Getting Started with Proto-pasta PLAs including HTPLA
Loose coils can be very tricky to manage. Going cowboy on your spool handling can quickly end up in a frustrating, tangled mess. Keep your loose coils wrangled with a spool holder like masterspool for a more trouble-free experience. Find out more about loose coil handling in Keith's blog post.
And for spooled filament, never let go of the loose end. When not in the printer extruder, tuck it away in the cardboard spool's corrugation! Also, avoid sharp bends and excessive force when loading filament into your printer.
At Proto-pasta, we make high quality filament. We aspire to make exceptional results easy, but a positive result is very much dependent on your hardware, set-up, adjustments, and process parameters. Matching hardware with process and material for a positive experience is not always straight-forward, but you can start by pairing the following settings with your printer for a good starting point, then tune or troubleshoot as required.
Example settings for typical printer
- Nozzle size = 0.4 mm (Standard to most printers & balances detail with productivity.)
- Extrusion width = 0.45 mm (Typically larger than nozzle size. If using a larger nozzle diameter, be sure to set the extrusion width larger than that nozzle diameter.)
- Layer thickness = 0.15 mm (For a balance of speed, quality & reliability.)
- Speed(s) = 15-45 mm/s (Respecting mechanical and volume flow limits. Stay within the recommended speed range but apply slower speeds to the walls and faster speeds to the infill.)
- Volume flow rate(s) = 1-3 cu mm/s (The result of above speed range, width, and layer thickness. Respect hardware and geometry limitations.)
- Typical temperature = 215 C +/- 10 C (Matching material, hardware, and volume flow rate.)
Volume flow rate together with temperature dictates how melted the material is. This is hardware & condition dependent based on hot end, nozzle & extruder type, material & manufacturer as well as layer fan type, position & settings. Extrusion width, layer thickness & speed changes affect volume flow which may change required/desired temperature.
Additional settings of note
- “Grid” infill type at 20-30% - “connect infill lines” unchecked (off).
- Minimum 3 shells & 4 top/bottom layers for good surface quality.
- Layer fan set to cool enough for build rate, but not so aggressive as to fail process by over-cooling nozzle and heater block.
Validation and fine-tuning
- Exceeding hardware capabilities.
- Mismatch of flow rate and temperature.
- Excessive nozzle cooling from layer fan yielding lower heater block and/or nozzle temperatures than set point.
- Hardware shortcomings such as MK3 heat break, poor nozzle diameter, or other hangups.
- Poor assembly or adjustment of components.
- Excessive retraction distance or number of retractions.
- Inaccurate flow with missing cross-sections or wall thickness not matching extrusion width software setting.
- Heat break replacement with OEM, straight-through design and defect-free, smooth bore.
- Proper assembly of components without plastic oozing gaps & with thermal grease.
- Lightly oiling filament, but careful, a little goes a long way.
- Reducing layer fan speed and/or isolating from heater block and nozzle.
- Installing heater block sock to isolate heater block & nozzle from layer fan.
- Increasing temperature to flow past internal hang-ups.
- Reduce speed and/or choose a single speed for a single volume flow
- Consider drive gear tension adjustment, bowden tube coupling/replacement, and spool mounting
We visited Joel and ended up with a helpful video on the subject.