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I have an Ender 3 V1 3D printer. When I first got the printer and assembled it, I was able to get very good prints. My post is specifically about horizontal layer lines, and initially with my printer, I didn't see any horizontal layer lines.

Here are some pics of my last good print:

Good benchy 1

Good benchy 2

Then, I introduced some changes to my printer. Namely, I got the SKR mini e3 V3.0 and added some other things like a rear electronics box, Octoprint with a Raspberry Pi, an LED light strip, and more. During the time of these upgrades, my printer was down until I completed all of the upgrades, which also included the disassembly of some parts of the printer.

Ever since completing those upgrades, I've had uneven horizontal lines on my prints.

Horizontal Line 1

Horizontal Line 2

Horizontal Line 3

Horizontal Line 4

Horizontal Line 5

Horizontal Line 6

Horizontal Line 7

I've tried so many things, it's unbelievable. I've printed hundreds of calibration cubes and have adjusted many things.

My upgrades:

  • Yellow bed springs
  • Metal extruder
  • Glass bed
  • SKR mini e3 V3.0
  • BLTouch
  • Octoprint
  • LED light strip
  • Flexible Z-rod coupler
  • Anti-backlash nut

Things I've tried:

  • Lowering flow rate, including dramatic changes
  • Bed PID autotune
  • Hotend PID autotune
  • E-steps calibration
  • Flow rate calibration
  • Acceleration calibration
  • Cleaned the Z-rod many times and re-lubed it to varying degrees
  • Tried a different Z-rod
  • Printed a Z-motor spacer
  • Checked alignment of the Z-rod in terms of distance
  • Tightened the belts many times, to varying degrees to test what produced the best results. Everything from very tight to loose
  • Adjusted the eccentric nuts in many ways, from less tight to more tight
  • Changes the wheels on the X and Y axes
  • Tried Prusa Slicer and Cura Slicer
  • Tried multiple different rolls of PLA filament
  • Tried some different slicer settings, like increasing the minimum layer time
  • Tried different hotend printing temperatures
  • Levelled my bed many times
  • Put my 4.2.2 board back, and produced horizontal lines as well
  • Increased stepper currents
  • Changed the extruder tensioner spring
  • Changed the nozzle many times
  • Changed the PTFE tube
  • Made sure to the best of my ability that the PTFE tube was well seated with the nozzle
  • Linear advance calibration
  • Tried turning off linear advance
  • Rebuilt my printer twice using CHEP's video
  • I've followed Teaching Tech's calibration guide
  • Tried printing from the SD card instead of Octoprint
  • Use my own custom Marlin. But also tried BTT's pre-compiled firmware

And probably many other things that I just don't immediately recall.

Another thing to note is that I really haven't printed much with this printer. I got it a few months ago, and I haven't printed much with it. So there are not many hours on it.

I'm at a point where I don't really know what to do. I have some parts on the way to do the following:

  • Dual Z-Axis upgrade
  • Petsfang V2 cooling duct upgrade

I really don't know what to do at this point. I've been genuinely considering buying a brand new printer and throwing the one I have out the window. I'm really frustrated that I can't get a good print anymore.

I've posted multiple times on some other places, and I've gotten good advice that I've applied. That did not fix the problem.

I would appreciate any insight into the problem. If I can't find a solution here, and the above two upgrades don't do anything, then I'm not sure what I'll do with the printer and hobby in general.

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  • $\begingroup$ It's a silly question, but did you do all of these prints on octoprint or did you try using the SD card too? It's been a few years since I used octoprint, but I do remember there being some funkiness printing off of it, like sending a line of gcode at a time or something (which SHOULDN'T affect print quality) and it's one more potential source of errors. $\endgroup$ Apr 16, 2022 at 20:43
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    $\begingroup$ @LuxClaridge It is reported that older Raspberry Pi's and Pi zeros aren't fast enough to produce good prints. So, that is a possibility. $\endgroup$
    – 0scar
    Apr 16, 2022 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. I did try printing with the SD card only. The print looked identical to the Octoprint one. $\endgroup$
    – geekgeek4
    Apr 17, 2022 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ Did you introduce a "Flexible Z-rod coupler", and what kind? These are known for creating problems. Furthermore, you have an Ender 3 printer, you can't expect Ultimaker quality prints. I see the banding in the cubes, but to say that it is printing badly... The Ender 3 is a popular cheap printer with design flaws, but, it has some good design features with respect to the previous generation that had acrylic frames. $\endgroup$
    – 0scar
    Apr 17, 2022 at 5:01
  • $\begingroup$ The coupler I am using is this one : tinyurl.com/2p88atez. I bought the coupler in response to the banding. So the issue was there before. The print quality was pretty much identical after adding the flexible coupler, as compared to a solid coupler that came with the printer. To be fair, that was expected, since I aligned my z-rod pretty much perfectly. So I didn't expect the flexible coupler to do any 'flexing'. $\endgroup$
    – geekgeek4
    Apr 17, 2022 at 5:22

1 Answer 1

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I had the exact same-looking layer lines, and the problem was multi-factorial, but mainly in the Y-axis concentric nuts being too loose. In the Ender 3, the Y-axis wobbles very easily because it only has the thinner rail, the Ender 3 pro has the wider 40x40 aluminum rail on the Y-axis and it makes a world of difference. It sounds like you have dealt with this, just make sure to double-check that they are indeed as tight as recommended by CHEP.

The other issue was the extruder motor shaft/brass geared wheel that is on the shaft. If the motor shaft is slightly warped or the brass gears are worn or some of the gears are full of filament, etc., you will get a consistently uneven extrusion that gives weird layer lines; I had to replace the gear.

Finally, the end of the X-axis that does not contain the lead screw came way too tight from the manufacturer, which leads to uneven lines. This was not apparent from simply moving the gantry up and down. It required taking apart the X-axis gantry so that the wheels on that right side were independent of the lead screw side and then adjusting those concentric nuts so that the little 3-wheel part would glide up and down the rail with no resistance at all, and then reattaching it to the rest of the gantry. It is a different technique than tightening the other concentric nuts because you don’t care if a wheel seems too loose, just that it flows up and down the rail (I wish I had the time to find the YouTube video that explained this technique because it solved the last of my problems). I know you are waiting for a second lead screw but could try this adjustment while waiting.

Finally, you said that you have changed nozzles, but where are they all from the same company and batch? I got a batch from Amazon that all seemed to give me gimped prints so changing the nozzle to one from a different company might still help.

Good luck.

BTW, I am also using the skr V3 with no problems, in one Ender 3 printer (other upgrades are just Capricorn tube and filament runout sensor) and the other Ender 3 has the original 8-bit board and they both print about the same quality with regards to layer lines - which is similar to your original pictures.

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