3D printer prints in mid air

Print quality troubleshooting guide

Improve the quality of your 3D-printed parts. A guide on how to fix the most common problems.

3D printer is printing in mid-air

The printing process gets disrupted, the 3D printer suddenly prints in mid-air in a part of the build plate where there is no material beneath the print head.

Why is the 3D printer printing in mid-air and how to fix it

Lack of support structures

The most common cause of 3D printer printing in mid air is the lack of support structures on the 3D model. If no support is included in the slicing then overhangs might not be printed as they are supposed to – they will be printed in mid air. Add support and retry. 

In some cases, the 3D object is designed in a way that some parts of the model floats over others, and there is no support. Sometimes support can be used to achieve a good result, but in other cases the object will have to be redesigned. 

In REALvision Pro support is automatically generated based on the overhang angle, so make sure it is set correctly. 

Setting support structures

Adding support structures to your 3D object can solve the problem of printing in mid air, but there are some further adjustment related to support that you can finetune for the best result. 

You can set the overhang angle degrees, which defines the maximum allowed angle for overhangs without building support. 

Infill density of support structures is another parameter you can set. It is defined in percentages,  for example 100% will print a solid support, while 0% will not print any infill. Keep in mind that high density results in a very stable support, but it is also more difficult to remove it from your print and it will also increase the print time and material usage. 

You can read more about support structures in this article. You can find these support settings in REALvision Pro in the Printing settings/Expert level/Support structures tab.

Printing settings in REALvision Pro

You can find the Printing Settings in REALvision Pro on the left panel as shown on the image on the left. The settings are available on three levels based on the users` experience with 3D printing: Basic, Advanced and Expert. 
You can learn more in our Academy.

Incorrect bed levelling

Incorrect bed levelling can cause the 3D printer printing in mid air.
The bed is levelled correctly when the distance between the nozzle and the bed is the same all over the entire bed regardless of the position of the nozzle. If the bed leveling is incorrect the printer will either print in mid air at some points where the nozzle is too far from the print bed or will be unable to extrude filament where the bed is too close to the nozzle, as there is not enough space for the material. 

If this is the problem it is very likely that the printer will already print in mid air from the start or will not start to extrude in the beginning only after a few layers as the Z-axis changes and the bed lowers accordingly. 

Make sure the bed leveling method is set to Automatically – if your printer supports it, or level your bed manually. 

You can adjust the print bed (Z-axis) in REALvision Pro in the Printer settings/Bed leveling. 

Filament gets entangled

The filament can sometimes get entangled, and the printer cannot extrude the filament properly. If it happens, try to disentangle the filament. Make sure it is rolling off properly from the spool.  

Obstructed print head

The movement of the printer was obstructed during printing which resulted in a shift along this axis. Try to move the bed and the head manually. Check the nozzle as well. If any obstructions are found, try to remove them. If this is not possible, contact your reseller.

Enable the Avoid printed parts option in REALvision Pro to make sure the print head moves around the printed parts when repositioning between areas to decrease the chance of “bumping” into them. Go to the Printer settings/Expert level/Printing strategy/Printing Options. 

A software program to fit your needs

If you want to get quality prints without doing 3D modeling, consider adding REALvision Pro to your 3D printer kit. We promise you easy-to-use 3D slicing software in the high-end printing industry. Suppose you are:

  • A picky hobbyist with a cheap desktop 3D printer.
  • Running a 3D printing service with flawless 3D prints.
  • 3D printing metal parts for aerospace.
  • 3D printing customizable prosthetics, implants, or casts in ABS plastic (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene).
  • Rapid prototyping 3D models from design software.
  • Need help with calibration or material profiles.
  • Finding the best 3D printer for your application.
  • Exploring manufacturing processes and technology to obtain zero-waste.

In that case, we have a software plan fitting your needs.

Did you know?

FDM printing comes from the abbreviation Fused Deposition Modeling and it is also known as Fused Filament Deposition (FFD) technology, and as Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). The spool of filament is the material used to build the 3D part by melting the plastic out of the nozzle of the 3D printer. All 3D printing filament starts out in pellet form – small granules of plastic. The filaments can be made of different types of plastic. The most commonly used plastics are PLA which is Polylactic Acid and ABS which stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. Both materials have favorable mechanical properties, ABS is well known for its impact resistance, toughness, and rigidity, and is also commonly used in injection molding besides additive manufacturing. PLA is known for its low melting point, high strength, low thermal expansion, good layer adhesion, and high heat resistance. It has also become a popular material due to it being economically produced from renewable resources (bioplastics).
The printer extrudes this filament line by line, layer by layer, by increasing the z-axis, and will build the 3D printed part.