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Quick Tip: Cooling is Critical!

Posted by Alex R English on

This isn't going to be a long post - just a quick reminder that cooling is often a critical part of controlling warp and other problems when 3D printing PLA or many other materials.

Even a well calibrated printer/slicing profile can give you problems with curl, especially on outward sloping convex surfaces (like the underside of the bow on a Benchy print). Material selection, ambient (room) temperature, print speed, layer height, nozzle temp, and other print settings are all contributing factors, and will hopefully be a subject of a future post.

These two prints were done with the same material, on the same printer, with the same gcode file, at similar room temperature. The only difference between the prints was whether or not there was active cooling on the print.

3D Printed Benchy Tugboat comparison with and without cooling

It's a pretty stark difference. The nasty finish on the underside of the bow are caused by the material curling upwards on each layer and interfering with the subsequent layers, displacing the material and pushing it outwards erratically, causing bumps, pits, and general roughness.

Now here's the kicker - the cooling method...  This was printed on a Monoprice Dual which doesn't have any form of active cooling. For lack of time to put something better together, here's the fan configuration we slapped together.

This is a cheap little desk fan that came from Walmart a while back, taped to the top of the printer with gaffer's tape (the best tape). It's clumsy, chincy, crude, and ugly, but it does the job 80% of the time. 

While you're almost certain to get better results from something directed more closely at the print, particularly the end of the nozzle and that vicinity, sometimes the hack will do, especially in a pinch if you REALLY need a print to work without working on your printer.

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