7 Common 3D Printing Mistakes You Should Avoid

7 Common 3D Printing Mistakes You Should Avoid

2023 Feb 27th

The thing about becoming a 3D printing hobbyist is that you’re likely going to make the same errors that many 3D printer owners have made before you. If you’re new to 3D printing, try to avoid these common 3D printing mistakes.

1. Incorrect Filament

One rule that many 3D printing enthusiasts learn the hard way is that the filament is not one-size-fits-all. One model may come out great using one type of filament, while another may fail midway through with the same filament.

Before you choose your filament, you should do some research. Some filaments are better for sculpting details, while others are more suited for bridges and overhangs, so consider what type your project needs. Tests and trials are a big part of 3D printing, so don’t be afraid to run some tests on your filament to see how it could hold up to the planned model before starting.

2. Tangled Filament

A more minor but undeniably frustrating problem that many 3D printer owners experience is getting their filament tangled up and ruined. Filament manufacturers often describe the filament as tangle-free, but many 3D artists know that this isn’t always true.

Once filament gets tangled in the spool, it can be a tedious and frustrating process to fix it. Typically, the best way to untangle the filament is to push the top coils out of the way, allowing the knot to come to the surface. It can be difficult and take a couple of tries, but once the knot is on the surface, it can be pulled out of the entanglement.

Pro Tip: Ensure the end is secure when storing filament, so it doesn’t become loose and tangled when not in use.

3. Not Testing the First Layer

Plenty of models seem perfect at first but fall apart midway through. The failure can be crushing for 3D printing artist, and the source of the problem can usually be tied back to an oversight on the first layer adhesion.

The adhesion may seem solid initially, but as the project continues, it can become warped or dislodged from the movement of the bed. That’s why it’s always wise to test your filament and its stability for the model before giving it the green light. Tests may seem like a waste of precious materials and time, but it’s always the better alternative to getting halfway through and starting from scratch.

4. Wrong Bed Height

One of the most common 3D printing mistakes you should avoid is overlooking the hardware. Many 3D printer owners can get so caught up in the software aspect of 3D printing that they neglect the hardware. While it may seem simple to download a 3D printing design and go from there, even the best design won’t look great if the hardware is off.

The printer bed and nozzle represent the X, Y, and Z axis of the design. No matter how precise the design is, if one or multiple axes are off, it’ll ruin the entire design. Many 3D printer beds must be leveled manually, so check each corner before starting a project. Also, double-check the gap between the bed and nozzle for the first layer, which should typically be 0.2 mm.

5. Wrong Slicer Settings

Along with the bed and nozzle height, the slicer is another key pre-printing object setting that will determine the success of a model. The slicer is the software that bridges the digital model and the 3D printed model, as it creates the instructions the printer follows.

Settings like temperature, line width, and flow rate are critical to the model’s success. If the slicer settings for a model are only slightly off, this could drastically affect the model’s appearance and structural integrity. The temperature setting is a common error for many models, so always double-check the temperature recommendations for the material before starting a project.

6. Incorrect Orientation

One of the most basic but common blunders that a 3D printer owner can make is constructing a model with the wrong orientation. Some 3D print models can’t be constructed the way they appear in the design, as there might not be enough of a contact patch for the model to stay adhered to the bed throughout the printing process.

Once it’s constructed entirely, it may be able to stand on its own, but it’ll fall apart during printing. Double-check the orientation of the 3D design before printing, as some may have to be printed upside down for a more stable foundation. If that doesn’t work, you’ll likely need to add some supports to finish the model.

7. The Staircase Problem (Layer Shift)

One of the worst fears of 3D printing is the dreaded staircase problem. When a model starts out looking fine, and then something goes wrong with the nozzle or X/Y motion, it starts to build an abstract interpretation of the model as a slanted staircase. You’ll almost definitely see a model ruined by such a mistake at some point, but it’s a good opportunity to learn what went wrong.

Often, the staircase comes from a hardware maintenance issue, such as the belts and pulleys on the printer being too loose. Or it could be an issue with the nozzle colliding with the model and disorienting it. If the staircase issue occurs in your model, assess the hardware and see if you can find the problem, as it makes for a useful learning experience.

Bonus Mistake: Not Asking for Help

The last mistake we want to warn about is the error of thinking you can do and fix everything on your own. One of the great things about 3D printing is that there’s an entire community of other 3D designers out there who have gone through the same troubles as you.

And since many 3D print designers go through the same problems, they can offer valuable first-hand insight on how to fix problems and where you went wrong. In 3D printing, the best resource you can have are other hobbyists! Consider joining a social media 3D printing group on Facebook or Reddit, or follow our experts on YouTube to learn from someone with more experience with 3D printers.


We hope our guide has been enlightening and helpful for those experiencing problems with their 3D printer. If you need new materials for your 3D printer, Fortis 3D has a wide inventory of all the essential items 3D printers need, like 3D printer bed adhesive. If you’re unsure what to get, contact our helpful staff, and we’ll point you in the right direction.

7 Common 3D Printing Mistakes You Should Avoid