Getting Started with Protopasta
And for spooled filament, never leave the end loose! When opening a new spool, carefully remove the plastic wrap to expose the end. Once the end is exposed, hold it to avoid tucking under another strand of filament. Tuck it away in the cardboard spool's corrugation (like above) when not in the printer extruder.
Avoid sharp bends and excessive force when handling filament. Most Protopasta is stiff and not meant to bend much before break. Make sure to avoid sharp bends and do not force the filament.
Filament from most manufacturers is delivered in a sealed bag with desiccant. While this is the industry standard, it does not guarantee “dry” filament because all bags are permeable to moisture. When working with PLA/PETG it is generally more important to have consistent conditions than a specific level of dryness. I print most filaments at room conditions and recommend leaving it out of the bag for 24 hours before using it to prevent the results from changing as you print.
Given filament with a stable moisture content, you can set a temperature where the filament melts without oozing excessively during a no flow condition and print for a good visual result with good settings and setup. This is typically at the low end of the suggested temperature range.
Drying can allow higher temperature printing without stringing and improved mechanical properties, but not without trade-offs. Once drying, you'll want to keep the material dry as filament can reabsorb moisture in a matter of hours. During this reabsorption time, you'll have a changing moisture condition that can lead to process inconsistency.
If drying, do not dry above glass transition temperature. This can heat treat HTPLA and for filament with particles (much of Protopasta), this can make them more brittle and difficult to print without breaking. For PLA, dry below 50 C (125 F) and for PETG, dry below 65 C (150 F).
Dry if you like, but do so with caution, and know that you can likely get a good result without drying with good settings and setup. More on that next.
Prints, Settings, and Setup
Note the spool edge guard in the above photo. This print is great for testing your printer's limits as well as gaining a smooth guide with edge rollers like on the Bambu Labs AMS. Protopasta cardboard spools work with Bambu Labs 3D printers. Here's a blog on the topic.
This is one of several quick prints for a better printing experience. We make reliable filament, but reliable printing depends on many other variables like your hardware, settings, setup, adjustments, maintenance, and knowledge/understanding
Machine(s): Prusa MK2/3, Prusa Mini, Creality Ender 3, etc.
Nozzle: 0.4 mm brass or plated brass w/ heater block sock
Nozzle Temp: 195-225 C (PLA/HTPLA) | 210-230 C (PETG)
Bed Temp: 50-60 C (PLA/HTPLA) | 70-80 C (PETG)
Bed Prep: Clean; Magigoo for adhesion + easy release when cool
|Layer height||Ext width||Speed||Fan|
|1st Layer||0.22 mm||0.44 mm||20-30 mm/s||0%|
|Rest of print||0.22 mm||0.44 mm||
20-30 mm/s outline
up to 40 mm/s infill
All 3D printers benefit from a calibrated first layer that is not too close to the build platform. Leaving enough room for material to come out without restriction, yet still close enough to stick, is key for more trouble-free printing. Try Magigoo if you need help sticking. Also beware of nozzles made from restrictive geometries and/or low thermal conducting materials.
To modify settings for a 0.6 mm nozzle, you can increase extrusion width to slightly greater than 0.60 mm (0.64 mm for example). Note that increasing nozzle size (and thus extrusion width) also increases volume flow for the same speed and layer thickness.
With a 0.4 mm nozzle, 0.44 mm x 0.22 mm x 20 mm/s = 1.9 cu mm/s
With a 0.4 mm nozzle, 0.44 mm x 0.22 mm x 30 mm/s = 2.9 cu mm/s
With a 0.6 mm nozzle, 0.64 mm x 0.22 mm x 20 mm/s = 2.8 cu mm/s
Changing only the nozzle size (and extrusion width) increase volume rate and can take the printing process to a more reliable minimum and average volume rate. Careful because a larger nozzle can also more quickly take the process beyond a maximum volume rate that exceeds your process limits.
In short, mind your volume rate (all settings really) and make test prints to measure the result in controlled, known conditions. Then be sure to maintain these conditions. Learn your printer's behavior and limits with prints like this single wall one found on Printables. For more quick prints for a better printing experience, consider the PDF slide show shared earlier.
While matching hardware with process and material for a positive experience is not always straight-forward, Protopasta can work for you! Qualify, manage, and maintain your process with known hardware, settings, and materials. Be careful when changing variables. Please consider this PDF for a better printing experience.
Need more help? Consider typical pitfalls and fixes below.
- Too high or too low volume flow rate
- Inaccurate flow (check extrusion width)
- Excessive nozzle cooling from layer fan
- Poor assembly or adjustment of components
- Internal hardware hang-ups
- Excessive retraction and/or short movements
- Too small/tight tubing
- Excessively moist filament
- PTFE position adjustment or replacement
- Nozzle position adjustment or replacement
- Heatbreak replacement
- Changing layer fan speed
- Installing heater block sock
- Changing temperature
- Managing volume flow
- Adjusting drive gear tension
- Bowden tube coupling/replacement
- Spool mounting position/conditions
- Replacing tubing
- Drying fialment
We visited Joel and ended up with a helpful video on the subject.