First let me say that this story does have a happy ending, unlike many of my printer stories. As you can see from the pics above a simple test cube to check flow (info here and here) and horizontal expansion on a new PLA I was trying, did not go so well. I had been having some issues with print quality on the Ender3 for a couple weeks, but it was good enough for the prototype stuff I was using it for, but now I need to actually print something nice and quality matters. The test print has several problems including bumps on the sides for no apparent reason and a very weird looking pattern on the base which just looks sloppy. I first swapped the nozzle and did not get much improvement, so I bit the bullet and went over the X-gantry again (has been a long time since I had to), and also tightened up all the wheels and cleaned the extrusions they ride on with a microfiber rag. That did the trick and below you can see a before (right) and after (left). I'm not gonna say that there is no more room for improvement since with printers there always is, but for this project this will do.
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