There are lots of ways to troubleshoot. Below is a quick guide, and links to other troubleshooting information. We ask that suppliers check the information relating to them below is accurate. Also feel free to update or correct this page as necessary.
Note: This page is in need of a lot of work. Feel free to rearrange it to make more sense. When it's actually at a useful stage, please remove this comment. :D
In the meantime... See also: The incomplete reprap beginner's guide.
Links to troubleshooting information for reprap.org information on a specific device, part, machine, etc. Specifically, these are usually links to the community provided documentation hosted here on the wiki.
Mendel Troubleshooting - Some basic tips on troubleshooting your Mendel
Mendel/Prusa troubleshooting guide - A common problem/solution table built from experience by the SC RUG.
Skeinforge Troubleshooting - Basic troubleshooting of Skeinforge
RAMPS Troubleshooting - RAMPs troubleshooting
Shifted Layers - Shifted Layers / Offset Layers / Missed Steps
The items below are not a step by step guide to troubleshooting. In fact, they're more or less generally helpful notes, or allow you to help others help you resolve your problem.
Solving a Problem
Searching for some part of your problem on Google or using the Search function on the forum (eg: all or part of an error message) may bring up the exact problem you have, and ways to fix it. Searching this wiki is always a good start too.
If you can reproduce the problem, that is always a good start. Being able to reproduce a problem, and detailing the steps you used to reproduce it, allows someone to be able to see exactly what is going on.
When asking questions of people (in forums, irc, bugtrackers, etc), give the people as much information as you can. If it's software, which operating system you're using and what version it is helps immensely. If it's hardware, even knowing the source of the parts involved can provide vital information. Also do not ask if you can ask a question - just ask. If you're on irc and you don't get a response, wait a while and ask again, but try and expand on the original information. This way, you can refine the question you're asking each time, providing more and more information.
If you bought something pre-assembled, or in kit form, your first stop should be the supplier. Usually they have a website or forum. Failing that, they may have a dedicated section/thread on the main reprap.org forum, so check there as well. This is especially true of smaller suppliers.
Many suppliers also maintain a presence on the #reprap irc channel on Freenode, or on their own channels, and will work with you in real time to help resolve your issues. Note of course that they operate out of their own timezone, so if you're in a different one to them, please take this into account. Many normal user also hang around the irc channel, and some will take time out to help you, particularly if they have had something similar happen to them.
Often someone from your local RepRap User Group will be willing to inspect your system and help you fix any problems. Sometimes someone in your local RUG will have specialized equipment that makes it much faster to find and fix problems -- perhaps an oscilloscope, CMM, or etc.
If there is smoke, sparks, zapping sounds or you're just not sure, unplug the power FIRST, then worry about other stuff.
Connections to motors and other inductive loads (such as heater elements), should not be disconnected before first removing power. While this is not always true, it is for the majority of devices, and it avoids some of the problems caused by such issues.
- eg: Destroying stepper motor driver chips by disconnecting the stepper from the driver board.
Vibration can work connectors loose. If you suspect a problem with something connected by a cable, check the connectors are well seated and that they're making connection.
Differences between Imperial and Metric threads need to be accounted for if the thread in any way acts as a threaded drive or as a pivot point.
- eg: While 5/16" is almost 8mm, the 5/16" threaded rod has a completely different thread pitch to 8mm threaded rod. In many cases however, 5/16" smooth rod can be used as a replacement for 8mm smooth rod, as there is no thread pitch to worry about.
Some parts are available in many different variants, some of which will be unsuitable for some applications. Many designers use what they have on hand, which may differ to what your local supplier has.
- eg: Washers come in many diameters. In some applications, the larger diameter washers may rub or simply extend too far, causing problems.
Vibration will work nuts loose over time if they aren't Nylock nuts or if threadlock (like Loctite) is not used. Some nuts should not be threadlocked due to their anticipation of regular disassembly or placement. Plastic can also fracture due to vibration under load if the nuts are too tight (eg: set screws and nuts in pulley designs).
General useful links, not specifically about troubleshooting. Many relate specifically to engineering and plastic production.
How to ask smart questions - Essential guide for people new to technical fields. Simply, it's a guide on how to ask the right questions, and how to not alienate or make a nuisance of yourself in the process.
Wikipedia's Troubleshooting page - Gives a detailed overview of what Troubleshooting is all about. It also might give you an idea why sometimes finding and resolving a problem can be so difficult.
The Engineering Toolbox - Conversion tools, tables of materials information and generally a useful resource.
Wikipedia's Plastic page - Links to useful references about all sorts of plastics. A good starting point if you're trying to find out more info about plastics in general.
Suppliers and Repair Services
Links to suppliers and their support forums. Note that not all these suppliers sell true reprap parts/machines.
So ... should we use our space to advertise those guys? --Sebastien Bailard 08:25, 16 November 2010 (UTC)
Many are derivatives or look-a-likes that work in a similar manner. In some cases, the information below has been provided here to avoid constant questions about these products on the reprap forums.
Suppliers who document at RepRap
Mendel-parts - So far most support happens via email or through the reprap forums, however some documentation exists on their website.
Ultimachine - Provides support via email.
BotMill - Provides support via email.
Suppliers who, for reasons of their own, do not document at RepRap
Note to suppliers: If you provide information on the reprap wiki about your products (such as build guides, etc), please provide one page on your website that provides links to all your designs. This provides a single place for users to find all your information (easier for customers), and a single place for us to link to (making this page easier to maintain).
People/companies that repair and calibrate 3D printers. Some also repair CnC machines.