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3D Printer Retraction Speed – What Does It Mean?

Picture of Tobias Hullette
by Tobias Hullette
Oct 29, 2018

3D Printer Retraction Speed – What Does It Mean?

Retraction is a great way to reduce strings or blobs on the outside of your prints. In this article, we explore what retraction is, why retraction is employed, and how retraction settings are tweaked to produce the perfect print.

3D Printer Retraction Speed What is Retraction?

The power of retraction.
The power of retraction. Source: YouTube

When the print head travels between two points, filament is notorious for oozing from the nozzle. This forms strings or blobs on your prints that are just plain annoying.

One way to eliminate this problem is to enable retraction in your slicer. This setting tells the extruder to pull a specified length of filament back into the nozzle at a specified speed. When material is temporarily retracted from the nozzle, oozing is much less likely. With the perfect retraction settings for your printer, you shouldn’t see any stringing, oozing, or even blobbing.

3D printer retraction speed is one of three main retraction settings. It determines the speed at which the extruder retracts the filament. Before discussing it any further, however, we should first take a look at retraction distance. Finally, we’ll also talk about minimum travel distance.

3D Printer Retraction Speed Retraction Distance

Retraction settings.
Retraction settings. Source: Ultimaker

3D printer retraction distance defines the length of filament to be retracted by the extruder motor. The longer this distance, the further from the nozzle the filament is pulled. If this distance is set too low, the filament will still be able to ooze from the nozzle. If set too high, the filament will be pulled too far back.

Setting retraction distance too high is a problem because the filament can take a long time to start extruding again. It may also cause clogs.

As a rule of thumb, don’t select a retraction distance greater than the length of your nozzle. Many printers use a retraction distance between 2 and 7 mm. Tweak this setting by 1-mm increments until you find the perfect distance.

3D Printer Retraction Speed Retraction Speed

Time to increase retraction speed.
Time to increase retraction speed. Source: Reddit

3D printer retraction speed is the speed with which the extruder retracts the filament. If too slow, the filament will have time to leak from the nozzle to create hairs and blobs. If too fast, there will be a delay before the material begins to extrude again.

Usually, your slicer’s default retraction speed works well. If not, tweak this setting in 5-mm/s increments until the appropriate speed is achieved.

3D Printer Retraction Speed Minimum Travel Distance

Minimum travel distance explained.
Minimum travel distance explained. Source: Ultimaker

Minimum Travel distance defines the minimum distance required to enable retraction. For example, if set to 2 mm, an extruder won’t retract filament if the print head was only traveling 1.2 mm.

If you’re struggling with strings spanning short distances, you should decrease this distance. Start with a minimum travel distance of 1 mm and adjust it by .5-mm increments until you find the perfect distance.

Make sure not to set this value too low. Doing so may cause the extruder to grind the filament through excessive pushing and pulling.

License: The text of "3D Printer Retraction Speed – What Does It Mean?" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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