Bed Leveling Theory - How to actually understand 3D printer bed leveling

Bed Leveling Theory - How to actually understand 3D printer bed leveling

One of the things that confuses people the most when they are introduced to 3D printing is bed leveling. Bed leveling is the process of setting the distance of the bed from the nozzle at every point along the build plate surface so that the filament adheres evenly on the bed:

The diagram above shows an example of a build plate that is not level. The left side the bed is too low, causing the filament to be extruded without making contact with the build plate. The right side of the build plate is too high, causing the 3d printer’s nozzle to scrape across the build plate. When the nozzle is too close to the bed it is common to here a “clicking” noise. This is because the extruder is having difficulty pushing material out of the nozzle due the to opening of the nozzle being blocked by the build plate.

In order for the 3d printed material to adhere correctly to the bed it is important that the nozzle is the correct distance from the bed.

This diagram shows a cross section of perfect filament adhesion to a 3d printer’s build plate. The nozzle should have a separation of about 0.15mm from the surface of the build plate. This distance is roughly the same as thickness of a standard piece of copy / office paper.

The following diagrams show what happens if the distance of the build plate is either too low or too high. When the 3d printer is extruding plastic, there needs to be enough room for the plastic to exit the tip of the nozzle, make contact with the build plate, and assure that the nozzle is not dragging on the build plate or through the extruded filament:

Knowing how to visually determine if a 3d printer’s bed is level will save you a significant amount of headache during your 3d printing journey. You can significantly reduce the number of print failures by ensuring that the printer’s bed is correctly leveled.

How to level your 3D printer's bed:


Still running into issues? 

Maybe you need to adjust your z-limit switch


Check to see if your printer's bed is level with this resource: 

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