3D Prints Not Sticking, Warping or Scraping?

Troubleshooting & Solving Common 3D Printer Bed Issues #1

Is Your 3D Printer Bed Really Leveled? Lets Find Out.

Learning to level my Ender 3 Pro Bed was a pain. Bed leveling is more of an art than a science and without it your 3D print will simply not stick or worse it will scrape the bed itself. No matter how many different YouTube videos I have watched proclaiming to explain how to level my Ender’s heated bed, it really comes down to feel and experience. The best way to level your 3D printers bed is the one you are most comfortable with and that succeeds in the result you are looking for, a great 3D print that sticks to the bed instead of a pile of filament spaghetti.

First, do not assume that your 3D printer’s heated bed is leveled, even if you just recently leveled it. Your printer constantly vibrates while printing which causes the leveling of even the most dialed in bed to shift over time. Just to make it clear, my method to level my 3D printer’s bed may not be yours, but has proven to work for me. When I level the bed on my Ender 3 Pro, Ender 5 and Cr-10 S4, this is the method I always use and I rarely have an issue with my 3D prints sticking, warping or scraping the 3D printing bed surface. Not all 3D printer’s are the same, but most follow this same basic workflow to correctly level

Leveling An Ender 3 Bed (Or Similar Printer) In 4 “Easy” Steps

1. Heat that Nozzle For A Truly Level Bed

First heat up your 3D printer’s nozzle and bed to the temperature that you will be using in most of your 3D prints. Some guides say to do the leveling process cold, but I find that it is very common for some 3D printer filament to get stuck to the 3D printer nozzle which will make leveling unreliable. When leveling my Ender 3 Bed, I always heat up the nozzle first. For PLA printing, I would heat your nozzle to 210C and your bed to 60C Note: Is this your first time leveling the bed? Make sure that the wheels underneath the bed have been tightened enough that there is no chance that the nozzle will hit the bed on the way down.

2. Auto Home & Disable 3D Printer Steppers

Next use your printer’s “Auto Home” feature to tell the printer to bring the nozzle down to the correct level for 3D Printing. The gantry will hit the little metal switch on the Z axis known as the Z limit switch and hopefully stop right at the correct point on the 3D printer’s bed. Now go to your setting for disabling the X & Y steppers. It may also just say “disable steppers” This is likely in the “Prepare” section of the 3D printer’s menu. 

This will release the stepper motors so that your can move the hotend around to properly level each corner. Move the nozzle to the front left hand corner of the 3D printer directly above the leveling wheels and springs. Now take a normal sheet of paper from your regular printer and slide it underneath the nozzle. Tighten the spring by turning the wheel if the paper will not fit. Do not worry if the paper gets some filament on it while you move it around. This is normal.

3. Level Until You Feel “Some Resistance”

Now tighten or loosen the wheel under this first corner until you feel “some resistance” when sliding the paper underneath the nozzle. What does “some resistance mean”? Welcome to 3D printing! This is the art part of the process.
My definition of “Some Resistance”…. I can feel and hear the 3D printer’s nozzle scraping against the paper but it does not come close to making a hole in the paper or worse yet scraping my Ender 3 Pro Bed. If there is no hole in the paper then there will be no damaging scrape marks on your 3D printer yet the 3D print will stick to the bed. You want that nozzle to scrape the paper, otherwise you will be printing in mid-air. This does not need to be perfect, just close to the mark.

4. Level The Bed Again, Do Not Skip This Step!

Now level each of the remaining 3 corners of the 3D printer. Are we there yet? No! This is the most common way that people end up scraping and damaging their 3D printer’s bed. That first corner that you perfectly leveled is now likely too tight. Level each corner one more time until you can slide that paper under each, “feel the resistance” and then move the nozzle to the center of your 3D printer’s bed. Unless your 3D printer has a warped bed then you should feel a similar amount of resistance in the center of the bed as you feel in each corner.

Now we are ready to print a test print. I recommend a Cali Cat scaled down to 70% to get a good feel of whether your 3D printer bed leveling was successful. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1545913 The Cali Cat is quick, cute and most importantly is designed to test whether your 3D print is correctly sticking to the 3D printer’s bed.

Still having problems with your 3D prints not sticking? Contact me on my 3D printing course page and I will be glad to help.