On the Level with my 3D Printer

Ultimaker Cura software

Finally bought my first 3D printer, and probably should have done so a while ago.  The printer is amazing and the 3D printing community is massive once you dive in!  

My second project was simply leveling the printer bed (first project was building the kit).  I purchased an Ender 3 v2 since based on research it seemed to be the best bang for my buck.  Building the printer was fairly straightforward, but it definitely helped to have some great videos to assist with the step by step process.

The video that I used was this one by Just Vlad over on YouTube.

Just Vlad does a great job of explaining each step while also drawing attention to things that may be of concern during the build.

I followed his bed leveling technique and had a very difficult time getting the bed flat. After going around in circles several times I got what I thought was close enough. I tried some test prints which were okay but definitely seemed to be a bit off. It turns out that I also had to adjust the bed temperature on my unit, but that’s a follow up to this part of the story.

Coarse Correction First!

To level the bed in the end, I tightened the thumb screws all the way, and then backed them off about 4 turns. Then I used a bullet level to see how the beds level matched that of the print head cross member. Using the cross member as a very rough guide, I proceeded to level the bed using the thumb screws.

This video is a quick overview of my process.

It is important to note that the printer itself does not need to be level, but the print bed does need to be level based on the cross member / print head as the reference.

With the bed level, the prints definitely went better however one of my earlier prints was a horrible failure.  With a bit of research I learned that the 60 degreee bed temperature needed to be higher and could go as high as 70 degrees.  I selected 67 and figured I could back that off if needed.

I’ve been doing all my prints (PLA filament) with a bed temperature of 67 and a print head temperature of 200 with no problems.

Bed Temperature Adjustment

Here you can see my first failure. Also notice the stringy-ness of the prints footprint.  That stringy-ness was the key to determining that the plastic was not properly adhering to the print bed.

With the temperature adjusted (to 67 degrees) and a few smaller novelty prints printed I had the confidence I needed and was ready to roll. I printed some Thingiverse.com turkeys in time for Thanksgiving dinner, but they disappeared from the dinner table before I thought to take a picture. πŸ˜ƒ

Floating chisels for the shop

First up was a chisel holder to replace one in my shop that does the job but is no where near as cool as one that makes the chisels appear to “float” on the wall.

Below is a selection of before and after photos. Knowing that there is a faux wood filament available I will probably reprint the holder in the future once I have some of that to have an even better look.

It took 3 tries to get the sizing correct, and I learned how exact the printer can be along the way.

Notice the image where the chisels appear to be floating. A literal fraction of a millimeter on each side of the shanks holds the chisels in place.

A digital caliper was absolutely necessary to determine the sizing of the slots.

I have to admit though that the first failure had slots that were twice as big as needed. That happens when you record the diameter as the radius during model creation. lol..😜

NOTE: I suggest a digital caliper when creating your own models.

Software to create models

I used the TinkerCAD to create a rough version of the model. The software is intuitive and very easy to use.

TinkerCAD screenshot
Drag and drop intuitive interface

From TinkerCAD the model can be exported and then imported into the Ultimaker Cura software. This software allows you to set the parameters specific to your printer and the printing of the 3D model.

Notice on the screen shot below that you can preview how every layer will print. As well, the software offers a print time so that you know how long it will take. I haven’t played around with density and infill parameters but those settings would allow you to change the amount of filament used and therefore the print time.

My Ender 3 v2 3D printer working on the project.

Here is the final STL (Cura) file that I used for the print: chisel-rack-3.zip

Great Start to 3D Printing!

All in all, I’ve had a great experience getting into 3D printing and I have no shortage of ideas around things that I want to print..   stay tuned!

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