Identifying and Troubleshooting Stringing in 3D Printing

How to fix stringing in 3D printing

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3D printing is an incredible technology that allows you to create complex objects. However, it is not without its flaws, and stringing is one of the most common issues experienced by 3D printer operators.

Stringing is a problem with 3D prints because it occurs when molten plastic leaks from the nozzle and leaves behind tiny strands of plastic.

Thankfully, there are several solutions to this problem. In this thorough guide, we’ll look at nine of the best methods for removing stringing from 3D prints. 

You’ll discover all the tricks and tips you need to get your 3D prints looking as good as possible, from adjusting the retraction settings to using a fan to cool the filament. So let’s get started if you’re prepared to do away with stringing for good.

What is Stringing?

Stringing, also known as “ooze,” occurs in 3D printing when plastic filament oozes out of the nozzle between extrusion moves. This is typically caused by plastic still being extruded when the nozzle moves to a new location.

Excess plastic can then form thin strands between printed parts or layers. Stringing can be minimized by adjusting print settings, such as retraction distance, speed, and temperature.

Causes of Stringing in 3D Printing

The most common causes of stringing are:

Print Speed

When you print too quickly, the plastic comes out of the printer faster than the nozzle can move. This causes extra material and stringing.

There are two different ways in which the speed of a 3D printer affects stringing. First, a faster print speed increases the amount of plastic extruded, which can lead to more plastic being deposited in areas it shouldn’t be. 

This is especially true for small, detailed prints where the rate of extrusion can be too fast for the plastic to cool and harden enough before the next layer is printed.

Secondly, a faster print speed can cause the plastic to be heated, and this can cause more stringing as the plastic droops and stretches as it cools. A slower print speed will give the plastic more time to cool and solidify before the next layer is printed, reducing the amount of stringing.

Retraction Settings

Stop the stringing with Retraction! 3D Printing 101

Incorrect retraction settings are another factor that can cause stringing. When the retraction settings are too low, the plastic is not pulled back far enough, so it continues to ooze out of the nozzle while the printer moves to the next location.

This causes the plastic to form strings of material that are then deposited on the part. If the retraction settings are too high, the printer will pull the filament back too far, causing it to be pushed back out of the nozzle when the printer starts to print again. This can also cause stringing.

The optimal retraction settings vary depending on the printer, filament, and layer height, so it is important to experiment to find the best settings for your printer.

Nozzle Temperature

Stringing can occur when nozzle temperature is too high. At a high temperature, , the plastic inside the nozzle will begin to flow and droop or move before the printer head can move away.

This then results in a string of plastic being left behind. This is especially noticeable when printing with a fine-tipped nozzle, such as a 0.4mm nozzle. To reduce stringing, it is important to reduce the nozzle temperature as much as possible.

Filament Type

The type of filament used can significantly impact the amount of stringing a 3D printer produces. Generally, the stickier the material, the more stringing it will produce. This is because the material tends to ooze out of the nozzle when it is not printing.

Materials such as ABS, HIPS, and nylon are more prone to stringing than materials such as PLA and PETG.

Read more about Filament Type

Print Bed Temperature

Print bed temperature is the temperature of the print bed or build plate on a 3D printer. The temperature of the print bed is important for achieving successful 3D prints, as the materials used in 3D printing often require specific temperatures to achieve proper adhesion and layer bonding.

Depending on the material being used, the print bed temperature will typically range from ambient temperature (roughly 22–24°C) to 110°C. Stringing may occur if the print bed temperature is too high because it will make the plastic adhere to the bed.

Filament Tolerance

If the filament is too wide, it will create more resistance as it passes through the nozzle.

When the printer moves between points, this resistance and the pressure that builds up because of it can cause the extruder to push out extra filament. This extra filament is then left behind and creates the stringing effect.

The best way to avoid stringing due to filament tolerance is to use filament with the same diameter as the nozzle. This will reduce the resistance and help prevent the buildup of pressure that causes the extra filament to be pushed out.

Layer Height

Layer heights can cause stringing because the nozzle has to move farther between each layer, which makes it more likely that the material will come out of the nozzle. The longer the nozzle travels, the more likely it is to leave behind a string of filaments. 

Less stringing will happen with lower layer heights because the nozzle doesn’t have to move as far between layers.

Ways to Fix Stringing in 3D Printing

Here are a few approaches to correcting stringing in 3D printing.

Check the Temperature

Temperature plays a significant role in stringing when 3D printing. Check the temperature of the following parts and make proper adjustments before printing:

1. Print Bed

One of the most common reasons for stringing in 3D printing is that the print bed is too hot or too cold. This can cause the plastic to be too hot when it is first laid down, which causes it to stretch and form strings. To fix this issue, you should check your print bed’s temperature and ensure it is set to the ideal temperature for your filament.

2. The Nozzle

The nozzle temperature is also an important factor to consider when troubleshooting stringing. If the nozzle temperature is too low, the plastic may not flow correctly and can cause stringing. Check the temperature of the nozzle and make sure it is set to the right level for your filament.

If the temperature of the nozzle is too low, there won’t be enough flow of the plastic filament, which will cause the part to be printed wrong. If the nozzle temperature is too high, it can lead to plastic oozing out of the nozzle and leaving stringlike lines on the part’s surface.

3. Fan Settings

The fan settings are also important to consider when troubleshooting stringing. If the fan is too high, it can cause the plastic to cool too quickly and form strings. Check the fan settings and ensure they are set to the ideal settings for your filament.

Adjust the Retraction Settings

Retraction is the process of pulling the filament back into the nozzle. This is done to stop stringing.

The retraction settings are also important to consider when troubleshooting stringing. If the retraction settings are too low, the plastic may not be retracted correctly and can cause stringing.

Check the settings for retraction and make sure they are the right ones for your filament.

Check your Extrusion Rate

One of the most common causes of stringing is an extrusion rate that’s too high. This can cause the filament to be pushed through the nozzle too quickly, resulting in strings of plastic being left behind.

To fix this, simply reduce your extrusion rate until the stringing stops. You can do this in your slicer software or by manually adjusting the flow rate in your printer’s firmware.

Slow Down the Print Speed

A good way to stop stringing in 3D printing is to slow down the print speed. When the printer moves too quickly, it can cause unwanted filament strands to be left behind.

Slowing down the print speed will give the filament more time to cool and solidify before the nozzle moves on to another section of the print. This will reduce the amount of stringing and improve the overall quality of your prints.

Clean the Nozzle

It is also important to keep your nozzle clean, as this will help reduce stringing in 3D printing. A clean nozzle allows for a smoother flow of plastic, which reduces the chances of strings forming on your prints.

To clean the nozzle, use a can of compressed air and spray it in short bursts directly into the nozzle opening. If the nozzle is clogged, you may need to use a cotton swab or other small object to dislodge any debris.

Be sure to use caution when doing this, as you could damage the nozzle if you are not careful. Once the nozzle is clean, use the compressed air again to dry any moisture that may have built up.

Adjust the Z-Lift Distance

The Z-lift distance is the distance that the nozzle of your 3D printer lifts up after completing a layer of your 3D print. It is important to change this distance so that the layers of your print stick together well and are not too tightly packed.

You will need to access the printer’s settings to adjust the Z-lift distance. Depending on your 3D printer, you might have to use the printer’s control panel or a software program to change the settings.

Once you’ve found the settings, you can change the Z-lift distance to work with the material you’re cutting.

Increase the Flow-Rate

Flow rate, or the extrusion multiplier, refers to the slicer setting that determines the amount of plastic to extrude. By default, the flow rate is set to 100% or 1.0, depending on the slicer.

The flow rate of a system is determined by its design and the components that make up the system. To increase the flow rate, you can either increase the diameter of the pipes, reduce the friction in the pipes, increase the pump size, increase the pressure, or increase the number of openings in the system.

Use High Quality Filament

Improving the quality of the filament is key to avoiding stringing in 3D printiTo get the best results, it’s important to use a high-quality filament that has been made and stored the right way. Most filaments are made from plastic resins, such as ABS or PLA, and can come in either spools or coils. 

When purchasing filament, make sure to search for items that are branded as high-quality and that were produced in a hygienic setting.

For maximum quality maintenance of the filament, the following steps must be taken:

Store Filament in an Airtight Container

Moisture is the enemy of the 3D printing filament and can cause it to become brittle or warp during printing. Storing filament in an airtight container with a desiccant will help protect it from moisture damage.

Direct sunlight can cause filaments to degrade over time and become brittle. Keeping the filament away from windows and other direct sunlight sources will help keep it in good condition.

Keeping filament away from heat sources such as radiators, direct sunlight, and other heat sources can help prevent it from becoming too soft or melting.

Monitor the Temperature in Your Workspace

Extreme temperatures can cause filaments to become too soft or brittle. Your filament will be of the best quality if you keep the temperature in your workspace between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Inspect Filament Before Printing

Always inspect the filament before printing for any signs of damage or inconsistency. This may include cracks, bends, discoloration, or other signs of degradation. If any of these signs are present, discard the filament and replace it with a new spool.

Use a Brim

How to Fix Stringing on a 3D Printer

Adding a brim to your 3D print can help reduce the chances of stringing. A brim is a thin layer printed around your object’s base. A brim will help anchor the object to the build plate and prevent it from warping during printing.

To add a brim to your 3D print, you will need to change the width of the brim in the printer’s settings.

How to Fix Stringing on a 3D Printer: YouTube

FAQ on How to Fix Stringing in 3D Printing

Is Stringing Affected by Speed?

Yes, the speed at which your 3D printer prints affects the amount of stringing. Stringing is less likely to happen when you print at a slower speed, while it is more likely to happen when you print at a faster speed.

Can a Nozzle Cause Stringing?

A nozzle can cause stringing if it is not properly cleaned or is clogged with material. A nozzle that is not clean will cause the filament to stick to it and create strings or droplets as the material is extruded. A clogged nozzle will prevent the filament from passing through the nozzle, resulting in similar results.

What Causes PLA Stringing?

PLA stringing is a type of plastic extrusion that occurs when small strands of plastic are deposited between two printed layers. It is caused by a number of factors, including:

1. Incorrect nozzle temperature
2. Poor retraction settings
3. Poor cooling settings
4. Poor filament quality.

Can Old Nozzle Cause Stringing?

Yes, an old nozzle can be more prone to stringing as it may have been worn down over time, resulting in a larger opening where more plastic can ooze out. To avoid stringing, it’s important to clean the nozzle often and replace it when necessary.

Final Thoughts

Stringing in 3D printing is caused by a number of factors. However, it can be prevented or greatly reduced with the right techniques and tips.

First, use a nozzle temperature anywhere between 195-220°C, with the recommended value being 210°C, as this will reduce the amount of plastic oozing from the nozzle. Second, check the retraction settings and make sure the extruder is retracting the filament correctly. Third, use a cooling fan to cool down the plastic as it is extruded.

Lastly, use the right materials and store them in the right way to cut down on the amount of stringing. With the right knowledge, stringing can be avoided, and you can get the best 3D prints possible.

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