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Which Are Most Common 3D Printing Problems?

01. 02. 2021.

3D printing is amazing and no doubt 3D printer produce incredible models. However, there are those frustrating moments when unexpected challenges come up making printing unsuccessful. Some of these problems do not cause immediate alteration to the printing process and therefore not quick to note. This article outlines some of the most common troubleshoots faced by 3D printers and probable solutions to the issues.

#1 Pillowing

Pillowing is indicated by the appearance of even holes or bumps on the top surface of the print. The problem is as a result of improper cooling or the thickness of the top surface could be insufficient. The problem can be solved by increasing the speed of the cooling fans when printing the top surface. If not solved, try increasing the thickness of the top surfaces.

#2 Skewed Prints / Leaning/ Shifted Layers

This issue is characterized by a shift of layers towards Z-direction during printing. This could be because the printing speed is too fast or due to a mechanical fault i.e. there are loose pulleys on the X and Y rods or there is a problem with the flexibility of the head. 


  • Lower the printing speed
  • Ensure the pulleys are tightened and if there is friction on the pulleys, it should be adjusted.
  • Check to see if the distance between the pulleys and the sliding blocks is the same on both sides by moving the head to the right and left sides of the printer. In case of misalignment, jolt the sliding block bit by bit until the alignment is achieved. Do this for the two pulleys and ensure you tighten the screws that may have been loosened during the adjustment.

Missing Layers

The printed object appears to have gaps as a result of some layers having been skipped either partly or completely, known as under-extrusion. The printer may have failed to supply the amount of plastic needed for printing. It could also be a problem with the filament, feeder wheel, filament pool or clogged nozzle. 


  • In the case of a clogged nozzle, unblock it with a needle
  • Under-extrusion can be solved by measuring filament diameter and changing filament extrusion multiplier to compensate for the fly. If the temperature is too low, increase it. 

#4: Elephant Foot

The model shows a bulge at the bottom or near the print bed. It can be caused by overweight of the other parts of the print especially when the lower part did not have enough time to cool. It could also occur if the bed is not level or first layer height is too low.


  • Ensure the bed is level and move the nozzle a little further from the bed.
  • Balance the height adjustment with the quality of the first layer.
  • Adjust the extrusion rate of the first layer and for the personally created model, design a chamfer at the bottom of the model.

#5 Warping or corner lifting

Warping is when the model bends upwards such that it is not level with the print bed. This may result in cracks on the upper part of the design. This is a common problem in 3D printing and happens if the first layers of the model cool down too fast and begin to contract to cause bending of edges upwards.


  • Level bed.
  • Use glue to increase the adhesion of the first layer to the bed.
  • Ensure the print bed is heated to maintain the plastic at a temperature slightly below the solidifying temperature also known as the ‘glass transition temperature’. 


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