Calibrate

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Calibrating the Ultimaker.




For adjusting your Ultimaker with your computer, open the software you would like to use. If you want to adjust your Ultimaker via your UltiController, go to Prepare > Move Axis. It is important to know that your Extruder motor will NOT work, if your hot end is COLD. Heat the hot end to 180°C if you want to try extrusion.

If one of the requested actions doesn’t work, like you can not heat your nozzle or your axis doesn’t move. Please go to the troubleshooter or contact the support team.

1. Feeding filament in your Ultimaker.
2. Align axis
3. Belt tension
4. End stops
5. Bed leveling
6. Filament diameter
7. Feeding mechanism, adjustment screw
8. Right temperature PLA/ABS
9. Expectation first prints quality/time
10. Tape
11. How to read gcode
12. Analyzing your print.

1. Feeding filament in your Ultimaker.
Of course your Ultimaker needs to be loaded with filament to make it able to print. Please watch this video for instructions on how to feed the filament.


2. Aligning the axes
The first thing you need to check is: Can you manually move the printhead? Lower the build platform so there is at least 2 cm of space between the nozzle and the build platform. Note: If you are having a hard time lowering the build platform, turn off your Ultimaker. By doing that no more power will run through the motors, which should lead to less stiff movement of the build platform.

When the build platform is lower than 2 cm, try to move your print head around manually. Do you feel a lot of resistance? If so, this means your axis are probably not aligned correctly. As a rule of thumb, try and move the print head with two fingers while holding the frame with your other hand. If you can’t do that without excessive force the axes aren’t aligned correctly.

Loosen the pulleys that have the long timing belts wrapped around themselves. Take out the C parts from the sliding blocks. This is easier if you also take out the 3M 30mm long screw that is put through the sliding blocks near the C part.

The goal of aligning is that the axis has the same distance from the frame (and thus other axes) over the whole stretch of the axis, and that the axes are aligned like a cross (+). That means that if the left sliding block moves, the right sliding block moves in the exact same position, but on the opposite end of this axis. The best way to align the axis is to use some sort of tool/object of your choice that you can hold between the axis and the frame. Do this on both sides of the axis ( left and right or front and back) so that the axis has equal distance from the frame on both ends.

Put everything (C parts, screws) back together and tighten the pulleys without moving them or the axis out of place. Now check whether you can move the printhead as described above. If not, repeat the above procedures or add a small amount of very fine oil on the axes around the frame. The X and Y axes are self lubricating so they don’t need any oil.


The red cross shows the way your axis should be aligned. The sliding blocks have a green outline. The C part that goes in the Sliding blocks has a white outline. This should be removed when aligning your axis. The Pulleys that have the timing belts on them should also be loosened, and they are marked with the blue outline.

3. Belt tension
The next thing you want to check is: do your belts have enough tension? You should be able to move the belts, but not enough to pull them out from underneath the frame. As a guideline: when the timing belt is around the pulleys, and you try to make both sides touch you should have like 4-6mm opening between them (like shown on the video)..


If it is less your belts are probably too tight, or not aligned correctly. If you feel like there is to much slack, you can download this belt tensioner from YouMagine designed by Gijs. This one also seems to work well.

A very good alternative is to use the spring from a cloths pin. You can bend this to the amount of pressure you want it to have on the belt. But perhaps it is not as awesome as a printed belt tensioner.

For another alternative please see this step: http://wiki.ultimaker.com/Ultimaker_rev.3_assembly:_X-Y_axes - 3. Claws.

Instead of putting in a M3 10mm bolt, put in a M3 12mm bolt and 3 nuts, instead of 2. So you will have bolt - nut - claw - nut - nut. This will put extra tension on your belts. You can do this even when the assembly is completed, by removing the wooden C parts from step 3 - The Claws.

Don’t forget to check the small timing belts, on the motors. There are no belt tensioners available for this belt, but you can loosen the screws on the motor, and pull them down to create more space between the pulley and the motor. These can be pretty tight, if you push the belt to one side, it should only be able to move slightly, like 3mm.

4. End stops
The end stops, or limit switches, are meant to give a signal to the extruder head so it knows that it has reached the end of the build platform. Along with the extruder head there are sliding blocks on the end of the X and Y axis. Some of these have a lever that trigger the end stops. So when you start your first print, make sure this lever is capable of triggering the end stop before the extruder head tries to make it’s way through the frame. When your end stop is positioned to far back, the extruder will hit the frame. You will know because this will make some noise. But no problem, just turn off the Ultimaker, position the end stop further inwards and you should be fine. For more details about the Black Limit Switch L, please read ‘Bed leveling’.



4. Bed leveling
Now we level the bed. Before we do anything, turn on your Ultimaker. With your software, or with your UltiController, move the printhead to the home position. What is the distance between your nozzle and the build platform? There should be as much room as the thickness of a regular piece of paper. About 0.1mm.

(To make this step easier you can print: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:11033 Place it as shown on the image. Loosen the end stop so you can move it up and down. Position the end stop in a way so it almost touches the bolt in the printed add-on. Tighten the left screw (facing from the back), and push the other screw down a little bit. Rotate it until it the switch clicks in the closed position against the add-on. Tighten the final screw on the end stop.)

1. Turn the Z-leadscrew until the the extruder head is almost touching the build-platform.
2. Move the printhead to the front left corner.
3. Turn the adjustment bolt up until it touches the platform.
4. Screw DOWN the front right of the platform until you can move the print head to the right side of the platform without scratching the platform.
5. Then turn it up slightly until it also touches the platform.
6. Repeat this process for the adjustment bolts in the back.

Your platform's plane should now be exactly parallel to the XY-plane. Now it's time to adjust and TEST the Z-switch.

1. The top Z-switch in the back (with black wires) is for homing the platform until the platform is elevated to the 'zero' position. Zero means, no distance between the platform and print-head. It should already be installed.
2. Loosen the bolts slightly so you can move it up and down.
3. Turn the lead screw to elevate the platform until the head almost touches the platform.
4. Now lower the endstop and fasten it slightly on one side, while still being able to slide in the other slot. Sliding the 'free side' means that you're rotating the switch a little bit.
5. Rotate it until it the switch click in the closed position.
6. Then fasten the other side slightly. If it doesn't click yet, that's okay, just lower the other bolt of the switch until it clicks.
7. Check the Z-position when it clicks the switch to the closed position. Where it clicks open again is not as important, as long as it doesn't stay closed.
8. Fasten both bolts fully. They're allowed to sink into the wood slightly, the switch shouldn't move anymore.

To test your levelling, turn on your Ultimaker. Go to your software or into your UltiController and give the ‘Home’ command. Your printhead should move towards the front left corner and the bed should level perfectly. If not, please repeat the instructions. A picture is included to illustrate what a good and bed levelling looks like.








6. Filament diameter
When printing, your printer is feeding filament throught the bowden tube into the extruder head. The extruder head melts the filament and creates a 3D print. It is very important that your filament has the right, and constant diameter. If it would be too thick, it wouldn’t fit through the bowden tube. If it were too thin, not enough filament will be extruded and you will have a failed print. So it is of great importance that the filament you use has a diameter of somewhere between 2.80-2.96mm. If you have a digitial calipers it is wise to measure the filament at several places. Make sure to add this digit in your slicer.



7. Feeding mechanism
The goal of the extruder feeder is obvious, feeding the PLA (or ABS) into the bowden tube and finally to the hot end. As the PLA doesn't move in by itself the feeder mechanism has been developed. Due to the spring there is a small delrin wheel pushed against the filament to ensure it to be pushed up into the bowden tube. When it has been assembled, you can tighten the screw on the back with a small screwdriver until you feel like it can not be screwed any tighter without using excessive force or crushing the filament. It will be rather tight.


8. Right temperature PLA/ABS
It is very important to print with the exact right temperature if you want to achieve the best result possible. Unfortunately, this temperature may vary with every colour and with every supplier. So the ideal workflow would be to test every reel to find out at what temperature it is printable. The basic idea is to print at the lowest temperature possible, to reduce stringing and excessive oozing. Start with printing a large object, (like http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:33959), and print at 225°C. Print ~1cm high, and then lower the temperature about 5°C. Keep it at this temperature and print another 1cm. Keep this process going until your filament starts showing little gaps, like it is brittle. This means your filament is too cold, and you should increase the temperature. Increase it 5°C and print another 1cm and hold this when you think your filament has stabilized again. The walls of your print should be smooth again.
Another weapon against stringing is speed. If you increase the speed you will have less stringing. Increase it with steps of 10%. But keep in mind when you are increasing speed, you should increase  the temperature also a few with a few °C.

9. Expectation first prints quality/time
When you have build your Ultimaker it will probably take a little time and some test prints to calibrate it. Don’t be afraid to try out any settings you don’t know about. Don’t be disappointed when you are not printing perfect prints from the start. The Ultimaker is not plug & play and it takes a little time to get to know the machine and plastics. A lot of tips and help can be found online! Things like the Ultimaker google groups and the official forum are a great source of information, thanks to our very capable and friendly community! Of course there is also the official Ultimaker support team that can be easiest contacted through Support @Ultimaker.com


10. Tape.
When you put down tape on your build platform, make sure that every layer is perfectly aligned next to the other. If you have any gaps, this will interfere with your first layer. If you have an overlap this will also interfere with your first layer. So make sure every layer is aligned perfectly.



11. How to read gcode
A Gcode is basically your computer telling your Ultimaker how to create a print. It begins with information like print temperature, speed, flowrate etc. Then it starts with every layer telling the printer to go from A to B and how to do this etc. If you want to fully understand the Gcode or make manual adjustments,  please go to to find out what all the codes do: http://reprap.org/wiki/G-code

12. Analyzing your print.
In the end, the best solution to solve any issue or isolate a problem is learning to analyse your print. Your print will show when your Ultimaker is overextruding, when the belts are slacking or when your bed level is off. The best way to learn is through experience, as easy as it may sound. Some pointers can be found on this website: http://techwall.net/analyzing-your-first-print

Hopefully this documentation gives you some insight on how to calibrate your Ultimaker and where to look out for. If you need some more help, our technical support staff is happy to help you. Please go to The forum or Ultimaker's Google group if you want to find more tips, thanks to our very capable community!

Questions or comments regarding this page? Let us and others know!

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