How to Prevent Salmon Skin on 3D Prints? (In-Depth Guide)

There is no denying that problems with print quality are inevitable in 3D printing, as there are way too many variables that need to be correct for a print to turn out entirely smooth.

Since resolving these problems quickly often comes down to having experience with these variables and their effects, we try to share our knowledge about such scenarios as frequently as possible.

Today, we will be talking about salmon skin on 3D prints, a commonly encountered issue that can drastically reduce the quality of the models you print.

So, how to prevent salmon skin on 3D prints?

Here are the things we recommend doing for preventing salmon skin:

  • Set your 3D printer on a solid surface.
  • Reduce the print speed.
  • Tighten the printer belt.
  • Use a TL Smoother.
  • Change the stepper drivers.

As preventing salmon skin depends on finding out the root cause first, we will analyze the issue in greater detail in the upcoming section and discuss the best course of action depending on the scenario.

How to Prevent (Fix) Salmon Skin on 3D Prints?

As experimenting is the best way to find out the cause of salmon skin in your 3D prints and prevent it from happening the next time, we will be sharing each of the potential solutions in this section.

We will be listing the solutions in increasing difficulty, which is why we highly recommend following them in order and running a test print after each of them to see whether the problem is still happening.

Set Your 3D Printer on a Solid Surface

The first thing you should do is checking if your 3D printer is sitting on a solid surface that moves or vibrates too easily, and if it is, move it to a different location.

To see if this is the case, observe the surface closely as your 3D printer is operating and pay attention to whether it’s vibrating or not.

If the surface your printer is sitting on is vibrating as it’s operating, there is a good chance of this being the reason behind your prints having salmon skin.

Reduce the Print Speed

Next up, you should reduce the print speed of your 3D printer, especially if it’s too high.

While the optimal print speed depends on variables such as the printer and the filament, we recommend trying a low value such as 40mm/s to see if salmon skin is still an issue.

A print speed that is too high can easily cause salmon skin by introducing unexpected vibrations, which prevents the printhead from performing smooth movements during the printing process.

Tighten the Printer Belt

The next order of business is checking the printer belt to see if it has loosened over time and tightening it if it has.

The most apparent sign of a loose printer belt is jerky movements during a print, where parts of the printer are shaking and vibrating uncontrollably during the process.

As the movements of the 3D printer entirely depend on the stepper motors and the parts that are directly attached to them, such as the printer belt, a loose printer belt can easily cause salmon skin due to the uncontrolled vibrations that come as a result.

Use a TL Smoother

If nothing so far has solved your salmon skin problem, the culprit is most likely the stepper drivers.

An issue with stepper drivers (especially with cheaper drivers, such as DRV8825 or A4988) is a common reason behind salmon skin in 3D prints. As replacing these drivers can take a lot of effort, a more convenient solution is attaching a TL smoother.

A TL smoother is an electrical component that you attach between the stepper drivers and the stepper motors, which smoothens the signal produced by the faulty stepper drivers.

When the faulty signal is smoothened, the stepper motors behave as they should, and unnecessary vibrations don’t happen anymore.

Change the Stepper Drivers

Changing the stepper drivers is a last resort solution as the steps for doing so is quite advanced.

While a TL smoother should solve most stepper driver-related issues, replacing the stepper drivers is most likely your only option if it didn’t help either.

We recommend using higher-quality stepper drivers such as TMC2208 and TMC2209 to avoid facing such issues again.

What Is Salmon Skin on 3D Prints?

Salmon skin on 3D prints is a print quality issue that prevents the printed object’s surface from being smooth as intended.

Since the surface of a 3D printed object resembles how a fillet of salmon looks due to this issue, it’s often referred to as salmon skin in the 3D printing community.

Models affected by salmon skin have an uneven and rough surface that you can both see and feel in the form of lines that run throughout the entire model.

As it completely destroys the smoothness of the model, you should aim to resolve the salmon skin issue soon as possible to achieve high-quality prints.

What Causes Salmon Skin on 3D Prints?

While various factors can cause salmon skin on 3D prints, the common point between all of these factors is vibration.

When a 3D printer vibrates in an unintended way, the printhead can’t continue the printing process smoothly, which presents itself in the form of issues such as salmon skin or ringing, where the surface of the model doesn’t come out smooth.

Both mechanical and electrical issues can cause these irregular vibrations, which we have listed below:

  • 3D printer sitting on an uneven surface.
  • Print speed is way too high.
  • The printer belt is loose.
  • There are issues with the stepper drivers.

Wrapping Up

While experiencing salmon skin on your 3D printed models can be very upsetting, it’s far from being a problem without a solution considering that you take the necessary steps for solving it.

Troubleshooting such issues is a significant part of taking up 3D printing as a hobby, so don’t worry too much about them as every 3D printing enthusiast faces similar challenges.

We hope that this guide has been helpful for you to solve your salmon skin problem in the quickest and efficient way possible.

Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions!