3D printing: Elephantsfoot and how to remove it

Elephant foot is often found at the bottom of prints where the plastic has been pressed together on the plate, leaving a underside with a slightly larger area than the model should have had. There are some simple solutions that can quickly take care of that.

Adjust the first layer height

Many slicers have an option to start the first layer at a specific height. This can counteract elephant foot but must also be used with caution, as you should not exceed 0.3mm as your first layer might not stick to the plate. With a normal layer height of 0.2mm, the first layer height can be set to around 0.24mm which gives the plastic a little height to stand on instead of being pressed out to the sides of the nozzle.

Calibrate the plate

You can solve the problem by calibrating your build plate with a little extra space between nozzle and plate. This will also ensure that the plastic has some height to stand on instead of being pressed out to the sides of the nozzle.

If you have an auto bed leveling tool, like a BLTouch, you can get the same result by finding the "Z offset" setting in the menu on your printer. Adjusting the plate will not work in this case (if you have an auto bed leveling function), as the printer will find the zero position further down and the distance between plate and nozzle will remain same as before.

Design chamfers into your model

If you design your own parts, you can use chamfers to avoid elephantfoot causing you problems. They can be especially annoying to have on parts that need to fit together. These chamfers do not have to be large to counteract the effect of elephant foot. Just a half to a full millimeter can remove it completely.

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Published: Oct 2020, updated: Jan