You’ve just bought your 3D printer, opened the box, and connected it to your computer; now what? Before diving into all the cool things, you can print on your brand-new printer, ensure you’ve appropriately calibrated it! Calibrating 3D printer may seem unnecessary, but it will save you lots of time and frustration in the long run. Follow these five easy steps to calibrate your 3D printer correctly.
What To Expect In This Article
- 1 Step 1: Level Your Bed
- 2 Step 2: Zero Your Extruder
- 3 Step 3: Adjust Your Extrusion Multiplier
- 4 Step 4: Adjust Your Temperature Settings
- 5 Step 5: Calibrate Your Printer Again
- 6 Calculating Steps Per mm
- 7 Calibrating Cura Steps
- 7.1 Buy an accurate, high-quality filament.
- 7.2 Always follow a strict Cool Down procedure when loading new filaments on your 3D printer.
- 7.3 Use both digital calipers and micrometers to measure filament diameter.
- 7.4 Make sure that your nozzle tip size matches what’s advertised for that specific type of filament (usually measured in mm).
- 7.5 Check out online forums for help!
- 8 Calibrating A New Filament
- 9 Calculating The Flow Rate Of A 3D Printer
- 10 Final Words
Step 1: Level Your Bed
If your printer has a heated bed (which almost all of them do), it’s essential to ensure that it is completely level. If any spots on your bed are raised higher than others, your prints will become deformed and be hard to print on. The first step to calibrating a printer is ensuring that its bed is adequately leveled.
To level your bed, follow these steps:
First, place four small pieces of paper or card stock under each corner of your bed with double-sided tape.
Then, run a single-extrusion calibration test at 50% infill in Slic3r or whatever slicer software you use and check if one layer is squished up while another is too low. Check both ends of your printer because sometimes it can have slightly different issues depending on which direction it’s printing from.
Repeat until each piece of paper fits flat against the platform but does not stick up over any edges by more than 1mm.
After leveling my bed, you can print much better-quality parts!
Step 2: Zero Your Extruder
This is a critical step that often gets skipped, but you can save yourself a lot of headaches down the road if you do it. Basically, what needs to happen here is that you need to get your nozzle to press against your bed right at 0 and then make sure it doesn’t move.
This ensures that your first layer will always be precisely in place every time, but it’s more than that. It ensures that your extruder isn’t applying too much or too little pressure anywhere and even extrusion everywhere. If you get lazy about doing step 2, you may notice issues in other areas of your print later. So please pay special attention to Step 2!
Step 3: Adjust Your Extrusion Multiplier
This simple calculation is a great way to fine-tune your print to look as good as possible. Use Prusa3d’s guide to explain how you can set your extrusion multiplier correctly. What does it do? It basically allows you to manually increase or decrease what gets printed after every layer of your model. In other words, if too much plastic is being used during a specific area of your print, we can dial that down and use less material without messing up our model.
If there isn’t enough plastic being used in another area, we can add some more layers so that it will be filled in more and therefore look better. The best part about using software like Simplify3D is that it takes care of these calculations and automatically adjusts our multipliers, so we don’t have to worry about them. But when using Slic3r, which doesn’t have built-in support for changing these multipliers, it becomes essential to know how they work!
Step 4: Adjust Your Temperature Settings
Proper temperature control is an integral part of getting a good print. If your printer is printing too hot, then you will notice that your extruder head may come loose from its attachment point. The object that your printer makes will have many thin layers, and if it’s printing at a higher temperature, there won’t be enough time for each layer to cool down properly before going onto another layer. The result will be fragile pieces of plastic that can crumble or break off very quickly.
On the other hand, if your printer is printing too cold, you will notice that your extruder head stays firmly attached but will still not move as fast as it should. This could lead to uneven layers of plastic and gaps in between them. To fix these problems, first check that your thermistor readings are in range (or if you don’t have one installed yet, use a ruler). Then adjust your temperature settings accordingly until they are all within range and close together on the thermistor graph. Once everything looks good on that front, try running another test print! You can also try adjusting your hot end fan speed to see if that helps with any issues.
Step 5: Calibrate Your Printer Again
You’ll want to ensure that any variables that change throughout your troubleshooting process remain constant. So, you should re-calibrate your printer after replacing parts or making other changes. In most cases, you can print a calibration cube again, but in some cases where multiple steps were taken to troubleshoot a problem, it’s a good idea to go back to Step 1 and re-do everything. The exact instructions for calibrating your 3D printer when you first started will apply now. Follow them again to ensure everything is set up correctly and ready for print quality work.
If you still see issues with your prints, consider asking someone else to look at them or hiring a professional if necessary. There are many benefits of using an expert for help with problems like these; not only do they have experience fixing 3D printers and know what to look for when diagnosing issues, but they may also be able to provide recommendations on how to fix problems like yours in future models of printers (if one exists).
Remember: Don’t feel bad about paying someone else to fix something you don’t know how to repair! It’s better than having a broken machine that isn’t doing anything productive.
It would be best if you also learned from your mistakes to avoid repeating them in future prints.
Calculating Steps Per mm
It’s essential to calibrate your printer in inches or millimeters. To do so, you will need a metal ruler and calipers to measure how many steps it takes for your printer head to make one mm of travel. If you use a metal measuring tape, divide its length by 1,000 and add 0.001mm (0.00004in) for good measure.
Multiply that number by your total distance traveled on your print bed to determine how many steps it takes for one millimeter of movement. This is known as counting steps per mm in technical terms and is crucial for getting smooth, high-quality prints with no gaps or holes in thin layers of plastic extruded from your printer head.
For example, if you want your printer to move 10mm in the X-axis direction and 20mm in the Y-axis direction, then you would have 20000 steps on X-axis and 4000 steps on Y-axis, which translates into 20000/1000=20steps/mm & 4000/1000=4steps/mm respectively.
Using these numbers, we can easily calculate our total number of steps required: 20*20000+40*4000 = 800000.
These numbers are just examples; be sure to change them based on what fits best for your setup.
Calibrating Cura Steps
While you could spend hours getting your printer perfectly calibrated for optimal print quality, there are a few straightforward steps you can take to quickly and accurately calibrate your machine.
Buy an accurate, high-quality filament.
You must use only high-quality filament in your printer because poor-quality filaments may have a larger diameter than advertised, resulting in the inaccurate calibration of your extruder.
Always follow a strict Cool Down procedure when loading new filaments on your 3D printer.
A cool down is essentially a gradual cool-down period where you run PLA/ABS filaments through 40C to 60C temperatures before removing them from the extruder tool head and inserting new rolls of filament into it.
Use both digital calipers and micrometers to measure filament diameter.
Digital calipers are more accurate than micrometers, but using both will give you an even better idea of how close your measurements are to actual dimensions.
Make sure that your nozzle tip size matches what’s advertised for that specific type of filament (usually measured in mm).
If your nozzle tip is too small, then you won’t be able to get an accurate reading for extrusion width, which can result in an inaccurate calibration.
Check out online forums for help!
If you’re having trouble calibrating your printer, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most of us have been there and are happy to lend a hand.
Calibrating A New Filament
Many filament manufacturers include instructions on how to calibrate a brand-new filament spool. The process is simple and will tell you how much squishiness is in your particular spool, so you can use that information to get better printing results. For example, a number that may seem high for one brand could be considered low for another; check with your manufacturer if you have any questions. However, here are seven steps to take when getting started with calibration.
- Check The Filament Size And Color Code
- Use A Ruler To Measure Squishiness (Optional)
- Set A Zero Point On Your Bed
- Adjust Z-Axis Movement
- Run Test Prints And Make Adjustments As Needed
- Repeat The Process With New Filament (Optional)
- Enjoy Better Printing Results!
Setting Extruder Tension
Use a 5/64 Allen wrench to tighten or loosen each bolt until it no longer slides in and out of your 3D printer’s extruder but remains attached. The tension should be tight enough so that when you try to pull on an extruded filament, it doesn’t move much (if at all). If your particular printer has an adjustment screw for infilling, use that. Otherwise, use a multimeter set to ohms and adjust accordingly.
You can also play around with how much material is coming out of your nozzle by changing how far down you push your print head when extruding. For example, if there is too little material coming out, increase how far down you push; if there is too much material coming out, decrease how far down you push. This will help you find where your ideal setting lies.
Calculating The Flow Rate Of A 3D Printer
Before you begin printing, you must make sure that your filament is flowing smoothly through your printer. If it’s not, your prints may be ruined, or they’ll have a jagged edge (hairy in slicer terminology). The first step to avoiding problems while printing with new filament is checking if it’s flowing at a rate of 100 mm/s. To do so, we set our slicing software to display a marker on-screen and then adjust the flow rate accordingly until we see that marker move 1 mm every 4 seconds.
This usually translates into a flow rate of 100 mm/s for most extruders, but if you’re unsure of what yours does as standard, you can find out by reading your manual.
All of these tips will have you printing perfectly in no time. If you adhere to these instructions, it is possible to be printing correctly in about an hour. Once you have all your measurements set, test a print and see if everything comes out as planned. If something doesn’t turn out right, use your experience to figure out what could be causing your issue. Make any necessary changes, and you’ll soon be on your way to perfect prints every time!