During printing, it is important that the first layer sticks well to the build plate. Leveling the build plate ensures that you have the correct distance between the build plate and the nozzle during printing, for optimal adhesion. If there is too much distance between the nozzles and build plate, the print will not adhere properly. If the distance is too small, material cannot extrude properly during the first layers.
The Ultimaker 3 offers two ways of calibrating the build plate: active leveling and manual leveling. It is recommended manually level the build plate when necessary and to enable active leveling to correct any inconsistencies.
Note: Make sure there is no plastic on the nozzles and the glass plate is clean when you want to calibrate the build plate, or you might get inaccurate results.
Active leveling is automatically performed by the printer at the start of a print, to create a reliable first layer. During active leveling, the Ultimaker 3 will measure the distance between the tip of the nozzle and the build plate in several locations. This information is used to compensate for any inaccuracies of the build surface during the first layers of the print. It will do this by adjusting the build plate height while printing.
Caution: Do not touch the Ultimaker 3 during the active leveling procedure, as this could affect the calibration process.
You can also run active leveling via the menu:
- Go to System - Build plate - Active leveling
- Wait for the printer to finish the leveling procedure. This will take a few minutes
You can choose different frequencies for performing active leveling. You can change the leveling frequency by going to System - Build plate - Frequency in the menu. For the best results, it is recommended to keep active leveling enabled, especially after the build plate has been removed and reinstalled in the printer.
Perform manual leveling when the level of the build plate is too far out of range for active leveling to compensate for. Go to System - Build plate - Manual leveling to start the process.
Manual leveling consists of 3 steps: rough leveling, fine-tuning, and Z-offset calibration.
In this part of the leveling process, set an approximate distance of 1 mm between the first nozzle and the build plate. Follow the instructions on the display:
- Wait for the Ultimaker 3 to perform its homing procedure and continue when the print head is in the center at the back end of the build plate.
- Rotate the button at the front until there is approximately 1 mm distance between the first nozzle and the build plate. Make sure that the nozzle is close to the build plate without touching it. Confirm to continue.
- The print head will now move to the next position. Adjust the thumb wheel at the front to set approximately the same distance as in the back.
- Confirm to continue and repeat for the other side.
In the next step, fine-tune the position of the build plate using the calibration card. Follow the instructions on the display:
- Place the calibration card in between the nozzle and build plate when the print head is in the center at the back end of the build plate.
- Adjust the thumb wheel underneath the build plate at the back until you feel slight friction when moving the card.
- Confirm to continue and wait until the print head moves to the next position.
- Place the calibration card again and adjust the thumb wheel at the front until you feel the same resistance as in the first position.
- Confirm to continue and repeat step 4 for the third position.
Note: Do not push on the build plate while fine-tuning with the calibration card. This will lead to inaccuracies.
In the final step, set the vertical offset between the first and the second nozzle. This ensures that the two print cores are aligned well in dual extrusion prints. During this step, do not alter the position of the build plate with the thumb wheels. Only use the controls and the calibration card.
- Place the calibration card between the second nozzle and build plate.
- Rotate the button at the front of the Ultimaker 3 to adjust the position of the build plate.
- Fine-tune until you feel the same friction on the calibration card as with the first print core.
After performing the manual leveling process multiple times, the springs under the build plate may have become too loose. This means that the build plate is too high, which could cause problems during active leveling.
Reset the position of the build plate to the factory position. To do so, use a spacer tool or a ruler. Adjust the three thumb wheels under the build plate until there is a distance of 14 mm between the bottom of the heated bed and the top of the base plate. After this, run through the manual leveling process once more.