By now if you’re a beginner, you’ve had prints lift up or warp on the build surface. Filament may stick to one corner of the surface and not to the other or your head may be grinding into your build surface. So what is wrong? Most poor prints can be diagnosed as an unleveled build surface.
For those of us without an auto leveling machine this can be a true pain. I consider the ability level adequately somewhat of an art form. Leveling is also the most common mistake made by beginners and advanced users alike. Weather it’s outright forgetting to perform the process or someone not following the proper leveling technique. So how do you a beginner level your bed?
When Should I Level my 3D Printer?
Level your bed every time before starting a new print even if you just finished a print and the next print uses the same settings. Because when you pop a print off the bed, this will cause the printer to loose its settings. Either leveling knobs will be moved or the Z-Axis may change. Always recheck your level before starting a print. So how do you level your printer?
Steps for Leveling
- Ensure your printer is on a level surface. Some users have customized their printers to have adjustable feet. Ensure the printer is on a level surface, the frame may be twisted very slightly if not. This may cause the bed to appear to not be flat and as such nearly impossible to level.
- Find a piece of normal paper and fold in half. This is the approximate distance the head should be from the bed once homed and leveled.
- Warning DO NOT home the head until you have tightened the screws. You could damage the head or your build surface. Tighten all your leveling screws and then home your head.
- Preheat the surface. I usually take mine to 65 degrees Celsius. The reason for heating it is that parts expand when heated, which could cause your bed to be unlevel when you print. So always level a hot bed. Be careful at this point the bed may be too hot to touch.
- Now move the head to the first leveling point one inch from the right and one inch from the front of the bed. Place the folded paper under the head and turn the leveling knob clockwise or to the left until the paper just makes contact with the head. It should still be able to move somewhat freely under the head. If the papers catches too much on the head; turn leveling knob to the right or counterclockwise until the paper is able to be moved.
- Repeat on all corners of the bed until paper is just touching the head and able to move somewhat freely.
- Check the center of the bed also. If the paper is too tight at the center of the bed, than check that the frame of the printer is level all the way around. This may mean stuffing some sort of material under the legs of the printer or adjusting the feet until level is found in the bed by repeating steps 5 and 6.
- The last step is to start your print and stay with your printer until the first layer is down. If the print head lays down an inconsistent layer or even starts to rip the layer up, stop the printer and relevel. Do not leave until you are sure you have a good first layer.
If you follow these steps you will find that over time your prints will be consistently better and like anything else you will learn your own techniques for getting better prints. Please beware though leveling is an art and you will see many failed prints before you hon your art. Most of all don’t get angry, instead take a deep breath and look at what is happening on the bed. Most of all have fun!