My 3 n00b 3d printing mistakes

I'm fairly new to 3D printing, and in the process of learning I experienced a number of mistakes. Mistakes are of course splendid for learning things!

Not aligning the print bed

Not aligning the print bed properly was my first and worst mistake.

First I made a small print and it printed okay. Satisfied, I uploaded a much larger print to my octoprint server connected to my 3D printer. It started printing, and all seemed well.

When I came back I noticed something odd. On my printer there is a glass bed, covered with a special plastic film that is supposed to make printing easier. The plastic film now had a number of deep cuts.

It turned out that since the print bed wasn't properly aligned, it sloped upwards a bit in the left part. There was only a small slope, but it was enough for the printer head to get stuck in the plastic.

The end result was a broken print head and a broken print bed.

I had to order new parts. Luckily, they aren't too expensive for my printer. It was a lot of work changing the parts though.

Using PVA in a Bowden extruder

My printer has two extruders. You can have different types of printing materials in the extruders. One way to use this feature is to print with two different colours.

Another way is to use one extruder for printing support, the other onw for printing the model itself. If you also are a 3d printing beginner like me, you need to print support structures to print a model. The reason is because you can't ptint on thin air, which is kind of obvious once you have seen a 3d printer in action, but not so obvious before.

I read about PVA printer filament being water soluble. So, you could print water soluble filament with the support printing extruder.

This way you can throw the model in water and the support strucuture will dissolve. Fantastic! Otherwise you need to separate the support from the model which can be quite tedious.

I ordered the PVA filament and was eager to try it out. Unfortunately there were no support structures printed at all! Puzzled, I started trying to increase the temperature of the prnt head, and a number of different things, all to no avail.

It turns out that my printer has two bowden type extruders and PVA simply doesn't work with a Bowden extruder. The PVA simply clogs up the print head. I tried cleaning out the print head with a small drill, but i just ruined the print head completely in the process.

I found out about polysupport support filament, which is PLA based and prints well. It's easy to separate from the model so I'm using that now.

Not lubricating the printers mechanical rods

While not as dramatic as the two other mistakes, it did result in the loss of several models.

If the rods aren't lubricated, the printer carriage might get stuck occasionally. Since the printer doesnt actually know where the print head is other than by counting the number of steps the stepper motors has stepped, the result is shifted layers of the model.

The solution for me was applying a bit of bicycle chain oil to the rods.

In conclusion

Though I've made any number of other mistakes, fixing these three basic problems made a world of difference for my printing!