If you need to 3D print high-quality and successful prints, you need to consider having a level print bed.
It helps you achieve quality prints because it allows the filament material to extrude evenly over the whole build surface.
- Is BLtouch Worth It?
- What Is BLtouch?
- How BLTouch Works?
- What Does the BLtouch Actually Do?
- How Accurate Is BLtouch?
- How Do I Know if My BLtouch Is Working?
- How Do I Install BLtouch Firmware?
- Should I Upgrade My Ender 3D Printer With Auto Bed Leveling?
- How Do I Use the BLtouch in Ender 3?
Automatic leveling machines use contactless inductive sensors to function effectively. It remains a marked departure from the manual bed leveling operations where the individual skills of the 3D printer hobbyist matter.
3D printer hobbyists and professionals find these inductive devices easy to install, configure, and operate. However, the contactless inductive sensors are only effective with the metal plate platforms.
So, where does this leave standard beds built from other non-metal materials like glass?
Is BLtouch Worth It?
The 3D printer manufacturing firms introduced BLtouch sensors to mitigate against this specific challenge as it effectively works in a non-metal bed and for auto-leveling.
This article presents in-depth matters concerning the BLtouch sensor and auto-leveling of the printing platform.
What Is BLtouch?
BLTouch refers to an auto-bed leveling sensor for consumer 3D printers. More importantly, it measures the bed surfaced tilt correctly.
BLTouch can work on any bed surface type, such as wood, metal, and glass. Also, it remains the market leader for bed leveling sensors.
However, it’s a complex device consisting of a microcontroller, a pushpin probe, and a solenoid switch that comes into direct contact with many print bed types.
BLTouch uses a hall sensor to achieve accuracy in its workings. Additionally, the sensor combines with the pushpin, and this function enables BLTouch to be used in many print bed types.
How BLTouch Works?
The functioning of BLTouch remains a fairly complex issue. Also, at its element, it’s effectively a microswitch on a servo.
If you retract it, it goes higher than your printer nozzle, and when you extend it, it goes lower than your nozzle.
A BLTouch sensor works using a small solenoid to launch the tiny probe. After, it moves down until the Hall Effect Sensor detects it.
Then, it retracts and repeats the motion until it finishes creating the 3D object in your print bed.
Notably, it keeps adjusting your print height to compensate as you print until you complete the entire printing process.
What Does the BLtouch Actually Do?
The BLTouch auto-leveling Is designed to optimize the distance between the print nozzle and platform using minor adjustments.
Also, if you achieve optimal distance between the nozzle and the print bed, you get better bed adhesion and high-quality 3D prints.
You need to attach the BLTouch device near the printer nozzle to achieve high precision and accuracy.
Notably, BLTouch’s function remains to detect and correct distance disparities between the nozzle and printer’s bed.
It works using the principle of optics, and once you trigger the bed leveling process, the sensors calculate the distance between the nozzle and the printing bed. Also, it probes the different printing locations in the print bed.
Then, it forwards these data to the printer firmware. The firmware then determines if the print bed is adjusted correctly to the XY-axis.
How Accurate Is BLtouch?
It’s a fact that BLTouch sensors significantly improve 3D printer functionality. But the question remains, “How Accurate?”
One 3D printer hobbyist conducted his A Marlin” M48 V4″ Z-Probe repeatability test and obtained results that showed a standard deviation of 0.425270 before he re-magnetized the magnetic fields.
He repeated the tests with the same machine once he re-magnetized it and posted a lower standard deviation of 0.007255.
This result indicates a considerable improvement and suggests the importance of re-magnetizing BLTouch to improve printer performance.
How Do I Know if My BLtouch Is Working?
If you want to know whether your BLTouch works, you need to test your BLTouch Z probe. First, you need to connect your computer and use a host program like the Pronterface.
- Connect power to your printer
- Connect your printer to the computer browser
- Test the deploy function using M401
- Test the retract function using M402
- If the Z-probe is not deployed close enough to the bed to trigger it, confirm that the Z probe readings in Duet Web Control reads zero or it remains close to zero
- If Your Z probe produces a non-stop output when triggered, hold a surface beneath the Z probe to activate it.
- Then check the Z probe readings. A DWC reading of 537 remains okay for the IR probe, while 1000 for other types remains acceptable.
How Do I Install BLtouch Firmware?
Installing your BLTouch Firmware seems complicated, but it remains an achievable undertaking for most users.
First, you need to assemble all the items and programs you need for this exercise beforehand.
Also, be sure that all the wiring guidelines you follow come directly from your firmware manufacturers because different firmware needs different wires and following incorrect instructions can lead to firmware configuration damage.
To install your BLTouch Firmware:
- First, delete all files from your micro SD Card
- Download your BLTouch firmware from the official website of the version’s manufacturer
- Turn off your 3D printer and remove the power plug from the socket
- You need to unplug and remove the Z-axis endstop from your printer
- Put in the BLTouch wires in their respective ports
- Plugin the set of two wires into the Z-axis endstop port
- You need to plugin the set of three wires into the 3 springs that are located away from the micro-SD card slot.
- Unscrew print head brackets to install your BLTouch mount (Thingiverse link)
- Screw-in your BLTouch Sensor in the mount and plugin
- Install your BLTouch micros SD card and plug the power cable back into your printer
- Turn your printer on and wait for a moment
- Go to the “Leveling Menu” and click “bed leveling.”
- Then your BLTouch will be ready for use
Should I Upgrade My Ender 3D Printer With Auto Bed Leveling?
Automatic Bed Leveling
Automatic Bed Leveling (ABL) improves the bed adhesion and the print quality. It works by taking several measurements of the bed surface and then determining and adjusting all the nozzle movement to follow the print bed tilt lines.
All 3D printer users want a printer that maintains the distance between the print nozzle and the build plate or print bed. However, given the constant expansion and contraction during 3D printing, it remains quite unachievable.
Usually, the expansion and contraction result in an unleveled bed causing all manner of 3D printing problems like clogging and scratch marks on prints.
Therefore, the Automatic Bed Leveling 3D printer feature helps 3D enthusiasts achieve a level printing bed to print their 3D objects.
More importantly, you can achieve auto bed leveling by deploying an Auto-Leveling Sensor like the BLTouch Sensor.
Upgrading Ender 3 Printer With Auto Bed Leveling
It would help if you upgraded your Ender 3 printer (check at Amazon) with auto bed leveling for better quality prints. However, the upgrading process remains a complex undertaking, and thus, it’s not for everyone.
You can consider the BLTouch or the EZABL auto bed leveling devices for your Ender 3 printer. Both require making some adjustments that affect wires, screwing, and changing your computer configuration files.
Advantages Of The Auto Bed Leveling
- It makes it easy for you to adjust the build surface for 3D printing. Also, you don’t need to configure the entire printer.
- Higher precision print results are attainable regardless of the uneven heating or a possible build board curving. It happens because the Sensor enables the printhead to sustain a parallel movement to the build platform.
- No need to adjust the printer to the height of the Z-axis
- For New 3D printer users, it provides you with the easiest print experience.
- You can immediately start printing, provided the auto bed leveling feature remains in place.
How Do I Use the BLtouch in Ender 3?
You can only be in a position to use the BLTouch in your Ender 3 printer when you install it. As such, you will need to have these items for your BLTouch installation:
- BLTouch device (check at Amazon)
- Extension wires
- Screws and bolts
- A mounting bracket
- BLTouch spare sensor stem
- Wire zip ties (check at Amazon)
The next thing will be to install your BLTouch, and it will be ready for use. So, you can follow these steps to install your BLTouch:
- Unplug printer
- Remove the Z-axis limiter
- Wire and mount your BLTouch
- Secure the wires
- Open the control box
- Wire your BLTouch to the mainboard
- Close the control box
- Update your ender’s firmware
- Change the Z-axis location
- Configure the Z-offset
- Level the printer
- Update your slicer settings
- BLTouch sensor device installed and ready to work on your Ender 3 printer
BLTouch sensor device serves to ensure that the auto bed leveling feature of your 3D printer works effectively. Additionally, it helps the 3D printer manufacture high-precision and accurate prints.
The BLTouch sensor provides an excellent printing experience as it eliminates most of the 3D printing challenges, such as poor quality prints caused by warping objects.
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