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What Works

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  • What Works

    Almost two years into filament printing with my Creality Ender 3 Pro I've learned a few things and have developed a few protocols to reliably turn out good parts.

    First, I am printing on the Creality glass plate and using Elmer's School Glue for adhesion. Most of the time I am applying two layers of glue. On occasion, especially when printing TPU (ThermoPlastic Urethane) I'll lay down a third layer. That is if I have concern the part will be tall enough to require some extra adhesion.

    To remove parts I allow them to cool, then hit them with a sideways rap from an assembly hammer while supporting the build bed by hand. Most of the time a very modest tap with the hammer will pop the parts free. Sometimes, for short parts, I'll use a 'drift' to help the hammer blow make good contact.

    I am printing almost exclusively in PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate - Glycol modified) and TPU. I print rigid parts in PETG and flexible parts in TPU. Both materials are tough, but relatively easy to print. TPU is exceptionally tough, but flexible enough for most applications that require flex.

    When printing PETG I set the hot end at 240C and the bed at 55C. I print with a brim, as created by the Cura slicer. When printing TPU I set the hot end to 225C and the bed to 50C. I print TPU without a brim or raft -- directly on the bed. For both PETG and TPU I set the print speed to 50mm/second.

    Before printing I always clean the print bed with a wet-wipe to remove all remaining glue. I pre-heat the hot end and bed to 240C and 55C while I prepare. Once the bed is dry I'll apply the School Glue. Then, I use the auto-home feature, and enter a manual command to raise the print head 40mm. When the hot end reaches temperature I manually command the extruder to feed 40mm of filament. That is, unless I am changing filaments, in which case I'll feed 120mm, to help clear out any remaining material.

    Once the extruder has finished feeding I'll call up the print program and start it. Usually I'll watch while the first couple of layers print. If those print successfully then the part will usually be okay. After that, part failures are typically cases where the bed adhesion fails and the part comes loose. So I will try to check on the part every few hours.

    Bed adhesion failures are idiosyncratic. Sometimes more glue helps, but often simply trying a second time produces a good part.

    I have modified my machine for direct feed of the filament to the hot end. A special bracket mounts the filament feed directly above the hot end, eliminating most of the Bowden tube. The remaining Bowden tube is only about 3 inches long and straight rather than curved. I like this simplified feed.

    When I start to see printing issues I find I can solve them by doing two things. First, I replace the Bowden tube. The end of the Bowden tube gets 'cooked' after one or two hundred hours of printing and simply needs to be replaced. Second, I re-level the print bed. And that fixes it.

    I am still using a stock Creality hot end. I have replaced it once. I bought an all-metal hot end but haven't installed it yet. Maybe later. An all-metal hot end should allow the Bowden tube to last much longer. Right now it isn't so big an issue that I want to make the change.

    I occasionally fiddle with some of the more arcane print settings, but so far I've found the factory-default settings to work well for almost any parts. And I am a great fan of what works.

    Ed Bianchi
    Last edited by HO RacePro; 11-11-2021, 07:57 AM.
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