Layer shifts in 3D printers can be very troublesome since they are likely to ruin the look and functionality of your whole print. Sometimes these layer shifts can consistently occur at the same height. This article will help look at the causes and then the fixes for this issue.
Keep on reading for the details behind fixing your layer shifts at the same height.
What Causes Layer Shifts in 3D Printing (At Same Height)
Layer shifts in 3D printing at the same height can be caused by a number of factors like loose X or Y-axis pulleys, belt slack, overheating, excessive printing speed, vibration, instability, and many more. Some users found issues with the actual sliced file or even from a lack of lubrication in their 3D printer.
How to Fix & Stop Layers from Shifting (At Same Height)
There are many methods to stopping layers from shifting at the same height, but they do depend on what’s causing the issue in the first place. You’ll want to run through a few of these fixes so you can see if it helps solve your issue.
Whether you are learning how to fix layer shifting with an Ender 3 or another machine, this should set you on the right path.
I’d recommend doing some of the easier and simpler fixes first before moving onto the more advanced methods.
- Tighten Belts and Check Pulleys
- Stabilize 3D Printer and Lower Vibrations
- Try Re-Slicing Your File
- Reduce Your Printing Speed or Jerk & Acceleration Settings
- Changing Coasting Setting
- Change Infill Patterns
- Lubricate & Oil Your 3D Printer
- Improve Cooling for Stepper Motors
- Enable Z Hop When Retracting
- Increase VREF to the Stepper Motor Driver
1. Tighten Belts and Check Pulleys
One method of fixing your layers shifting at the same height is to tighten up your belts and check your pulleys. The reason for this is that a loose belt can reduce the accuracy of your 3D printer’s movements, leading to layer shifts.
You’ll want to take a look at the belt on the X & Y axis to see whether they have a good amount of tension. A belt that’s too tight can also cause issues such as binding or not the teeth being skipped during movements.
Check the video below to learn what the correct 3D printer belt tension is.
Another thing to check is that your pulleys are in place and are working properly. Pulleys are the round metal parts that your belt goes around, which have teeth that the belt fits into.
Your pulleys shouldn’t slip and should be tight enough. These can loosen over time so it’s a good idea to check them periodically.
After tightening belts and checking pulleys, users have fixed their issue of layers shifting at the same height.
2. Stabilize 3D Printer and Lower Vibrations
Another potential fix to layer shifting at the same height in a 3D printer is stabilizing the printer and reducing any sort of vibrations. Vibrations in many cases can cause layers to shift at the same height, especially on specific parts of a model where the print head is going too fast.
You can stabilize your 3D printer by putting it on a firm and stable surface, as well as attaching rubber anti-vibration feet to the bottom of the machine.
These can even be 3D printed or professionally bought.
Check around your 3D printer for any loose parts, especially in the frame and gantry/carriages. When there are loose parts or screws on your 3D printer, it increases the presence of vibrations which can lead to layer shifts at the same height.
One user suggested you can even put your 3D printer on something heavy like a thick piece of wood or a slab of concrete with some padding under the heavy surface.
Many people overlook their actual print bed being the culprit, having worn out clips on their bed. If you have a glass bed for example, you need to clip it in place. One user found that their worn out clips caused layer shifts as shown in the video below.
The fix worked for many other users as well.
A user commented that his entire glass bed shifted from its original position due to a clip issue. He also mentioned that this is by far the fastest layer shifting fix out there.
An interesting way someone said to check for vibrations is to put a glass of water on the surface or table your printer is sitting on to see if the water is moving. Small movements in the table can cause shifting issues further in your print.
3. Try Re-Slicing Your File
Simply re-slicing an STL file into the G-Code file can help to fix this issue. A 3D printer hobbyist who had a random y shift after checking their stepper motor and belts. They then re-sliced the file they were printing with and it all printed just fine.
You could also try to rotate the file by 90° and slice the file again to see if that makes a difference.
4. Reduce Your Printing Speed or Jerk & Acceleration Settings
When it comes to layer shifts at the same height, your printing speed can also contribute to this. The higher your printing speed, the more likely it is to start shifting. You want to avoid excessive print speeds. The default print speeds should work well enough for you at around 50mm/s.
Some 3D printers are designed to move at faster printing speeds without issues, but not all of them can handle these speeds.
I would also check your Jerk & Acceleration settings to make sure these aren’t too high and causing layer shifts.
Another user who changed their Jerk setting from 20mm/s to 15mm/s found that their layer stopped shifting after this. The default Jerk setting in Cura is now 8mm/s if you enable Jerk Control, so double check these values.
Sometimes your 3D printer’s firmware will have its own Jerk setting that it follows.
Another user also suggested to turn off Acceleration Control & Jerk Control in your slicer. They had the same issues and after doing this, their models were coming out very nicely.
5. Changing Coasting Setting
One user mentioned that a potential fix for this issue is to change your coasting setting in their slicer. If you are experiencing layer shifts at the same height, try changing your coasting setting, by enabling it if it’s disabled, or disable it if it’s enabled.
In one instance, enabling coasting can help fix the issue because it can slow down your 3D printer more before the end of the move. On the other hand, turning coasting off can let your firmware know that it needs to slow down sooner for a corner.
6. Change Infill Patterns
It’s possible that your infill pattern is contributing to the issue of layers shifting at the same height since some infill patterns have sharper corners. When your layer always shifts at the same spot, it’s likely that a sudden movement at high speed is happening at that spot.
You can try changing your infill pattern to see if that helps fix this issue. The Gyroid pattern could be a good one to test out whether this is causing the issue since it doesn’t have sharp corners and is more of a curved pattern.
7. Lubricate & Oil Your 3D Printer
Another fix that has worked for users that experience layer shifts at the same height is to lubricate and oil their 3D printer parts. If there is too much friction on the moving parts of your 3D printer, that can cause issues, so you’ll want to lubricate these parts.
I’d recommend using something like Super Lube Synthetic Oil with PTFE, a staple lubricant for your 3D printer.
I wrote this article called How to Lubricate Your 3D Printer Like a Pro – Best Lubricants to Use so you can get the key information on how to do this properly.
The video below is very useful to learn how to lubricate your 3D printer.
8. Improve Cooling for Stepper Motors
One user found that the reason this was happening was due to their stepper motor driver overheating at a certain point in their print. This can be due to a lot of current needing to be used for the 3D print.
I wrote an article called 7 Ways How to Fix Extruder Motor Getting Too Hot which you can check out for more details.
This video from Tech2C goes through how important are cooling fans and how they can get you quality prints.
Another user even mentioned an issue with a motherboard heating up in the case of an Ender 3 with a 4.2.2 motherboard. They upgraded it to a 4.2.7 motherboard and it solved the problem.
9. Enable Z Hop When Retracting
Enabling the Z Hop When Retracting setting in Cura is another method that has worked to fix layer shifts at the same height. One user who had an Ender 3 was experiencing layer shifts at a height around 16mm on all his parts.
They checked whether their leadscrew was smooth, checked their wheels and aluminum extrusions and all of that looked fine. He also checked for any stabilization issues such as wobbles or blockages but all looked good.
As he watched the print get to that specific height, the nozzle started hitting the prints and the supports.
To fix this, he ended up adding a Z Hop of 0.2mm for travel moves. This basically lifts up your nozzle by 0.2mm each time your nozzle retracts to move from one place to another. This does add time to the overall 3D print but it’s useful to avoid your nozzle hitting your prints.
10. Increase VREF to the Stepper Motor Driver
This is a slightly less common fix but still, something that has worked for users, and that is to increase the VREF or current to your stepper motors. The current is basically the power or torque that your stepper motors can generate to make movements on the 3D printer.
If your current is too low, movements can skip a “step” and cause a layer shift in your model.
You can increase the VREF in your stepper motors depending on whether they are low or not. Check out the video below to learn how to do this, though keep safety in mind because these electronics can be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing.
Best 3D Printer Layer Shift Tests
There aren’t too many layer shift tests out there but I did find a few that has worked for some users.
Layer Shift Torture Test
One user who tried looking for layer height torture tests couldn’t find one, so he made one himself. The Layer Shift Torture Test works well to quickly diagnose any layer shifting issues.
He tried finding where a normal print failed, which took a few hours, but with the torture test, it only took 30 seconds.
Y-Axis Layer Shift Test Model
If you are having a Y-axis shift issue specifically, this is a great layer shift test to try. The user designed this Y-Axis Layer Shift Test Model to help identify his own Y-axis shifting issue. He got positive results along with many users who have tried 3D printing this test.
This model failed 100% of the time for a layer shifting issue he had, but he also added a second Y axis test model that his friend requested that you can also try.