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I have a TEVO Tornado (bought quite recently) and I want to know what is the best type of smoothers MKS smoothers or TL smoothers? Are they the same thing?

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  • $\begingroup$ What makes you think you need them? have you experienced printing issues? a printer is sold as a working design, it does not require smoothers in principle. $\endgroup$ – FarO Aug 13 '20 at 8:13
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The use of smoothers totally depends on the stepper drivers you are using! Note that the TL and MKS smoothers do exactly the same thing. Both use an arrangement of 4 or 8 diodes. Details of the problems with drivers and the working of the smoothers is explained in this blog post. The problem is that some stepper drivers are not able to produce low currents as of the present dead-zone.

if we had a way to modify the motor so that with a voltage of 1.4 V there would be no current flowing, then the driver would be able to generate all the currents because it would always be spitting out more than the minimum voltage

The diodes prevent current to flow at the cost of a voltage drop; a 1.4 V voltage drop (2 diodes) would prevent current to flow, as such you see diodes in series on the smoother boards.

These MKS/TL smoothers help with smoothing out the signal going through stepper motors; e.g. the notoriously noisy DRV8825 motor drivers are known for a stepped sine curve rather than a smooth output.

More modern chipsets such as the TMC21xx, TMC22xx, and TMC51xx do a much better job at providing smooth signals, and surprisingly, so do the cheaper drivers like the A4988s!

So if you are using stepper drivers that do not produce a smooth sine wave, like the DRV8825 stepper drivers, you could potentially benefit from installing smoothers. This could help with salmon/zebra skin/moire and ringing print artifacts/defects.

To quote the popular All3DP 3D printing site from "TL Smoother: Should I Add One to My 3D Printer?":

It’s a yes if you’re running DRV8825 stepper drivers. This was what TL smoothers were designed to do: fix a design flaw in the DRV8825. Your mileage may vary based on your printer’s power supply, but you’ll likely see noticeable improvements in print quality.

It’s a no if you’re running newer Trinamic stepper drivers. Trinamic drivers have many “smart” features built in that don’t suffer from the same issues as the DRV8825 and already counter electrical noise. As a post from Trinamic notes, adding TL smoothers doesn’t provide any significant benefit; it only increases power consumption and heat generation.

It’s a maybe if you’re running other drivers. Other stepper drivers might not have the DRV8825’s design flaws, but they may benefit from the slight electrical dampening created by the TL smoother’s circuit. Considering the smoothers’ low cost (~\$8-15 for packs of 3 or 4), it doesn’t hurt to try it out and let the results speak for themselves.

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