5 Ways How to Fix Layer Shifting in Your 3D Prints


There are many issues that plague 3D printer users, but layer shifting is one that I’ve come across recently. I set out to find the answer on how to fix layer shifting once and for all.

To fix layer shifting you should reduce your printing speed so your print head isn’t moving so fast. You should also check your belts for tightness and ensure your electronics are optimal.

In the rest of this article, I’ll go through a more detailed explanation of how to fix layer shifting in your 3D prints, so keep reading to find out.

Why Are my 3D Prints Experiencing Layer Shifting?

The term layer shifting refers to the problem in which the print has layers not aligned in an expected way. The alignment is disturbed either from the x-axis, y-axis, or both.

If a single layer is shifted from the actual position, it will ruin the whole printed object because there will be a flaw in the object that looks like a stair.

Even a small bump to the 3D printer during the printing process can displace the nozzle position causing the layer shifting problem.

It is necessary to search out the actual cause, especially the axis in which the layer is shifted because it is the only way to get rid of the layer shifting problem efficiently for once and for all.

Some of the major technical and most common reasons that cause this problem include:

  • Belts have Lost Tension
  • Pulleys are Slipping or Not Aligned Properly
  • Print Head is Colliding with the Prints
  • X/Y Motors have Resistance
  • Electronics are Heated Up

How to Fix Layer Shifting in 3D Prints

The layer shifting problem is not so common and sometimes also referred to as the “staircase effect” but it is one of those problems that can spoil your design.

Most of the time the layer shifting problem can be fixed by just taking care of some moving parts of the 3D printer such as its pulleys, belts, motors, etc.

To get the best of the 3D printers it is necessary for the user to understand its way of working and consider the maintenance of its different parts.

Here you will find some of the most effective and easy to implement solutions that will surely help you to fix the layer shifting in 3D prints without requiring any technical experience.

Let us start with the most common and simplest solutions to fix this frustrating problem within minutes.

1. Tighten the Belts

Maintenance is recommended to keep your 3D printing experience perfect and as amazing as it was for the first time.

Loose belts are the most common cause behind the layer shifting problem. This is the first thing you should check if you are facing that kind of problem.

A loosed belt cannot keep pace with the pulleys properly and the disturbance can displace the nozzle and extruder motor ruining your prints.

  • Check for the belts and make sure that they are tightened perfectly.
  • There are tensioners in most of the modern 3D printers, you can easily tighten the printer’s belts using these tensioners.
  • Consider replacing the belts if you still face the layer shifting problem because the belt can become useless if they are being used for a long time.
  • There should be a bit of twang in the belts because fully tighten belts can also cause other printing problems. Just make sure that there is required tension in the belts.

2. Check the Pulleys

As you know a 3D printer is a machine that works with the combination of different parts and these parts can require maintenance at some spot.

Just like the belts, pulleys can also lose with the passage of time. Pulleys are directly connected to the belts because pulleys make the belt move.

  • Make sure that all the screws attached to pulleys are perfectly tightened because improper screws can cause the pulleys to slip.
  • Make sure that the pulleys are rotating the belts without any resistance. If there is resistance, do test prints by applying changes or by removing the motor from pulleys.
  • If you still face the layer shifting problem even after switching to different pulleys positions, consider the other solutions.

3. Prevent Print Head from Colliding

Sometimes the print head tends to collide with the object you are printing and this process causes layer shifting as well as many other flaws in the prints.

The actual problem is that collisions cannot be detected by the printer and the printer will keep on its printing process without realizing any hassle.

To prevent the collision and layer shifting you should consider implementing the following solutions.

  • Lower down the speed step by step and check if there are any improvements. It is one of the best solutions to avoid collisions and layer shifting while printing.
  • Adding a Z-hop can also help you in some situations as it will pull up the print head until it reaches the next extruding point.

4. Check X/Y Axis Motors

Whenever you face the layer shifting problem the first step to successfully fix it is to determine the axis of shifting because there are plenty of mechanical parts such as pulleys, motors, axes blocks, etc.

Determining the X/Y axis will help you to go for the right part and to get an idea of whether this part requires some maintenance or requires a total replacement.

  • Move the extruder motor manually to make sure that the motor is moving flawlessly without any disturbance.
  • Check that all the screws of the axis block cover are tightened properly.
  • Make sure that the pulleys and motors on both sides are aligned perfectly because improper alignment will disturb the rotation of the belt and will cause layer shifting.

5. Keep Your Electronics Cool

There are huge chances that the above-mentioned solutions will fix the layer shifting problem but sometimes just overheating of the electronics can cause such problems.

3D printers have drivers that are responsible for the movements of the different motors. If the printer is being used for a long time then its electronics can get heated.

The overheating of the drivers can create disturbance in the motion of the motors resulting in the layer shifting problem.

  • To avoid this problem, it is recommended to let the printer rest for some time after a long printing job so that it can cool down.
  • If you have to do continuous work make sure that you install a cooling fan near to the printer.
  • Check for the ventilation grills attached to the motherboards and make sure that these grills are open and the air is passing through it.

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