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Ultimaker 3 Review: A Dual Head Printer Worth the Money?

Ultimaker 3 review

This Ultimaker 3 review is about a prosumer dual extruder 3d

ultimaker 3 review: first lookprinter with wireless control, operating on the FFF (fused filament fabrication) method. It is an industrial grade printer equally at home on the desktop as in the living room.

Lets have a closer look at it

It’s large build volume of 215x215x200mm ( 8.5×8.5×7.9in) defies the outer size, as it fits conveniently on your desktop. Outer dimensions 342x380x398mm( 13.5x15x15.5in). (The print volume

ultimaker 3 review: large build volumedrops slightly when in dual material mode to 197x215x200mm (7.75×8.5×7.9in). There is also an extended model with the Z axis extended up to 300mm.

The printer comes with two print cores for build and support material. The customized nozzle geometry reduces the risk of clogging and give you a more reliable 3d print experience. There is an integrated pcb on the print head to ensure a more accurate temperature control and superior print quality.

The ultimaker 3 can print at temperatures up to 280C, so the printer can print in a number of different materials.

ultimaker 3 dual print heads

Fast print core changes mean fast up time and easier maintenance, there is nothing worse than a nozzle clog to annoy you when you are up against the clock to print something out.

There are led lights within the print core housing to alert you to any user interaction required.

For easy print removal and maintenance there is a removable glass plate. To remove the glass plate simply rotate the clips out of the way and remove towards the front. Make sure the glass is cold before removal. When using the glue stick for adhesion you will be soaking the glass plate and model in water to dissolve the glue.

Levelling the build platform is effortless. When you use it for the

ultimaker 3 print calibrationfirst time, simply set the right height by turning the build platform height knob and inserting the supplied calibration card.

After this the ultimaker’s built-in levelling routine does it automatically. The capacitive sensor in the print head measures the distance between the build platform and the nozzle.

When starting a print the offset height is compensated for by adjusting the Z axis height in the first layers. This results in more accurate levelling, build platform adhesion and optimised print quality.

Installation of the correct materials for your model is simplicity, automatic recognition of the reels as they are placed on the printer allow, when connected, the CURA software to load the optimal profiles for quality printing.

The recognition system is NFC built into the material carrier. If you are not using ultimaker material reels then you will need to enter the material manually.

ultimakers range of materials are formulated to give you superior results and the open filament system allows you to experiment with all different types of materials.

To bring your 3d model to life, you will need to prepare it for print

ultimaker 3 cura software using CURA, ultimakers free slicing software. You can stick with the presets for the materials or tinker with the advanced settings.

You can print directly from your pc via the WIFI or LAN settings, alternatively you can load the gcode files onto a usb drive that slots into the front of the ultimaker 3.

The control panel on the printer lets you make any adjustments during the print. The control panel allows updates to the software, when connected to the LAN.

The ultimaker 3 is the most reliable durable dual extruder on the

ultimaker 3 dual colour printsmarket. Combine two build materials for two colour 3d print or achieve state of the art complexity with build and water soluble support material. This allows you to approach your design process in a completely new way and create astoundingly complex designs.

Ultimakers 3 unique nozzle lifting system ensures that there are no nozzle collision while printing and no problematic oozing.

The powerful geared feeders ensure a more reliable result and superior print quality.

The ultimaker3 features a build platform that is lighter and stiffer which reduces vibrations and produces an unrivalled print quality.

With the heated glass plate you can print using many different materials and have improved build plate adhesion.

Ultimaker 3 has a powerful triple fan system, featuring two new radial fans and fan shrouds. It creates greater airflow, this means better cooling, high quality bridging, faster print times and smoother surfaces.

With the addition of the live camera, you can monitor every stage of

ultimaker 3 livecamyour 3d printing project remotely, simply by connecting to WIFI.

The ultimaker 3 has a large layer resolution of 20 to 200 microns. Which allows for remarkably detailed prints or superfast prototypes.

Printing with pla and pva allows complex designs to be printed in place without any post printing assembly, using the water soluble pva as a support material.


Pva can also be printed in dual extrusion with ultimker nylon, an ideal material for exceptionally strong functional prototypes.

Using two build materials you can also produce dual colour prints for more realistic concept models.

The ultimaker 3 comes with free lifetime technical support and warranty provided by certified experts worldwide.

When you put it all together the ultimaker 3 is the most industrial grade desktop 3d printer on the market.

With the price of the printer currently topping £3k, is it worth it?

To get the features within the printer along with the ease of calibration. Your printer will be producing high quality prints time after time.

So the ultimaker 3 review has shown it to be a  very very capable printer from a good quality manufacturer.



3d Printer Project Ideas: Salt Grinder Part 2

This is the Second installment in the 3d printer project ideas: Salt Grinder repair project, if you missed the first part then click here.

So the first section dealt with the fact that the salt cellar had broken

3d printer project ideas: salt grinder piece broken and I need to fix it – or buy another one.

I was also looking at learning google sketchup, but I found that after having a good go at it I was left with a model without a bottom. I could not fix this and after reviewing another 3d printer, the Cubepro Trio, I came across their basic design software – yes it costs money but is free for 15 cubify invent now

I will review (#amazon link) Cubify Invent shortly as I feel it is a very good CAD system designed specifically for 3d printers. For 3d printer project ideas this software, for the price is excellent value for money, yes there are free CAD programs available and i will trial them. but for ease of use and fit for purpose at the moment I cannot fault the program.

cubifyfans blogspot

Another web site has tutorials on this software, if you intend to get it I would advise watching these to get the concept behind the CAD. This helped no end and so today I looked at the part again and redrew it from the ground up.

Starting with an outside circle and adding an inner ring along with the retainer- the main piece that was broken on the original.

Moving up to the keyways and retaining screw holes.

This time the whole piece was drawn up in an hour. Wow – even for me that was quick!!

3d Printer Project Ideas: first part finished

With sketchup I had to make sure the model was closed and had no spurious lines within the model, not with Cubify Invent, as it is designed to work with 3d printers then it produces a model suitable for 3d printers.

Exporting it to stl out of Cubify invent is simplicity itself (file -export).

Taking it to the machine by the printer and passing it through CURA to get the g-codes, I printed it out.

3d Printer Project Ideas: first printed part

The whole print took 35 minutes. About 1m (3 ft) of material, I am using PLA at the moment.

Offering up the ceramic part to the print I found that the printer had overshot, it was far too tight!! The keyways had a extra piece at the ends, where I need to examine the operation of the printer again. The part could be cleaned up by filing and sanding down, this would prove tricky in the corners of the inner circle so i decided to scrap this one and revisit the cad.

So back to the software. I now needed to modify the part! Not always easy with a lot of cad and with simple models it is sometimes better to start again.

design ideas for 3d printing: finished cad piece

But now I have found out a bit about planes, and the drawing tree down the side (right click and select edit) I decided that it must be possible to modify it.

Going up to the first sketch and editing it to increase the outer diameter was simple. Increasing the inner hole size next.

Moving down the tree and looking at each of the sketches I was able to modify the model to try to ensure a good fit next time.

I allowed +0.5mm for tolerance so hole diameters were opened by 1mm.

The screw hole diameter could only be opened by 0.5mm or the hole would break through the side.

This model was saved as mk2, and run through CURA to get the g-codes.

Another print and removing it off the build platform I set about trial fitting the various parts.

3d Printer Project Ideas:fitted

The ceramic inner dropped in as did the plastic retainer – uh oh !! it seems to be going too well.

Trying the screw they also dropped through the holes.

So assembling the salt cellar with its main grinder piece, I was surprised but pleased that it all fitted back together.

What would I do different?

3d printer project ideas : all back together

The screwdriver bit is very tight when screwing it back together – so don’t forget tool clearance.

Trying the grinder the some of the salt crystals are big and will not go into the grinder mechanism, this would be corrected by leaving more space between the bottom and the inner grinding piece ( make it 1mm longer!!).

Other than this and it appearing a bit ‘heavy’ on the bottom ( thickness of the rim) I am quite happy with this- I may come back to it in the future with an improved design, but for now this is good enough.

So this is the use of a 3d printer – you find something that is broken and design – or copy the broken part – into CAD. Translate that into g-codes and then print it out.

If it need modifying you can do this, reprint and check for fit.

Once it fits you reassemble the finished piece and admire your handiwork.

It is satisfying to be able to produce parts, which in the olden days would only be available to machinists. Now are available to people who can use CAD programs. If you struggle with the CAD then there are houses who will produce the files – or even the finished parts for you. Meaning that that old piece which you have been meaning to get to fixing can now get finally fixed with a proper solution. Or the idea you had about improving that piece and never had the ability to achieve you can now go ahead and draw up in CAD and print it out.

What have you got lying around the house that you mean to get fixed and have been waiting for the ideal moment? Leave a comment below about what your 3d printer project ideas are and we can share in the versatility of the printers.

Thanks for reading




Best 3d printer review: 3ds CubePro 3D Printer

The Cubepro Trio 3d Printer Reviewbest 3d printer review: 3ds logo

The best 3d printer review brings you a large volume 3d printer.  Made by 3d systems in America, the 3ds Cubepro 3d printer fits into the prosumer area of printers, it is equally at home on your desk at work or in your best 3d printer review: 3ds cubepro 3d printerliving room.
It is a FFF( Fused Filament Fabrication) type of printer. This is where the filament is melted and extruded out of a small nozzle, melted onto the previous layer, also called additive manufacturing.

Miracles of 3d printing

Printing miracles infographic
Presented By Cubify

Brief Specs

Build size:                  275 x 265 x 230mm (10.75” x 10.5” x 9.05”)
No. of nozzles :       3
Size:                              566 x 581 x 606 mm (22” x 22” x 24”)
Material:                    ABS, PLA, nylon, flex, wood, water soluble support

What does the 3ds Cubepro 3d printer have

Let’s explore these benefits a bit more

With the very large build area you are less restricted on the size of your designs. What you will have had to print in two or three parts on some other small printers you can easily print in one go on this machine.

You don’t need to have a physical connection with your printer, enabling it to be placed out of the way and not needing moving every time you want to print. The WIFI connection can be over a network so everybody can use it or you can connect a single computer to it for wireless printing.

The easy to read touchscreen display gives you guidance for every step you need to carry out on your printer. From initial setup to downloading models from the internet, the easy to read display with touch control allows the user full control.

One of the most frustrating things with 3d printers is the warping and non sticking of the model to the build platform. With the enclosed design the inside environment is temperature controlled to reduce this happening.

Do you want more than one colour, then this is the printer for you. Not one – not two but three print nozzles give you a very flexible printer capable of printing up to three colours or two colours and a support material. This allows your creativity to design items which on the single nozzle printer would be impossible.

When you design your creation, you can use the different materials available to you. Once finished designing all you have to do is to load up the simple to change cartridge system with the materials you want. The machine will tell you if there is not enough material left to print your model. Then press print. The enclosed cartridge system allows a moisture lock seal to be included, as the filament will absorb moisture. This simple feature significantly prolongs the shelf life of your cartridge.

Current Fused Filament Fabrication printers have an undesirable layered finish. Getting the size of the layers as small as possible is one way of reducing this ridging effect seen on many printed object. You have control over the print quality, if it is the final model set it to fine, if it is a prototype and you need it quickly then set the print quality to coarse.


Once the print is finished you remove it from the build platform, wash it off and marvel at your ability to print off 3d parts. If you have used the support material drop your piece into the support removal tank, with the liquid made up of either just hot water or caustic soda. This unit is available separately and features a heated tank along with a timer to prevent you from forgetting to switch it off.


Along with the standard materials of ABS and PLA you have nylon to make a more robust part. The 20 colours in the ABS and 11 colours in the PLA range will allow you a lot of flexibility in the colour of your designs.
The nylon material comes in three colours, with the flex material in four colours.
Some of the materials require a change in nozzle size – so be warned that you will need to calibrate the machine before using this new nozzle and after replacing the old one.


3d systems have their own software Invent which is easy to use, starting in 2d you sketch out your initial design. Then you move to the 3d area where you finish off the design. This is one of the first pieces of software designed specifically for the 3d printing market and with the beginner in mind. The software is available for a free trial with a low cost price it is ideal to match with your Cubepro 3d printer.

what would you use it for

Holidays in 3D infographic
Presented By Cubify

Would I buy it

It does look like a very good printer, a bit on the large side but with three print heads you have a lot of flexibility.
The large build area gives you flexibility
The easy to change cartridge system
With its high resolution printing the finished product will look good, and the ability to change colour part way through the print will give you stunning results.
The WIFI communication is excellent and allows the printer to be placed where you want it.
I am sure the range of materials will expand and keep up with what is available elsewhere in the industry.

For me the price is high, both of the printer and the cartridges, but for what you are getting – with the ease of use – maybe it’s not too bad.

Would I buy one – not at the moment, I am happy with my reprap prusa i3, only a single nozzle but I am an engineer at the end of the day – I like to play with engineering.

Would I recommend it – yes to those who would like to try out 3d printing in multiple materials or colours. With very little mess or hassle. Almost plug and play.

If you are thinking of buying one then check out the price here.

Leave a comment if the box below if you have a 3ds Cubepro 3d printer or are thinking of buying one, so we can find out your experiences.

Many thanks for reading














3d printer project ideas: salt grinder repair

While looking around for 3d printer project ideas, I had said to myself that I would make, as far as possible, useful bits!

So I am starting a series of ‘how to design’ repair parts, how to think 

3d printer project ideas : tall grindersthe problem through. How to use the software to get the desired results.

This may be what you are already thinking through, without realising it or you may be just downloading and printing. Either way is good, but if you can design simple parts to repair items that have broken – even better.

We have a tall salt and pepper grinder – two separate items.

A while ago while using the salt grinder a small piece of plastic fell onto my meal.

I didn’t think anything of it until I went to fill it up.

The bottom fell out!!

The rod with the grinder just dropped. It had never done that before!!

On closer examination the piece of plastic that had landed in my meal was a keeper which, when the top nut was undone kept the center rod from falling through.

We had a smaller one to use in the meantime and the tall one was put to one side – other than that it worked ok, the important piece was in good working order so why throw it away?

It is now about 12 months later and it is time I looked at the salt grinder.

Turning it over there are two screw holding the lower piece in.

Removing these the lower piece drops out.

3d printer project ideas: inner pieces

The screwed in bit is made up of two pieces, an outer plastic piece and the inner ceramic grinder part.

The outer plastic piece is not really any use any more – just holding it there are pieces falling off. The salt has completely corroded it. Not the normal corrosion but it appears to have changed the structure of the plastic and it is crumbling away.

Now being careful, I extracted the inner ceramic piece without

3d printer project ideas: salt grinder piece brokendamaging the outer too much.

I need to draw up the outer, to remake it in 3d printed plastic. Will this survive the salt atmosphere? Don’t know – there is very little data on the survival rate of PLA in salt water. Although it is made from corn starch, I am still a little wary of contamination. But it will be a useful exercise to draw up the outer and at least print it off in readiness for more suitable material.

Taking out a note book and pencil – it’s still easier and quicker to do this, unless you have an all- in-one with integrated scanner – then you have the advantage over me. Just scan the object – make sure it is now hollowed out correctly then print it!!(well that’s the theory at least!!)

Up until the time I worked out it was a separate part I was looking to add a strap across the bottom, fixing it with the two screws. I would have rotated the strap through 90 degrees from the screws and affixed it onto a ring around the bottom.

3d printer project ideas: quick sketch

See quick sketch for details.

So using Google Sketchup how do we draw up the piece?

Turning the piece around you can see it is made up of discrete shapes. Tubes, rings, flat pieces so nothing too difficult – except it is the most complex part I have made with Sketchup.

A couple of quick sketches and I think I can simplify the piece from what is there, and thicken up the lower wall, always a bonus.

With things like this you need to look at how you are going to print them, if you get it wrong then there is a good chance an overhang will droop or even worse break. So with this piece print it from the bottom up with the strap at the base and it should be possible.

So taking a break from here until I have drawn up the piece I will post this and get back to you with the drawn up piece.

To be continued

How would you have designed the piece – if you have any ideas then please leave them in the comments box below. Have you any 3d printer project ideas you would like to see me make, leave a reply in the comments box below.

Many thanks for reading



What is 3d printing technology?

What is 3d printing technology?

Just imagine a box – how do you see it in your mind?

what is 3d printing technology:2d box

Is it just a square?

Does it have depth?

You can draw this in a CAD package in two dimensions, represented by a square.

It can also be drawn in CAD in 3d, in isometric form, you can see the

what is 3d printing technology:3d boxobject has depth.

When you print this on a standard printer you get a flat sheet of paper with an image on it. You still have to use your imagination to ‘see’ it in 3d.

When you move over to 3d printing technology, after finishing the print you are able to pick up this 3d object that has depth.

You can rotate it see all of the sides. Feel the depth of the object and

what is 3d printing technology:3d printed box put it onto a surface and see the shadow it casts.

The progress from a paper print to a 3d print is an amazing achievement in engineering, the concept is simple but actually achieving the end result reliably is an amazing engineering achievement.

The actual process of printing in 3d is to take the object you want to print in cad and slice it into layers. The thickness of the layers is

what is 3d printing technology: cube layersdependent on the type of printer or the extruder of the printer. Once sliced the information is sent to the printer.

Within the printer is a controller similar to the inkjet printer you are used to, where the print head moves sideways across the page. Except that the print surface can move back and forwards.

This left, right, back and forwards movement allows the printer access to the whole of the build platform.

For every slice layer the print head moves a little bit further away from the print surface, thereby building up the model in layers.

It is a fascinating process to watch and can consume hours of your life. Or am I just sad?

What can you achieve with 3d printing technology?

There used to be only a couple of choices of materials, PLA and ABS.

PLA is made from corn starch and is biodegradable, ABS is the type of plastic used for your bumper.

The industry has now woken up to the fact that it is becoming more mainstream and the public want more materials and choice of materials.

So now you can print a printed circuit board. The whole lot. The base material and the conductive tracks.

You can then design the box it is going into and print a rugged box out of a flexible material. In fact the printed circuit board can become the inside of the box.

If you need a window to see a display then there is transparent material.

Unfortunately at the moment the home printing technology is lagging behind as most are fitted with only one nozzle. Meaning that you need to change the material yourself as opposed to placing all of the different materials on the printer and pressing print.

So with home based printers you can start to print fantastic items. There is a little way to go before you press a button and a complete multicoloured, multi-material print that is available within minutes.

What can you print with a 3d printer?

A few years ago in 2013, 3d printing was thrust into the limelight when Cody Wilson, designed and printed a working 3d printed gun. The files for this were distributed on the internet and a short time later the U.S. Government took down the site, but not before over 100,000 people downloaded the plans.

Medical research into printed body parts is increasing, allowing body cells to be printed into ears and noses. This is in the early stages but progress is being made.

Imagine walking into a restaurant and looking at a menu where you can design your own food. This order is then taken and a few minutes later your order is served exactly like you designed it!!

Airlines are starting to look at this technology for storing food onboard the planes until the time comes to print and cook your meals.

The latest jewellery fashion can be downloaded and printed, if you are going to a themed party imagine being able to print off the items you want for the theme.

At the RIO olympics:

There were 3d printed shoes presented to Michael Phelps.

the French cycling team used 3d printed handlebars.

and one area where 3d printing will excel in the future – prosthetics. German paralympic cyclist Denise Schindler had a prosthetic leg printed.

At home you are only restricted by the amount of time you are willing to devote to learning CAD and sourcing materials.

There are a few home extruders available for the home experimenter to try combining different materials.

At present there is a wood effect PLA along with a stone effect, two different textures can be achieved with the stone by using different temperatures. But new products are being developed all the time so by the end of the year there will be a lot more.

What is stopping the take up at present?

The lack of simple inexpensive consumer printers, with lack of suitable materials is a big stumbling block to mass takeup of these types of printer.

Over the last five years there have been fantastic developments in the 3d printing market allowing the public to buy and print 3d models.

The models can be downloaded from sites like Thingiverse, Youimagine and Pinshape.

If you want to go further than this you will need to learn how to design and process the models. This can be time consuming, or you can ask one of the design houses like Shapeways or Scutpteo to model what you want and then download and print the item.

The speed of the printers will need to increase, print times of up to 24 hours are not unknown at present. The limitations are how fast the nozzle can move around the build platform.

The size of available build platform needs to be addressed. At present a lot of the printers have a small volume build area of less than 200mm X 200mm X 200mm. A lot can be printed within this area but when you are looking at printing a new large flower pot you are restricted to the build volume without making the part in pieces.

The physical size of the printers, the build volume on some printers is doubled by the movement required. Along with the required height of over 350mm on a bare printer with the enclosed printers taller than that.

How the industry will address these problems is yet to be seen, but small compact printers are being produced along with large machines, if you have the space and deep pockets.

3d printing is a technology which is starting to affect a lot more of our lives, the benefits are endless. It is a technology that the smart consumer would be ready to use as the product mature. It is an emerging market.

Hopefully this has given you an insight into what is 3d printing technology and what it can achieve, if you are using a 3d printer please tell us what you are using it for and what developments you would like to see in the future.

Thanks for reading






Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer: Z Axis

This is one the  ‘Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer‘ series.

Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : nozzle collision

This post deals with the issues of settin up the z-axis of your printer. Without the build platform being level the print may not stick or there may be damage caused by nozzle collision.

TIP1: Set initial position

TIP2:  Clean the nozzle

TIP3: Single handed adjustment

One of the most important areas of the 3d printer to get right is the initial height of the nozzle away from the bed.

If it is wrong by being too far away – then the extruded plastic will not be pressed down onto the bed. Causing poor quality first layer adhesion along with the possibility of dragging the plastic on corners.

If it is wrong by being too close, you run the risk of nozzle bed collision. This can lead to destroying the nozzle or digging into the bed and causing grooves. You can prevent the extruded plastic from coming out of the nozzle, and it will go somewhere, causing blockages necessitating cleaning of the hot end.

Get it right and your printer will give you print after print that you will be happy with.

So how do you set it up?

TIP1:There are certain thing you will need to make sure you do routinely when you switch on the printer, one is to auto home the printer.

TIP2: Ensure that there is no plastic coming out of the nozzle. As PLA is brittle, gently wiping a finger nail across the nozzle end will break off any protruding plastic. If this is not carried out before checking or setting the z axis you will find that when you start printing you are miles away from the build platform, this is the plastic which was protruding from the nozzle giving you errors. Don’t forget the hot end will be hot for a while after you stop printing. Do not carry out the removal of the plastic with fingers until the hot end is cool, or use tweezers to remove the plastic while it is warm.

Most printers have a manual move function built into the onboard controller.

Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : home screen

The home screen on my machine shows the temperatures of the hot end and the bed, along with the other information like the x,y,z position and % print complete.

If you press the rotary knob when on the main screen you enter the menu structure of the printer.

Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : initial menu

Rotating or scrolling the knob to get the cursor down to the [prepare] menu item and pressing the knob to enter the menu will get you to a sub menu with the main functions.

Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : initial menu bottom

Scroll right down to the bottom and you see [move axis].

Press the knob to enter this menu .

The amount of movement for each rotary click of the knob is set

Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : move axis res

next – scroll down to [0.1mm] and press the knob.

The four axis are on the next menu, x,y,z and extruder. Scroll down to the [z axis] item and press the knob.

Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : move axis menu

If your printer has just been switched on the last position the printer was left in is the 0,0,0 point for the x.y.z axis respectively. The machine will not remember you left it hanging in the air and know that it is 20mm up on the z axis. If you didn’t auto home the machine before you switched off, go back to the main menu and scroll down to [auto home], pressing the knob will allow the machine to find the endstops and home the machine, see TIP1 above. It now has a reference point to work from.

Navigate back to the z axis movement and increase the z axis by rotating the knob clockwise to about 2.0 representing 2mm.

Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : x-axis 20mm

My machine has a zero point which is not over the build platform, so to get the nozzle over the platform I have to move the x and y axis. I have moved them by approximately 20mm each. I try to use this as a known point and go there every time I want to check the z axis calibration.

With a piece of paper, which I measured at 0.1mm. Place this on the

Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : paper measurebuild platform under the nozzle.

Dependent on the time it has taken to find the paper and place it under the nozzle the screen may have defaulted back to the home screen. This, I find is one of the most annoying habits of the printer, you will have to navigate back to the z axis to now move it towards the build platform.

Don’t just rotate the knob anticlockwise so that the z axis goes to zero, gently rotate it and moving the paper between the nozzle and build platform, try to stop when you feel resistance on the paper.

If the z axis is now at 000.0 brilliant, if not you will need to adjust the height of the build platform.

If the paper is loose with z = 000.0Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : paper too loose

There is too much gap between the build platform and the nozzle, if you print in this state the first layer will not be pushed onto the build platform and first layer adhesion will probably not stick.

What you need to do is to adjust the corner wing nut closest to the nozzle in a clockwise direction.

TIP3: When building the machine I thought that when adjusting the build platform it would be tricky with an allen key and turning the

Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : added nutlower wing nut. You would be likely to get a false reading due to the pressure being put onto the allen key. I have added a nut under the metal build platform to effectively lock the allen bolt in place, this prevents it from turning when the wing nut on the bottom is rotated, allowing you to adjust it single handed.

You need to be moving the paper under the nozzle and stop when it starts to be caught between the nozzle and build platform.

As with above by now the display will have defaulted back to the home screen, navigate down to the z axis movement.

Press the knob, scroll down to prepare, push the knob, scroll down to move axis, press knob, scroll down to 0.1mm, press knob, scroll down to z axis. (it becomes easier to remember – it doesn’t mean I like it) .

Raise the z axis to approximately 2mm and then lower it again, moving the paper while lowering the nozzle. Does it feel the same as before, just catching – yes! good.

If the paper gets tight before you reach z = 000.0Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : paper too tight

The build platform is too high. You need to raise the z axis and ensure that there is no plastic protruding from the nozzle, if there is use a pair of tweezers to break it off and lower the axis again.

If there is no plastic protruding then you need to adjust the build platform down.

The wing nut needs to be rotated anticlockwise when seen from the top. This will screw the wing nut onto the screw thereby shortening the gap and bringing down the level of the platform.

You should be able to adjust the build platform low enough for the paper to just have resistance between the nozzle and the build platform.

If this is not the case you may need to adjust the z axis end stop up and retry this procedure. This can happen when first carrying out the procedure. But shouldn’t happen after unless there is a major problem. So if you have been able to set your z axis in the past look for the problem before adjusting the z axis end stop.

Raise and lower the z axis and ensure that it reaches its stop with the paper having the same resistance as before.

Raise the z axis to 1mm (ish). The reason for this is if the build

Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : z up 1mm platform slopes up towards the other corner you are going towards the nozzle will collide with the build platform and possibly damage it. What I do is to chase the nozzle with the paper between the nozzle and the build platform, anytime it gets tight I will adjust the corner I am going towards to increase the gap. Remember the nozzle should be 1mm above the build platform so should never get close enough to pinch the paper.

Press the knob to get you back to the axis menu.

Scroll down to the x axis and press the knob. Increase the x axis to

Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : 2nd front corneralmost maximum ( my maximum is 205mm). This should bring the nozzle close to the other front corner.

You now need to go through the routine of lowering the z axis with the paper between the nozzle and the build platform.

Try to make sure that the resistance on the paper is the same as before.

Raise the z axis by 1mm (ish) and press the knob.

Scroll down to the [y axis] menu item and press the knob

Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : 1st back corner.

Move to the back corner and go through the procedure of placing the paper between the nozzle and the build platform while lowering the z axis. Adjust if necessary.

Move the x axis to the last corner and perform the same routine.

Once you have adjusted all four corners, if you have had to make

Best Way to Calibrate a 3d Printer : 2nd back cornerlarge adjustments you will need to go back through all of the corners again. It can be tedious but you will not be carrying this out every time you switch it on.

There are certain changes you make to your printer which will mean that you will need to carry out this procedure.

These are

  • changing the nozzle.
  • Changing the hot end
  • rebuilding the hot end after a nozzle clog
  • any heavy pressure on the build platform

So essentially any major procedure involving a hot end strip down or stuck prints on the build platform you will need to check the calibration of the z-axis.

It is tedious and you may feel that you can get away with printing at the front and only adjusting the front two screws, I did this and the printing started failing when going above a 20mm print. The back was not sticking and followed the nozzle. The print top surface was shiny one side and not the other. In the end I gave in and adjusted the build platform. It took the best part of two hours, but I now can print on any part of the build platform. The top surface of the print is equally shiny and there is no problem with first layer adhesion. So yes it is worth it.

As stated before it is worth keeping a record of what you have done, maintenance or changing filaments.

You can build up a record of what you need to carry out when you change things. Making it easier to get prints which are consistently good.

Please let us know what your best way to calibrate a 3d printer for the z-axis is by adding it to the comments box below.

Thanks for reading








What’s the Difference Between the Various Adhesion Promoters for Build Platforms

You know the trouble you have when starting to print. You see the printer is up to temperature. You know the nozzle is clean, but still the first layer will just not stick. You check the z-axis, nope that is level, so what now?

This is where you need a little help. That help comes in the form of adhesion promoters for build platforms. This will allow a little more tolerance for the z-axis gap along with a slightly bowed heated build platform. So let’s have a look at them:

There are three main adhesion promoters used for 3d printing when printing pla.

  1. PVA

  2. Hairspray

Please read the important update at the bottom of this post

  1. Dissolved abs

Which adhesion promoter for build platforms is best ?

  1. PVA

    Ordinary wood glue or polyvinyl acetate (PVA) – can be dissolved

    Adhesion Promoters for Build Platforms- pva glue at a ratio of 4 to 10 parts of water to one of PVA glue. Applying a thin layer of this to the build platform and heating it will drive off the moisture leaving an invisible layer of PVA . When printing the first layer of PLA, the bond between the PVA and PLA is strong and allow a greater margin of error on the z-axis.
  2. Hairspray

    A lot of hairsprays contain the chemical polyvinylpyrrolidone(PVP) . This is used to stick layers of plywood together, and people spray this onto their hair!!

    Due to the fact that this chemical is water soluble another polymer is added that will make the spray last longer, polydimethylsiloxane(PDMS)To allow the hairspray to come out of the can a solvent is added, some form of alcohol or hydrocarbon. This evaporates leaving a sticky layer of polymers.

    To find hairsprays which have a good chance of working you need to look for the above chemical in the list of ingredients on the label.

    I have just located a source of PVP – in home manufacturing of cosmetics. The other ingredient to try is VinylPyrrolidone (VP) and Vinyl Acetate (VA) copolymer – or Hairfix powder. Both of these are soluble in water and can be brushed onto the build platform. Available from Makingcosmetics.

  3. Dissolved ABS

    Adding scraps of ABS to acetone will disolve them, producing a slurry after 24 hours. This mixture can be wiped sparingly, with a paper towel, onto the build platform to add a very thin layer of abs for the PLA to stick to.

I have heard of people using vinegar, I tried white vinegar – maybe a mistake as this is purified vinegar. Maybe people used standard vinegar with the water boiling off leaving a sticky residue for the PLA to stick to. But when I tried the distilled vinegar it made no difference.

What I have been using recently is bits of PLA in acetone, wiping this

Adhesion Promoters for Build Platforms-pla in acetone over the print bed when it is getting warm. I know PLA does not dissolve in acetone but it does change its properties. This does seem to make a difference or maybe it’s cleaning the surface just before printing.

With all of these techniques you must ensure that the build platform is clean before you start to use it, or add the adhesion promoter. So check out this post for ideas on how to clean your build platform.

If you have had success or failures with the above adhesion promoters for build platforms please let us know how you got on for us all to benefit.

Thanks for reading


Please take note of this – it is a tragic accident which could have been avoided

If the post has gone – this is an outline – a 17 year old unfortunately died after using hairspray to stick his prints down to the build platform. He had used 3 tins, after seeing the technique on a YouTube video. With the build up of propellant a spark ignited the gases. Flash paper – used in the magic business caught fire and tragically the young lad was overcome with fumes before he could escape.

I feel sorry for the family, my thoughts and wishes go out to them.

Please ensure if you are using this technique as an Adhesion Promoters for Build Platforms, to use it sparingly and in a well ventilated area.






How to Clean Your 3d Printer Heated Bed

Note: This how to clean your 3d printer heated bed applies to all print beds. Heated, unheated, glass or tape covered.

The excitement buildsclean your 3d printer heated bed model

You download the object of your desires to print.

You pass it through your favourite slicer program.

The sliced model is then loaded onto the card.

You navigate down to print from card and watch as the bed heats, then the nozzle heats.

The excitement builds as the nozzle starts to move, closer to the bed, closer.

It’s about to start, the plastic is coming out and ?? following the nozzle.

Hang on a minute it should be sticking to the bed!!

What the *?$!

Oh no! What a mess on the nozzle!!!

Your hand navigates up to the knob to stop the print. Deflated, you scroll down and stop the print. Setting the printer to auto-home you get out the paper tissue and wipe the printers nose.

You sigh, with a ‘ now what !!’ in your mind.

The excitement fades

Well when was the last time you cleaned the print bed?

Ok I’m guilty of this.

I put the tape on and forgot, in my excitement to get the first print, of not wiping it down. And I expected it to work properly!

Wiping your hand over the tape will deposit your natural oils from your hand, wiping the bed down with paper towel will deposit the oils used in manufacturer onto the surface. Flament is less likely to stick to oils.

So what can you do to clean your 3d printer heated bed?

You need to use a cleaner that removes oils, but doesn’t remove or damage the tape or print surface.

There are a few options.

You can use a lint free cloth ( one that doesn’t leave fibres, so no dusters please) with rubbing alcohol or ipa (isopropyl alcohol), Which every body has around!!

Other products which also have ipa included are  witch hazel, glasses cleaner or nail varnish remover (acetone).

The other cleaner for getting rid of grease is distilled vinegar (white vinegar), available at most supermarkets very cheap 5% solution or soapy water.

A plastic spatula – definitely not metal will remove stubborn bits of plastic. The other tool is a fishtank cleaner. One side is a plastic scraper, the other can have a single sided razor blade fitted.

So cleaning the bed starts with the plastic spatula, or fishtank cleaner. Pushing this over the whole bed will remove any loose bits of plastic. Any bits of plastic stuck to the tape on the bed will be removed without damaging the tape. Be careful of the edges of the tape if it is not one piece.

Examine the edges of the tape to ensure that they are still stuck down. Use the razor blade if it proves impossible to remove the plastic with the other edge. Beware of digging in with the blade or you will be replacing the tape.

Using a cloth, apply some rubbing alcohol, vinegar or soapy water and wipe over the surface of the tape.

Fingers crossed

You will now have a clean bed ready for the plastic to adhere to.

After every print make sure that all of the bits of plastic from the print are removed.

Ensure that you wipe the bed over every two or three prints to keep it clean.

Watch out for the edges of the tape lifting, and if you normally print in one area, replace the tape after 10 or 12 prints. Move the positioning of the print around to extend the life of the tape.

You now have the cleanest bed, allowing you to download and print more models with the surety that they will stick and the foundations will be solid.

Print still not sticking see my post on first layer not sticking

I hope this has helped, if you have other ways to clean your 3d printer heated bed please share them with us in the comments box below.

Thanks for reading


photo credit: Spatial Cardioidal Variations via photopin (license)






How to Clean 3d Printer Nozzle

I have not had my 3d printer for long but it is starting to annoy me. Not printing properly, blobby prints. Not adhering to the base plate.

first printing

When stationary and up to temperature I pushed the filament through the nozzle – yes it’s coming out. So why is it not printing properly?

Trying a low profile project, howard dg-15, I failed to print it a couple

howard dg-15 model of times. I had tried to reset the z axis, with no joy. I tried increasing the temperature in case the hot end was being fan cooled too much, nope. So I tried increasing the speed of the extruder nope, I started to get molten material at the top nut of the extruder. Thinking this through I reasoned that the material was too molten and back pressure was forcing the material out of the top of the extruder.

So this is it is it! Either I get beaten by it or I have to sort it out!!

Being an ex-engineer the latter sprung to mind. this post is about my experiences of how to clean 3d printer nozzle.

Ok! so the x and y axis are working correctly and the z axis works – I’m not sure that is set correctly but lets roll with it.

So that brings us to the extruder. Why would this not be working correctly?

Heating the extruder up and removing the filament showed that the end was thickened. Cutting this back, reinserting it and pushing showed the material skewing off to the side instead of coming out straight!! ok so I know this is a sign of a dirty nozzle.

Now the strip down I was trying to avoid.

Gathering tools around me I started by removing the lower bracket of the extruder stepper motor. This allowed access to the top and bottom of the hot end.

The nozzle by this time was covered in black melted filament!! yes

filament backup it’s black filament I am using.

Using a scalpel to try to remove as much as possible I resorted to turning the machine on and setting the preheat pla to 50C.

Cutting away at this temperature made the job easier.

Using molegrips on the aluminium housing for the heater and a correctly sized spanner for the nozzle allowed me to see that there was a buildup of material at the rear of the nozzle.

Cutting this off with the scalpel the next problem was to remove the material inside the nozzle. I remember reading that you used acetone to dissolve the material for a finer finish, so out came the other half’s nail polish cleaner. Not quite pure but close. Into a small glass jar it went.

Now how to remove the extruder feed the nut was also covered in the molten filament, so heat on and scalpel to the rescue and now I can see the nut properly.

Using a spanner I managed to remove the feed tube from the heater block. Great so how do I now remove the nut from the tube?

Adding two nuts at the top of the tube and locking them together gave purchase to try to undo the lower nut – nope it’s not moving.

Winding it back into the heater and switching on allowed the tube to come up to temperature.. unscrewing the tube again allowed me to remove the nut. The thread was covered in molten filament.

Turning the feed tube over and screwing it back into the heater block It met resistance. Great so the threads in there are covered in filament as well.

Using a socket head bolt I managed to feed it right through the block. Then I tried the feed tube again. Still tight. I had to screw the socket head bolt in and out a few times to clear the thread enough to allow the feed tube in by hand.

Back to the nozzle. Removing it with tweezers and drying it there was very little removal of the filament in the acetone. Hmm what now.

Picking at the back of the nozzle with a scalpel showed that the filament had softened.

So how do I get this out?

Thinking it through I started to use a pointed needle file. Twisting it into the plastic in the direction of the teeth. With the brittleness of the file I can see where it’s going.

So what else can I use?

how to clean 3d printer nozzle - filament removal success

Well a drill bit will fit, trying a 1.5mm drill bit I was not able to twist it into the material. Going down to a 1mm drill bit I was able to hold this in a pair of molegrips and securely drill it into the material. Grabbing hold of the molegrips and pulling back I was able to remove the material in one piece. I found that if this doesn’t work then leaving the filament to harden and the acetone to evaporate will allow the drill bit to bite, making the removal of the filament easier.

Great so how to make sure it is easier next time? A polished surface will not allow the material to stick as much as a rough surface so if I polished it it may be easier next time to remove the material.

Ok so….

looking around I spied some wooden toothpicks. About the right size, yep they fit with a little gap. So go find the metal polish. Liquid polish not a paste we don’t want to leave any inside to block it up again!!

nozzle and toothpick

Rubbing some polish into the toothpick and inserting it into the nozzle twisting it back and forth. On removal the sides of the toothpick were black with polish and metal particles. The hole at the tip had also benefited from the point of the toothpick coming slightly through to polish this as well.

This continued for a few minutes and less black came out so I washed the nozzle, blowing out the water.

A quick polish on the outside on the flat at the front and I was ready to put it back together.

nozzle polished

Screw in the nozzle first, tighten slightly with a spanner. Screw the feed tube into the heater block until it comes to a stop butted up to the nozzle. Use the back of a drill bit which just fits down the feed tube to ensure that the ptfe inner is butted up against the nozzle.

Reassembly of the block to the extruder stepper motor was relatively easy.

Switching the unit on, I went through a z height calibration. Using a business card as the height gauge I adjusted all four corners- lifting it up in the z axis between movements of the x and y to prevent drag if the bed it too high.

I then auto zeroed the unit and the printed the howard dg-15 again. This time the print came out perfectly. well almost.

howard ok

I have subsequently printed a few items without problems. So yes if you are struggling to print you may have to bite the bullet and strip and clean your nozzle.

Things I would do different the next time.

  1. Use a thin wood screw to remove the material from the rear of the nozzle. A drill bit may be too brittle and snap off. Allowing the solvent to flash off firmed up the filament allowing easier removal.

  2. Polish the whole of the nozzle, it not only looks good but will allow the filament to flow better.

  3. Use an airbrush needle to polish the insides of the nozzle, wash well afterwards

  4. Use a metal plate of the right thickness to allow for easier z axis calibration, a multimeter connected between the metal spacer and the heater block will tell when there is low resistance. With the card it is a bit woolly, and if the card is crushed slightly then the next corner comes down a bit. Or maybe an old credit card covered in copper tape to allow some give, with an led connected to a battery to visually show when you have just touched it.

Well if you have to clean your nozzle I hope that you can get some pointers from the above post and it ensures that the nozzle is clean and polished.

If you have any other tips or hints to add to the above on how to clean 3d printer nozzle, please leave them in the comments box below.

Thanks for reading