How hardware quality can impact performance

3d-printer hardware plays a big role in the quality of your 3d prints. Without good hardware, you are nowhere. Doesn't matter how much you tinker and refine your slicer settings.. If your hardware isn't perfect, your prints won't be either!

Why am I writing this article?

About three or four months back I have switched to a Bondtech dual drive alike extruder. I have chosen to not buy a original bondtech because the edition I have has a shorter path between the drive gears and the nozzle. That is because the body of the extruder I use is made of aluminum. This in effect makes that housing work as a heatsink too, alot like the E3D Titan Aero. It's a mix in-between, the perks of the short filament path of a titan aero. And the dual gears of a Bondtech. Those two features make this a excellent extruder for flexible materials ( Or so I thought ).

While printing stiffer materials like PLA, PETG, ABS, ASA and HIPS just fine. I had heaps of problems printing TPU.
Results varied, but most of them turned out like the picture below.

I'd get weird artifacts like the image above. Or just random jams in general. A few days back, after wasting half a roll of filament for (trying to print) some parts for a Squirt V2 for a friend of mine I decided to open up my extruder. I wanted to see what was wrong.

This image shows what's wrong. The white piece of PTFE was the tube that constrained the filament between my heatbreak and extruder gears. This little piece of PTFE was about three millimeters too short. And that three millimeters made a lot of difference! ( That's what she said ). Because of this tube there was a cavity between the aluminum part and my extruder gears which made it impossible for me to do any retractions with flexible filaments.
Not using retraction on TPU prints is what gave me this zebra effect as filament kept heaping up layer after layer.

After changing out that piece of PTFE with some capricorn tubing which sits pretty much against the extruder gears my first 3d print looked like this:

Now this print isn't anywhere near perfect, But it looks a lot better than what my TPU prints used to look like after the extruder change.

The verdict

Make sure to double check the quality of the hardware you buy. Check if all screws are right, and if the couplings are tight. It's going to prevent alot of headaces because of unforeseen problems.

Let me know if you are running into issues, and I might be able to help you!

~ MadMike

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