Print is Distorted

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You want every print to turn out perfectly, and we do too. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes your print doesn’t turn out as expected or is distorted. For example, shapes are squished or the print has shifted. To create smooth prints without distortion, your Glowforge needs to have belts with the right level of tension, undamaged wheels and pulleys, and clean belts. 
 
Here are a few things you can check to identify and resolve the source of the trouble. We recommend trying each of these in order, and after each one, try a test print to see if the problem is fixed. 
 
Distorted_print_1.gif

 

Check the tension of the belts

To properly move the parts of your printer, the belts on each side of the bed of your Glowforge and the belt under the laser arm should fit snugly around the pulleys. To check the tension, press on one side and make sure the other side doesn’t move. However, the side belt shouldn’t be so tight that it restricts movement of the carriage plate or laser arm.
  1. Turn off your Glowforge.
  2. Open the lid, lower the front door, and then remove the crumb tray.
  3. Using both hands, gently move the laser arm to the center of the bed.
  4. With the laser arm pushed all the way in the back of the printer, press each side belt on the top.
  5. If you see any sagging or if it feels loose, adjust the side belt tension until it matches the tension in the image below. (It may take a few tries to adjust it to the proper tension.) 

    check_tension_1.gif

  6. Next, you’ll need to look at the belt underneath the laser tube (called the carriage plate belt), the one that moves the carriage plate under the printer head from side to side. To check the belt tension, make sure the front door of the printer is still lowered, and make sure the printer head is all the way to the left. The belt is the black rubber piece directly under the metal laser arm.

    belt_under_laser.png

  7. The belt should be straight across with no curve or twists, like in the preceding image. If the carriage plate belt seems loose, you may need to adjust the tension.To adjust the tension, follow the steps in Adjust the Carriage Plate Belt Tension.
  8. Try a test print to see if this fixed the problem. If so, hooray! If not, move on to the next section.

Check for any damaged wheels or pulleys

If your print looks like it may have encountered a bump in the road, something may not be moving smoothly. After checking the belts, the next thing to check are the wheels and pulleys.

  1. Turn off your Glowforge.
  2. First we are going to inspect the v-wheels on the sides of your laser arm. If you look to the left and right of the laser arm, you’ll see a small wheel on top of the metal side rail. On each side of the laser arm there are two v-wheels that ride on the top of the rail, and one underneath. (This image shows the top wheel on one side.)

    vwheel_w_arrow.png

  3. Using both hands to hold the metal under the laser tube, gently move the laser arm all the way to the front and then to the back of the printer. It should move smoothly without any points of resistance or bumping. If you notice any damage to these wheels such as cracks of missing pieces, take a photo and contact Glowforge Support for your next step.
  4. Next, you’ll inspect the carriage plate v-wheels for cracks. To check the v-wheels of the carriage plate, you’ll need to first remove the carriage plate from the laser arm. Follow these steps: 
      1. Take the belt off of the laser arm by placing your thumb between the belt and the laser arm near the pulley. Now, push down on the belt while sliding the belt to the right towards the pulley. The belt will slide off of the pulley.

        belt_closeup_step_4a.png

      2. Next, place your thumbs on the top of the front wheels of the carriage plate. Support the base of the carriage plate and gently pull it towards you.
      3. Once the front wheels clear the laser arm, gently pull the carriage plate downwards and to the back and it will detach from the laser arm.

        remove_carriage_plate.png

  5. Check to make sure the v-wheels are intact and undamaged by closely inspecting the carriage plate wheels from the top for any cracks or other damage. The surface of each wheel should be smooth and round.

    under_carriage_plate.png
  6. Closely inspect the sides of all four wheels for cracks or any other damage.

    side_of_carriage_plate.png

    If you notice anything that looks damaged, send a photo to Glowforge Support and we can help with replacement parts.
  7. Look below the laser arm at the pulley on the right side. This is the pulley that holds the tension of the belt. The pulley should be smooth with no cracks with the top flush against the bottom of the laser arm. If you see the metal bearing of the pulley between the black plastic and the laser arm then the pulley should be replaced.

    laser_arm_pulley_step_7.gif

  8. Try a test print to see if this fixed the problem. If so, hooray! If not, move on to the next section.

Check and clean the belts 

As you print, residue from smoke and fumes can build up on the surfaces in your printer. If there is too much build-up on the belts or pulleys, it can cause trouble such as the belt slipping. 
 
If you have a large amount of build-up on the belts, we recommend cleaning them. Here’s how:
 
  1. Turn off your Glowforge.
  2. Holding the cloth away from your printer, spray a lint-free cloth with isopropyl alcohol. (Never spray liquid on or in your Glowforge printer.)

    spray_clean.jpg

  3. Use the moistened cloth to gently clean residue off of the side belts.
  4. To clean the carriage plate belt, first remove the carriage plate (see step four in the section above - Check for any damaged wheels or pulleys).
  5. Use the moistened cloth to gently clean residue off of the carriage plate belt.
  6. Wait for your printer to dry completely before reinstalling the carriage plate and turning it back on.
If you found any damage to the parts you inspected, they likely need to be replaced. If so, we can help. Contact Glowforge Support and send photos and a brief description of the issue. We will verify the problem and give you next steps for replacing the needed part. 
 
Visit our website to shop for spare parts
 
 
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