How to level Ender 3 3D Printer Bed? Manual and ABL Bed Leveling

Starting your 3D printing journey with an Ender 3? That’s awesome! But before you dive into printing those cool designs, it’s important to understand how to level the bed properly. This guide will provide you with detailed steps for both manual and automatic bed leveling methods to make sure your prints come out just right.

How to level Ender 3 bed?

Leveling the bed of your Ender 3 isn’t complicated. You can manually adjust the bed using its knobs and a piece of paper, or go for an automatic method like installing a BLTouch. Both methods are designed to align your bed and nozzle perfectly, which is very-very important for high-quality prints.

Why Bed Leveling Matters for Your Ender 3:

Bed leveling is not just a one-time setup; it’s a regular part of Ender 3 maintenance. An uneven bed can lead to poor first-layer adhesion, causing prints to fail. It can also result in an uneven print surface and might even damage your nozzle. So, leveling your Ender 3 bed is not just recommended; it’s essential.

Manual Bed Leveling

Manual bed leveling is the traditional method and doesn’t require any additional equipment. It’s all about adjusting the bed on all four corners to make sure they’re at the same height as the nozzle. This method is a hands-on job and gives you a good understanding of how your printer works. Here’s how to do it:

Get Your Printer Ready

  • Place your Ender 3 on a flat table. This will make sure that any adjustments you make are accurate.
  • Preheat your printer to your usual print temperature. This is important because metal expands when heated, and this could affect your leveling.
  • Clean the bed and nozzle properly. Any leftover filament on the tip of the nozzle can cause problems in your leveling process.

Start with ‘Auto Home’

  • Go to your printer’s control panel and select the ‘Auto Home‘ option. This moves the nozzle and bed to their starting positions, making sure they are positioned correctly.

Turn Off the Steppers

  • After the ‘Auto Home’ is complete, go back to the control panel and disable the stepper motors. This allows you to manually move the bed and nozzle without damaging the motors.

Adjust the Corners

  • Take a standard piece of printer paper and slide it under the nozzle at the front left corner.
  • Gently turn the leveling knob until the paper slightly catches on the nozzle. You should feel a bit of resistance but still be able to move the paper.
  • Repeat this process for all four corners, going in a circular pattern.

Check the Middle

  • After leveling all four corners, it’s important to check the middle of the bed. If the middle is off then you’ll need to readjust the corners.

Test It Out

  • Finally, run a test print. Observe how the first layer adheres to the bed. If it’s uneven, you may need to go back and make minor adjustments to the leveling knobs.

Automatic Bed Leveling (ABL)

Automatic Bed Leveling, also known as ABL, is a more advanced method that involves using a probe to measure the bed’s flatness automatically. The printer then compensates for any unevenness during the print. This method is less hands-on but can be more precise. For this guide, we’ll be using the BLTouch probe for its reliability and precision. Here’s how to install this and running:

Step 1: Choose a Probe

  • First things first, you need to pick a probe for auto bed leveling. For Ender 3, BLTouch is a popular and reliable choice.

Step 2: Get a Mount for BLTouch

  • You’ll need a mount to attach the BLTouch to your Ender 3. You can either buy one or 3D print it yourself. Here are some links to 3D models suitable for this purpose.
  • Set Y and X offset according to mount, Offset number are given in the description of these STL file

Step 3: Install the Pin 27 Adapter Board

  • Turn off and unplug your Ender 3.
  • Open the electronics enclosure.
  • Ender 3’s Controller board doesn’t come with a direct plug for the BLTouch. So, to connect the BLTouch to the Ender 3, you’ll need a Pin 27 adapter. First, unplug the display ribbon cable from its port on the motherboard. 
  • Plug the Pin 27 adapter into this port and reconnect the display to the adapter. Finally, connect the BLTouch wires to the pins on the adapter. Make sure everything is secure before closing the motherboard cover.

Step 4: Update the Firmware

  • Download the latest Marlin firmware that’s compatible with Ender 3.
  • Open the Configuration.h file in visual studio.
  • Uncomment or add the following lines:
  •                           #define BLTOUCH
  •                           #define AUTO_BED_LEVELING_BILINEAR
  •                           #define Z_SAFE_HOMING
  • Save and upload the firmware to your Ender 3.

Step 5: Wire the BLTouch

  • Connect the BLTouch wires to the Pin 27 adapter board.
  • Follow the wiring diagram that comes with your BLTouch kit.

Step 6: Calibrate the BLTouch

  • Navigate to Control > Auto Home on your printer’s menu.
  • Move the nozzle to the center of the bed.
  • Lower the Z-axis until a paper can barely pass between the nozzle and bed.
  • Note the Z-axis value and enter it in Control > Motion > Z-Offset.
  • Save these settings by going to Control > Store Settings.

Step 7: Run the ABL Procedure

  • Send the G-code command G29 to initiate auto bed leveling.
  • Save the leveling data by going to Control > Store Settings or send the G-code command M500.

And there you have it! You’ve successfully set up auto bed leveling on your Ender 3 with a BLTouch probe. Happy printing!

Conclusion

Leveling the bed on your Ender 3 is an important step for successful 3D printing. Whether you choose manual or automatic leveling, the goal is the same: a perfectly flat bed that makes for excellent first-layer adhesion. Once you’ve learned this, you’re well on your way to printing great prints.

FAQ

How do you manually level a bed in Ender 3?

  • Turn off your 3d printer and move the nozzle to each corner of the bed. Use a piece of paper to gauge the distance between the nozzle and the bed. Adjust the bed knobs until the paper slides with slight resistance. Repeat for all corners.

Does Ender 3 have bed leveling?

  • Yes, Ender 3 by default has manual bed leveling using bed knobs but auto leveling can be done by installing probes like BLTouch.

How far should the Ender 3 Pro bed be leveled?

  • The nozzle should be close enough to the bed to allow a piece of paper to slide between them with slight resistance. This results in good bed adhesion and print quality.

What happens if the nozzle is too close to the bed?

  • If the nozzle is too close, it can scrape the bed, damaging both the bed and the nozzle. It can also lead to poor adhesion and may cause the print to fail.

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