8 Epic 3D Printing Fails (and Why They Failed)

epic 3d printing fails

If at first you don’t succeed, bash your head against a wall and scream in fury. Truly epic 3D printing fails from the ALL3DP family album.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. You queue up a print job, wait several hours (perhaps days) for it to complete, and then everything falls apart in the final furlong. Like any modern technology, 3D printing brings with it a measure of ecstasy and a measure of agony.

Trawling through the ALL3DP archives, we have quite a few examples of epic 3D printing fails. Perhaps we’re guilty of exaggeration and they fall short of being 100% EPIC (in letters ten feet tall) — but the pain of failure certainly stings real enough.

We present these miserable examples here for your amusement, but also for your education. There’s a reason why each of these epic 3D printing fails occurred. Learn from our mistakes, dear reader, we humbly implore you.

3D Printing Fail #1: The Headless Rhino


What is it? This is a low-poly articulated doll. Print the pieces separately, and then assemble to make a cute desk-toy in the shape of a rhino.

What happened? We tried to save time by printing all six pieces in one go, arranging them on a single build plate and then hitting “print” like a gormless idiot. In the process of building all pieces simultaneously, layer by layer, the nozzle deposited bits of residue on each piece that made for a less than seamless assembly. The head broke off, and then we lost ours.

Where are the files? Designer Amaochan has uploaded to several repository sites, including Thingiverse.

3D Printing Fail #2: Half-Finished Piggy Bank

piggy bank

What is it? This is a piggy bank. Perhaps financial prudence is not very fashionable nowadays, but a rainy day fund in the shape of a portly swine? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY… Oh, never mind.

What happened? This print job failed not once, but twice, using two different filaments. We suspect the problem has something to do with the slicing software we used to convert the 3D model from an STL file into GCODE format.

Where are the files? Files are available as a free trial download from 3DShook.

3D Printing Fail #3: Platform Jacked


What is it? This is a piece of bona-fide engineering awesomeness. It’s a platform jack, printed as one piece and designed to unwind with a twist of the knob.

What happened? Uh, we’re not entirely sure. It seems like the filament around the central screw thread was fused, so that the mechanism snapped when twisted too hard. The orientation of the model on the build plate might also have something to do with it, but we followed the instructions pretty closely.

Where are the files? Here on Thingiverse. Makers Intentional3D have some troubleshooting advice on the instructions page, so read carefully before starting.

3D Printing Fail #4: Molten Shark Comb

shark comb

What is it? We had such grand plans for this one. A funky comb in the shape of a shark, perfect for styling your flowing locks by the beach or the pool.

What happened? It melted. The temperature on the build plate was set too high for the filament, causing the plastic to curl and warp. You can still comb your hair with it… but it will droop with the weight of defeat.

Where are the files? Downloadable from Youmagine, courtesy of designers Faberdashery.

3D Printing Fail #5: Half-Finished Soap Dish

soap dish

What is it? This was supposed to be a soap holder, with an inlaid tray in a snazzy honeycomb pattern. It worked on the second attempt, but this early reject now functions as a tray for loose change.

What happened? The print job stopped half-way, because the filament got itself snagged on the spool and couldn’t feed into the nozzle.

Where are the files? Downloadable from Thingiverse, courtesy of designers PIULab

3D Printing Fail #6: Mangled ALL3DP logo


What is it? It’s the ALL3DP logo! The red version is how it’s supposed to look, the black version is a spaghetti nightmare from a parallel dimension.

What happened? This is down to the slicing software, because we used a proprietary application that was bundled together with a 3D printer. Wouldn’t you know it, the problem disappeared once we switched over to an open source slicing tool.

Where are the files? Profuse apologies, but the 3D model of the ALL3DP logo is not available to download… yet.

3D Printing Fail #7: Hubble Bubble, Toil and Trouble


What is it? This is a complex model of the Hubble Space Telescope, released to celebrate its 25th Anniversary in space.

What happened? Alas, we took the unnecessary precaution of adding a raft layer to the print job, which threw a spanner in the works when it came to final assembly. Moral of the story is not to use rafts for multi-part print jobs.

Where are the files? Downloadable direct from the kind folks at NASA, on their dedicated 3D printing model page.

3D Printing Fail #8: Leaky Plant Pot

epic 3D printing fails

What is it? This is one our favorite models on this list, a self-watering plant pot. This is actually only one portion of the design; the rest was smashed to pieces in a fit of rage.

What happened? Well, two things. Firstly, the filament spool was snagged (again), causing the print job to break down on this portion of the model. The second thing was that we didn’t follow the slicing instructions closely enough, and the plant pot wasn’t watertight. Which is why it got thrown across the room (and out the window).

Where are the files? Downloadable from Cults3D, courtesy of design studio Parallel Goods. And honestly, it’s worth the trouble.

Sifting through these greatest hits, it becomes clear that slicing software is perhaps the most important aspect of the additive manufacturing workflow.

That, and a free-flowing spool that won’t snag your precious filament.

Also, we must learn to stop cutting corners simply to save time. Choose wisely, or choose to live in a world of tears and desolation.

Agree? Disagree? Have epic 3D printing fails of your own to share? Let us know in the comments below.