A Little More Torture
Weve described the most important ways to calibrate your printers settings and some slicer settings for your filament. However, there are numerous other settings that you can also change to improve your prints. In order to get an overview of what their printer is good and not so good at doing, people often use torture tests. Printing and perfecting such prints can help with problematic areas like bridges and overhangs. Theyre also helpful in diagnosing a variety of problems.
While the most popular torture test is 3DBenchy , you can find plenty of others by searching for torture tests on your favorite STL site. We wont go into detail here because every torture test is a little different, but most come with instructions on how to diagnose problems and points of failure.
Get The Right Print Temperature
You can achieve this by printing a temperature tower. You can get one from the myriad options available online. They all share the same idea. They are all segmented into blocks at different heights. Every block should be printed at a different temperature. You can determine the best temperature to print your material by analyzing the blocks after printing.
Printing a temperature tower isnt a walk in the park. You will have to put in some work. Some slicers dont allow printing at different temperatures and heights. If yours is a similar case, you will have to edit your G-code manually before printing it, and it usually involves inserting the G-code commands to set the temperature of the extruder.
Heres what to do to get the correct print temperature:
First off, establish the height of each block. You can name the values H, so that you have something like 0, H, 2H, 3H and so forth. Pick the editor of your choice then open your G-code file in it. Look for commands that instruct your printer on how to move. The commands begin with G1 and your G-code file has got lots of them in the format G1 Z .
The codes may also contain the X and Y movements. Once you have found the G1 Z command, add the command M104S . T represents the temperature of the block that begins at height H.
Here is a quick illustration:
How To Calibrate The Artillery Sidewinder X1
To calibrate the Artillery Sidewinder X1 you need to first level the bed, then measure and adjust the E-steps, the flow rate, the feed rate and the acceleration. The stock firmware doesnt allow you to adjust the extruder steps so youll need to use OctoPrint or Pronterface to input some of these values.
Calibrating your 3D printer can bring some great improvements in your 3D models.
Check out the results below of one user who calibrated his Artillery Sidewinder X1. The differences are very significant.
Follow through this article to properly calibrate your Artillery Sidewinder X1 so get some great 3D prints.
For the Sidewinder X1 printer, doing the calibration differs a bit from the process of other printers, such as Creality Ender machines.
This is because you either need to directly modify the G-code using your slicer software, or use a separate host software to communicate with the printer.
You also need to type additional commands to save your calibration settings, since EEPROM is not enabled in the firmware that the printer comes with.
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D Printer Calibration Guide Using Ideamaker
For proper 3D printer calibration, you need to have access to the printerâs EEPROM. In this article, I will show you how to do your 3D printer calibration with IdeaMaker.
Some of the printers have the EEPROM locked and they donât allow saving new values. By adding the calibration values right in IdeaMaker you can mitigate this issue.
Doing your 3D printer calibration with IdeaMaker has the benefit of not needing to edit your EEPROM because all the values are set right in the slicer. Each time you slice a model, the calibrated values are stored in the G-Code and are applied at the start of your print.
In case you donât know about IdeaMaker, make sure you check my IdeaMaker review where I cover a few of my favorite features it has.
Calibrate The 3d Printer Extruder
For you to calibrate the extruder, you must tell the printer the new value. You can do this by sending the command M92E to the printer. This command will only tell the printer the value, but wont save it. To save it, send the command M500.
In such a case, you shouldnt expect your results to be perfect when you calibrate the axes. A variation will occur, but provided you have confirmed that your calibration is correct there shouldnt be a problem. Just ensure that you are pretty close to the desired value in terms of percentage for your printer to be well-calibrated.
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How To Calibrate The X Y Z Motors
Once you have calibrated the extruder, its time to make sure that your printers 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.
Theres a strong chance that this isnt 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 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.
If The Paper Gets Tight Before You Reach Z = 0000
The build platform is too high. You need to raise the z axis and ensure that there is no plastic protruding from the nozzle, if there is use a pair of tweezers to break it off and lower the axis again.
If there is no plastic protruding then you need to adjust the build platform down.
The wing nut needs to be rotated anticlockwise when seen from the top. This will screw the wing nut onto the screw thereby shortening the gap and bringing down the level of the platform.
You should be able to adjust the build platform low enough for the paper to just have resistance between the nozzle and the build platform.
If this is not the case you may need to adjust the z axis end stop up and retry this procedure. This can happen when first carrying out the procedure. But shouldnt happen after unless there is a major problem. So if you have been able to set your z axis in the past look for the problem before adjusting the z axis end stop.
Raise and lower the z axis and ensure that it reaches its stop with the paper having the same resistance as before.
Press the knob to get you back to the axis menu.
Scroll down to the x axis and press the knob. Increase the x axis to almost maximum . This should bring the nozzle close to the other front corner.
You now need to go through the routine of lowering the z axis with the paper between the nozzle and the build platform.
Try to make sure that the resistance on the paper is the same as before.
Raise the z axis by 1mm and press the knob.
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Check The Current And Connections
As mentioned above, 3D printers have stepper motors that incrementally rotate specific amounts to move the extruder or axes at certain distances. The moment of inertia determines whether the axis motors can maintain maximum torque when running at your chosen speed. A greater mass MOI requires more torque to achieve a particular angular acceleration.
A common 3D printer problem happens when the motor vibrates but does not turn. Calculating the moment of inertia when trying to fix this problem is a helpful early step. Thats because the inertia required for the printer motor to turn must be similar to its own inertia.
You can calculate the moment of inertia for simple objects by finding the point mass. Do so by multiplying the squared distance between the rotational axis and the mass, by the mass at the given point. Then, when calculating the MOI for more complex objects, the mass MOI is the summation of all the pieces point masses.
Checking the current and connections are good steps to take to resolve the matter, particularly because motor vibrations typically happen when there is not enough current available to move the extruder to the correct amount. Motor vibration issues are the most likely to occur after people have improperly installed new 3D printer motors. Thus, you wont likely experience it with a new 3D printer, but it could happen after a component upgrade.
Is Calibrating A 3d Printer Necessary
Yes! As far as technology goes, 3D printers arent 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 dont calibrate your 3D printer, you wont be getting the most out of your printer and youll likely become frustrated that your 3D creations arent 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.
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How To Calibrate & Dial In New Filament On Your 3d Printer
One of the first things you want to calibrate when it comes to your 3D printer is the filament that you are using. There are several brands, types of filaments, colors, and composites that require their own specialized routine to get the best results.
Its essential to get the learning curve out the way so you can calibrate all of your favorite or new filaments before you get into printing those large models because without calibrating it, you are more likely to see print failures or suboptimal results.
When you see people producing some of the best quality 3D prints, you can be sure they calibrated their filament as good as they could.
Filament calibration is a combination of various settings and you may need to tweak these settings before every print, especially after changing the spool of filament.
If you are working with the filament of a single brand, you can set up an individual file for the material and it will work for all the print from that material. You should review the settings if you switch from one filament material to another.
Things youll need to calibrate:
- Printing temperature
- Bridging & overhang tests
Feedrate Variations And Modifiers In Your Slicer Profile
It is important to understand how feedrate is handled by the slicer software. Slicers generally have a default/base feedrate that most speed calculations are based on. Features such as perimeters, external perimeters and solid infill are reduced in speed to aid visual print quality. Features such as internal infill are sped up because they will never be seen. The image below shows examples interfaces for this in several slicers:
Sometimes a person will claim they can print at a certain feedrate. This is often not the whole story, as their base feedrate might be what they are talking about, but much of the print will actually be completed at a slower speed. Add in slicer features like automatic slow down for layer cooling and firmware settings like acceleration, jerk and junction deviation and there is quite a bit of deviation.
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Feedrate Limitations From The Extruder Drive And Hot End
The tools on this tab will also allow you to calculate the maximum feedrate your 3D printer can move at and still maintain reliable extrusion. This relates to how quickly filament can be melted as it travels through the hot end. Once the filament cannot be melted sufficiently, it won’t flow properly through the system and under extrusion or jams will occur.
Sometimes the ability of the heater is not the limiting factor, and instead the amount of grip and push from the extruder drive. Consider a flexible filament such as TPU. TPU doesn’t need a particularly high temperature hot end to melt it properly, but many extruder drives struggle to grip and push the filament towards the hot end without it buckling and jamming. The test on this page can be used in these situations to find how fast you can print before the system breaks down.
How To Calibrate The Base Plate
If youve noticed that your layers are too thin or that filament is gathered around the nozzle, youll likely want to level your base plate. This is so you can ensure the nozzle is the same distance from the base at all times. So how do you do this?
Start by centering the print head. Youll likely have been provided with an index card, so place this between the print head and the base plate. By editing the Z-axis end stop variable, you can fine-tune the heads distance from the base.
Most printers will have screws you can turn at each corner. Adjust these until you feel a slight resistance when you try to move the index card you should still be able to move the card, but not freely. When you achieve this, youre done!
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Fixing Persistent Dimensional Accuracy After X/y/z Steps Per Unit Have Been Corrected
As we know from our earlier 20mm calibration cube test, there is more to the final printed dimensions that just the steps per unit for each axis.
Changing the slicer flow rate will influence the overall dimensions, although this also has an effect on every other aspect of the finished print. One obvious area is whether there are gaps inbetween individual extrusions or the individual extrusions overlap too much and bulge . Perhaps the flow rate should be used to only make very small adjustments.
Some slicers have dimensional accuracy compensation. Seen below is this setting in PrusaSlicer :
A similar feature exists in Cura :
Experimentation with these features would need to be undertaken to fully understand their advantages and disadvantages. For instance, increasing the X/Y measurements may fix the external dimensions but negatively impact the accuracy of printed holes.
Sometimes a machine can be upgraded to make it more accurate. For instance, I have a theory that using a belt pulley rather than a smooth surfaced bearing as a belt idler should have the belt ride the idler more consistently, due to the teeth of the belt deforming unevenly over the bearing surface:
One final measure, that is the least desirable, is to design parts to be printed bigger or smaller to compensate. This is a band aid approach and falls apart very quickly once we print geometry designed by other people.
How To Calibrate Your Extruder/e
Calibrating your extruder steps is an essential task when you want to get the best 3D print model quality since it influences just how much filament is coming through that extrusion path and out the nozzle.
This is basically controlling how much your extruder motor actually rotates relative to pushing and pulling filament. We measure the movement in steps and it is broken down into a portion of a full 360° rotation.
Simply put, when we calibrate our E-steps or extruder steps, we ensure that our extruder is moving through as much filament as it says it is moving. Often, people dont realize that their extruder is pushing less filament than recorded, leading to under extrusion.
When you tell your 3D printer to extrude 100mm of filament, you actually want 100mm of filament to be extruded.
Now how do we calibrate our E-steps?
To calibrate E-steps well need a few tools:
- A marker of some kind to mark the filament
- A way to move your extruder whether that is through your printers control box with the right firmware or through software.
- Your filament of course!
With the interface from the BIGTREETECH SKR 2.0 Control Board from Amazon, you can directly control your 3D printer to extrude filament, change the E-steps, adjust flow rates, and plenty more .
Follow the video below to calibrate your E-steps like a pro!
You can check the correct COM when you go into Device Manager on your PC or laptop, and disconnecting the USB to see which one appears or disappears.
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Calibrate Your Retraction Settings
Retraction calibration is necessary to ensure 3D prints of high quality and minimize the chances of stringing and oozing.
Retraction settings should be reviewed and calibrated every time after applying changes to the hotend, extruder, or changing the filament brand or material.
Do keep this fact in mind that retraction calibration is not a single setting but it includes various settings including retraction speed, retraction distance, prime speed, etc.
When the retraction settings are calibrated properly, you significantly reduce all types of stringing and blobs in your 3D prints, leading to better quality.
Download a Basic Retraction Test from Thingiverse. Its a good idea testing different levels of retraction so you can have a better idea of how it affects your 3D prints.
Id 3D print a retraction test with 0 retraction and observe, then print a series of tests with various retraction speeds and distances.
Cura gives you a default retraction distance of 5mm, and Id advise to try distances from 2mm-7mm for your own test .
For retraction speed, Cura defaults to 45mm which is a pretty good speed.
You can decrease retraction speed by 10mm/s increments if you do notice any issues with the filament or the extruder incorrectly retracting the filament.
You can usually hear some kind of retraction noise when it retracts, so you can see whether it is too fast in the printing process.