Up my printing capability

I have watched a couple of Dr Vax and MakeWithTech videos in an attempt to solve 3 problems that I think are somehow related. They are:

  1. The bottom layer on any print I do is UGLY, the lines are visible, and sometimes there are spaces between them. At two layers I can still see through the print.

  2. I am trying to print two instances of the same part and always when the printer head comes back to the first instance to print the second layer, it drags the first layer around and the print is never successful.

  3. Sometimes the skirt doesn’t attach well to the print surface, and gets connected to the part, maybe the same as 2.

I watched the video on the Perfect First layer, downloaded the FirstLayerCalibrationHelper. The gcode files do not fit my printer so I scaled it to fit and tried to print it, just to get a benchmark, and it was a disaster. The pads printed with accordion lines, and some of the individual lines didn’t adhere to the bed.

I decided to start over, cleaned the bed with alcohol, leveled the printer bed manually with a piece of standard printer paper, then did the auto level.

I made a small square pad that is 1 mm tall that would print fast and I could stop it after two or 3 levels. I printed the first a couple of layers and I could still see the lines at the bottom.

So I started reducing the z offset and printing a new instance until I got too close, the head was dragging the part around before the part was finished.

Never did I get the bottom to look much like the sides of the object, not even close. Are my expectations too high?

I picked the z offset value that I thought was the best choice and printed the modified FirstLayerCalibrationHelper that I made. The real problem was, this was made with the slicer that I am using which could also be part of the problem. And it just carries the melted plastic string around in a hair ball.

First of all: If you use Cura, check the printer Settings, so the nozzle diameter and the filament diameter is correct. This is the most made issue, when using Cura as it defaults to values 1% of the printers are using. Usually you have 0.4 for the nozzle and 1,75mm for the filament.

What you describe is that your nozzle is too close to the print bed. This usually causes rubbing away lines on the first layer. If you e.g. use a brim, the second brim line needs to be placed next to the first one and it simply picks up the first line and rips it off.

Another indication is that on the second layer filament gets rubbed off. This is because the filament outputted on the first layer squishes to the sides, but that space usually gets filled with the next line. The space is occupied and the filament files up. Now when the print head returns for the second layer, it bumps into the first layers “pile” of filament and rips it off the build plate.

So my suggestion is to lift the head a little.

The main issue with the first layer is that “beginners” act the other way around. It does not stick, so I need to get closer to the bed. This is only valid sometimes. There is a fine line between to far away and to narrow. By your observations I would consider you are to close.

The best is to start printing to high. Watch the result. Lower the z-offset and restart. Use your finger if the line gets loose very easy, you need to be closer. So repeat until you can move over the line and it stays. This is usually a good starting point.

If the lines (e.g. from brim or model) do not connect (melt together) lower z again just a little. This way you will find the sweet spot quite easy.

I appreciate your response. I was using the Prusa, SuperSlicer, but have moved back to Cura because there tends to be more info available. I am using Cura 5.2.2.

I can see where the Nozzle size is set and it is at .4mm. I cannot see where the filament size is set. There is a selection for the brand of filament, SunLU so maybe that makes it correct.

The Z offset can be adjusted in .05 increments. It is currently set at -3.20 which gives the best print for my 20mm x 20mm block that I am using as a gauge.

I will try this first on the circle from the first layer test piece, then I will try the entire helper.

When I try to slice the Ender 3 Level Test/Single_Layer_Disc.stl I get 0 minutes/ 0g of filament used and it prints nothing. When I read the gcode, it has 0 layer count.

You have an Ender S1 Pro, right? I had the exact same problem with my S1. It printed well, I had 3 power outages and then it always printed way too high or too low, no matter what I did to correct it. After many, MANY attempts, I figured that the CRTouch must have gone bonkers. Their helpdesk was utterly useless (please set the retraction to 50, bwahahahah) and Amazon refunded after I sent it back.

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Thanks for all of the advice. I think I have made some progress, will have to back off on the end goal until I have a little more experience. The bottom of my prints now are way better then before, and maybe even better then the top.

I made a small rectangle that didn’t take too long to print and I used it to find the range of acceptable print s. I ended with a range between .2mm. I labeled each level so it was easier to compare. The firmware only allows changes at .05mm increments, so this is a range of 5 values to zero in on. Then I took the piece I wanted to make and printed it in the middle and it was way better then before. I will play around with this more until I get it better.