3D Print of the Month: Calibrate Your 3D Printer With The Overhang Test

This discussion has a more recent version.
edited March 2023 in 3D Printers

Calibrating your 3D printer is essential for more consistency and fewer failed prints. Remember the Torture Toaster article from last month? My 3D Printer was relocated, and without recalibrating, I attempted and failed to print a working Torture Toaster.

 If you have just purchased your first 3D Printer, relocated your printer, or have always had inconsistent prints, here are several steps to ensure you dial it in to get perfect prints. 

Our Setup:

https://www.printables.com/model/170727-overhang-test -- overhang test by bruh3D on Printables

Printer: Ender 3 V2

Filament Used: Inland Blue PLA

  • Nozzle Temp: 225°
  • Bed Temp: 60

Infill: 20%

Print Time: 45 Minutes

Software: Cura Slicer

No Supports, No Bed Adhesive

Three Quick Tips To Calibrate Your Printer

  1. Make sure you are printing with dry filament. In this video, you can see a before and after print of a Benchy. The same spool of filament was used for both Benchy’s, but the first Benchy was printed with wet filament. The spool had been open for several months so the filament absorbed moisture from the air which created a lot of stringing issues. The spool was dried for 5-6 hours and was used to print the same print on the same 3D Printer. The stringing was minimal. (We also have an article all about this!)
  2. You need a good base; any print's base starts with the first layer. Leveling your bed is a 3D printing cliché for a reason. An unlevel bed causes many issues and exacerbates others. 
  3. We used the paper test to manually level the bed. You can use any piece of paper as long as you use the same piece for your process. 

How To Calibrate Your 3D Printer: The Paper Test

First, preheat nozzle to printing temperature and disable the stepper motors. Move the printhead to one corner of the bed, and place a piece of paper in between the nozzle and the bed. Adjust the leveling screw so the nozzle barely touches the paper - you should be able to slide the paper back and forth with very little drag. Do this on all 4 corners, and then the center of the plate. Check the 4 corners one last time to ensure you can still feel the slightest resistance. Remember, every time you adjust one corner, the entire bed moves, so the rest of your corners move as well.

When you are confident your bed is level, try using the below STL bed-level files to verify your printer setup is accurate:

a.     Ender 3 Bed Level, designed by sahansudeepa on Thingiverse

b.     Ender 3 Bed Level, designed by Elproducts on Thingiverse

How To Calibrate Your 3D Printer: Temperature

Proper temperature is also a key variable with printing. Temperature can dictate the flow of the filament out of the nozzle. Every type of filament has a different print temperature. Be sure to check your filament spool to ensure you’re printing at the suggested temperature.  

Below are the suggested print temperatures for Inland Filament. Remember, your machine and surroundings do play a role in your print temp. If you’re printing in a hot environment, you may need to at a print slightly cooler and vice versa if you’re in a cooler environment.

 a.     Inland PLA: 205°C - 225°C

b.     Inland PLA+: 205°C - 225°C

c.      Inland ABS: 220°C - 260°C

d.     Inland PETG and PETG+: 230°C - 250°C

e.     Inland Tough PLA: 210°C - 230°C

f.       Inland Silk: 190°C - 230°C

How To Calibrate Your 3D Printer: Extrusion Rate

Over-extrusion and under-extrusion can also result in poor prints. Setting the extrusion rate helps keep the nozzle flowing correctly.  To test if your printer is extruding properly, follow the steps below.

  1. From the extruder body, measure 110mm of filament and mark lengths at 90mm, 100mm, and 110mm.
  2. On your 3D Printer, go to the stepper motors control section and increase “Extrude” to 100mm. This is telling your printer extruder to extrude 100mm of filament. On the Ender 3 V2, this is done through Prepare > Move > Extrude
  3. If your printer extrudes the entire 100mm, your extruder is properly calibrated. If you print more than 100mm, you are over-extruding. If you didn’t print 100mm, you are under-extruding. 
  4. Increase or decrease your extrusion rate by the amount needed. Measure from the extruder body to calculate the difference.  If you under extruded, measure to your 100mm mark, to find the difference. If you over extruded, measure from your 110mm mark to the extruder.
  5. Each millimeter of under or over extrusion represents 1% of filament. For example, if you under extruded by 5mm, increase your extrusion rate by 5%.

How To Calibrate Your 3D Printer: The Overhang Test

After many failed bed level prints, and extrusion tests we were able to print a pretty good overhang test. This overhang tests angles from 10° to 80° with increments of 10°. The general rule of thumb in 3D Printing is the overhang should not exceed 45°, any angle steeper than 45° should have supports. This test helps to demonstrate whether you have your bed and printer set up so that it can print without failing.

overhang test Designed by bruh3D on Printables

Adjust, fine-tune, and tinker with your 3D printer. Trial and error is a great way to familiarize yourself with your printer, and calibration is all about trial and error.


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