@Jim Some updates to the printing.
I tried your recommendation to lubricate the steel balls. I've also updated to the new flux studio (0.2.17) with an updated slicer and recommended print settings.
The small object printed well (as below) but got the "printhead tilted" error for at least twice per print job.
I resumed with the same prints that im having issues with. The printout looked better but some rough details can still be seen. It happens always at the around the same spot.
The printhead tilted error was encountered for both the laser engraver and the printing toolhead. I also noticed when the toolhead moves to a certain position, theres some unusual noise (somewhat like resistance) when it moves.