Uneven First Layer

3D Printing 3


3D Printing

A while ago, we received a new model of 3D printer, called the Makeblock mElephant. The moment we saw it, we were really impressed with the look and quality of the build of the printer.

We were keen to see if the quality of the printed items matched the build quality of the printer itself, so we set out to see what it was like.

Although we managed to successfully print a demonstration piece that was provided with the printer, our initial attempts at printing other models proved to have rather mixed success.

First Prints

Our first attempt at printing was a case for the recently released Pi Zero.

https://github.com/topshed/MagPiCase

Pi Zero Case First Attempt

Pi Zero Case First Attempt

Based on our results, we fairly quickly concluded that the poor finish was due to incorrect settings in our slicer program (Cura). We had set our nozzle diameter to have an incorrect value, and also were not using a high enough density value.

Once these were corrected, we found that our results improved dramatically, but we were still not totally satisfied with the finish. We found that the first layer was very uneven, and this resulted in a rough finish.

Uneven First Layer

Uneven First Layer

Help From Our Friends

Our friends at Preston Hack Space suggested that our most likely problem was that our print bed was not completely level and that we should ensure that our print programs probed the print bed prior to starting the print. This meant adding a G29 GCode to the start.gcode section of our programs.

Because we were using Cura as our slicing program, this was really straightforward, as Cura allows editing of the start and end GCode sections of our print programs. The Start/End-GCode tab in the Expert mode tab on Cura allows a user to specify the start and end GCode to be added to all print programs.

Improved First Layer

Improved First Layer

Adding the GCode to probe our print bed had a dramatic effect on our finished products. However, we do still find that some of our prints suffer from lifting slightly off the print bed, and therefore being very slightly warped.

Warped 3D Print

Warped 3D Print

It has been suggested that this may be due to the fact that we are not using a heated print bed.  Our 3D printer does not have a heated bed, and prints using 1.75mm PLA filament. It has also been suggested that warping can also be caused by cold draught. We have found that adding the ‘brim’ option for platform adhesion does reduce the level of warping, but this has not yet provided a complete solution to our warping problem.

Check out our 3D printing photo gallery to see some of the things that we have printed.

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3 thoughts on “3D Printing

  • Eric Buijs

    Great review, thanks. Did you find a solution to the warping problem or can this only be solved with a heated bed? Furthermore, do you plan to do an update on the melephant?

    • MakerSpace

      Hi Eric,

      We’re still working on the warping problem, and unfortunately we haven’t had much time for any 3D printing lately 🙁

      When we do get a bit more time we’ll be doing lots more printing with the mElephant, and we’ll keep the blog updated with how we get on.

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