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End Your Ender 3 Issues

Ender 3 Calibration – How to Calibrate Your Ender 3

Picture of Alexander Issal
by Alexander Issal
Aug 22, 2019

Creality's Ender 3 is a massively popular budget machine capable of producing some stellar prints. Explore this guide where we talk Ender 3 calibration so you can glide smoothly over any bumps in your journey.

Ender 3 Calibration Perfect Printers Break, Too

A failed dog print on an Ender 3.
A failed dog print on an Ender 3. (Source: AcidicVenom / Reddit)

Creality released the Ender 3 to continue the legacy of their immensely popular CR-10, and it turns out the machine was a worthy successor. At about $200, the Ender 3 has made a lasting impression on the 3D printing community with its amazing value-for-money. In fact, because of its unusually high performance at this price point, many call it the best beginner printer.

Some calibration, however, is a normal requirement for 3D printers. After all, these machines are tasked with being repetitively accurate for hours on end, so fine-tuning of their mechanical components is expected. Let’s explore some of the calibration steps that your Ender 3 can benefit from in this guide.

Creality Ender 3

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Ender 3 Calibration Screw Tightening

Tightening the attachment screws of a stepper motor.
Tightening the attchament screws of a stepper motor. (Source: letsprint3d.net)

Creality 3D printers are known to offer good value, but quality control is something that they lack. As a result, many of the printers that they sell may not be fully tightened.

It’s up to the user to make sure that all the screws are tight, which may seem like a silly idea but the difference it could make is surprising. It will not only remove issues like ghosting but also reduce the number of possible failures which will make troubleshooting later on much easier.


Ender 3 Calibration Bed Leveling

A visual guide to correct and incorrect bed leveling results.
A visual guide to correct and incorrect bed leveling results. (Source: u/FoxKeegan / Reddit)

Another very easy yet important step is to correctly level your bed. It’s one of the most crucial adjustments but also one of the easiest to miss. Adjusting the bed on the Ender 3 is a very simple and quick task that instantly improves the surface quality (if it’s not already adjusted).

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Home all axes by clicking “Home” on your Ender 3.
  2. Click “Disable Steppers” and move the print head to one corner, making sure that there is adequate distance between the nozzle and the build platform. The nozzle doesn’t scratch the build platform while moving it.
  3. Unscrew the knob underneath one corner of your Ender 3 while moving a paper back and forth until you can feel slight friction.
  4. Repeat the previous step with all four corners to ensure the whole bed is leveled.

For a more in-depth tutorial, check out our dedicated Ender 3 bed leveling article.


Ender 3 Calibration Extruder Calibration

Measuring filament to check E-step calibration.
Measuring filament to check E-step calibration. (Source: letsprint3d.net)

If you’re having problems with under- or over-extrusion, then there is a possibility that your extruder’s E-steps aren’t calibrated. In order to find the right E-steps, you will first have to do a little bit of math. Using a simple formula, we can calculate the new E-step with only three inputs.

  1. Measure 100 mm from a set point on your extruder and mark it. Mark an extra 10 mm above and under this 100 mm marking to make measuring easier later on.
  2. Then heat up your hot end and extrude 100 mm. You can do this by clicking Prepare > Move axis > Move 1 mm and then slowly rotating the knob until you arrive at 100 mm.
  3. Wait until the printer has finished extruding and measure how far from the 100 mm mark the filament stopped. If the mark has passed the extruder, then your extruder is over-extruding, and if it hasn’t reached the mark, then you are under-extruding.
  4. Use the marks above and under the 100 mm mark in order to estimate the amount of filament extruded.
  5. Now calculate the correct E-steps by multiplying 100 with the current E-steps , then divide this by how much your extruder extruded. The resulting value will be your new, correct E-step value.
  6. Click Control > Motion, then scroll down to “E-steps/mm” and change it to your new E-step value.

Ender 3 Calibration Belt Tensioning

Adjusting belt tension on the Ender 3.
Adjusting belt tension on the Ender 3. (Source: letsprint3d.net)

The belt tension on your Ender 3 also has a big impact on how your 3D prints turn out. Looser belts can cause severe ghosting, layer shifting, and dimensional accuracy issues.

Fortunately, you can tighten the belts by unscrewing the brackets that hold the bearings and moving them so that there’s sufficient tension between the stepper motor and bearing. It shouldn’t be super tight or super loose, just somewhere in between.


Ender 3 Calibration Eccentric Nut Adjustment

Using a wrench to tighten eccentric nuts.
Using a wrench to tighten eccentric nuts. (Source: kiwi3d.co.nz)

Another very important thing to adjust on the Ender 3 is the eccentric nuts. These nuts are located under the bed and on the X-carriage. They can be tightened by rotating them until they get tight with the wrench that comes with the printer. The eccentric nuts should be so tight that you can’t rotate or tilt the bed, but not so tight that it inhibits motion. The easiest way to do this is by loosening all the nuts and then tightening them again until the bed is firm.

The X-carriage should also be adjusted this way. What you’re looking for is a horizontal carriage that doesn’t have too much resistance when moving up and down.


Ender 3 Calibration Additional Articles

Accuracy is everything!
Accuracy is everything! (Source: blog.inkjetwholesale.com.au)

If you’re hungry for more general information on optimizing a 3D printer, here are a few more articles you might be interested in:

Feature image source: notenoughtech.com

License: The text of "Ender 3 Calibration – How to Calibrate Your Ender 3" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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