How do you level your bed? Let us count the ways… Bed levelling is one of the most important steps you could do to ensure the success of your 3D printing projects. Indeed, there are plenty of ways to level your bed but the most important thing is to do it right. Get to know everything about bed levelling and how to do it properly below.
What is bed levelling?
Bed levelling is something that you should be doing before starting any print. It doesn’t just mean that the bed should be levelled with the surface, but rather the nozzle should have an equal distance all throughout the bed. In reality, the bed could be a bit tilted on one side. However, everything should be okay as long as the nozzle or the printhead is parallel to the bed.
Signs that your bed is not levelled
Not having a levelled bed can cause a lot of printing issues. If you notice that you can’t print the perfect first layer, it is a sign that you need to level your bed.
- Varying gaps between lines of filament across the build surface
- The first layer does not stick consistently throughout the bed surface
- Upward warping of prints, particularly those that are made of PLA
- The height and width of the filament change throughout the build surface
Types of bed levelling
There are several ways you can level your 3D printer bed. The options are not always available as it still depends on the 3D printer you have.
1. Manual Bed Levelling
Manual bed levelling is the most common and easiest method to level your bed. In some printers, it is the only available option, particularly for those that are old and affordable. Here’s how you can manually level your 3D printer’s bed.
- Tighten all the screws in every corner so that there is enough space to work with in between the nozzle and build plate. The number of screws varies depending on the printer and ranges from 3 to 4 screws.
- Adjust the build plate to move it closer to the nozzle by hand or using the software program to control your 3D printer. Set the Z-axis to home by setting it on auto-home.
- Calibrate the distance between the nozzle and bed in all four corners and the middle. Start with the printhead in one corner and insert the index card in between the nozzle and build plate. If the nozzle doesn’t drag across the card when moving it back and forth, adjust the closest screw to that area to close the gap.
- Keep adjusting the screw until there’s a slight drag when moving the nozzle back and forth against the card.
- Do the same for all four corners and the center. Once you’re done, double-check each corner and center again and re-adjust the screws when necessary. This is important as the adjustments may have messed up the other spots so it is important that the bed is levelled all throughout.
- Print out a test first layer to check if the bed levelling has been successful. If successful, the print will have a consistent look all throughout. However, if the layer is consistent but seems crowded, an adjustment to the Z-offset may need to be made to change the distance between the nozzle and bed.
2. Software Bed Leveling
By using a slicing software program, you can level your bed regardless of how skewed the adjustments are. It typically works by adjusting the Z values in the sliced G code so that the distance of the bed and nozzle is uniform all throughout.
The settings vary depending on the software, but you need to connect your 3D printer to the computer with the software program installed in order to make it work. It will go through the same processes as the manual bed levelling option. The difference is that you do it via the software.
3. Auto Bed Levelling
More and more 3D printers are now coming out with intuitive auto bed levelling. It helps the user determine if the bed is level every time they start a new 3D printing project. It usually involves sensors that probe specific points on the build plate. These sensors track the distance between the nozzle and bed at different points and use the information to adjust the nozzle as it moves across the platform. As the firmware does everything automatically, you only need to press a button for this feature to be initiated.
Get successful prints with these bed levelling tips!
Set yourself up for print success by having a levelled bed. For inquiries about bed levelling or other 3D printer issues, you can email us.