Elephant’s foot is an issue that can arise when 3D printing without a raft. It comes from the fact that the first layer of the print is a slightly bigger size than all other layers, thus making it resemble an elephant’s foot. Although this issue generally goes unnoticed and doesn’t affect a print too much, it is still something to keep in mind especially if you are printing parts for applications just like assembly pieces.
This flaw occurs when the first layer of the print isn’t cooled completely before the following layers are slowly added on top. As each additional layer is placed down and heated up, the unbearable weight of the other layers and the object can cause that original layer to swell or bulge outward.
The great news is, there are some easy strategies to try and tackle this problem. With extra assistance from a bed adhesion assistant or simply by modifying the bed temperature, it’s possible for even a novice to slash the occurrence of an “elephant’s foot.” Let’s talk about some ways to keep an elephant’s foot from showing your prints.
As previously mentioned, an uncooled initial layer is the primary cause of an elephant’s foot. The first layer may not cool correctly and result in the elephant’s foot if the print bed is too hot or if there is not enough cooling.
Here are some things you can try to get rid of elephant’s foot or at least make it less noticeable:
- Level the print bed and adjust your nozzle: Before you take bigger steps in troubleshooting your prints, it is wise to check that your printing conditions are optimal. If the first layer of a print appears to be bulging out at the corners and resembling an elephant’s foot, it can be easily resolved by making sure your build plate is properly levelled, as well as adjusting the height of your nozzle via the slicer settings.
- Lower the bed temperature: Gradually lower the bed temperature by 5 °C at a time until it starts printing without bulging. If the problem still persists after lowering the temperature by more than 20 °C below the recommended setting, then chances are that something else is causing your issue.
- Print with a raft: A raft is essentially an extra layer that prints between the model and the build plate, allowing for the successful joining of the pieces in place. It provides lots of room for adjustments and works hand-in-hand with other features such as brim or spoiler base/skirt so that knocking each piece into place will no longer be an issue. I
- Add chamfers to your model: While it is possible to tweak the printer settings to reduce its effects, an even easier solution may be to adjust the model itself. Imposing a small 45° chamfer on the bottom of the printed part can drastically lessen the foot imbalance and make your prints look much better.
- Check the eccentric nut on the Z-axis: The problem of over-extrusion during the initial layers, as pointed out by some readers, is caused when the eccentric nut on the Z-axis is too tight. This can particularly be an issue in single-rod setups where the power of the motor ensures that one side of the gantry will lag behind, which ultimately leads to a squished first layer.
The elephant’s foot can be a big problem for 3D printing, but with the simple tips in this article, you can lessen its effects. Test prints are the best way to figure out the best settings for printing with your filament.
This will let you get used to the right speed and temperature for your setup, giving you more confidence when you need to print something important. Who can say? You might find the perfect place and make it your go-to. No matter what, we wish you the best and hope these tips have helped you learn something.
I am Ganesh Divte. I work as a Quality Assurance Engineer at Dhruvtara WireTech PVT LTD. I have experience in SLS, DMSL, FDM, and SLA additive manufacturing processes. I am very enthusiastic about additive manufacturing and its potential to change the way we manufacture products. I believe that Additive Manufacturing has the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing industry and make it more efficient and sustainable.