3D printing using an SD card is a great convenience until the 3D printer fails to read the SD card and starts displaying “No TF Card” in the 3D printer menu. Since it is a common issue, I decided to write an article detailing how to fix this.
To fix No TF Card on your 3D printer, ensure that the SD card has a supported file system, partition table, filename, and path. Refreshing, formatting, or using a 2-8GB SD card can also help. Additionally, upgrading the firmware has resolved the issue for some users. Replace the SD card altogether if it is damaged.
Keep reading for more useful information that you’ll want to know to properly resolve the “No TF Card” error on your 3D printer.
How to Fix No TF Card on 3D Printer
Here is how to fix No TF Card on your 3D printer:
- Refresh & Initialize the SD Card
- Use Compatible File System and Partition Table
- Change the G-Code Filename and Path
- Ensure SD Card is Not Corrupted
- Use an SD Card of 8GB or Below
- Clean & Correctly Insert the SD Card
- Upgrade your 3D Printer Firmware
- Replace the Damaged SD Card
1. Refresh & Initialize the SD Card
The first thing you should do to fix the “No TF Card” error is to make sure that the SD card is initialized. You can do this either by using the “Init. TF Card” option from your 3D printer’s LCD menu or by restarting the printer with the SD card inserted in the slot.
Initializing the SD card is the process of setting up a connection with it to make it ready for use and to access data from it. This is automatically done by the 3D printer or any device when you insert an SD card into it.
Sometimes, the card is not automatically initialized, and the 3D printer cannot recognize the device, especially if it was inserted while your 3D printer was ON.
It’s like when sometimes your keyboard doesn’t work when you plug it into your PC while it’s ON. However, it starts working again after you restart your computer.
Some users suggested that it is always a better idea to insert the SD card before turning ON your 3D printer. One user also said that refreshing or manually initializing the SD card always works for him.
To do this:
- Go to your 3D printer’s LCD menu.
- Select the “Init. TF Card” option under the “No TF Card” menu.
- After the successful process, locate and select the “Print from TF” or “Print from SD” option.
- Select “Refresh”, and the files should appear.
If this method doesn’t work:
- Eject the SD card
- Turn OFF your 3D printer
- Insert the SD card
- Turn your 3D printer ON
This should resolve the issue unless the card is incompatible, corrupted, broken, or experiencing some other problem.
2. Use Compatible File System and Partition Table
The best way to fix no TF card on your 3D printer is to ensure that you are using an SD card with FAT32 as the file system and MBR (Master Boot Record) as the partitioning style (organization of storage spaces and partitions on the SD card).
SD cards have a few different ways they can be formatted, including FAT32, NTFS, or exFAT. The style you’ll want to use for 3D printing is FAT32 because it is better suited for small-sized devices like SD cards and widely supported/preferred for 3D printers.
Similarly, MBR is preferred for its simple, straightforward, and compatible structure with the ability to handle smaller partition sizes.
Most 3D printers cause problems with other formats due to their large storage capacities. For example, some 3D printers, like the Ender 3, cannot even recognize the SD card if its file system is NTFS or exFAT, and the partitioning style is GPT.
To verify this, insert the SD card in your PC and then:
- Click on the “This PC” icon on the main display screen.
- In the “File Explorer” window, right-click on the SD Card drive under the “Devices and Drivers” section.
- Click “Properties” from the dropdown menu.
- You can find the “File System” under the “General” tab.
You can simply format your SD card by clicking on “Format” from the same dropdown menu. From the newly opened “Format” window, choose “FAT32 (Default)” under the File System tab and click “Start”.
Make sure to copy your important files to your computer because all data will be erased after formatting.
Here is a video on how to format an SD card (on Windows and macOS) for your 3D printer.
In case the file system is FAT32, but the partition table is not MBR, your 3D printer may still not read the SD card. To fix this:
1. Type “CMD/Command Prompt” in the Start menu’s search bar and select “Run as Administrator”.
2. Type commands one by one and press “Enter” after each command: DISKPART > List Disk > Select Disk X (replace X with the assigned disk number to your SD card) > Clean > Convert MBR.
3. Once the “DiskPart Successfully Converted the Selected Disk to MBR Format” message is displayed, recheck the properties for verification.
Here is a 1-minute video demonstrating how to convert the partition table to MBR.
If the Windows method is not fixing the problem, you can also try different tools for formatting such as the SD Memory Card Formatter for Windows/Mac, recommended by multiple users.
This has worked for many users on their Ender 3, Ender 3 V2, Ender 5 Pro, Anycubic Mega Zero, and more.
Take a look at the video on how to use the SD Memory Card Formatter.
3. Change the G-Code Filename and Path
Another way to fix no TF card on your 3D printer is to change the name, path, or directory of your G-Code file in the SD card. Avoid using special characters, and spaces. Otherwise, the 3D printer may not detect the files.
On the SD card, saving the .gcode files in the root directory instead of folders (especially if the folder name includes an underscore) is also recommended.
While 16 characters filename may work on certain 3D printers, it is recommended to stick to the 8-character limit since most 3D printers have this as their maximum readable/accessible limit.
4. Ensure SD Card is Not Corrupted
A corrupted SD card can also cause the No TF Card issue in your 3D printer. To fix this, format the SD card and try re-uploading the G-Code files.
If the computer is reading the card and files are properly transferred, re-insert the card into your 3D printer and see if the issue is resolved.
If not, try fixing the card using CMD on your computer:
- Search “CMD” and click on “Run as administrator”.
- Enter the command> chkdsk X: /f and then press “Enter”. (Replace the X with the letter given to your SD card partition by the system, such as e, f, g, etc.)
- Let the command complete the process, and then check the card again if it’s working now.
5. Use an SD Card of 8GB or Below
Using an SD card of 8GB or below is highly recommended to fix the “No TF Card” error on your 3D printer. Since a G-Code file rarely takes space in MBs, it is always better to stay within 2-8GB of storage limit.
Though the FAT32 file system is recommended for 3D printers having 32GB as the maximum storage capacity, some 3D printers may cause issues and not recognize big or high-capacity cards.
One user said that, based on his testing, Ender 3 causes issues above 8GB. So, either use a small storage card or reduce the volume in your PC:
- Type “Disk Management” in Windows Search Bar and click “Enter”.
- Right-click on the SD Card partition and click on “Delete Volume”.
- Create a new volume with a size less than or equal to 8GB.
You also use the “Shrink Volume” option as shown in the video below.
6. Clean & Correctly Insert the SD Card
Ensure that the SD card/slot pins are clean and you have inserted the SD card correctly into the slot. Though it’s not that common, dusty card/slot, loose connection, and inserting the opposite side can also cause this issue.
Check the manufacturer’s guide or focus on the slot to understand whether the sticker side of the SD card needs to be downwards or upwards.
7. Upgrade Your 3D Printer Firmware
Another way to fix the no TF card issue is by upgrading your 3D printer firmware. If the issue started right after the upgrade, consider switching back to the old version that was reading the SD card fine.
This will verify if the firmware is the issue. To prevent most firmware problems, only use the firmware officially programmed and published by your 3D printer’s manufacturers, such as Creality for the Ender 3.
You want to also ensure that you download the correct firmware version for your 3D printer board.
Below is a comprehensive video on how to update your 3D printer firmware.
8. Replace the Damaged SD Card
If the card itself is damaged, connectors are broken, or has stopped working on all devices, replacing it should be the only solution.
This can happen when you insert or eject the card forcefully or in a hurry. Users recommend the safe way by clicking on the “Eject” button before removing the SD card from the slot.
Also, make sure that no files are being transferred at the time of ejection. Otherwise, it can cause technical issues or may permanently damage the SD card.
Consider buying SD cards from some good brands because those that come with 3D printers are mostly of poor quality.
The SanDisk 4GB MicroSD Card is considered a good brand by most 3D printer users.