Calibrating Your New 3D Printer

So you got a new 3D printer. The possibilities can seem almost endless. UNLESS your printer is not correctly calibrated, it can frustrate you to the point of quitting the hobby you just started. Welcome to calibrating your new 3D printer. We will be going through 4 steps to help you get better prints. Make sure you follow these steps in order. This guide will is focused around the CR-10S, but the same rules apply for almost every 3D printer.

Tools Needed

  • Multimeter
  • Mini screwdriver. I HIGHLY recommend you use a ceramic screwdriver and not a metal screwdriver
  • Sharpie

1. PSU Voltage and VREF

The First thing we want to do it set up our VREF and PSU. The VREF is the voltage regulation from the stepper motor driver connected to your mainboard to your stepper motor. If your VREF is too high, your motors can run hot with the potential to overheat and shutdown mid print. If your VREF is too low, then your stepper motor can skip steps and cause layer shifts. Here is a video from TH3D that goes over on how to do appropriately set up your PSU and VREF on a CR-10.

2. PID Tuning

Secondly, we need to run PID tuning, without getting into a long wiki-based discussion is what keeps your bed and hotend temps stable. You will need software to send G-codes to your printer. NOTE: This will depend if your printer firmware allows EEPROM access.  If it does not, check out TH3D Firmware as they support a wide range of printers. You can also google firmware for your printer and most likely find one already set up for your printer.

Hotend PID Tuning M303 E<extruder> S<temperature> C<cycles>:  First would send M303 E0 S215 C10. You will set your temperate based on your average printing temperature.  Once you run this command, the autotuning process will start. The printer will cycle the temperature up and down over the course of several minutes, once PID tuning has completed. You will receive your new PID values. You will then send M301 with your new values. For my printer, I would send M301 P24.86 I2.37 D65.18.

3. Calibrating Your Extruder

The third part is calibrating our extruder. An extruder that has not bee properly calibrated can cause a number of issues. These issues can include over extrusion, under extrusion, bad layers, missing layers, and a lot of other related problems. You will either need calipers or a metric ruler for this part.

  1. First, we need to find out what our current Esteps are. There are two ways to accomplish this. You can either go to your control box and goto: Control>Motion>Steps/mm>Esteps/mm: xx OR you can send M503 and look for echo: M92 X80.00 Y80.00 Z400.00 E90.00
  2. Secondly, we need to mark on our filament 120mm/s. Preheat your extruder. Once your extruder is heated send Gcode G1 E100 F100. This will extruder 100mm in about a minute. F100 will account for any tension on the filament roll and also nozzle pressure that may give inaccurate results.  If you didn’t extrude exactly 100mm or have 20mm left, then you are over extruding or under extruding. For example: If you have 15mm left then you are over extruding by 5mm. If you have 25 mm left, then you are under extruding. Let say I am extruding 97mm. We will need to do some simple math to correct this in the firmware.
    • (Extrusion requested x Current Esteps) / actual filament extruded = New Esteps
    • Since I extruded 97mm. (100*90)/97= 92.78.
  3. The third part is to enter our new steps into the EEPROM in Marlin. Send M92 E92.78 then send M500 to save your new Esteps.
  4. Re-test extruding 100mm. If you are still off, apply the new steps to the algorithm in step 2 and repeat the process until you are as close to 100mm as possible.

4. Calibrating Your Filament Temps and Retractions

The fourth step is where we FINALLY get to print something. It’s not exciting, but hey it’s a print at the least. We need to find the best temp for our filament. Note that this will vary or type of material and even is using the same material, it will vary by brand and even color. Here is a link to a create a temp tower on Thingiverse that allows a lot of customization and ranges to test. Once you find your ideal temperature for your filament of choice, then we need to calibrate our retractions. Download the Basic Retraction test from Thingiverse and adjust your speed and retraction distance until you no longer have stringing. I found that 4.3mm @ 65mm/s was perfect for my CR-10S. Make sure you don’t over retract your filament as this can cause clogging in your hotend.

All Done

Now that your done calibrating your new 3D printer and it’s ready for whatever you want to print. Also, make sure to check out our 3D Printer Help Guide Creality & Others