Plastic Debacles

The Scholars’ Lab has a Makerbot Replicator with dual extruders, and it’s become a Praxis Program favorite. We’ve printed musical instruments, bracelets, animals, puzzles, and even a topographic map. If you get into 3D printing, chances are pretty high you’re gonna have some failed prints. Things happen in the course of tinkering with models and print settings. Temperature fluctuations, drafts around the printer, the level of the build plate, the speed of the print, all kinds of stuff can affect the outcome. Debugging this stuff is a learning experience itself, and I find myself learning a little more each time a print gets messed up.

So here’s a gallery of our plastic debacles. Lovely, lovely debacles:

As Design Architect, I focus on front-end development, user interface, user experience, and aesthetics for Scholars' Lab projects, but I know enough programming to cause trouble for the folks in R&D. In addition to helping faculty and students on their research projects, I keep office hours and do research and teaching for our Makerspace. I'm…


  1. The teacup dragon helped me understand how the different fill densities might work. It was great to examine that a bit more upclose, but its something I hadn’t considered just investigating on its own until I got to see what it looks like in a failed print.

  2. I love that the teacup dragon failed on me at first! It’s been great for explaining to people how you can set different densities of fill (from solid to hollow). And here he is in all his glory.

  3. Love these photos! I think that wad of ABS might have been from when one of my flute sections tipped over halfway through an attempted print. The extruder just kept spitting plastic but there was nothing there for it to stick to… the horror!