Why is there a line around my 3D print?

Ever wondered why before diving straight into the main print, your 3D printer sketches a broader outline? For newbies, this can appear a tad puzzling. So, as Carolina, someone who’s hopelessly in love with all things tech, I embarked on this journey to demystify why 3D printers sketch this intriguing outline.


What’s the reason behind 3D printers crafting an outline? The purpose of this outline, fondly named a skirt, is primarily to prep and prime the nozzle, ensuring it’s set for a seamless 3D printing experience. At times, there might be a minor clog in the nozzle. Drawing the skirt can help in dislodging this obstruction, ensuring that your first layer emerges crisp and lays a sturdy foundation.

But wait, there’s more you’d want to learn about these skirts and how to fine-tune them in your printer’s settings.

Why Does a Skirt Matter in 3D Printing?

1. Crafting an Impeccable First Layer
Picture this: You scribble on a scrap paper before pouring your heart onto your diary, right? Similarly, initiating a print with a single-layer skirt ensures a flawless flow of the material, setting the stage for the subsequent layers. That first layer is crucial. Perfect it, and you’re on a smoother path to achieving an impeccable print. Your printer channels plastic filament through a heated nozzle, and building the required pressure for a uniform extrusion can take a moment. And sometimes, you might observe a tiny plastic glob – remnants from your previous print. It’s best if this blob finds its way out through the skirt, not while your key first layer is being crafted. Furthermore, the skirt offers a sneak peek into how perfectly your bed is aligned, and whether the nozzle is making the right contact for a robust first layer.

2. Assessing Your Printer’s Performance
The skirt doesn’t just prep your nozzle; it’s a tell-tale sign of your printer’s health. If after the initial skirt layers things seem off, it’s a signal that maybe your printer settings need a revisit – be it the printing temperature, nozzle cleaning, or bed leveling. The skirt’s a time-saver, flagging potential issues even before they can mar your main print. Especially when you’re switching materials or colors, any residual can be purged out through the skirt, ensuring only the desired material gets into the final object.

3. Using Skirt as a Shield

An often-overlooked advantage, but the skirt doubles as a protective barrier against ambient factors. It can shield your print from sudden temperature fluctuations, aiding in curbing surface warping. If your printing environment isn’t encased and occasionally suffers from external disturbances, a skirt can be your print’s knight in shining armor.

How to Integrate a Skirt in Your 3D Prints?
The method varies based on the slicing software you employ, but universally, it’s a straightforward process. Taking Cura slicer as an example:

– Navigate to print settings, usually at the top right.
– Dive into the ‘Build Plate Adhesion’ section and unfold its options.
– Opt for ‘Skirt’ in the ‘Build Plate Adhesion Type’.
– Specify the number of skirts you desire in the ‘Skirt Line Count’. Zero disables it, so always go for at least one.

Often, STL files sourced from platforms like Thingiverse might already have skirt configurations. Still, it’s a good habit to double-check.

What If I Skip the Skirt?
You might think, Why bother? and consider skipping the skirt. But remember, while you might save a smidgen of filament initially, a compromised first layer can lead to wastage in the longer run. Given the manifold advantages of a skirt, it’s prudent to retain it in your 3D printing adventures. If you’ve read this far, I trust you appreciate the pivotal role of a skirt in the 3D printing realm!