3D printer reliability -making Covid stuff


Many of you are using your personal and/or team 3D printers to make stuff to help with Covid PPE efforts. It’s been several weeks of continuous use and I’m curious to the reliability and quality decrease (if any), you’re experiencing using a hobbyist/consumer, pro-sumer, and industrial grade printer.

What is the printer make and model?
What problem(s) are you experiencing after many hours of use. …or “it’s running perfectly!”
Is it easily diagnosed and repairable?
Do you need a part from the OEM? Is it available?
How long have you been down?


I’ve been running my Ender 3 pro non stop for about a month now. All I’ve been making are the ear saver headbands. The bed looks disgusting and the bottom of each print looks a little funky but other than that, no problems. I have replacement beds on the way.

OH, ONE BIG PROBLEM: quality PLA is super hard to come by right now. At least for me it is.


I’ve made a few dozen Prusa face shield but have switched over to ear savers. I’m still working so I only get a few prints a day but I’ve made about 250-300 ear savers. I’ve been very happy with my Ender 3 pro. I did have a belt come off and made a mess but no problems other than that. Also about a week ago I got my Kingroon printer from the robot shop. Now I have been running them both. Kingroon is a great little printer. We made a lot of good parts with it this year and its small enough to fit in a power cube.

FYI I have been getting my PLA from Push Plastic. They are about 20 minutes away and have good stuff. They also have a shop tour video from a few years ago.

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So I have been printing since early March now. My 4 year old CR-10 is rocking and running 24/7. 4 weeks ago I bought and waiting on shipment of a Cr-10S Pro V2 which was delivered just over a week ago and last night had a complete mechanical failure in the extruder so that one is being packed up and shipped back, luckily I bought from Amazon and they have a great return policy. I have enough PLA for some time and will keep running.

My team, along with all the teams in Livingston County Michigan, are printing in an effort together. We are printing Ear Savers, Mask Clips, Visors and Masks themselves. Most if not all the teams are all using Creality 3D Printers and while every so often people will run into a Bowden Tube here or Fitting replacement there we have all been very productive as the LCRA (Livingston County Robotics Alliance)!

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We have a Prusa Mk2s I’ve been printing on since March 23rd (with a short break last week between local requests). I’ve done 400+ face shield bands and 200+ ear savers on it. I think it has probably 25+ full days on it, but I didn’t keep good track.

Issues fixed:

  • Bed thermistor wire broke about a week in. 10 hr (with long break) to fix.
  • Heater wire broke (about 25 days in). My fault fixing another issue (below) and accidental tug. 6-8 hr fix. Also, with long break.
  • Biggest issues were 3 times the filament jammed in the extruder. 2 times it was related to printing PETG and switching back to PLA. 1 hour repair to take hot end and tube out and remove filament (unless you mess up like above).

My print bed lately is giving most issue. Normally I hadn’t used much glue, but switched to using some especially for ear savers because if one goes the batch is usually ruined. The bed already looked crummy from a bad PETG-CF print, but it will need replaced I think this summer. I have PEI sheets but never have done it, so will have to try it. I don’t know what else we may want to replace, some I expect.

Yesterday we were asked about trash prints, and I think we’ve been <2% on that (maybe only 1%). I printed maybe 8-9 perfect 10 stacks with just the brim to discard. I haven’t been pressing though, and am right around 1 shield/hour. Or 5 ear savers.

The good news is our local group applied and was granted each a printer by the Kansas Health Foundation, so I am hoping that will arrive soon. We went with Ender 5 Pros. Our group is called PPEforMC, with MC being Miami County.

Getting filament from regular vendors (Microcenter, Amazon) has been more difficult. I have been getting filament that the local libraries had. I have a Amazon order for 4 kg, that I made Wednesday but hasn’t yet shipped.

AndyMark got our new Prusa Mini about 5 days before most of us started working from home. I started printing ear savers on it, 6 at a time, around 1 month ago. We 6 about every 2 hours. With the exception of sleeping, and the occasional work related print, it has been going non-stop about 16-20 hours a day for a month. We have made over 1000 on it to date, and with the exception of some not as great filament and some minor ghosting issues due to loosened belts, it has been a beast.

As for filament, it’s a bit more expensive than Amazon, but Atomic Filament has been great, and prints almost identical to the prusament PLA that came with the Mini. They have been working 7 days a week right now trying to fulfill orders (sounds like an FRC supplier during build season) and make more PLA and PETG filament for customers. They told me a few weeks ago that they were prioritizing Black PLA and Light Grey PETG production runs for PPE stuff which is why that’s about all they have left in stock at this point.


My Qidi X-Max has been running about 6+ hours per day average for the past year and it’s been solid. No parts wear that has impacted print quality.

It’s been running close to 12 hours a day for the past couple of months with no problems at all. For the past couple of weeks, it’s been printing almost non-stop - one job after another…

It’s a tank.

– Chris Herzog - #4241 Joliet Cyborgs

Curious for those printing nearly continuously, how long does it take you to run through 1kg of filament?

300 g prints in 10 hours is ballpark.

edit: That’s 5 kg a week. Seems about right.

We’ve been running 8 F450s, 4 F900s and 10 F123 series machines 24/7 to print face shields since the end of March. The only maintenance we’ve completed is manufacturer recommended tip/head replacements and tip wipes.

Our official number printed is somewhere around 30,000.


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