3D printers require the bed to be leveled properly but people wonder how often you should level your 3D printer bed. This article will give you the details behind this question.
You’ll also get some effective methods of keeping your 3D printer bed level over a longer period of time, rather than having to level it so often.
How Often Should You Level a 3D Printer Bed?
Some people decide to level their 3D printer bed after every print but this seems unnecessary. Many people choose to level their bed after 5-10 prints or before doing a really long print to ensure better success. With the right methods, you can reduce the need of leveling your bed to a monthly basis or even less.
3D printers are created different, so some machines might need to be leveled more often than others, while some never need leveling and work just fine. It really does depend on several factors such as how well you put the 3D printer together and how often you move the 3D printer.
Here are some factors that affect how often you should level your 3D printer bed:
- Using stock springs under the bed that aren’t very firm
- How accurately you are actually leveling the bed
- Printing on an unstable surface that vibrates
- Significant changes in the bed temperature since thermal expansion alters the bed shape slightly
- Your 3D printer’s frame or gantry being off level
- Loose screws or nuts around the 3D printer
Once you control for these factors, you should have to level your bed a lot less. People that level their bed very well create a situation where they only need to do minor level adjustments from time to time to get the bed level again.
One user mentioned that if you level a bed for PLA at 190°C, then you try to 3D print ABS at a 240°C bed, the higher temperature can cause thermal expansion, meaning that the bed isn’t at the same level.
Another interesting thing is whether you have auto bed leveling like the BLTouch. It measures multiple points on the bed and compensates for those distances to create accurate leveling. With something like this installed, people say they rarely, if ever, have to level their bed.
I’ll give some useful techniques that you can use for needing to level your bed less often.
How to Fix 3D Printed Bed That Won’t Stay Level
- Upgrade to firmer springs or silicone leveling columns
- Don’t move your 3D printer around
- Use a removable bed surface
- Install auto bed leveling
- Level your gantry & tighten screws
- Use mesh bed leveling
Upgrade to Firmer Springs or Silicone Leveling Columns
The first thing I’d recommend for fixing a 3D printer bed that won’t stay level is to upgrade to firmer springs or silicone leveling columns underneath your bed. When you use those stock springs that are quite weak, they don’t hold up very well over time and start to change level.
When you start using firmer springs or silicone leveling columns, they stay in place for a lot longer, meaning that your bed stays level and you don’t have to level it so often.
For the springs, I’d recommend going with the 3D Printer Yellow Compression Springs from Amazon. They have reviews from many happy customers that used it successfully.
One user said it’s an absolute must-have. He previously struggled with keeping his print bed level and was leveling after every print. After installing these, he barely has to level the bed, only doing small adjustments every now and again.
Another user said this is the best initial upgrade he did for his Ender 3 Pro.
Something to keep in mind is that when you have springs installed, you don’t want them to be pressed all the way down. One user said you can tighten them all the way, then loosen them 3-4 turns and level from there.
You can even see this “perfect first layer” from this user after installing the springs on his Ender 3. He said his whole print bed is much firmer and stable now.
Check out the video below by The Edge of Tech on how to install these yellow springs.
You can also go with these 3D Printer Silicone Column Mounts from Amazon that do the same thing. These also have several positive reviews from users saying it works great to keep their beds level for longer.
One user who has an Ender 3 S1 said it made their 3D printing journey much easier, and now can avoid doing their weekly leveling adjustments. Installation is very simple and only requires you to remove the bed knobs and old springs, pop these columns on, then re-level the bed.
Don’t Move Your 3D Printer Around
When you move your 3D printer around too much, or put heavy things on top of the bed for example, it can cause your 3D printer to lose its level. I’d recommend that you keep your 3D printer in one place and avoid too many physical movements with it to help keep it leveled for longer.
Someone also mentioned that you should avoid removing 3D prints from your bed with too much pressure because it can cause your bed to not stay level.
They used to scrape 3D prints off the bed without removing the surface, but after they removed the surface to take 3D prints off, they only have to level every couple of weeks.
Use a Removable Bed Surface
Similar to the fix above, using a removable bed surface can help keep the bed level since you can remove the bed to take your prints off it. I’d recommend a surface like the HICTOP Flexible Steel Platform with PEI Surface from Amazon.
It comes in two parts, one magnetic sheet, then the flexible PEI surface which your models will be printed on. I’ve used this and it’s probably the best 3D printing surface out there. Adhesion is always great and you can flex the bed to remove prints easily.
A lot of times prints will release just from the bed cooling down.
You can also go with something like the Creality Tempered Glass Bed from Amazon. It’s known to be the flattest surface out of many 3D printer beds and gives a nice shiny finish at the bottom of your models.
One user who installed a glass bed, along with the firmer yellow springs said he only has to adjust the level a couple of times a year.
Install Auto Bed Leveling
You can also try to install auto bed leveling on your 3D printer to keep it level for longer. Several users have decided to go with auto bed leveling by using devices such as the BLTouch or the CR-Touch Auto Leveling Kit from Amazon.
These work by measuring several distances between the bed and the nozzle and using those values to compensate the movements of the nozzle while printing.
One user who has an Elegoo Neptune 2S running on Marlin was having issues with the bed not being perfectly flat, so he purchased a BLTouch to create a bed mesh and work around the bed issue.
Another user said it’s a good upgrade to any FDM 3D printer that supports it. The BLTouch has great accuracy and repeatability, though it can be tricky to install depending on your setup. Their print failures have been drastically reduced by using this auto bed leveling sensor.
Level Your Gantry & Tighten Screws
You might also experience your bed not staying level if your gantry is not level or there are loose screws around.
It’s a good idea to check that your gantry or 3D printer’s frame is level and make any necessary adjustments. One user mentioned that he was having trouble leveling the bed on his Ender 3 after initial assembly.
He tried out many solutions but figured out that his gantry wasn’t level. When he re-built the gantry and made sure it was square to the frame, as well as tightening up the nuts around the gantry, he could finally get his bed to keep level.
Upgrading your firmware and enabling Manual Mesh Leveling was another recommendation he had.
One user who tried several fixes figured out that the two screws that hold the carriage onto the gantry at the extruder were a little loose, giving space for vertical movement in the gantry. Although the bed was staying alright, the print head was moving more than it should.
Make sure that when you tighten up your screws, and that your carriage is seated properly on the uprights or vertical frames.
Check out the video below by The Edge of Tech showing how to properly level your gantry.
Use Mesh Bed Leveling
Mesh bed leveling is a great technique to improve your leveling and to help fix a bed that doesn’t stay level. It’s basically a way to measure multiple points on your 3D printer bed and map it so you can accurately see how level your bed is.
This is similar to what an auto bed leveling sensor does, but doing it manually instead.
Teaching Tech has a great guide on how to implement manual mesh bed leveling. It’s done commonly for beds that are warped, but it can help out regardless. You don’t need any addition hardware since the work is done through firmware and on the LCD.
One user who was considering getting an auto bed leveling sensor found that enabling mesh bed leveling was enough to get a perfect first layer without it. Another user said he installed custom firmware with mesh bed leveling and hasn’t had to do leveling for a long time.
Jyers firmware is a popular choice that many users go with.
Check out the video below for a Jyers firmware guide. People are saying it’s a very well explained video and made it easy for them to follow.