Dealing With Warping in 3D Printing


3D Printing and additive manufacturing boast of a very high degree of part accuracy. Sadly, even with the versatility of 3D printers, they aren’t immune to part defects. From using wrong print settings to a lack of design optimization, 3D part defects can vary from simple curling to more complex issues like print failure or total part failure.

Warping is one of the more common defects that may arise in 3D Printing. This occurrence, caused primarily by uneven cooling of the part, can affect the physical appearance and functional performance of the part. Thankfully, warping can be prevented. Read on to see all the things you can do to prevent and deal with warping when 3D-printing your part.

What is warping?

Warping, also referred to as curling, is a 3D printing defect wherein a printed object begins to curl upward. It is caused by the variation in temperature between the layers of the extruded plastic. This temperature difference causes some stress within the 3D part. The pulling tension within the sides of the part then causes the corner of the object to deform, pull inward and lift upward.

Why does warping occur?

As we have discussed in the previous paragraph, warping arises due to temperature differentials. Because of the primary nature of the thermoplastic materials used in 3D printing, the 3D printer heats these materials to a temperature beyond their melting point before they can be used.

Once at this temperature, the filament becomes liquid or molten. The molten material is then extruded into the printer nozzle and deposited unto the build plate one layer after the other. As the 3D printer builds the newer layer atop the previous one, temperature differences occur as a result of the cooling action that has begun on the bottom-most layers while the top most remains hot. Consequently, there is a difference in the shrinkage rates of each layer that causes a loss of grip and curling of the part at the corners.

How to prevent warping

·    Use a heated bed

Using a heated bed helps to promote uniform cooling and lower the chances of warping. This is because by design, heated beds have a heating element that can be used to maintain a temperature of the deposited material. Consequently, all layers of material will maintain the same temperature till the printing operation is complete and experience even cooling all the way. This is one of the most effective solutions for 3D print warping.

·    Explore adhesives

While most of the 3D printers on today’s market provide decent adhesion right out the box, that level of adhesion may vary from material to material. One of the ways to prevent or lower the chances of curling and warping involves the use of adhesives.

Adhesives such as PVA glue sticks and hair sprays can convey the much needed grip to help the filament remain on the build plate. It is important that you first apply the adhesives in small quantities to prevent scenarios where your model cannot be removed from the build plate without damaging the part.

·    Use the right settings

3D printer settings vary from material to material. If temperature settings are too high, the material may melt and warp after it has been laid down by the nozzle. One of the ways that warping can be avoided is by using the appropriate temperature and print parameters for the material being used.

For optimal results, you may try to keep the print head fans switched off for the first layer being printed. This will help to improve the level of adhesion in the first layer. Subsequently, the fan may be turned on and speed increased as the layer height rises.

·    Use a print enclosure

Using a print enclosure helps to maintain a uniform temperature all through the print process. The result is a smooth printing operation where each layer has the same temperature and cooling rates on completion.

·    Print slower

3D print warping can be curtailed by simply modifying the printer speed. This is possible as the lowered nozzle temperature and print rate helps the material deposited to cool effectively and allow more time before the subsequently layer is deposited upon it.

·    Use a raft

Rafts help to present an enlarged base for the 3D printed model to be printed. Consequently, the bigger base and will allow for better gripping of the model to the build surface, thus preventing curling at the part’s edges.

FirstPart 3D Printing Services in China

Don’t own or can’t get a 3D printer? Come to Firstpart!

As one of the top manufacturers in China, we encourage you to try out our high-quality online and offline 3D printing service solutions to work from home or in-office and get started with your first 3D project.

Our engineers are available to help with a free quote and design evaluation. Depending

on the nature of your project, you will typically receive your quote in a number of hours as well as several suggestions on how to optimize your end part.

FirstPart also provides stringent quality control evaluations and super-efficient logistics that guarantees that you receive your 3D printed objects, free from warping and printing defects, produced to specifications as desired, quick, intact and most importantly, affordably.