3D printing is a form of technology that has revolutionised the manufacturing industry, transforming it into an efficient and cost-effective endeavour. Within 3D printing, ringing, ghosting, and rippling are common terms used to describe anomalies in the final printed product. Ringing indicates print lines that are visibly too accurate compared to the rest of the structure; it is caused by minute vibrations produced by the printing nozzle’s mechanical movements during printing.
Ghosting occurs alongside ringing but appears more as bumps or flashes around a printed part; this again is due to vibration disrupting even the extrusion of material as it is laid down. Lastly, rippling is another strange phenomenon found in 3D printing; these are small waves that pass over or around the surface of a part after printing due to thermal contraction or misaligned layers.
When it comes to 3D printing, ‘ringing’ and ‘layer shifting’ are two often confusing terms. Layer shifting occurs when a model shifts in the same direction after being printed on each layer. Conversely, ringing happens when the layers shift in multiple directions as they are being printed. It’s important to differentiate these two phenomena as some causes of them are different and will require different solutions for resolution.
Additionally, visible infill sometimes arises on thicker models that have an issue with wall thickness, whereby the infill bleeds through the model allowing it to become evident.
After defining ringing (and defining what it is not), let’s discuss the three primary remedies for ringing, along with some additional suggestions to try if the problem persists.
Troubleshoot Step 1: Tight up belts & pulleys
Owning a 3D printer is an exciting experience, but it does require some maintenance to keep running smoothly. A common issue that you may encounter has to do with the belts and pulleys that move certain components of your printer. As you use your printer, the belts can become stretched or the pulleys can loosen, allowing slack into the belt loop. If this happens, your prints will suffer from ringing due to the uneven movements of parts like the printhead and print bed.
To ensure optimal performance from your printer, you can easily tighten its belts. Because the process may differ across printer models, it’s important to be familiar with instructions for your particular device. As a general rule of thumb, tighten the screws on the pulley until you can flick the belt with your finger and just see barely any bounce – tightening too much however can actually decrease their shelf life.
Some devices like the Ender 3 V2 are great because they come with integrated belt tensioners that allow you to quickly and easily adjust belts on your printer. This is a smart design feature that gives you total control over tension settings, ensuring your prints come out looking perfect. If yours doesn’t have this feature, no worries – there are plenty of 3D printable upgrades available for this purpose.
Troubleshoot Step 2: Reduce the Print Speed
The Second approach is to adjust the print speed from the slicer. A faster print speed may sound like your best bet when it comes to shortening print time, but it can actually create problems such as nozzle vibration or “ringing” on the surface of your prints. This occurs because your printhead moves too quickly and has to make sharp direction changes. To minimize ringing, you should try slowing down the print speed in your slicer settings.
It is important to note that you should not lower it too much though – try only reducing it by around 25% from the default print speed (normally around 60 mm/s for PLA). If that doesn’t help, then it may be something else causing the ghosting. If you are still thinking that it might be your speed causing the issue, however, try printing out a test model several times at reduced intervals of 5 mm/s.
Troubleshoot Step 3: Stabilize the Printer Base with Rubber Feet
Printing on a solid surface is essential for reducing vibrations. Vibrations are created when components shake and move, which can lead to decreased quality prints or inconsistent filament extrusion. Having your printer securely placed on a flat surface like a table will prevent the majority of vibration-causing issues, as well as provide support for larger prints, allowing them to be more successful.
If you’re looking to further reduce the effects of ringing on your prints, an extra form of vibration dampener can be extremely helpful. Thankfully, some newer models come with pre-installed rubber feet that help keep the printer steady on whatever surface it’s placed upon. Additionally, you’ve always had the option to go the DIY or purchase route to get a couple of these helpful components and improve your printing results due to reduced vibrations.
Though our three suggested solutions are probably your best shot at resolving any issues with ringing, it’s worth considering a few other approaches for good measure.
- Use springs that are stiff: Having loose springs can cause the build plate to move, resulting in vibration and an uneven surface. To keep your build plate correctly levelled, it is important to use stiffer springs to minimize vibrations and ensure your prints come out looking perfect. Stiffer springs will help reduce any movements caused by the levelling process, preserving stability throughout the printing process.
- Reduce acceleration and jerk values: Acceleration and jerk are integral settings for 3D printing as they control how quickly the printhead moves when speeding up or changing directions. By decreasing these values, it’s possible to make direction changes smoother which in turn decreases a common problem known as ringing.
- Tweak your design: Finally, Tweaking the design of your 3D print can significantly help to reduce “ringing,” a type of surface distortion common in 3D prints caused by vibration during printing. Ringing can be avoided by limiting the number of direction changes in your model, like deforming curves and angles, so that the layer deposition remains uninterrupted.
I am Bheema Shankar. I have worked on SLS, CJP, DLP, SLA and FDM technologies at Think3D. Currently working as Process and application engineer at VEER-O-METALS PRIVATE LIMITED. I am always fascinated by the process of creating things layer by layer. This fascination led me to pursue a career in 3D printing technology. I am passionate about how 3D works and enjoy exploring new ways to improve the 3D printing process.