How To Calibrate 3D Printer

3D printers can be a minefield to navigate if you don’t know where to get started, and calibration is an essential step to ensure your 3D creations remain consistent.

If you’ve never owned a 3D printer before, you might be curious to know: How do you calibrate a 3D printer?

How to calibrate 3D printer

In this article, we will cover some key information on calibrating a 3D printer, including how to calibrate a 3D printer and why calibration is important.

Let’s get into it.

Why do you Need to Calibrate a 3D Printer?

In short, calibration is important because it helps to ensure every print comes out consistently and allows you to produce the same results time and time again.

While you might think it’s a hassle, the calibration of your 3D printer is in your best interest. You want your printer to work with you, not against you, and calibration is fundamental to ensure that each of your creations are identical.

That being said, calibration is an essential process as it allows your 3D printer to print in the way that you intended it to. If you don’t calibrate your printer, this is when you will run into issues with inconsistency.

If you want consistency across the board, it’s cruical that you calibrate your 3D printer on a regular basis. Some people even recommend doing this for every individual roll of filament. However, as you become more experienced, you will establish what works best for you when it comes to calibrating your 3D printer.

Preparing to Calibrate your 3D Printer

There’s no getting away from the fact that 3D printers are complex machines, especially if you’ve never used one before.

It’s important to note that not all printers are calibrated in the same way. Some are entirely controlled by software, while others will require physical adjustments from you. As a result, these instructions should be taken as a general guideline.

That being said, there are three areas that will require calibration: the extruder, the various motors, and the base plate.

How to Calibrate the Extruder

There are a couple of problems associated with the extruder that you will need to be aware of when calibrating the extruder.

These problems include:

  • Over-extrusion – This is where too much filament has been used.
  • Under-extrusion – This is where too little filament has been used.

To establish whether your printer is over or under-extruding, you will need to measure it with a ruler or measuring tape.

To begin, you will need to make two small marks on the filament and make sure that they are spaced 100mm apart.

Following this, you will need to align your bottom mark with the top of the extruder.

Using your printer software, set the extrude length value to “100” and instruct it to extrude.

If everything is working correctly and as it should be, the top mark should be aligned with the top of the extruder. If not, you will need to make the necessary adjustments until the mark aligns correctly.

How to Calibrate the X, Y, Z Motors

How to calibrate 3D printer

Once you have calibrated the extruder, it’s time to make sure that your printer’s measurements are correct.

To do this, you will need to use a piece of tape to make two marks 100mm apart on the base plate. Positioning the nozzle over one, you will need to instruct the printer to move 100mm in the correct direction and observe whether it ends up over the tape.

There’s a strong chance that this isn’t going to be accurate on the first try. However, you will need to make sure that the M92 values for both the X and Y axes are adjusted until it works perfectly.

When it comes to calibrating the Z motor, you will need to stand it vertically on the print bed and move the Z axis a distance of 100mm. After this point, the process remains the same. Simply change the M92 values until it moves exactly 100mm each time.

How to Calibrate the Base Plate

Last, but by no means least, you will need to calibrate the base plate. If you’re noticing that filament is gathered around the nozzle, you will need to make sure that the base plate is level. This will ensure that your nozzle remains at the same distance from the base at all times.

Begin by centering the print head. Next, you will need to place an index card between the print head and base plate.

Through altering the Z-axis end stop variable, you will be able to change the print head’s distance from the base.

The majority of printers have screws that you can turn at each corner. You will need to adjust these screws until you can feel a slight resistance when you attempt to move the index card.

While you will still be able to move the index card, you won’t be able to move it freely.

After this point, you will have successfully calibrated your 3D printer!

Is Calibrating a 3D Printer Necessary?

Yes! As far as technology goes, 3D printers aren’t the smartest tools in the box. A lot of what goes on during the printing process is assumed by the electronics, and for the majority of the time, these assumptions are wrong.

Taking the time to calibrate your 3D printer is the easiest way to ensure that you get consistent results across the board.

If you don’t calibrate your 3D printer, you won’t be getting the most out of your printer and you’ll likely become frustrated that your 3D creations aren’t as you intended them to be.

For the most consistent results, always make sure that you are calibrating your 3D printer for every roll of filament.

Final Thoughts

3D printers can be a minefield to navigate when you first get one, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the numerous options there are.

Hopefully after reading this article you have a better understanding of how to calibrate a 3D printer, and why the calibration process is essential.

Good luck calibrating your 3D printer and enjoy getting creative!

Michael Moore