How to calibrate 3D printer and first things you should print

How to calibrate 3D printer and first things you should print


3D printing has completely changed my view
on life. Instead of buying stuff, I’m now designing
and printing them myself, usually in a matter of hours. It wasn’t always easy though – I’m surprised
my first printer is still in one piece after all the trouble I had with it. I want to help you avoid that by showing you
everything I wish I knew back then. We’ll take a look at how to check your printer,
how to calibrate everything and what are some of the first things you should print. I’m assuming you’ve already assembled your
printer, but don’t turn it on just yet. You should also have one of the slicers installed. Any one will do for now. With that said, let’s begin by going over
the printer first. I can’t possibly cover every printer out there,
but the majority of things are common to all of them. Take this guide as a general overview of what
to do. If you get stuck, search that topic online
for your specific printer. First, check that there’s nothing physically
wrong with the printer, especially if it’s Chinese. Their quality control is a joke and you never
know what you’ll get. Check that the frame isn’t bent and that everything
feels solid. Nothing on the frame should be loose. Check that the couplers are tightened against
the Z rod. Continue by checking if the belts are tightened
enough. Most printers have a way to tighten the belts, but it’s also important that the belts aren’t too
tight. The ideal tension is when you can pluck it
like a guitar string. (Plucking sound) Next, the bed shouldn’t rattle or move sideways. If it wobbles, turn the printer on its side
and find the eccentric nut. It’s a special nut that moves sideways, left
and right, as you tighten it. Simply tightening it isn’t enough, because
it will eventually end up in the same position. Instead, tighten it just a little and check the
bed. Repeat until the bed feels sturdy, but it
should still be easy to move by hand. The same principle is used to tighten the
hotend carriage. Slowly tighten the eccentric nut until it’s
firmly in place, but not so much that it’s hard to move by hand. And you’ll find the last eccentric nut on
the other side of the frame. You know what to do. Ensure that the bowden tube is completely
inserted on both ends. It shouldn’t move if you try to pull it out. The X gantry should be parallel to the bed. You can turn the couplers by hand to get it
leveled. It’s ok if it’s a little off, we’ll compensate
for that later, but do it as good as you can. Finally, check and tighten all the screws,
but don’t use too much force. The screw that holds the heater cartridge
in place is especially critical. If it’s loose, the heater might shake loose
and fall out, which is a major fire risk. Before you turn it on, quickly check all the
cables again and that they are plugged in correctly. If your printer has a voltage selector, make
sure it’s set to the correct position. If everything looks good, turn the printer
on. After a few seconds, you should see your ambient
temperature on the screen. On some printers, the fan turns on immediately
as well. Let’s see if all the motors and endstops are
working. Go to the menu and find the “Auto home” option. It’s called “Home all” on some printers. Both the bed and the hotend should start moving
until they end up in the home position. I highly recommend that you upgrade the firmware
first before doing anything else. Every Chinese printer that I know of comes
with important safety features disabled! It’s unbelievable and very dangerous! Without them, you’re risking a fire and it’s
really important that you prevent that. You can continue without doing it for a day
or two, if you have to buy an Arduino first, but don’t delay it for longer than that. And under no circumstances should you leave
the printer running alone before you do it. TH3D has an excellent firmware and installation
guide, I’ve put the link in the description. You might need an Arduino for the firmware
upgrade, as is the case with Ender 3 or CR-10. The CR-10S has a different board and can be
connected directly to your computer. Not only will it enable safety features, you’ll
also get better print quality and additional options such as filament changing, PID auto
tuning and more. The second upgrade to prevent fires is to
make sure that your printer has a MOSFET. MOSFET is a type of transistor that handles
the high current for heating the bed. Without it, the board or the wires can overheat
and catch fire. Some Chinese printers might already have one,
but even then it might be under-rated and you still have to replace it. The first calibration that we’ll do is with
the extruder. This will ensure that the extruder motor is
feeding in just the right amount of filament We just make a mark on the filament, extrude
a certain amount and then measure how much it actually came through. Using that number, we can adjust the steps
value. I’ve provided a link below to a great guide
by MatterHackers. The next step is the most important by far
– bed levelling. Without a properly leveled bed, nothing else
will work, so take your time and do it right. Too many guides are suggesting using paper
to level the bed. While that might be better than nothing, it’s
not nearly enough. A much better way is to print calibration
squares and then adjust each corner accordingly. I’ve already made a separate video that goes
into more details, so check it out before you continue. If your printer only has glass surface, it
might be difficult to get good adhesion. I highly suggest that you buy a mirror instead,
they work much better. Now that the correct amount of filament is
coming in, we have to calibrate how much is coming out as well. Download and slice this small cube, but make
sure that you print it with only a single perimeter and a flowrate of 100%. You might get a better result with two perimeters
on some printers. When it’s done, grab a caliper and measure
the wall thickness. It should be the same as the extrusion width
set in your slicer. If it’s not, adjust the flowrate accordingly
and print another cube. If you don’t have a caliper, then this step
isn’t too important and you can always adjust the flowrate visually later on when you’ll
print a test model. It’s very likely that you’ll have to re-level
your bed once you change the flowrate, so I suggest you repeat bed leveling now. Our next step will be very easy. It’s called PID calibration. The printer basically learns how to heat the
nozzle so that the temperature stays stable. The process is almost automatic, even more
so if you’ve updated your firmware. You can then simply select the auto tuning
option from the menu and then save the new settings. I’ve written a full guide on my web page,
check the description. Every filament is different and there’s no
ideal printing temperature. For PLA, a good starting point is 205 degrees
for the nozzle and 60 degrees celsius for the bed. The easiest way to find out what works best
is to print a temperature tower. When set up correctly, the printer will print
it with different temperatures as it gets higher. At the end, you simply look at which temperature
produced the best results and use that for future prints. Now that we went through all that trouble,
it’s time for the ultimate test. This model will test virtually everything. With the calibrations we did, you should already
get good results on your first try. As is the case with 3D printing though, it
can always get better. So where do you go if you have any issues? My favourite resource is the Visual troubleshooting
guide by Simplify3D. They have covered every issue that you can
think of and how to fix it. This should be your first stop every time
you don’t know how to fix something. Now that you can hopefully print with good
results, you might be wondering what to print next. There are a few upgrades that you should do
first. If your printer didn’t come with a strain
relief for the bed cables, you should print one right away. For some printers, the second important upgrade
is the filament guide. Without it, the filament will touch the greasy
Z rod, which will eventually jam your hotend. Trust me, you do not want to take your hotend
apart anytime soon. Replacing the stock fan with a radial fan
will have the biggest impact on print quality that you can do. You’re looking for a 5015 fan, but make sure
that you buy one with the correct voltage for your printer. You will also need to print a special fang
that will cool down your model better. I recommend the Bullseye model. It comes with different options for different
fans and bed leveling sensors. Just don’t forget to print it with PETG or
ABS. With those upgrades done, let’s look at a
few that will simply make your life easier. You should always use a dust filter. My favourite is this one that you can simply
clip on. These leveling knobs will make leveling the
bed much easier. Speaking of bed levelling, I could never remember
which way I’m supposed to turn it, so having something like this really helps. I prefer this style of button over the round
one, it’s much easier to turn. Placing a concrete slab under your printer
will make it almost silent. If you plan on changing the nozzle often,
then I highly recommend printing a torque wrench. It will prevent you from over tightening the
nozzle and breaking something. Speaking of which, never try to remove or
install the nozzle on a cold hotend; always heat it up first. Print yourself a good spool holder. I’ve tried out a lot of them, but I ended
up using the Universal holder by Creative Tools. It works for every spool, even the large ones
that don’t fit anywhere else. You should also check out the Master spool
initiative. The idea is that you order filament without
the spool, but instead you print one yourself. Speaking of filament, you’ll likely use up
your first one very soon. When buying new ones, avoid the cheap stuff,
but you shouldn’t spend too much money either. From my experience, everything around the
20 euros, dollars or pounds per kilogram seems to be the sweet spot. Isopropyl alcohol is the best for cleaning
the bed after every few prints. Finally, Octoprint. It connects directly to your printer and you
can then control everything in your browser. You can upload files, monitor or cancel your
prints, attach a webcam and there are tons of useful plugins already available. What I like the most is that I can check on
my printer even when I’m not at home. If you’re short on ideas on what to print,
browse popular models on Thingiverse or MyMiniFactory. After a while, you’ll want to design your
own stuff. Tinkercard is great for beginners and you
can do anything you want with Fusion360. With that said, you should now have a fully
functional printer and everything you need to get started. Good luck and happy printing.

21 thoughts on “How to calibrate 3D printer and first things you should print

  • December 1, 2018 at 3:52 pm
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    Thank you very much from FRANCE ! Best channel ever, non only for 3D printing… 😁

    Reply
  • December 1, 2018 at 4:23 pm
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    I use the calibration squares often and before every long print. Lifesaver!

    Reply
  • December 1, 2018 at 4:40 pm
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    Awesome video, very useful for beginners!

    Reply
  • December 1, 2018 at 8:07 pm
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    This video is AWESOME! You helped me a lot, thank you! It's weird how small the amount of views are… Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  • December 5, 2018 at 10:40 am
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    This video is amazing!! Thank you to share it!

    Reply
  • December 7, 2018 at 3:32 am
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    Thanks. Nice video.

    Reply
  • December 7, 2018 at 10:06 pm
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    This saved my printer for many hammer blows.

    Reply
  • March 17, 2019 at 12:31 am
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    have my printer a few yrs now already, did know all the tricks of this video, but what a nice package of information! wish i seen this when i started this adventure. would have saved me alot of time on the trip hahaha –> awesome video dude!

    Reply
  • April 10, 2019 at 7:31 am
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    Great video. Very thorough and many things I've not seen. Thanks for the effort!

    Reply
  • April 13, 2019 at 1:22 pm
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    Problem with simplify's guide on problems is that they name solutions with settings that cura doesn't have.

    Reply
  • May 6, 2019 at 11:25 pm
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    The personal protection equipment earned the video a like before I even finished watching.

    Reply
  • May 15, 2019 at 2:56 pm
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    This is the best video I have seen on this subject so far thanks heaps

    Reply
  • May 22, 2019 at 9:32 pm
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    3:33 That's exactly like I did it. You made my day and gave me useful beginners tips. Thank you pal.

    Reply
  • May 24, 2019 at 7:50 am
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    great guide thx!!

    Reply
  • June 5, 2019 at 9:26 pm
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    you stilll around? I was so excited for your content. It's fantastic. Just wondering if you still plan on putting stuff out anymore

    Reply
  • June 12, 2019 at 1:34 am
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    Excellent video. The best I have seen on the subject.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2019 at 9:57 pm
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    Most of these things you talk about only apply to that printer

    Reply
  • June 27, 2019 at 3:23 pm
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    good tips for beginners, wish I had this advice a few years ago – I would most likely still have hair lol – subbed

    Reply
  • July 5, 2019 at 9:52 pm
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    I just received a CR-10S Pro for my birthday. I know its Chinese, but since it’s one of the “higher end” Creality/hobbiest printers, do I still need to replace the MOSFET?

    Reply
  • July 25, 2019 at 2:20 pm
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    You're an absolute legend sir. All the people in the comments saying they wish they had this when they first started – well I'm just starting and this is the best thing i could have ever asked for!

    Reply
  • August 4, 2019 at 9:03 pm
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    Thank you so much for this video, Hobby!

    Reply

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