3D printers for me are often solution in search of a problem. This is especially true in the lower price bracket where often you can spend significant amounts of time and material trying to get a perfect print. But boy, they are a lot of fun.
And when it comes to wasting time, I found getting acceptable print for objects with large footprints is really a drag. And looking up what worked for others is not as straightforward as giving a recipe since setup will depend on the printer, filament, slicer, and bunch of other small variables. I will share here what works for me 90% of the time on Ender 3 Pro with MatterHackers Build PLA and using Cura as a slicer.
When it comes to Cura, I love
Standard Quality setting. While Ender 3 can perform well with the higher quality for small items, quite often printing with less than 0.2 mm extrusion is finicky and requires quite a lot of care. With 0.2 mm you won’t necessary get the best it can offer but it usually won’t cause any issues either.
Having a heated bed is pretty much mandatory for relaxed printing. I just set
Build Plate Temperature to
60 °C for PLA. There is actually some room to go higher but going too wild will often make bottom layers unevenly shrink as they cool down.
Extrusion temperature depends on the filament and every manufacturer has a preferred range. For MatterHackers Build PLA that range is 180-220 °C. I set
Printing Temperature smack in the middle to
205 °C. I set
Printing Temperature Initial Layer a bit higher to
215 °C as it really helps with the initial adhesion.
While fan is awesome I find it cools stuff way too fast at the full speed. I just set
Fan Speed to
50% and that seems to work nicely. Of course
Initial Fan Speed is left at
For bigger objects I always change
Build Plate Adhesion Type to use
Raft. While smaller objects work just fine with
Skirt, I often left large print overnight only to find them messed-up in the morning because edges started lifting off. You can also avoid this by adjusting temperature, using better surface, or some type of adhesion. However, I prefer the raft to any of those alternatives as it works even when the other settings are a bit off.
I also like to increase
Initial Layer Height to
0.4 mm as it helps with removing model from the raft but that comes at a cost of slightly rougher bottom layer. I find that a worthwhile exchange. If PLA is misbehaving and I get “stringy” bottom, I might also increase
Initial Layer Line Width to
200% but mostly I leave it at
From larger objects I expect a bit more of structural stability so I change
Infill Pattern to
Infill Density of
40%. I usually don’t go higher but, if I don’t need print to be sturdy or object is a bit smaller, I might go as low as
Some models might require supports and here I found Cura settings way too conservative. I always increase
Support Speed to
50 mm (matching my print speed) and I lower
Support Density to
10% so removal is easier. With Ender 3 Pro you can quite often go more aggressive but I found 50 mm works so well with whatever I throw at it that I don’t bother going higher.
As matter of preference I set
Combing Mode to
Off as I prefer “rougher” look of the final layer. I also set
Z Hop When Retracted as it seems to work better with thin walls.
All these settings, while not perfect for any particular print, fail me so rarely that I have them set as a default and change them only if there is something special I am going for.