Aug 27, 2018

3D Print Ringing / Ghosting – 3 Easy Fixes

Ghosting? Ringing? Horrifying surface finish? Check out this quick guide to find out what causes 3D print ringing, along with 3 easy fixes.

3D Print Ringing / Ghosting What is it?

A ringing test model. Source: orcinus / Thingiverse

Ringing, sometimes known as ghosting or rippling, is when lines or features on a 3D print seem to repeat themselves across the surface of the model. It’s usually quite subtle, hence the term “ghosting”, but can easily ruin the look of an otherwise excellent print. 

Usually, 3D printer ringing artifacts will be focused around sharp corners of the model, like in the picture above. 

What Causes Ringing?

Ringing is caused by vibrations. When moving parts, like the print head, change direction or speed, parts of the printer resonate, thus producing irregularities on the print’s surface.

Motion components are not perfectly stiff or precise, and any sloppiness or flexibility will translate to vibrations and inaccuracies.

Is this Ringing?

Visible infill is sometimes mistaken for ringing. 3D prints consist of solid walls surrounding a sparse infill pattern, and if the print’s walls are not solid or thick enough, the infill may show through.

This, however, is not 3D printer ringing. The key to ringing is that it takes the shape of the model, like the X in the photo above, and “ripples” out instead of being consistent. 

3D Print Ringing / Ghosting Fix #1: Tighten your Belts

Belt tensioning. Source: Ultimaker

Sloppiness in your printer’s motion system increases the chance of vibrations. This is especially true of your printer’s belts, which help move things around. If a belt is too loose, it can’t precisely move or stop another component. 

If you have 3D printer ringing, check your belts first. They should be tight, sounding a low note if plucked. If you find they’re too loose, follow your manufacturer’s instructions on how to tighten them. 

3D Print Ringing / Ghosting Fix #2: Print Slower

Print slowly to reduce ringing. Source: ExplainingComputers / YouTube

Sudden printer movements can generate violent vibrations and 3D printer ringing. The faster you print, the more sudden are direction and speed changes, translating to more severe ringing. 

If you’re getting ringing, even with tight belts, try printing slower. A long print is better than a bad one. 

3D Print Ringing / Ghosting Fix #3: Find a Solid Base

A well-supported printer. Source: Cetus3D / Kickstarter

If you want to cut down on vibrations, your 3D printer needs to be sitting on a solid surface. Be it a table or counter, the surface has to fully support the printer even during fast movements. That way, any vibrations from the printer won’t be magnified by a flimsy support structure. 

Many people also opt for “vibration dampeners” or “printer feet”, which can both help and hurt. Too soft or springy of a dampener will only worsen vibrations, just like a flimsy table will. Vibration dampeners should compress minimally, deadening movements instead of bouncing. A non-slip mat is a good choice.

As always, trust your senses: If you hear resonances or see shaking, you probably need a better base. 

3D Print Ringing / Ghosting Going Further

Cut down on machine vibrations. Source: Cetus3D / Kickstarter

Chances are, these three basic tips will help you greatly reduce, if not eliminate, any 3D printer ringing you may have. If they solve your problem, congratulations! 

For more advanced troubleshooting tips and tricks, check out our extensive 3D printing troubleshooting guide

Happy printing!

License: The text of "3D Print Ringing / Ghosting – 3 Easy Fixes" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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