Need help with printing parts (total beginner)

Hi all,

Embarking on this journey now, and started with one of the feet pieces. Now, I spent a lot of time researching print settings and followed them as best I could and actually leaned towards a slower print for a better result, but there seems to be a lot of problems with it. Visually its not that great, but physically it creaks if you squeeze it, and I’m certain if I put enough pressure on it it would splinter. There’s really not a good bind between layers.

I’m using an Ender 3. With PLA and a. 0.4mm nozzle.

Print Settings:
Layer height - 0.2mm
top/bottom/outline layers = 4
Infill = 55%
Infill pattern = triangular
external fill = Rectilinear
Temp = bed = 60’, nozzle = 200
Speed = 3000 mm/min

I think I included all the critical settings there, but if I’ve missed something let me know.

Here’s how it came out ( ~ 4 hour print) - Edit: I’m only allowed to upload one photo as a new user. So, hopefully this one shows enough detail.
I can upload a whole lot more somewhere else and link, not sure if thats allowed.

What am I doing wrong? Any guidance would be really appreciated. Happy to pour hours into test prints if you can help me get these going like solid shapes! Very new to 3d printing.


Holy smokes! The good news is that your settings are fine. I do most of my printing in that neighborhood, also on an ender 3. First place to start is checking that your machine is in good shape, because you got to the end and it looks like your print stayed put, so you’re winning with the first layer!
Check that your belts aren’t loose, extruder and lever aren’t loose or cracked (mine cracked on the bottom where I couldn’t see it).
After that make sure the extruder is calibrated. Then you should be in pretty good shape. If you need some resources, there are a ton. I can point you to my favorites if you can’t find any you like.
After that, make another print and see how it goes. You can probably get pretty far with small cubes, save some plastic and time plus have known dimensions to measure.



I recommend raising the temperature to 212ºC, it will make the adhesion between layers firmer.

What laminating software do you use? I have profiles for Cura and Simplify3d that are working very well for me. I have the same printer, and nozzle diameter.



I have the same printer and have just finished printing my PLA.

I found the following made significant differences for me:

  1. PLA temperature. I have some stuff that looks OK at 190C but the eSun I’m using now looks good at 225C and 50C bed temperature.

  2. Your speed seems OK. I have mine at 50mm/sec though I start at 40mm/sec.

  3. My extruder spring (thats the one that holds the brass wheel against the little bearing wheel on the gantry behind the hot end, benefitted from putting a small washer underneath it to tighten it.

  4. Do a temperature tower as already suggested and see what it all looks like. Try from 190 to 225C.

  5. Try a different PLA. I found that black PLA is different to other colour PLA from the same manufacturer. I eventually standardised on eSun PLA+, not because it’s the best but because it worked for me. I found mixing and matching PLA a nightmare.

  6. Also try the little model that Ender provide as gcode and see what that looks like. Mine came out brilliantly.

Your Ender 3 will produce good prints, though the initial setup is key.


1 Like

All of the above is good information. However, since I was in a very similar boat to you 6 months ago, let me provide the information pretending only to have read your original post (i.e. there will be similar advice here to what may have been mentioned).

I am certainly no expert, but I would agree that print you posted is so so. I was lucky and got good luck out of the box. I provide some core ideas below.

One more thing before the list. Generally, I am impatient. This is probably true of many things, but particular to 3D printing and perhaps using and building the MPCNC I re-learnt that impatience is your enemy.

Having said that, this is my version of the “I have no time for the B.S., just tell me the minimal amount I need to know to be successful and not sugar coated”.

#1 Level your bed
I found this video to help me along along with links in the descriptions. I found initial layers and general layer consistency to improve.

#2 Print a heat tower
This is a pain in the ass and is boring. However, you have to do it to find out the best config for your PLA. There are many videos on this but this same guy has a couple good links.

#3 Settings
I used CURA. I actually found that the MPCNC parts printed very good for me. When I started trying other things unrelated to the MPCNC, I actually had more trouble.

  • Layer Height: 0.26mm
  • Infill: 55%
  • Infill Pattern: Cubic
  • Temps: 60 Bed / 190 Nozzle - These worked find for me however I would be inclined to agree that slightly hotter may help. Heat tower should help.
  • Initial Temps: CURA allows the initial layers to run hotter. I went 65/200 for better bed adhesion.
  • Print Speed: 35 mm/s
  • Infill Speed: 45mm/s
  • Initial Layer Speed: 10 mm/s
  • Skirt: Yes
  • Other: Once I got my printer calibrated, I did not need rafts or blue tape for printing.

#4 - Settings Comments

  • Apparently .26mm is some arrived at by some calculation that is optimal (still strong) in relation to nozzle wdith.
  • Personally, I think you might be printing a little fast.
  • My initial layer speed is very slow.

I would be interested to see your results after changes because I had no idea how to 3D print and that all worked for me.

Thank you! The belt seems to be ok and I can’t see any visible cracks. I’ll look up on checking the belt tension just to be sure.
I’m assuming when you say to calibrate the extruder, you mean a temperature tower that some others have recommended?

Hey! I’ll try the temperature change.
I’m using S3D, I’d love to have a look at your profiles for that if you wouldn’t mind!

1 Like

Steps per mm. Stock, the ender doesn’t have eeprom enabled so once you find a good value you’ll have to put it in the start code block that’s saved in the cura printer settings.
Every time I’ve seen somebody report on fixing this for ender 3,it’s been under extruding, which could help explain your layers not sticking together.
Like others have said, a lot of people print with settings similar to yours, which is why I’m more suspicious of your machine setup than your profile.
If you’ve messed with any other profile settings, though, might not be a bad idea to delete all the profiles and start fresh. They’re are a lot of obscure settings that have non-obvious results.
I think somebody mentioned the print that comes with the ender. It’s a little dog, presliced. Should be in the SD card that came with it, but you can find it online if you deleted the thing or the SD card failed already (not uncommon). You don’t have to print the whole thing, but the first half inch or so will be enough to tell you if you’ve boogered up some slicer settings. If it comes out looking great, you know you have. If not, you know it’s the machine setup.

This test helped a lot!

I think that might be it. I did the test linked above and the squares are absolutely perfect, except that the lines aren’t touching in the middle. Raising the bed lead to the nozzle touching it, so I looked and in s3d the extrusion multiplier was set to 90%. So I’m running a test with 100 now.

1 Like

After doing a few hundred leveling tests… I’ve determined the heated plate is higher in the middle. Going to go see if I can get some glass cut and try that!

Of course, I hope you find them useful:!AjcmonhnxsUl3k0XVDmm6BGb9uy2?e=gTufOX

Short update. After determining the middle of the plate wasn’t level with the corners, I’ve ordered a glass plate. In the meantime I’m in the process of flashing the Marlin firmware so I can get mesh leveling. This has been a process because I can’t find any of my Arduinos, but I have loads of Pis, found some instructions for that and proceeding with flashing the firmware now. Had to drill out one of the bolts because it was thread-bare and the allen key just spun in place. Many hours spent just trying to get access to the board, but its there now finally.

I’ll let you know how the level tests prints go after this, and then after that, I’ll do a temp tower and we can pick it back up…

Not sure, but I thought Ender3’s came with a Melzie board that doesn’t have a bootloader, so flashing the firmware isn’t straight forward as usual, and i believe the memory is small also.

True. I just graduated mine this week. There is a config example for the ender 3, seems to work ok, but it IS tight. Like 98 or 99 percent tight. Worth it for the thermal runaway, though. Oh yeah, and being able to save my calibration data in the eeprom because cura likes to wipe out my starting gcode when I update it :rage:

Yep, step 1 was to flash the bootloader to it by wiring the raspberry pi in. Then after that you can just connect it to a USB to your computer running Arduino IDE and put firmware on that way.
What they don’t cover in the guides -
-Printer shouldn’t be powered flashing the firmware, USB cable to your pc is enough
-USB cable matters. I had 5 Micro USB lying around and only one of them would register the printer as a com port on my computer.

Guide I followed was ( I can’t paste links) but if you go to the Ender3 subreddit and search for the post “Bootloader + Firmware upgrade (RPi & Arduino)” . Just incase anyone finds this post, that process was easy.

So, now bed is leveled with mesh leveling, much more consistent results. But still not perfect on the first layer, I think the under extrusion is probably a clogged nozzle. Cleaning it helped a bit but not completely. Going to swap out the nozzle now.

i was going to say its a partial clog

Also i had my first experience with ultra cheap PLA and i had issues so don’t shop on price

And if you are nozzle shopping then go 0.6mm

As its a big difference in print speeds

You can get a mirror/glass plate from a hardware store and use it to print on. I shimmed it with foil to make it as flat as possible. The ender 3 base is often warped, I’ve heard. Watch out with the PETG, sometimes it drips pieces of glass with it, because of the strong adhesion. Painters tape works great in those cases. Cutting the plate can be a hassle, buy a couple, so that you have one to practice on.

That photo looks like it was printed without a part cooling fan. PLA likes to have a fan blow on it when it’s printing.

1 Like