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Pillowing issues


jetfire158

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Posted · Pillowing issues

I used the same gcodes last year to print these 2-color pins with a single extruder (Qidi X-Plus). They turned out great then. But now, with the same printer, same PLA spools, same slicer (Cura), same extruder I'm getting all these pillowing issues. I've tried all the usual fixes: increasing top layers, adding top surface skin layers, slowing the print down, increasing infill density, even increasing layer height doesn't get it as smooth as it was last year (top right in the picture, you can see it's less lumpy but still not completely smooth). I tried using a brand new spool in case the filament was the issue. Nothing works. The only thing I can think of is maybe the build platform is warped? But how would that cause this? Anyone have any ideas? Please help!

20231006_190100.jpg

XP_Jedi_PLA_34mmx1_original2022.3mf

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    Posted (edited) · Pillowing issues

    I can't see what print settings you're using, since the 3mf file uses a printer I don't have a definition for (and therefore I can't get quality presets for).

     

    Try using a different infill pattern. Cubic is the default, and works in most circumstances, but IIRC Quarter Cubic and Octet create even smaller pockets of air, although they do require longer bridges at the top (which shouldn't be a problem for something this small). I think Quarter Cubic is supposed to be a bit better for things only a few millimetres tall (and obviously as a general rule, the more infill, the better).

     

    Me though? I'd take the lazy option. Make the whole thing solid. It's not like it uses much filament. Set the infill density to 100% and it should print every layer using the pattern set for top/bottom layers.

    Edited by Slashee_the_Cow
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    Posted · Pillowing issues

    I did try using concentric, and that made it marginally better...but still not as perfect as they were before. I could try quarter cubic. 

     

    I did consider that...it's just that, I would really rather not. Because I want to mass produce these, and making the infill 100% would vastly increase the amount of material and time required. 

     

    Any ideas on how the same gcodes, material, and equipment a year later wouldn't work as well any more?

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    Posted · Pillowing issues
    1 minute ago, jetfire158 said:

    I did try using concentric, and that made it marginally better

    That won't so much reduce pillowing as making it more even across the print. Pillowing is generally caused by vertical air pockets forming on the inside and then pushing up against the roof. Concentric just makes your air pockets align with the shape of the model better.

     

    Cubic and the patterns similar to it create cubes and/or tetrahedra (depending on pattern) which will close off each possible pocket. But in a model this thin, it will only make a difference at higher infill densities. Not enough infill and there's not enough room for the shapes to form. Using the standard quality presets in Cura, I tried setting the infill to Quarter Cubic at 60% and any potential air pockets were pretty small (at the cost of about 25% more filament though; entirely solid is about 50% more).

     

    12 minutes ago, jetfire158 said:

    Any ideas on how the same gcodes, material, and equipment a year later wouldn't work as well any more?

    - State of the equipment: has it been sitting idle for a year and need a little TLC to get back into top shape?

     

    - Material: I think we can eliminate this one in your case. PLA doesn't care greatly what you do with it... within reason. I've pulled spools of PLA out of drawers they'd been in for years (and I didn't realise they were in there) and they printed straight away. Also you tested with a new spool. It's possible the quality of the material itself is low (I've had crap PLA actually ruin a printer to the point of needing to be replaced entirely) but this probably isn't the case.

     

    - Environmental conditions. It might not matter too much with PLA (it isn't hygroscopic and doesn't mind temperatures, again within reason) but it could be affecting the printer. If the ambient air pressure is higher, there could be more air getting trapped inside the print, which will then pillow as it tries to make its way out). The ambient temperature can also have an effect (once you get a few layers off a heated build plate, anyway), it will change how long the filament takes to set and therefore how long air has a chance to push against top layers. I have a tent for my printer to make sure the whole area stays nice and warm while it's printing. If you have a tent (or a printer with an enclosure) try leaving your print in there a little bit after it finishes just to make sure the filament has a chance to fully set. As for humidity, other than PLA not really absorbing it, my meteorological knowledge doesn't quite stem far enough to know what effect it might have.

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    Posted · Pillowing issues
    9 minutes ago, Slashee_the_Cow said:

    State of the equipment: has it been sitting idle for a year and need a little TLC to get back into top shape?

     

    Not idle for the entire year, no. But it had been while since the last time I printed something. Maybe several months. What would you recommend?

     

    11 minutes ago, Slashee_the_Cow said:

    Environmental conditions. It might not matter too much with PLA (it isn't hygroscopic and doesn't mind temperatures, again within reason) but it could be affecting the printer. If the ambient air pressure is higher, there could be more air getting trapped inside the print, which will then pillow as it tries to make its way out). The ambient temperature can also have an effect (once you get a few layers off a heated build plate, anyway), it will change how long the filament takes to set and therefore how long air has a chance to push against top layers. I have a tent for my printer to make sure the whole area stays nice and warm while it's printing. If you have a tent (or a printer with an enclosure) try leaving your print in there a little bit after it finishes just to make sure the filament has a chance to fully set. As for humidity, other than PLA not really absorbing it, my meteorological knowledge doesn't quite stem far enough to know what effect it might have.

    I think I can rule this out because the printer is still located in the same spot it was last time I used these gcodes. 

     

    In the process of giving quarter cubic a try at 25% see what it does.

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    Posted · Pillowing issues
    1 minute ago, jetfire158 said:

    Not idle for the entire year, no. But it had been while since the last time I printed something. Maybe several months. What would you recommend?

    I'm not an expert here, but I would just get in there and move bits around (print head, platform, Z axis gantry, whatever you have) to make sure that everything is still moving smoothly (but not loosely) and tighten/loosen stuff if needed. In my experience, belts especially can lose some tension over time, so you might have to tighten those - the best explanation I've heard for how tight they should be is "like a guitar string" - taut enough the hold its shape when you don't touch it, but loose enough than you can pluck it a little and it just goes right back into place.

     

    6 minutes ago, jetfire158 said:

    I think I can rule this out because the printer is still located in the same spot it was last time I used these gcodes.

    I'm more talking about the weather in general (which gets into your house, to wherever the printer is - although I would keep it out of direct sunlight in general, FWIW). I don't know where you are but here it is a lot hotter and drier than it was this time last year - last year we were getting floods, now we're getting fires.

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    Posted (edited) · Pillowing issues

    Okay. 60% infill with 10 top surface layers and quarter cubic pattern seems to have eliminated the pillowing issue. However, now the top design seems to be under-extruding or something. 

     

    Scan - 2023-10-06 23_37_59.pdf

    Edited by jetfire158
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    Posted · Pillowing issues

    Are you using the 3mf file you posted in that other thread? If you're using a 0.4mm nozzle (the most common size) with a 0.1mm layer depth you're reaching the very limits of what that size of nozzle can do. The best thing you can do is probably to try increasing the material flow (I see you only have it set at 95% to begin with). You might need to go a bit over 100% (I'd try 105% and 110% myself if 100% didn't cut it).

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    Posted (edited) · Pillowing issues

    No, it is a different file because that other thread is for a different printer. I uploaded the one I'm using for this in the original post. Well, the odd thing is that if you look at the print on the right in the photo at the beginning of the thread, the top design looked great. But the base had pillows. That was with 20% infill and grid pattern. But now changing to 60% and quarter cubic makes the top design under extrude? What's going on here?

    Edited by jetfire158
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    Posted · Pillowing issues
    26 minutes ago, jetfire158 said:

    is that if you look at the print on the right in the photo at the beginning of the thread, the top design looked great. But the base had pillows

    The base had pillows? If you're printing straight onto the build plate, that's a pretty impressive feat, as far as I'm aware. Make sure your build plate is clean, properly levelled and your Z offset is correctly calibrated (other than that it's the usual "make sure you have enough bottom layers" sort of stuff, although I usually increase the flow of the initial layer to 105% to aid with adhesion).

     

    Or if you'd rather try and work with the top having problems, my ideas factory is beginning to run dry.

    Something that might take a little work (depending on how you have things set up) is to separate the base from the detailing on top into individual model files then load both into Cura, and move the detailing to be on top of the base (it's easy if for example you set both of them to 0, 0 and then you just have to raise the detailing so that it sits directly on top of the base). Then select the detailing and open the Per Model settings (it's the button in the sidebar that looks sorta like four squares).

    image.thumb.png.0904a5a2e4a91880374c14aad980dfd1.png

    If you click "select settings" you can choose what settings should be different for that part (for this demo screenshot I just picked a couple of things and changed them to something random - pick your own settings). About the only things you can't do differently are layers (they all have to be the same height and such)... although come to think of it lowering the line width - but not that much, as a general rule, don't go below 60% of the nozzle diameter, Cura will warn you if you try anything less than 0.26mm on a .4mm nozzle - and increasing the number of walls probably would help the details print. You could also increase the flow for just the details part.

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    Posted (edited) · Pillowing issues

    Well I increased the flow rate to 105% and that seemed to help quite a bit actually. Still getting some stringing and stuff that I wasn't getting yesterday. But I also remembered that I used a different (newer) extruder for the print I referenced in the photo. So I think tomorrow I'll try switching the extruder again and using the new infill settings on that one instead. 

    Edited by jetfire158
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    Posted · Pillowing issues
    2 hours ago, jetfire158 said:

    Still getting some stringing and stuff that I wasn't getting yesterday.

    Stringing is a sign of overextrusion, so maybe turn it down a little bit. Like a lot of things in 3D printing, it can take some fine tuning.

     

    On the bright side, on a model that small, the fine tuning doesn't cost you too much. Not that it's a competition (unless you want it to be) but I've done smaller:

    image.thumb.jpeg.88a399e09cc9f905f10d41142700fd59.jpeg

    The fine tuning I learned from that: getting thirty individual 10mm diameter x 0.8mm high discs off a print bed is painful. Literally. Took me a couple of hours. Drew some blood from the fingers I was using to support my lifter rubbing against the bed. The fine tuning resulted in this (no photo, sorry):

    image.thumb.png.69f24805ca8a4df09a451e04e007f204.png

     

    +10 internet points to whoever's first with the correct answer for what I'm making such tiny discs for. Competition not open to anyone I've already told. Free hint: I'm not playing poker with mice.

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    Posted · Pillowing issues
    14 hours ago, Slashee_the_Cow said:

    +10 internet points to whoever's first with the correct answer for what I'm making such tiny discs for. Competition not open to anyone I've already told. Free hint: I'm not playing poker with mice.

    Prop coins? XD

     

    Well, I changed back to the newer extruder that I used earlier to produce that print I was telling you about in the photo. The stringing went away and so did the under-extrusion. However it now seems to be having trouble going back to the same spot again. Though that did happen intermittently last year printing a couple hundred of these. So it could just be a fluke. You can still very barely see little pillows with this one though. Going to try increasing top surface layers and see if that does anything if not I guess I could just increase the infill to 70%. 

     

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    Posted (edited) · Pillowing issues

    I did figure out one other thing that could have changed in the past year: did you update your printer's firmware? I've seen at least a couple of threads on here about how someone's print quality has gone seriously downhill after they did that.

     

    If I may share the wisdom of the great @GregValiant:  

    On 8/21/2023 at 12:50 AM, GregValiant said:

    Rule  #4:

    "Never upgrade an operating system" - Me

     

    Also:

    19 minutes ago, jetfire158 said:

    Prop coins? XD

    No, but you do get unlimited guesses. Also now I have an idea for stuff to shoot with my macro lens (I've got some shiny silver filament I could use), so thanks.

    Edited by Slashee_the_Cow
    added bit about guess
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    Posted (edited) · Pillowing issues
    2 hours ago, Slashee_the_Cow said:

    I did figure out one other thing that could have changed in the past year: did you update your printer's firmware? I've seen at least a couple of threads on here about how someone's print quality has gone seriously downhill after they did that.

    Ohhhh, dang! That's right! I did....Qidi told me to update it. Ugh, now I really regret that! I can't believe i didn't think of that. Now I'm really annoyed that their after service support didn't bring that up when I asked them for help about this. In fact it was the same person who told me to update the firmware. Wow....never again. Never again.

     

    2 hours ago, Slashee_the_Cow said:

    No, but you do get unlimited guesses.

    Umm...is it a part for something? Another machine? A cosplay? Something for a photo shoot since you mentioned a macro lens and being into photography?

     

    2 hours ago, Slashee_the_Cow said:

    Also now I have an idea for stuff to shoot with my macro lens (I've got some shiny silver filament I could use), so thanks.

    You're welcome. Glad you benefited from this too! In spite of my ugly photo. XD

     

    Also, did just try the print again and it worked just fine. So yeah, just a fluke or maybe I accidentally bumped the extruder a little bit. Added 2 more top layers, and the pillows are completely gone. So yay. Problem solved. Thanks for your help!

    Edited by jetfire158
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    Posted · Pillowing issues
    1 hour ago, jetfire158 said:

    So yay. Problem solved. Thanks for your help!

    No problemo. Makes me happy when someone has a good outcome (it's why I stick around here... I like to help people, but my ways of doing so are limited, but this is one of them).

     

    1 hour ago, jetfire158 said:

    Umm...is it a part for something? Another machine? A cosplay? Something for a photo shoot since you mentioned a macro lens and being into photography?

    Nope, nope, nope and nope. I'll message you the answer so you don't die wondering.

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    Posted · Pillowing issues

    "...used the same gcodes last year to print these ... But now, with the same printer, same PLA spools,"

     

    There is a very large chance the the "pillowing" is a result of wet filament.  When the Infill gets covered with a solid layer the trapped steam pushes up the thin "roof".  Additional skins on top can push them back down.

    In extreme cases that first layer will erupt and there will be holes with tiny jagged edges at each cavity in the infill.

     

    You can dry the filament.  Some folks have had success just cranking up the bed of their printer to 55-60° and laying the filament roll down on it for 3 or 4 hours.  I got a break as my kitchen oven has a "de-hydrate" setting that allows for lower temperatures.

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    Posted · Pillowing issues
    24 minutes ago, GregValiant said:

    You can dry the filament.  Some folks have had success just cranking up the bed of their printer to 55-60° and laying the filament roll down on it for 3 or 4 hours.  I got a break as my kitchen oven has a "de-hydrate" setting that allows for lower temperatures.

    Great, now I feel like a sucker for buying a filament dryer. Although I'm hoping you read all the first post, where they said they tried new filament just in case. That being said, as I said earlier, PLA is pretty damn forgiving and not really hygroscopic, I've pulled out years old (I'm talking like easily 6+) spools of PLA and they've printed fine, first try.

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    Posted · Pillowing issues

    I opened a brand new sealed bag of Sunlu filament and there were little steam explosions everywhere.  I ended up throwing it away.  It can and does happen.

    Rule #13a - Never say never.

    Rule #13b - Never say always.

    And Murphy was an optimist.

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    Posted · Pillowing issues
    26 minutes ago, GregValiant said:

    Rule #13a - Never say never.

    Rule #13b - Never say always.

    That's why I usually stick to "usually". Or sometimes "sometimes", depending on frequency.

    Although I beg to differ with rule #13b a little bit: I feel pretty confident when I say "a (2D) printer will always develop at least one fault in its lifetime"

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