also help ensure that prints stick on more challenging materials like metal or glass surfaces—preventing those pesky zits and voids down the line.

Produce 3D Prints With No Defects

To 3D print perfect designs, it’s essential to consider all factors that can contribute to defects like zits and voids. By following the tips above, you will ensure that you avoid the factors that can result in zits and voids.

As you consider the above, remember to set yourself up for success by optimizing your design for 3D printing in a 3D modeling software or a 3D slicer, as it will make it easier to control the desired parameters of your print precisely.

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