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I'm a beginner, so my terminology may be off.

I bought my first 3D printer a while back It's the first Creality Ender 3 S1 series that came out.

Question

I'll summarize my observations: Manual and auto bed leveling don't seem to catch all the inconstancies on the bed. The first layer is either too loose or too squished because of these differences. I can't seem to find any visible inconsistencies when using a ruler to check the bed at problematic points manually. I'm constantly adjusting my Z-offset to find the right height, but can't seem to find it.

Problem 1: Manual and auto bed leveling

I'm following the following steps:

  1. Tighten all springs
  2. Auto-home
  3. Move the Z-axis to 0
  4. Loosen springs to bring the table up and allow the springs to breathe
  5. Use Z-offset to bring the nozzle to the table
  6. Use a sheet of paper to feel a slight friction between the nozzle and the bed
  7. Move the nozzle to four corners (~ spring mount points)
  8. Move between each corner until satisfied with friction

Well, I don't really get to step eight, because I'm never happy with the friction. As soon as I move to the next corner, the other corners deform to the point where there is no friction at all. The springs are not too loose, so I don't think that's the problem.

Problem 2: Build plate deformation

When I'm finally kind of happy with the manual bed leveling, I return to auto-home. To my surprise, the nozzle presses hard against the surface. When I disable steppers, I notice the nozzle is still at the correct height as measured on the four corners.

There is also a small spot on the plate (1x2 cm) where the nozzle seems to press into the plate as well.

Problem 3: auto bed leveling

Now I'm thinking to myself... hey! auto bed leveling to the rescue! Well of course not. The 1x2 cm square I'm talking about does not get picked up. And the PLA on most parts of my bed is either too high or too low.

Problem 4: Z-offset and adhesion

Finally, as I mentioned, it often prints too high or too loose. But I can't seem to find the right Z-offset at all. When I move it down too far, it squishes, and when I move it back up a bit, the previous PLA loosens and gets pulled off the table on the next past (or even immediately after the first pass)

Things I've done:

  • Contacted Creality, they're really good at google translate...
    They sent me 1x motherboard, 1x print head, 1x print plate, 1x print bed
    No real help... just going in circles and some vague instruction video's on their part
  • Updated firmware to the latest version from 21 October 2021
  • Bought a glass bed and installed it
  • Adjusted all wheels on the X- and Z-axis
  • Adjusted the belt tension
  • Cleaned and greased both T-rods
  • Degreased the bed plate
  • Printed with bed @ 60 ° and 64 °C
  • Printed with nozzle @ 195 °, 200 °, 205 ° and 215 °C

I'm sorry if this question is too broad. I've had this printer for a couple of months now, and tried a lot of things, but I've never been able to start a print and go for a coffee... it always fails.

Greenonline pointed out that this question should be split up into separate questions. But to my beliefs, all four problems mentioned below might be relevant to pinpoint one or two remedies for the issue I'm having with this printer. So my question should be this: Maybe someone with more experience can see a correlation between the problems I'm having.

Help a newbie out, please :)

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    $\begingroup$ You will need to ask four different questions because, as it stands, your post will lead to confusing answers - where some answers provide solutions for only some of your questions. Just one question per post please. Please edit your question to remove three of the problems and post those three as separate questions. Thanks. Also, there doesn't seem to be an obvious question in your post, just a series of observations. $\endgroup$
    – Greenonline
    Jan 10, 2023 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Greenonline, you're right of course, but I'm indeed not looking to solve these problems one by one. There's already a lot of information on google for each of these problems. and I can manage to solve these problems one by one, but remedies for one problem only create another. Hence my question. $\endgroup$
    – DerpyNerd
    Jan 10, 2023 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ I too am having the same issue you are having. Hopefully someone can answer this because it is very frustrating when you are a beginner at this like I am. $\endgroup$
    – Stubby3
    Jan 25, 2023 at 11:39
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    $\begingroup$ As soon as I move to the next corner, the other corners deform to the point where there is no friction at all. that is not uncommon, it may take several rounds to get this right. Note, you have a sheet of glass, so, if that is perfectly flat, you should have no trouble setting the correct level or distance for that matter. If that doesn't work, either the printing tuning skills aren't there yet (no offense, mine weren't good when I was a beginner) or you have an unsurfaced hardware issue. I doubt whether we can fix this, although we want to, with the question in its current state. $\endgroup$
    – 0scar
    Jan 26, 2023 at 10:04
  • $\begingroup$ I'm having exactly the same issues. So this confirms, it's just a sh***y printer. They've offered me to send me a new bed, but I'm not going to have every single part replaced one by one until the warranty period expires. I'll just return it, demand a refund, and buy another one. Absolutely pathetic. $\endgroup$
    – matteo
    Oct 20, 2023 at 20:56

1 Answer 1

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Problem 3

Forget about auto bed leveling. Just do it manually.

Problem 2, Problem 4

Yes, Build plates are completely warped, sometimes up to 1 mm. On very large printers such as the Ender 5 Plus, it can get as bad as 2 mm. Every board has its limits and experience will tell you what you can print and what not, and what difficulties you will get.

A common issue with the Ender 3 printers is that a cable rubs against one of the wheels responsible for bed levelling, misadjusting it, usually the one on the rear left. Make sure that isn't happening.

Problem 1

Everyone I know incorrectly levels AND incorrectly uses their build plate. If you only use PLA you might get away with doing it the "ordinary" way, but that won't work for more advanced materials and even with PLA it will severely limit you. Here's what you want to do.

This is a rear view of your Ender 3 S1. You want to make sure that your X-axis is parallel to the rest of the machine. Turn one of the motors (marked red) by hand to make it parallel if it isn't. Use a normal ruler to measure the distances (marked yellow)

Photo of the Ender 3S1 printer

Once that is fixed, you level the build plate. The first thing you will want to do is level it along the X-axis.

Every build plate bulge at its center: the red cross (image below) will be the highest point of the build plate. You will want to avoid printing there if you can. Print small parts where the green cross is. Print long, thin parts along the green arrows. Print large round parts (>10 cm) in the center. Also, you will want to avoid printing long thin parts from the front left to the rear left, or from the front right to the rear right, as it will upset the balance of the build plate the heavier the print becomes, tilting it. If you have a printer that is built like an Ender 5 (not the Ender 5 Plus) you will want to avoid printing at the very front of the build plate, because it will tilt with added weight. That's why it's good practice to always print at the rear of the board along the X-axis.

So first you make sure, that the bed is flat and at the correct height along the green line because that's where you'll want to print. That is easy, as you only need to operate two screws instead of all four. Then you do the same for the orange line. You will want to go back to the green line and make light corrections. Forget about the center. The center will always be warped, so never print there, unless you're printing something really large and you have no choice.

Green is good. Red is bad. Avoid orange completely, there is no need to ever print there. I do it as I sometimes print nylon, and cover that area with PA adhesives. Saves me from washing the board between material changes. But don't do it on an Ender 5-style printer, Ender 3 will work fine.

Photo of the build plate for an Ender printer

Cheating

If all else fails, contact adhesives can be a lifesaver. You'll want to buy a second glass build plate for this because of the mess. You coat the entire build plate with a thick layer of contact adhesive (or just the parts you need if you know what you're doing) and let it dry for about 1 hour. The glue will dry out. Then you heat the bed up to no more than 80 °C. The adhesive will now soften and is ready to be printed into. You start printing directly into that layer of glue (a raft can help). It won't really matter how bad the bed levelling is, as you'll be literally printing into the glue. After the first layer has been laid down, you turn off the heated bed. Once the glue cools down, it will harden and create an incredibly strong bond to your print while your printer continues to print. After the print has finished, heat the bed to max 80 °C (50 °C for PLA, or it will soften the material) and sprinkle the build plate with warm water, which will soften the adhesive and enable you to remove your print.

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  • $\begingroup$ "experience will tell you what you can print and what not"... unbelievable how people seem to accept that you may spend $300 on a piece of equipment and it's just a matter of luck whether or not it does its job. $\endgroup$
    – matteo
    Oct 20, 2023 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ @matteo my 3d Printers cost well over $1000 and it's about getting to know the limitations in respect to each individual material. It's not about luck. But of course some elements are random. $\endgroup$
    – AzulShiva
    Nov 8, 2023 at 9:32

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