Metal 3D printing failure modes

Following all the guidelines of Metal FFF and applying frequent maintenance should result in a reliable 3D printing experience. This article describes potential failure modes and how to avoid or solve them.

In this article

  1. Incompatible or unable to select the material
  2. Clogged print cores
  3. Grinding of the filament and debris in the feeder
  4. Distortions of your metal 3D print
  5. Insufficient build plate adhesion
  6. Unable to remove the print from the build plate

1. Incompatible or unable to select the material

It is important to run the latest Ultimaker Cura and firmware version on your 3D printer. Metal 3D printing is supported with firmware 7.0.4 and up and Ultimaker Cura 5.1 and up. Ensure to download the latest versions before starting your 3D printing workflow. For reliability reasons, Metal printing should be performed with an Ultimaker S5 with an Air Manager.

Caution: The Metal Expansion Kit should not be used in combination with the Material Station, more information on this topic can be found here.

2. Clogged print cores

Metal filaments can clog the print core, especially when frequently switching to different types of materials. The firmware triggers the cleaning wizard when a high temperature material was used before a metal print. Generally, we always recommend to first clean the print core before starting your metal print

3. Grinding of filament and debris in the feeder

The very stiff and abrasive metal filament and support layer can cause grinding in the feeder. Therefore, it is very important to adjust the feeder tension before your metal print. When you encounter grinding of the filament, make sure to clean your feeder following our instructions. For reliable metal printing, we recommend to use the fine knurl feeders.

4. Distortions of your metal 3D print

During the debinding and sintering, the metal part can distort resulting in incorrect dimensions. Please follow the design guidelines for metal 3D printing to avoid this from happening and follow the course on the Ultimaker Academy. More information can be found in guidelines from BASF.

5. Insufficient build plate adhesion

Metal printing makes use of a specialized build plate adhesive: the Magigoo Pro Metal stick. Ensure to apply this to the complete build area, including the prime tower.

6. Unable to remove the print from the build plate

In contrast to printing with other materials, the print should not be removed with force or applying a spatula. Instead, the print should be immersed in water using the glue release tray and patiently wait until the print comes loose. More information can be found on this page.

 

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