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I'm fairly new to 3D printing but I'm getting the steam up and I chug out pieces without much hassle. One thing though is that I have the impression that sometimes, parts are easily broken, and I suspect bad adhesion between layers.

I'm printing eSun PLA at 208 °C (212 °C first layer), bed at 50 °C first layer then 30 °C.

When I print the Benchy boat, it feels extremely sturdy (even the small chimney is unbreakable by hand), but if I make, say, a 50 mm diameter cylinder with 4 mm wall thickness, It breaks fairly easy along some layer. I don't see any specific error, it "looks" okay.

So my question is:

How do you assure that you print layers that bond enough?

[Edit] I already know that might actually cause bad bonding (low heat, underextrusion, ...) but I'm looking for a way to see when it happens.

Here is an image from when I stopped mid print (you can see the little ooze string just at the start at the crack) for checking dimensions. The next layer didn't bond well because, I guess, the already printed part had cooled down when I un-paused the print (say 1 minute later) or maybe the z-axis went off a bit when I touched the build plate.

Sorry for the bad quality, I forced a screwdriver in the crack for visibility

Is the only way of knowing layers bonded correctly, to try to break the part apart?

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  • $\begingroup$ You should get good adhesion at those temperatures. What speeds and layer height are you using. Also, what is the nozzle diameter (if not 0.4mm)? $\endgroup$ – Mick Nov 15 '17 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Mick 0.4nozzle and 0.3mm layers, low speeds (50-60mm/s max, around half for any tricky details). $\endgroup$ – Valmond Nov 16 '17 at 8:42
  • $\begingroup$ Although it is possible to print at 75% of the nozzle width, I would suggest that you try a 0.2mm layer height. $\endgroup$ – Mick Nov 16 '17 at 8:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Mick Will try! $\endgroup$ – Valmond Nov 17 '17 at 8:42
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I think the reason why the large cylinder is breaking much easier than the smokestack would is because of leverage. If you print the same cylinder at a much smaller scale it might be more difficult to break it. Think of taking a wooden stick, if you try to snap it by holding both hands near the center, it would be difficult but if you push on the very ends, the leverage will make it easier to snap. I have the tug boat on my desk right now and I was unable to snap it, instead I broke the cabin section just right above the steering wheel.

Now to answer your question. One of the faults in larger prints having weak layer adhesion could be a number of things. I think a common fault is under extrusion. If the nozzle has a high enough gap from the previous layer and it extrudes just enough filament to touch the layer but not necessarily push it snug, it could be a weak bond. This is like tape, usually when you want to make sure it will stay stuck, you press hard and rub it in. So I imagine filament shouldn't loosely flow onto layers but instead be pressed hard against the previous layers. Visually this is hard to judge but I noticed getting my first layer very close to the print bed makes every other layer stick very stronger on the previous one. You get a small skirt on the first layer but it does tend to give me a stronger bond between layers. You can easily slice off the skirt with a blade. Increasing the extrusion multiplier could give the same affect without needing to adjust bed height/leveling, but this can end up giving you some nasty walls.

Another thing I recommend is to check your Z-axis. This is difficult to measure and best to find out by print quality on tall structures. On my first printer I had the issue where my threaded Z-rods would bind and cause one of the two rods to get a slight bit ahead. This caused a layer split focused on the side opposite of the faulty rod. This made many prints very prone to breaking at that point. I had to rebuild my Z-axis assembly to correct this.

Print temperature can help, try raising it up by 5 to see if this improves the bonding.

Lastly, try another filament. Filament tends to go bad due to moisture exposure, that is why usually you receive it airtight with a small bag of silica to absorb moisture. If I use filament which has been sitting out for months, just squeezing my part separates the layers in almost a slinky kind of way.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the lengthy and well informed post, but I still don't know How I'll assess that the layers actually stick well together, without destructive testing... $\endgroup$ – Valmond Nov 17 '17 at 8:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Valmond Oh sorry I completely missed the question. I took it as "What can I do to increase layer bonding". To answer your question, You can't unless you measure the amount of force needed to destroy the print or by visually inspecting it. By the picture you provided I see many small gaps every 5-15 layers and I can assess that those are your weak points. Your best bet is to fine tune your printer and/or settings and test the parts destruction. If your confident in their strength, using PETG and other stronger filaments should give you a clear head on how strong your prints will come out. $\endgroup$ – Athanasios Karagiannis Nov 17 '17 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ I'll inspect those small gaps and I sure didn't formulate my question extremely well. If you add your last comment to your answer I'll accept it as an answer: you can't actually do it always / visual inspection / destructive tests. And thanks! $\endgroup$ – Valmond Nov 18 '17 at 10:39
  • $\begingroup$ I think it's not possible and just overextruding (a little bit), squash that first layer correctly and bomp the temp are the things to actually do to make the best out of it. My PLA is now unbreakable ^^ $\endgroup$ – Valmond Jan 10 '18 at 13:40
  • $\begingroup$ I bought a used Monoprice 15710 yesterday. First thing out I went for, the little whistle. The layers would fall apart while printing. I could see by everything you wrote I was OK, but maybe for the head temperature. I raised it from 200 to 220. The whistle came out strong and about as perfect as it gets, and it works! Thanks. $\endgroup$ – lakeweb Oct 15 at 15:52
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No matter what you do, the adhesion between layers will never be as strong as the adhesion in the direction of layer application. It's analogous to a wooden baseball bat (for those old enough to remember them :-) ). If you apply force perpendicular to the "grain," i.e. growth layers, it's strong. If you apply force along the grain, it'll snap pretty easily.
Now, if you print a cylinder vertically, it snaps between layers. If you print it horizontally, the layers run along the cylinder axis and it won't break. That's of course a much more difficult print with extrusion systems, and cosmetically less desirable as well.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes but the Benchy boats smoke stack is literally unbreakable by hand, and it's printed as a cylinder too. And it's smaller. Love woodworking (and remember old wooden bats, both the flat and the round ones :-) and orientation strength works for paper too, much easier to rip in one way than the other. $\endgroup$ – Valmond Nov 15 '17 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Valmond Are you sure the smokestack is printed exactly vertically? Did you check the wall thickness, infill, etc? $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Nov 15 '17 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Valmond Are you using a part-cooling fan? If so, try turning it off. $\endgroup$ – Mick Nov 15 '17 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft I think so, and I use the same parameters for all my prints. $\endgroup$ – Valmond Nov 16 '17 at 8:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Mick Not yet a cooling fan on my build :-) $\endgroup$ – Valmond Nov 16 '17 at 8:41
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From my experience the most profound difference is in the material. Especially with eSun PLA that I have used over 10 spools I have found huge inconsistencies. In one spool the printing adhesion was fine on other spools it was very very bad. My first advise is try another branded filament, I would recomend Colorfabb, Polymaker and Formfutura for PLAs. Secondly if you want to use the eSUN try higher temperatures, go above 210 or even 220.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I did exactly that (and I use eSun), starting off at 214 then 212 works great. I also extrude slightly more and the extruder was a 0.05mm to high... $\endgroup$ – Valmond Jan 10 '18 at 13:39
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(Note: I realize this question is old, but I came across it looking for information on related topics and it didn't seem to have any sufficiently good answers yet.)

To me, this looks exactly like what I'd expect printing with layers almost as thick as the nozzle diameter and insufficient hotend temperature or excessive speed. I've had problems like this at sizes 0.3 to 1/3 mm using an 0.4 mm nozzle even at my usual PLA temperature of 210, and can imagine it would be much worse at lower temperatures. If you didn't see the problem on benchy with a smaller cylinder, it's probably either because acceleration limits (which will be dominant on small details) prevented reaching high speeds, or (less likely in my opinion) because the deposited material had not had as much time to cool before the next layer was reached.

In order for layers to bond the newly deposited material needs to be pressed against the material already present, while melted, with sufficient heat transferred into the already-deposited material to make it amenable to bonding (naively I would guess this means it needs to reach around the glass transition temp, but that may be wrong). With layer thickness near the nozzle diameter, the nozzle will be putting less pressure on the existing material, making this harder. Also, if there has been underextrusion anywhere in the supporting wall below, the already-deposited material can simply compress downward into the gaps when new material is extruded against it, rather than them getting pressed together.

For 0.3 mm layers, I'd go with the highest temperature the filament manufacturer rates it for, or even slightly higher if you have reason to believe the material is okay at higher temperatures. Some people say lowering the fan speed or turning it off is an option, but I've had really bad results with precision and/or stringing whenever I try that.

Significantly lowering the print speed is also an option. That will greatly reduce the chance of underextrusion, and results in more heat transfer from the nozzle into already-deposited material. However lowering the speed generally defeats the purpose of 0.3 mm layers; you could instead just drop down to 0.25 mm or 0.2 mm and get much better quality at the same total print time.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks! I actually "solved" the issue (not the issue knowing if there is layer adhesion, but it now sticks well) by upping the temp to 220°. Slight over extrusion also helps but it messes with the dimensions of the items so I'm 'sticking' with he high temp fix. $\endgroup$ – Valmond May 27 '19 at 14:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Valmond: Thanks for replying. Nice to know my suggestions roughly matched what worked for you. $\endgroup$ – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE May 27 '19 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Valmond upvotes for terrible puns! $\endgroup$ – kaelle Jun 11 '19 at 21:39

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