Before printing anything real, it is useful to run some calibration prints.
Common calibration prints are cubes and lattice work:
NOTE: it may take you a few tries before you can even successfully print a full part. In my case, I didn’t first calibrate the extruder, so my prints failed with way too much plastic:
See this blog post for steps to calibrate the extruder. After fixing the STEPS_PER_MM for the extruder and Z axis, my next calibration print looked like this:
In this case, my tolerances are fine for large parts, but the detail isn’t so great, and there is a stepping problem in the X-axis:
This looked due to the belt being too loose, so I tighten up the tensioner on it, and things are looking better, but I have yet to run another full calibration print.
Filament Keeps Jamming
My first real printer parts were large, and I wasn’t able to get through a complete print without the extruder jamming. After much digging online, my problem sounded like a tension issue with the filament. So I tightened up the hose clamp significantly, and now I’m printing jam free. So make sure you have enough tension on yours!
Low Quality Prints For Small Objects
Things have been printing well so far, but all of a sudden my quality went way down:
What happened? It turns out that because I was only printing two really small parts, not enough time had passed between the extruder returning to the same place twice. Basically each layer printed so quickly, the plastic didn’t have enough time to cool down before the next layer was applied. There are two solutions you can implement to solve this. You can either add a fan and setup slic3r to turn it on (I’m about to do this as it seems like the preferred way). Or as a quick workaround, you can add a pause between each layer in slicer. Check out this reprap post for details on adding a pause.