How to Use Z Offset in Cura for Better 3D Prints
When it comes to 3D printer settings, one setting called the nozzle offset confuses many people, including myself at one point. I decided to assist people who may also be in this position, to get a better understanding of what nozzle offset is in Cura, and how to use it.
What is Nozzle Offset?
Nozzle offset is an efficient and quick way of adjusting the height/position of the nozzle without affecting the actual nozzle height value in the slicer.
Although adjusting the nozzle offset will not change the nozzle height in the software, it will result in the adjustment of the final nozzle height value that is used for the slicing of the 3D print model.
It means that your final nozzle height will be the sum of the nozzle height in the software and the value set for nozzle offset.
To get better prints, the nozzle should be at a reasonable distance from the build plate and adjusting the Z Offset can help in this regard. Even if your printer uses an auto-leveling switch, the Z-Offset value can be adjusted if you need.
Nozzle Z Offset value can be useful in many cases such as while moving from one printing material or filament brand since some types of material can expand during the extrusion process.
Another good use is if you change your bed surface to something that is higher than usual, like a glass bed surface.
Most times, correctly leveling your bed manually is enough to solve your nozzle height issues. In some cases, your bed may get warped while its hot, so ensure you level things when the bed is heated up.
You can check out my article about properly leveling your bed, and another article about fixing a warped 3D print bed.
How Does Nozzle Offset Work?
The nozzle height can be positive or negative depending on what you want your outcome to be.
Setting your nozzle offset to a positive value will move the nozzle closer to the build platform, while a negative value will move your nozzle further away from the build platform or higher up.
You shouldn’t have to change your nozzle offset often unless you are making a significant change, though you’ll have to manually change the value each time.
It’s a great way to compensate for different materials or upgrades to your 3D printing process.
If you find that your nozzle height is consistently too close or too far from the build surface, nozzle offset is a useful setting to correct this measurement error.
Let’s say you found your nozzle was always too high up, you would set a positive nozzle offset value of something like 0.2mm to bring the nozzle down, and vice versa (-0.2mm)
There is another setting which relates to moving your nozzle height up or down, called babysteps which you can sometimes find within your 3D printer if it is installed.
When I purchased the BigTreeTech SKR Mini V2.0 Touchscreen for my Ender 3, the firmware had these babysteps installed where I could easily adjust the nozzle height.
The Ender 3 V2 has an in-built setting within the firmware that gives you an easy way to adjust your Z offset.
Another thing you can do rather than use all these settings and firmware, is to simply manually adjust your Z-axis limit switch/endstop.
If you find your nozzle being really far and high up from the bed, it makes sense to slightly move up your Z endstop. When I upgraded to a Creality Glass Platform, rather than adjust Z-offset, I moved the endstop higher to account for the higher surface.
Where Do I Find Z-Offset in Cura?
No doubt Cura is one of the most used and appreciated slicing software when it comes to 3D printing, but the fact is that this slicer doesn’t come along with a preloaded or pre-installed nozzle Z Offset value. You should not get frustrated because you can get this setting installed in your Cura slicer by following a few simple steps.
You just have to install the nozzle Z Offset plugin in your Cura slicer which can be found under the marketplace section. To download and install the Z Offset plugin:
- Open your Cura Slicer
- There will be an option titled “Marketplace” located in the top right corner of Cura slicer.
- Clicking on this button will bring a list of downloadable plugins that can be used in Cura slicer. Scroll through the different options and click on the “Z Offset Setting”.
- Just open it and hit click on the “Install” button
- Once the installation process is completed, accept the message displayed and exit your Cura slicer.
- Restart the slicer and your plugin will be there for your service.
- You can find this Z Offset setting in the dropdown menu of the “Build Plate Adhesion” section, though it won’t show unless you set visibility settings to “All”
- You can search for “Z Offset” setting by simply using Cura’s search box.
If you don’t want to search the Z Offset setting every time you need to adjust it, you have to change some of the slicer’s configurations.
There is a customization section where you can add specific settings to each level of visibility, so I recommend using at least “Advanced” settings or a custom selection of settings that you sometimes adjust, then adding “Z Offset” to that.
You can find this under the “Preferences” option at the top left of Cura, clicking into the “Settings” tab, then at the top right of the box, you can see set each level of visibility. Simply select your chosen level of visibility, search for “Z Offset” in the “Filter” box and check the box beside the setting.
Once you get the hang of this, it becomes very easy.
I’d make sure to take thing slow and only make minor adjustments, so you can get your levels perfect without moving the nozzle too far down on the platform.
Using G-Code to Adjust Nozzle Z Offset
You need to home the printer first before moving towards the Z Offset settings and adjustments. G28 Z0 is the command that can be used to home your 3D printer taking it to zero limit stop.
Now you need to send a Set Position command so that you can adjust the Z Offset value, manually using G-Code. G92 Z0.1 is the command that can be used for this purpose.
The Z0.1 refers to the current Z Offset value in the Z-axis, meaning you have set the home position to be 0.1mm higher. This means your 3D printer will adjust any future movement in relation to hope by lowering the nozzle by 0..1mm.
If you want the inverse result and want to raise the nozzle, you want to set a negative value for Z, like G92 Z-0.1.