If you’ve been 3D printing for a while, you may have come across a common issue called “elephant’s foot.”
This occurs when the bottom layers of your print are compressed or squished, resulting in a wider base than intended.
Elephant’s foot can cause warping, poor adhesion, and an uneven surface finish.
Fortunately, there are several ways to fix elephant’s foot and ensure that your prints are of the highest quality.
Here are some methods to fix elephant’s foot in 3D printing:
Adjust your bed level
One of the most common causes of elephant’s foot is incorrect bed levelling. If the bed is not levelled correctly, the nozzle can be too close to the bed, resulting in a squished bottom layer.
A not levelled print bed also causes a lot of problems in your 3D print, so if you want to increase your print quality, I recommend levelling it.
To fix this issue, you should re-level your bed and make sure that the nozzle is at the proper distance from the bed or if your 3D printer can, auto level the bed.
Increase the initial layer height
Another way to fix elephant’s foot is to increase the initial layer height. This can be done by adjusting the first layer settings in your slicer software.
By increasing the initial layer height, you can reduce the amount of filament extruded in the first layer, which can help prevent compression and squishing.
However, decreasing the layer height may also cause your 3D prints to not stick, so don’t raise it by too much.
I would recommend a distance of 0.25 – 0.4 mm, try to experiment with different values.
Use a raft or brim
To increase adhesion and prevent elephant’s foot, you can use either a brim or a raft.
A brim adds a thin layer of material around the outside of your model, effectively increasing the surface area of the first layer and improving adhesion.
On the other hand, a raft involves printing a small plastic plate onto the build plate before printing your model, providing a stable base for your print.
While both methods can be effective, it’s important to note that a raft uses more material than a brim and may result in a less visually appealing print.
Reduce the printing speed
Printing too fast can also cause elephant’s foot.
If your printer is moving too quickly, the material may not have enough time to cool and solidify, resulting in a squished bottom layer. To fix this issue, you should reduce the printing speed and slow down the printer’s movements.
Increase the cooling fan speed
On the other hand, if your printer is not cooling the material enough, increasing the cooling fan speed can help prevent elephant’s foot. A higher fan speed will cool the material faster, preventing it from squishing and compressing.
This is because when there isn’t enough cooling the material likes to expand outward, and therefore creating elephant’s foot.
Also make sure to be careful with turning on your fan on the very first layer as it can destroy your adhesion to the build plate. I would recommend turning it on the first 2 – 3 layers.
Use a different slicing software
If you’ve tried all the above methods and are still experiencing elephant’s foot, it may be worth trying a different slicing software.
Some slicers have better algorithms for handling bottom layers, which can help prevent elephant’s foot.
This is because every program has different code, so you will get different results on every different slicer program.
Here are some that I recommend.
- Prusa Slicer
- Ultimaker Cura
- Octo Print
Print a test object.
Before printing a large and complex model, it’s always a good idea to print a small test object to check for any issues, including elephant’s foot.
This can greatly decrease the amount of time you spend printing, and can help you save material too. However, be careful with the size difference as larger sizes may react differently than smaller sizes to certain print errors.
This will allow you to adjust your settings and fix any issues before printing your final model.
An easy way of fixing elephant’ foot is to cheat and cut off the excess material. You can do this by using a sander or some other tool to sand off the excess material.
Obviously, it may be impossible to do this on large scale prints, or simply because of the geometry of your 3D print may be too complicated or restrictive.
This is by far the easiest way to fix elephant’s foot out of the 8 listed on this blog, however it is a temporary solution as it does not actually change any printer settings.
Do you still have problems with elephant’s foot?
Click here to read about why you should enclose your 3D printer.