While they are a relatively new technology, 3D printers have already proven their usefulness across a wide range of different industries. Of course, a 3D printer is nothing if not an investment – and it’s one that deserves to be protected.
Therefore, if you want to properly cover your 3D printer maintenance when it comes to elements like gears and belts, there are a number of important things that you’ll want to keep in mind.
Common 3D Printer Gear and Belt Issues
As is true with other types of equipment, 3D printers may begin to exhibit various problems as they age. This is particularly true when sensitive components begin to break down like gears and belts.
Some of the most common 3D printer issues to that end include but are not limited to ones like:
- 3D printed items that come out warped.
- Issues with the first layer of adhesion.
- Under or over extrusion.
- Ghosting and/or ringing during otherwise normal operation.
- Stringing, which is when lines of string are present across the finished 3D printed object.
- And more.
3D Printer Cleaning
As is true with so many other electronic components that businesses depend on, always remember that dust, dirt and other debris are enemies of your 3D printer. Therefore, you need to make a proactive effort to clean your equipment on a regular basis.
That means, at a bare minimum, dusting both the printer and its internal components. Pay particular attention to the fans that keep the equipment cool, as cobwebs and other obstructions can easily develop. If the fans have to work too hard and burn out, that could cause the entire 3D printer to operate at a temperature that is too high – thus potentially causing other issues down the road.
Take a microfiber cloth and a can of compressed air and dust those hard to reach areas of your 3D printer. This will go a long way towards helping you avoid a myriad of different issues.
3D Printer Lubricating
One of the most important ways to keep your 3D printer functioning at optimal efficiency involves keeping it well lubricated whenever possible.
As you continue to use it, your 3D printer will eventually dry up or the lubricants will be pushed out of the bearings. If you find that, after several hundred hours of normal use your 3D printer seems a little dry, you should add the appropriate lubricant as-needed.
In terms of which type of lubricant you should add and how much, it’s equally key to note that many people will offer their own unique advice to that end. Because of that, you should always follow the original manufacturer’s recommendation when it comes to establishing a proper lubrication regimen.
Check If All Components Are In Place
One pivotal tip to follow involves regularly checking to make sure that all components are in their appropriate places on the inside of the 3D printer assembly. This includes not only gears and belts but also the filament, the motors, the rods, and more. In the event that 3D printed items are coming out deformed or otherwise incorrect and all of your settings seem to be configured appropriately, this would be the first thing you should check.
Obviously, each 3D printer model will be set up in its own unique way, so you should consult the manufacturer’s original documentation for any questions.
Tighten the Gears and Belts
If you happen to hear a rattling while your 3D printer is in operation, or if you just experience other odd issues that you can’t really explain, one of the first things you should do involves checking or any loose gears and belts in the assembly. Check not just the gears, but also the nuts and bolts that hold everything together.
These types of problems can happen naturally over time, but if left unchecked they can absolutely impact filament quality.
It is especially important to me mindful with regard to tightening your 3D printer’s belts. In most models, belts are made of a TPU that is lined with glass fiber. That fiber is designed to prevent stretching, while still bending in the right ways around the pulleys to allow for normal operation.
Not unlike the timing belts in your car, these belts will require regular inspection (and replacement as necessary) to keep the entire 3D printer from experiencing problems. You’ll know if a belt is tight enough if the cartridges stick in the right way. If they don’t, release the tension in the belt slowly to the point where the machine is running properly.
If you inspect your 3D printer and find that the belt is loose, you should absolutely tighten it. If you find that you are doing this more and more frequently, or if you’re experiencing other belt-related issues, that’s a clearcut sign that the belt itself should be fully replaced as soon as you’re able to.
Let IPG Handle Your 3D Printer Gears and Belts Today!
At Illinois Pulley & Gear, we have years of experience in manufacturing high quality 3D printer components and gears for customers in a range of different industries. Our team of experts regularly offers pulleys and idlers to the manufacturers of 3D printers who depend on these items for the quality of their own finished products. Not only that, but we also manufacture idler gears, timing belts, pulleys and gears for stepper motors, and more.
Should you find that it is too difficult and/or time-consuming to do so on your own, IPG can also replace all of your 3D printer gears and belts so that you can rest easy knowing that your equipment is always functioning precisely as it should be.
If you’d like to find out more information about 3D printer gears and belts, or if you’d just like to get your next big project started without delay, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Illinois Pulley & Gear today.