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A Touchy Topic

Ender 3 & BLTouch: How to Install It

Picture of Tobias Hullette
by Tobias Hullette
Jan 22, 2020
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Ender 3 & BLTouch: Check out this simple guide on how to install the popular sensor to enhance the leveling on your Ender 3.

Ender 3 & BLTouch: How to Install It

BLTouch for the Ender 3?

This first layer was printed very well thanks to the BLTouch
This first layer was printed very well thanks to the BLTouch (Source: Creality)

For many, auto-leveling is still a luxury, their reality shaped by the tedium of manual bed leveling. Luckily for them, auto-leveling is now a very economical luxury. Ender 3 owners, in particular, can benefit from Creality’s Full BLTouch kit, and it will only set them back $49.

But why the BLTouch, specifically? You might have heard of inductive bed-leveling sensors that measure the tilt of a 3D printer’s bed without even touching it. This method sounds fancy, but it is in fact completely useless when you’re using a surface such as glass, which is invisible to inductive sensors.

The BLTouch, on the other hand, is contact-triggered and is compatible with any 3D printer bed surface. It’s also staggeringly accurate. Antclabs, the creator of the BLTouch, has repeatable precision up to 0.005mm! After installing the BLTouch probing several points on your bed, you can confidently print smooth first layers every time.

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Ender 3 & BLTouch: How to Install It

Gathering Materials

Kit
This kit is made specifically for the Ender 3 (Source: Creality)

As with any project you begin, it’s necessary to gather the appropriate materials. If you prefer to buy each component individually, rather than the kit, here’s what you need, assuming you already own an Ender 3 or Ender 3 Pro:

Now that you have all the necessary components, you can begin installing your auto bed-leveling system.

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Ender 3 & BLTouch: How to Install It

Step-by-Step Guide

These are the wires that have been switched
These are the wires that have been switched (Source: Omri Ben-Bassat via Medium)

Here’s a simple guide on how to install your auto-bed-leveling system:

  1. Mount the BLTouch with the part provided in your kit or the one you 3D printed.
  2. Before you connect the electronics, first upgrade your Ender 3’s firmware so that it supports your new BLTouch.
    1. Turn your printer so that you can access and remove the electronics cover as well as access the mainboard.
    2. Plug the ISP end of your USB ISP into the appropriate plug and connect the USB side into your computer. A blue light should turn on next to the ISP connection on the mainboard.
    3. Download the firmware corresponding to your printer. Then, flash your printer’s firmware as directed by firmware’s included instructions. The application “progisp.exe” is included in the download and is what you use to update your printer’s firmware.
    4. After the new firmware has been uploaded to your printer’s mainboard, disconnect the printer and computer.
  3. Next, disconnect your Z-axis limit switch and replace it with the connector for the BLTouch.
  4. Finally, disconnect your screen cable and reconnect it via the Pin 27 adapter board.

Troubleshooting: Some people have had issues fitting the electronics cover back on after adding the Pin 27 adapter. Some have even tried bending the pins. If you believe it’s better to be safe than sorry, simply print a new cover.

And that’s it! You’ve just gone through a very simple method for adding the BLTouch to your Ender 3. Many more tutorials exist out there, including ones that document how to update your printer’s firmware to Marlin.

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Ender 3 & BLTouch: How to Install It

Additional Resources

Firmware is at the heart of most printer upgrades
Firmware is at the heart of most printer upgrades

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License: The text of "Ender 3 & BLTouch: How to Install It" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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