Featured image of Ender 3 Bed Leveling – All You Need to Know
The Right Side of the Bed

Ender 3 Bed Leveling – All You Need to Know

Picture of Robert Frogner
by Robert Frogner
Jan 26, 2019

Ender 3 Bed Leveling – All You Need to Know

Any structure needs a strong foundation. The same is true for 3D printed objects. Leveling the bed on your Ender 3 will ensure that that all-important first layer is solid.

Ender 3 Bed Leveling A Solid Foundation

The nozzle is too darn high!
The nozzle is too darn high! Source: Robert Frogner / All3DP

The term “bed leveling” is actually a misnomer. You’re not making it level with the ground but placing it so that the nozzle tip is at the same, correct distance over the entire surface of the build surface.

This is important because the first layer in a build is the main support for the rest of the print. In order to achieve a solid base, the bed must be properly oriented to provide the correct adhesion and delivery of the printing material.

If the nozzle is too far from the bed, the filament won’t adhere to the build plate at all. Too close and the nozzle will push past the layer height, preventing the material from extruding and sticking. Either way, the foundation will be unsatisfactory. The sweet spot is when the nozzle allows some space but applies just a little pressure to the flowing filament in order to help it adhere to the build plate.

The Ender 3 doesn’t have an auto-leveling feature, so you have to level the bed manually. Fortunately, this isn’t too difficult and is aided by some of the printer’s features. The menu provides actions that prepare the device for leveling, and the four large knobs under each corner of the bed make the job easy.

You’ll find that, once leveled, the bed will stay that way for some time. Periodic re-leveling may be necessary but once the procedure is learned it should take less than five minutes to re-level each time.

Ender 3 Bed Leveling Prepping the Plate and Nozzle

Cleaning the bed.
Cleaning the bed. Source: Robert Frogner / All3DP

Before starting to level the Ender 3’s bed, there are a few things you should do to get the machine ready:

  1. Make sure the build plate is clean. On the Ender 3, you can remove the build plate and clean it. 
  2. Clean off anything that is sticking to the surface. Use a spatula if needed to break off loose material.
  3. Wash the build plate with warm, soapy water, and dry it with a clean cloth. Make sure no lint or particles remain.
  4. Reattach the build plate to the heated bed using the clips. Check carefully to ensure that the entire build plate is flat with no ripples or high spots.
  5. Ensure that the nozzle is clean and free of material. It shouldn’t have any plastic protruding from the tip. An easy way to do this is to heat up the nozzle to the temperature last used and gently wipe off the tip with a soft cloth. If you do this, wear a glove so that you don’t touch the hot nozzle with your fingers.

Note that it’s not necessary to preheat the bed or the nozzle for bed leveling. 

Ender 3 Bed Leveling Prepping the Machine

Make sure the bed is lower than the nozzle tip.
Make sure the bed is lower than the nozzle tip. Source: Robert Frogner / All3DP

To prepare for leveling you have to position the nozzle and bed. The Ender 3 controls make this easy.

  1. Turn on the machine.
  2. Press the control knob and scroll to the PREPARE menu.
  3. Scroll down to AUTO HOME and press the knob. The hot end will move to the left front of the bed and stop.
  4. Once again go to PREPARE.
  5. Scroll to DISABLE STEPPERS and press the control. This will make it easy to move the bed back and forth.
  6. Next, rotate each of the four leveling wheels counter-clockwise to lower the bed. One or two turns each should be sufficient. The purpose of this is to make sure that the bed is lower than the nozzle tip.

Ender 3 Bed Leveling Leveling the Bed

Sliding the paper under the nozzle.
Sliding the paper under the nozzle. Source: Robert Frogner / All3DP

The only tool you need to level your bed is a piece of printer paper. Once equipped, you’re ready to go:

  1. Move the nozzle so that it’s positioned over the left corner of the bed. A half inch or so from both sides is a good location.
  2. Slide the paper between the nozzle and the bed. If it doesn’t fit, drop the corner until it does.
  3. Once the paper is able to slide under the nozzle, very slowly raise the corner with the adjuster. Remember: Clockwise moves the bed up. As you do this, gently slide the paper back and forth. The moment you feel even the slightest resistance to your moving the paper, stop turning the knob. That corner is (almost) ready to go.
  4. Do the same for the other three corners of the build plate. Always advance the hot end to a new corner slowly. This will prevent damage to the build plate in case the nozzle starts to drag. If this occurs, simply lower the next corner (before starting the leveling process) to make some room.
  5. After you’ve adjusted each corner once, go back and check the four corners again. You may have to do further adjustments to get all four correct.

Congratulations! You’re now ready to print on a leveled bed!

License: The text of "Ender 3 Bed Leveling – All You Need to Know" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Subscribe to updates from All3DP

You are subscribed to updates from All3DP

You can’t subscribe to updates from All3DP. Learn more… Subscribe

You can’t subscribe to updates from All3DP. Learn more…

Recommended for you