Once you have your printer dialed in, the temptation is to just press print and let things run.

But depending on what you are trying to print, you may have to make adjustments to the settings of your printer. When you are printing small items, for example, you may have to change the speed that you print at.

Another thing that you can do with small items is to have your printer produce a brim around the item.

brim

In your slic3r settings you can set a brim width in mm. What this does is produce a solid, one layer brim of plastic around the item that you are printing. This is often a good idea when you are printing items that don’t have a large area that is attached to the print bed. A brim will need to be trimmed off after the print is completed, but it will help your item stick more solidly and give you more successful prints.

A second setting that you can work on customizing is is the height and size of your layers.

layer heights

Also found under your slic3r settings, you can adjust both your default layer height and the height of your first layer. Putting in a smaller layer height allows your printer to extrude less plastic at one time. This leads to a finer resolution of printing. Items with a 0.1 resolution (as compared to a 0.2 for example) will take longer to print, but will have a greater resolution. Most times the height of your first layer should be larger than your default layer height. More plastic extruded for the first layer helps the print to stick more solidly to the bed. Although you can find calculators online to help you to do the exact math for your layer and first layer heights, a good rule of thumb is to add 25% to the default layer height for your first layer. Adjusting your layer height may require you to also adjust your z – axis height. A layer height of 0.2 mm will require the print head to be further from your print bed than a layer height of 0.1 mm.

Finally, your software can also generate support material and rafts for your print.

support

These two settings require some experimentation. When your printer is set to generate support material, it will add plastic in areas with large overhangs and gaps. This will support material helps the print to be much more likely to be successfully printed, but it will need to be removed after the print is completed. This can be tricky and usually requires a good pair of pliers or a Dremel tool.

A raft is a layer of plastic that is printed below the print. This allows the print to be lifted off from the print bed. Again, with prints that don’t have a lot of area to be solidly connected to the print bed printing a raft can help. It will need to be removed after the print is finished.

Complex prints take some experimentation and tinkering with settings. Keeping a spreadsheet of your settings for each type of print is the ultimate way to keep yourself organized.