Why Is One Side of My 3D Print Rough? (How to Fix It?)

We all know that 3D printing is a process where the likelihood of issues occurring is pretty high, with problems that cause the model to look displeasing, such as stringing and roughness on the model taking the crown due to how easily noticeable they are.

While the more common issues are usually straightforward to solve due to the amount of information available on them, rarer problems that the community does not have much experience with can be pretty challenging to fix, as pinpointing the source of the issue takes a lot of time and effort.

Today, we will be going into one of these more rare and specific issues in 3D printing, where while one side of the print is entirely normal and without issues, the other side ends up becoming rough and aesthetically displeasing.

So, what can cause only one side of your 3D print to become rough?

Below, we have listed the most common factors that can cause one side of your 3D print to become rough:

  • There are problems regarding the cooling fan(s).
  • The printer bed is not correctly level.
  • The belts of the 3D printer are loose.
  • The model is being exposed to drafts during the printing process.

In the upcoming sections, we will analyze the factors that can cause a 3D print’s one side to be rough in better detail, find out what we can do to fix this issue to prevent the roughness from occurring again and take a look at the signs that can help us identify and differentiate this issue from others.

Why Is One Side of My 3D Print Rough?

One side of a 3D print being rough is a tricky issue that a few distinct factors can cause, making it vital to explore each of these factors in detail to pinpoint the one causing the problem in your case.

Here are the common factors that can cause your 3D printed models to be rough on one side only, alongside detailed descriptions that explain how this problem can arise:

  • Cooling fan problems – When the cooling fan provides inconsistent airflow among different sides of the model, which could be down to numerous reasons, such as the fan’s orientation, distance to the model, or difference between the strength of the fans if you are running multiple, one side of the model can become rough due to insufficient cooling.
  • Printer bed not level – When the printer bed is not level, the 3D printer may struggle with printing the side where the distance between the model and the nozzle is not optimal, which ends up with roughness on that side of the print.
  • Loose 3D printer belts – Loose 3D printer belts will create inconsistencies in the movement of the printhead, and such discrepancies can cause only one side of the model to become rough depending on the positioning.
  • Print exposed to drafts – One side of the model being exposed to a breeze will cause the airflow to be disrupted due to the draft introducing a factor that is unaccounted for, which can cause that side to become rough.

As this list is not exhaustive, thinking about all the factors that can introduce inconsistency among the distinct sides of your models is the best way to move forward to pinpoint the problem if the culprits we have listed above aren’t causing the issue in your case.

How Can I Fix One Side of My 3D Print Being Rough?

As a few different factors can be involved in the issue of a 3D print being rough, solving the problem requires either pinpointing the one that’s causing the difficulty in your case or going through all the fixes for the possible factors.

As pinpointing the factor that’s causing the issue isn’t always easy, we have compiled a list of solutions for the most common factors that can cause one side of your 3D print to become rough:

  • Distribute the airflow evenly among distinct sides of the model. For best results, the cooling fan should be positioned in a way where it can distribute the airflow evenly across the entire model. If your setup has multiple fans, ensuring that they are of equal strength and positioned evenly is vital.
  • Level the printer bed as correctly as possible. The distance between the build plate and the nozzle should always match the thickness of a piece of paper when the nozzle is homed at the Z-axis, regardless of the printhead’s X and Y positions.
  • Tighten the belts of your 3D printer. It’s standard for the 3D printer belts to become loose with usage, and regularly tightening them to ensure that the printhead doesn’t perform any erratic movements is a good idea for the overall health of the printing process.
  • Protect your model from drafts during the 3D printing process. The two choices here are finding an environment with no drafts (no windows or doors open, preferably closed room door) or using an enclosure to ensure that the print is protected from any external airflow and temperature change.

We would highly recommend running a test print after completing any of the solutions in this list, which will allow you to find out what has been causing the issue all along and take preventative measures that will prevent the problem from happening again.

How to Identify If One Side of Your 3D Print Is Rough?

Identifying if the issue is only on one side of your print is a significant step towards finding the culprit that’s causing it and applying the appropriate fix, which makes having a good understanding of the signs to look out for a vital part of the solution process.

Finding out if only one side of your 3D print is rough is simple, as you will be able to quickly notice that all sides other than the affected side are printed smoothly and without issues, whereas the problematic side looks rough and, unlike the others in terms of quality.

As it’s possible to compare distinct sides of the model directly to each other in this scenario, the difference between the sides is hard to miss if one side is of less quality than the others. 

As the problems that can cause only one side of your prints to be rough are pretty different from those that cause all of the sides to be rough, it’s vital to observe the signs and make the correct deduction to apply the appropriate fixes.

Wrapping Up

Facing the issue of only one side of the 3D printed model becoming rough while the other side is normal can definitely be confusing if you’re experiencing such a thing for the first time, especially considering that this isn’t such a common problem.

Problems causing inconsistencies during the printing process, such as cooling fans not providing uniform airflow, a printer bed that isn’t level, loose 3D printer belts that introduce erratic movement, and environmental factors such as drafts, can easily cause a single side of the 3D printed model to be rough. 

Since the problem does not affect the entirety of the 3D printed model in this case, anything that can cause inconsistencies between distinct sides of the prints could technically be the culprit, whereas factors that affect the entire print, such as slicer settings, are unlikely to be the reason.

Happy printing!