How to Level the Bed on Your Ender 3 Printer
Having a level building surface is crucial for getting high-quality prints. This guide will cover everything you need to know about bed leveling on the Ender 3 Pro or V2 printer.If you often peruse forums, 3D printer YouTube, and maker sites like ours, you are likely to come across the term “bed leveling” a lot. Bed leveling refers to the act of calibrating your printer’s build surface so that the nozzle tip will move at the same distance from the build surface throughout the entire print.
Why is bed leveling so important?
A level bed is necessary for producing clean prints because it ensures proper adhesion, extrusion, and layering. If the nozzle is not sufficiently close to the bed, the extruded filament will not “grab” the build plate, leading to a messy first layer that can disrupt the entire print. If the nozzle is too close, the nozzle will push past the layer height for each subsequent layer, which will prevent the material from evenly extruding and may even tear previous layers.
By ensuring that the nozzle is close enough to promote adhesion without tearing previous layers, you can get a solid foundation for your prints.
Bed leveling on the Ender 3 Pro/V2
The Ender 3 printers are not equipped with an auto-leveling feature, so bed leveling must be performed manually. This isn’t difficult, but it can be daunting for new hobbyists. The menu options helps prepare the device for leveling, and the four knobs under each corner of the bed make it easy to calibrate. After calibration, you’ll want to check your calibration about every 10 prints, depending on the quality you’re seeing.
Below, we go over the process in detail.
How to level the Ender 3 print bed
Before starting the bed leveling process, you need to clean and prepare your machine.
Ender 3 models allow users to remove the build plate, which makes cleaning much easier. Carefully remove any remaining sticky or dried material from previous prints. Wash either the build plate with warm, soapy water, and dry it with a clean microfiber cloth to reduce the risk of lint or residue remaining. If you have a glass build plate, acetone or a designated window cleaner can be a good option for getting rid of built-up adhesive and filament residue.
Using your printer’s supplied clips, reattach the build plate to the heated bed. Carefully check the surface to ensure that it is even.
After prepping the plate, check your nozzle to ensure it is clean and free of material. Specifically look out for any dried material protruding from the tip.
Our favorite method of cleaning up the nozzle is heating the nozzle to the last temperature used and wiping the tip with a soft cloth. As always, we recommend using gloves when touching a heated element on the printer directly.
After cleaning, the nozzle and bed must be positioned, which is very easy using the Ender 3s’ built-in controls.
- Turn on your printer.
- Press the control knob and scroll to PREPARE.
- Scroll to AUTO HOME and press the knob. The hot end will move to the left front of the bed and stop.
- Navigate to PREPARE again.
- Scroll to DISABLE STEPPERS and press the knob. Disabling the steppers will allow you to move the bed manually.
- Rotate the four leveling wheels counter-clockwise to lower the bed. Typically, you only need to turn each knob once or twice.
Once the bed is lowered, be sure it’s under the nozzle tip.
Leveling the bed
Calibrating your bed position is very easy—all you need is a piece of paper.
- Move the nozzle so that it is positioned over the bottom left corner of the bed, within about half of an inch of both edges.
- Slide the paper between the nozzle and the bed. If you positioned the nozzle, there should be some space between them.
- Slowly raise the corner using the adjustment knob. Clockwise (from above) moves the bed up. As you adjust the knob, gently slide the paper back and forth. When you feel the slightest resistance when moving the paper, stop turning the knob.
- Repeat this process for the other corners of the build plate, positioning the nozzle in the same manner. Be sure to move the hot end to the next corner slowly to prevent damage to the build plate in the case that it begins to drag. If this occurs, simply lower the next corner before starting the leveling process to reduce the risk of damage.
- After each corner has been adjusted, check all four corners again using the same method. This ensures that all corners of the plate are perfectly calibrated to each other.
After performing manual calibration, we highly recommend running a few test prints. Doing this will allow you to identify any minor shifts that may have occurred during calibration or issues that can affect certain types of prints. The following are some commonly used tests, but there are many, many more that can be found on Thingiverse.
- G-code from adamsiem: This test is designed for the Ender 3 Pro; it runs through a three-round bed leveling routine using the console button to move the nozzle and conduct a test print to verify your bed’s calibration. This G-code is also designed to work with PLA.
- G-code from Elproducts: This test is useful for every version of the Ender 3; this test prints concentric squares. There are more details in the information to facilitate proper calibration. This G-code is for PLA specifically, which means that you must manually slice the STL file if you use a different material.
- Parametric leveling test from pgreenland: Although not designed specifically for the Ender 3, you can use the Thingiverse Customizer to change it for your printer and download the SCAD file and adjust it in OpenSCAD. Otherwise, the default STL file fits on the Ender 3 but will not cover the whole bed.