3D printers have come a long way over the past several years, but the process of bed leveling remains a pain point. Let’s take a look at the different ways the problem has been tackled, and whether recent developments have succeeded in automating away the hassle.

Anycubic Vyper 3D printer, front view
Anycubic Vyper, with an auto-leveling feature we decided to take a closer look at.

Bed leveling and first layer calibration tends to trip up novices because getting it right requires experience and judgment calls, and getting it wrong means failed prints. These are things 3D printer operators learn to handle with time and experience, but they are still largely manual processes that are often discussed in ways that sound more like an art than anything else. Little wonder that there have been plenty of attempts to simplify the whole process.

Some consumer 3D printers are taking a new approach to bed leveling and first layer calibration, and one of those printers is the Anycubic Vyper, which offers a one-touch solution for novices and experienced users alike. We accepted Anycubic’s offer of a sample printer specifically to examine this new leveling approach, so let’s take a look at the latest in trying to automate away the sometimes stubborn task of 3D printer bed leveling.

Why is Bed Leveling an Issue?

In 3D printer terms, bed leveling (or simply “leveling”) is a broad term for a process whose end result is getting the first layer of a print deposited optimally onto the build platform. A good first layer is the foundation of a successful print.

To accomplish this, the nozzle needs to remain a constant distance from the build platform across its whole range of movement. If the nozzle is too close to the bed in some places, but too far away in others, that leads to poor quality and failures. Adjusting the printer’s bed until it is parallel to the nozzle’s range of motion is called leveling. (Machinists would correctly call the process tramming, because nothing actually has to be perpendicular to the earth’s gravitational field.)

Closeup of 3D printer print head laying down a first layer, with LED lighting from the hot end.
The extruder in the process of laying down a first layer.

The next step is first layer calibration. This adjusts the Z-axis offset, or the distance between the tip of the nozzle and the surface of the build platform. There needs to be just enough space for the critical first layer of plastic to be deposited evenly, in a uniform thickness, and pressed into the build surface well enough to remain stuck during printing.

Complicating this is the fact…

Continue reading: https://hackaday.com/2021/08/30/3d-printering-is-hassle-free-bed-leveling-finally-here/

Source: hackaday.com