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I just got my first 3D printer (Creality Ender 3) on Friday, 2 days ago. It works great, but for some reason I'm getting a lot of stringing on my prints, especially the ones where the extruder head has to move a long distance between columns/posts, etc.

I'm using Hatchbox "True White" PLA, which has a recommended temperature range of 180-210 °C. I've tried printing at 200, 190, and 185 °C and didn't see much improvement. I've also made sure I've enabled the 'retract' setting in the slicer (4.5 mm) and verified the printer is retracting when it should.

I'm not sure what else I can try... any suggestions?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to 3dPrinting.SE! Do you have a representative image of what you are talking about? Please add it to the body of your question as an edit. $\endgroup$ Aug 11 '19 at 12:35
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    $\begingroup$ Which slicer do you use? What is your retraction speed? $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Aug 11 '19 at 12:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Gogeta If the option is available in your slicer, you might need to adjust the coast and wipe settings. Also you might want to try printing PLA at 235C $\endgroup$
    – Glenn G
    Aug 11 '19 at 12:55
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    $\begingroup$ @GlennG: 235 is extreme temperature for PLA and not a good idea as something random to try. 185 is also extremely low though. Generally the high end of the filament manufacturer's range is what you should use; that works well on my Ender 3. Also, you should not need to set coast or wipe settings to do basic printing of PLA on an Ender 3. They might be useful for more exotic materials, but it's more likely they're only useful as workarounds for other problems that could be fixed in better ways. $\endgroup$ Aug 11 '19 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ I typically use 205 °C when printing PLA and find it works fine. $\endgroup$ Sep 16 at 15:32
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4.5 mm is a low retraction distance. Cura's default is 6.5 mm, and the Ender 3 profile provided with Cura sets it to 6 mm. The first thing you should try is increasing the retraction amount up to at least 6 mm. Also, make sure you actually enabled retraction. I saw one question here where a Cura user had enabled "Retract at layer change", which does not enable retraction (but of course it shows the options like retraction amount since you need to be able to select it for this too).

Your low nozzle temperature of 185 °C is also a problem. You'll have very low flow at that temperature, resulting in under-extrusion and pressure building up in the nozzle instead of extruding the material. That in turn will make it so, even after retracting, there's still material (and pressure) at the nozzle and it will keep oozing, unless you set a really high retraction amount (and even then problems will build up over time during the print, but you might get lucky and not see them). The only way to print PLA at 185 °C is really, really slowly.

In general, some people would also recommend trying a different filament, based on reports that some vendors' PLA oozes and strings badly, but I don't think that's an issue for you. I use Hatchbox filament on my Ender 3 all the time and never have a problem with stringing from it. And even if the filament is prone to stringing, you can almost surely avoid it with proper settings. Even very soft flex filaments can be printed on this printer without stringing as long as your retraction, temperature, and speed are tuned to avoid having pressure at the nozzle during travel moves.

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  • $\begingroup$ After seeing your answer, I changed the retract setting to 8mm and used a temperature of 200 °C. I got a LOT less stringing this time around - thank you! However, I still am getting some roughly 0.5 inch strands of plastic hanging off the sides of the posts (I'm printing a base that an arduino can screw into). What would you recommend I try to help reduce that effect even further? $\endgroup$
    – Gogeta70
    Aug 11 '19 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ I use 210 °C with Hatchbox PLA, but never had problems when I experimented with lower temperatures. I wonder if you have something else going on causing the problem too. Can you provide more information about what slicer you're using, print speeds, any other settings you might have changed, etc.? $\endgroup$ Aug 11 '19 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ I'm using the Creality Slicer 1.2.2 with these settings: i.ibb.co/KmHKBMD/print-settings.png $\endgroup$
    – Gogeta70
    Aug 11 '19 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ I've never used Creality's software. You might try Cura and/or slic3r and see if the problem goes away - it could be that Creality's software is doing something wrong with retraction (like not doing it in some places it needs to). $\endgroup$ Aug 11 '19 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ Alright, I'll give that a shot. Thanks for all your help. $\endgroup$
    – Gogeta70
    Aug 11 '19 at 23:19
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The way to optimise retraction is to use this retraction optimisation tool, which tests various retraction distances and speeds.

Remember to perform this calibration AFTER you set pressure or linear advance, which has a higher priority.

enter image description here

You will be able to pick the settings which work the best for that filament brand and type. You will have to do it again if you switch material or brand.

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decrease retraction speed to 25-30mm/sec

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Try changing retraction to 6 mm but slow it down to 25 mm. Stopped all of my stringing issues with Hatchbox.

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Something strange happened to me (Ender 3 with CR Touch), changed my firmware and stringing happened. I was slicing with Cura and went through three days of breaking my head. You know how I fixed it? Simple, I looked for a pre-made retraction temp. And guess what? It was the slicer all along. I changed to Simplify3D and all of my stringing disappeared. I can't explain what happened, but Cura decided to flop on me. maybe look for pre-sliced G-code tests online, hope you can fix your problem.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you elaborate on what "pre-made retraction temp" is? I'm not sure what that means. Did you just reduce hotend temps or something else? $\endgroup$
    – Kezat
    Oct 1 at 5:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Kezat I think the text is missing the word "tower", otherwise I cannot explain it. $\endgroup$
    – 0scar
    Oct 3 at 7:34

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