Why is leveling so difficult?

So I’ve been hapilly playing with my Mini for a while now and had a few projects that needed a bigger printer surface. So, I bought the TAZ 5.

I’ve been trying to level this thing for close to five hours now. Is it me? Am I just a complete idiot? Or is there a learning curve… and once I have it down, it will be much easier next time?

I’m so frustrated. I’m about to pack this thing up and ship it back to Amazon. :imp:

There is a bit of a learning curve. You can end up chasing the level point around the bed if you aren’t careful. Here’s what I do to level mine.

  1. Make sure the printer itself is level and the y axis is installed without a wire pinched between the frames. That happens sometimes and makes leveling tough.
  2. Using calipers measure the height from the aluminum bed plate to the underside of the heated bed at the front left corner leveling screw. Now use that measurement and transfer that same measurement to the other corners. Adjust height as needed.
  3. Now adjust the z homing screw so the nozzle is about a business card thickness off the bed. I use the thin metal depth probe that came with my printer for that. The nozzle will expand when hot so do that with the printer at print temperature.
  4. Now move the nozzle around the bed and use your feeler gouge to measure and adjust the gap. Move it over 3 inches, measure and adjust, move again repeat etc.
    At that point you should be level but print the bed calibration code file to be sure.

Once it is level you will rarely have to move the adjustment.

I haven’t leveled the printer itself yet, but in looking for pinched wires, I notice two of the rubber feet were missing from my Y axis, so I stuck some padding under both legs.

I didn’t get a depth probe with my TAZ, so I’ll use a business card instead of the paper I have been using.

I’m off the the store to buy some calipers to measure the aluminum plate and bed.

Thanks for the tips! You’ve at least given me so goals to work on so I can keep moving forward!

Do a forum search for leveling using a digital indicator. Then use your mini to print one of the holders for the indicator and level the bed that way. Since I leveled about a month or so ago with the indicator, I havent had to adjust it at all. I don’t move my printer around so ymmv.

Completely off topic, is the mini worth buying if I already have a Taz 5? I have been wanting to pick one up so that I would have a second printer. But at the same time, I wonder if it’s just better to pick up something cheaper with a larger build volume. I have read most of the mini reviews and they have all been favorable. I like that it does good quality prints without having to fuss with leveling the bed and play around with the settings. Just thought I would ask your opinion, since you now own both. Thanks.

Funny… I found the leveling thing in the forums before I read your post and it has been printing on my Mini for the past few 30 minutes.

As for buying the Mini, I have to admit the reviews are true. Out of the box it printed with no calibration and it continues to do so. It will be my “go-to” printer when I absolutely need something to print. I can’t remember a time when I’ve had such a lack of buyers remorse when buying electronics… especially of the hobbyist persuasion.

So I measured the distance between the aluminum bed plate to the underside of the heated bed and the variance is as much as 2mm. Is this not important enough to check at the factory before it ships? That said, what is the optimal distance between the two?

The bed tends to go out of level during shipping. It was probably level when it went in the box. The vibration of the truck on the road lets the springs work further out than they should be. The solid mount auto leveling designs eliminate that issue. There is also the variance of the mounting height of the Y axis. Depending on how you install it and where the pin screws are screwed in at, there can be some variance there.

As for where the ideal spot is, you want the Z axis height adjustment screw to have plenty of room to move up and down as needed for adjustment, but you also want the bed springs to be far enough in that backing one of them out a couple of turns won’t cause them to shoot out of the aluminum bed frame. Currently mine are around 9.7 mm from the top of the aluminum bed plate to the underside of the glass heated bed itself. I actually think thats probably a little higher than it should be, but thats where mine are at.

Yeah, the jostling and vibrations during shipping most likely cause the misalignment, but 2mm is quite a lot.

Check the forums for bed leveling using a dial gauge as mentioned by Baltimorebully. Thingiverse has a collection of dial gauge brackets that install onto the x-carriage.

Once leveled, you should be fine for a few weeks… I should probably check mine more often, but I havent touched the alignment screws for at least 4 weeks. The z-endstop gets more tweaking to fine tune adhesion.

If you’re adventurous, forum me!bers have achieved mods to auto-level using a capacitance probe. My other printer used an induction probe (aluminum print bed) which worked really well.

Thanks for the suggestion on the mini. Looks like I’ll be ordering one tonight. With amazon, I should have it by Saturday. I hope you get your leveling situation worked out with your Taz 5. Once it’s calibrated this machine cranks out some really good looking prints.

My TAZ is now printing like a champ! I haven’t tried any prints over 2 hours yet, but everything I have printed so far looks great!

Thanks to everyone for all the help and especially Piercet for his detailed steps.

You’re welcome!

I just received my TAZ 5 too (first post on the forum).

The feet fell off mine also (during unpacking) - they need to use a better adhesive.

I’m currently going through the whole process of trying to determine if my bed is level (I’m a complete newb). Is it uncommon to be be fine out of the box? I don’t have precise calipers or a feeler (been using folded paper) but the 4 corners seem to be equidistant from the rail.

I’m going to be implementing a level assist mod asap.

The vibration from shipping very often will cause the cap screws holding the bed at level to work up due to spring pressure. It is a very large assembly. You’ll want a good pair of calipers anyways, but in the mean time try printing the bed leveling gcode file, and if it looks off, adjust it by using a thin metal something as a feeler gauge with the nozzles in each of the corners.

The feet are pretty much standard furniture vibration dampening feet. I don’t know if anyone manufactures them with a stronger adhesive. I suppose you could just use some contact cement. but once the machine is sitting on them, they don’t tend to come off due to operational vibration, the weight of the machine keeps them well in place.

I’ve been wondering lately why Lulzbot decided to go with 4 screw leveling vs some rep rap ones that employ 3 screw leveling. Was there an advantage to doing 4 screw? I’m tempted to “try” to convert mine to 3 screw since I’m ripping everything apart to do openrail once the parts come in

When I got my Taz 5 I printed up the dial indicator holder suggested on here. I checked the X axis first and found one of the lead screws out of sync with the other. A quick turn with my fingers and its fine. Then just went to the 4 corners and got them all the same. Knowing we are not building parts for the space shuttle helped a lot. Its within 2 or 3 thousands of an inch, and that’s good enough for plastic and its holding fine. The spring tension would tend to keep the adjustment screws from moving.

The main disadvantage to a 3 screw leveling system is that 2 of your corners on a very large bed are then unsupported by anything. 3 points is theoretically easier to level, and with stiffer springs might provide enough support, but I would be worried any time I had a print up in those corners.