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3D Printing TPU

3D Printing TPU

Printing TPU is one of the trickiest things to master in the 3D printing world.

The key 3 factors that affect a good print are as follows.

  1. Temperature: Getting the perfect printing temperature is essential to the quality of your print. Make sure that you tune this first when you run your first test prints. We'll cover how to later.

  2. Speed: Nice and slow does it, as a baseline, try starting with 20mm/s at the fastest, and working down until you get good quality prints. 

  3. Retraction: If too high, you will have a clog definitely, try to minimise as much as possible. Retraction on rigid filaments work because the rigid filament can be controllably retracted whereas the TPU stretches whilst it retracts, leading to it balling up when it eventually does retract, causing a clog. 

Another factor affecting your prints, once above is tuned is hydration. TPU is an unusual filament in how quickly it absorbs water, this water severely impacts how well it prints.  Attack this last as you likely won't notice it till then.

Now we've been through the key factors, here's our top tips for dialling them in.

Dialling in Temperature

We recommend starting at 250C. This will help whilst you tune speed & retraction, before you come back to this.

Once you've tuned your speed and retraction, if you are still having slight stringing, reduce the temperature, or if you want your prints to be slightly crisper in appearance, try reducing this, as much as you can get away with. 

Beware it may alter the colour of the TPU however.

Dialling in Speed

Starting at a baseline of 20mm/s, we recommend printing our TPU Tuning Print to get your teeth into it.

Dialling in Retraction

You want to keep retraction down as much as possible. There are two distinct selections here. If you have direct drive or bowden. If you're unsure, see our blog post about the differences.

Direct Drive: As it's more sensitive, try 1-1.5mm of retraction with 25-30mm/s of speed.

Bowden: Retraction should be dialled back as a starting point to somewhere around 5mm. Following that, retraction speed should also be slowed, we found 25mm is a good starting point.

Still having issues?

If after these, you still get a bit of stringing, best first to address hydration (see below) then come back here. 

  • If you have too much stringing, try slow down your retraction speed further.
  • If you have clogging, reduce your retraction distance. Do this until you are getting good quality prints, whereby most of the stringing is gone.
  • If after all this stringing persists, it is likely that your speed is too high when you are printing, or temperature too high.

Now you've tuned your retraction, feel free to go back and visit your Speed to see if you can speed it up slightly, you may need to increase temperature just slightly if you increase speed.

Fine Tunings

Now that you've been through the above, we hope you are having some great first successes, the final finishing touches is to look at hydration, whilst there is a lot of hype about your TPU having issues if wet, we haven't typically found it affects us until the final stages, where it will really affect the colour of the print and final surface quality.

We advise using a moisture gauge or trying out drying your filament. There are two good ways of drying your filament.

  1. Using a dry box
  2. Using your oven and gently heating to around 65C for about 4 hours.

Our Slicer Profiles

As your trusted go-to place for 3D printing knowledge, we have you covered with starting slicing profiles for TPU.

We also have our overall advise for Bowden and Direct Drive Settings below. These are generic and will vary slightly printer to printer, hopefully this should give you a good starting point, especially if you are Ender 3 Based or similar.

Bowden

Temperature: 225C Nozzle, 60C Bed.

Layer Height: 0.2mm

Print Jerk: 10

Print Acceleration: 300

Wall Acceleration: 300

Initial Speed: 10mm/s

Print Speed: 25mm/s

Retraction distance: 5mm

Retraction Speed: 25mm/s

Direct Drive

Temperature: 225C Nozzle, 60C Bed.

Layer Height: 0.2mm

Print Jerk: 8

Print Acceleration: 250

Wall Acceleration: 250

Initial Speed: 8mm/s

Print Speed: 25mm/s

Retraction distance: 1mm

Retraction Speed: 30mm/s

 

 

Thank you for reading, and we hope you have happy printing! 

We would love to hear your successes, please tag us in your Facebook, Insta or TikToks!