How to calibrate the Extruder on your 3d Printer

Picture of How to calibrate the Extruder on your 3d Printer
If you're one of the many who have bought into the 3d printing craze you've probably realized they require a great deal of tinkering to get optimum results.  I'll show you how to calibrate the extruder in order to get better quality prints.  As you can see by the printed table above, a poorly calibrated extruder can have adverse effects on your prints.  These easy to follow instructions are great for beginners because all you need is about 20 minutes and some basic tools.  These instructions will be shown for a Solidoodle 2 but will work for any RepRap using Repetier Host.  The best part is, they require no permanent modifications.  Lets get started!
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need
Gather the following Materials:

- A No. 1 Philips Screwdriver 
- Metric Caliper ( Metric ruler will also work)
- Sharpie or other marker
- Pen and Paper
- 3d Printer
- Computer


- Drinking Straw
- Scissors

Step 2: Remove Cover

Picture of Remove Cover
Remove the screws holding the cover on.  This step may not be applicable for everyone.  If you have a Solidoodle there are 4 screws.  There will be two on each side, towards the front-bottom.  There will also be two screws at each bottom corner at the rear.  Carefully remove these four screws and lift the cover straight up with a slight tilt to the rear.  At this point you should also have your printer powered and connected to Repetier Host.  Under the Manual Control tab click "Heat Extruder".  This will save you from having to wait for it to heat up later.

Step 3: Measure

Picture of Measure
Mark a 100mm segment on the filament.  This can easily be achieved with a 100mm length of drinking straw or a steady hand.  Take note whether the top or bottom of the mark signifies the correct length.

Step 4: Line Up

Picture of Line Up
Set Extrude length to "1" and click the down arrow until your bottom mark is lined up with the top of the extruder [this can mean top of mark or bottom depending on your measurement/mark technique].  In my picture you'll notice the top of the mark is level with the extruder.

Step 5: Extrude

Picture of Extrude
Set extrude length to 100 and click the down arrow.  If everything is working properly the top mark which is 100 mm above the bottom mark should be lined up with the top of the extruder. 

Step 6: Measure

Picture of Measure
Mark the filament at the top of the extruder and measure the difference between the two marks[This may require pushing the up arrow to reverse your extruder].  If the original mark you made is lined up with the top of the extruder, skip to step 9.

Step 7: Ratio

Picture of Ratio
struct 3.png
Click on Config, then EEPROM Settings[this will be at the top of the window].  On the first line you will see "Steps per mm".  All the way to the right you will see "E:" then a number.  This number is the number of steps your extruder stepper takes to extrude 1mm of filament.

Create a ratio from the expected extrusion length [100mm] and the actual extrusion length [105.03mm].  

(expected length) x steps = (actual length) x new steps     

We know three of these numbers so we can easily solve for the new steps.  This will tell us the amount of steps the extruder must actually take in order to extrude 1mm.  We extrude 100mm for the test because the greater length amplifies the minute error. 

A simpler form of the ratio is New steps=  (100*113.68)/105.03

New Steps=107.958

Type the new number in Steps per mm: and click save to EEPROM

Step 8: Clean Up

Picture of Clean Up
Clean up the mess from the extruder.  And re-assemble your printer.

Step 9: Conclusion

Picture of Conclusion
If you followed these steps correctly you should be producing much better prints.  As you can see below the extra 5mm measured makes a tremendous difference.  If you were to repeat these instructions from step one you should get no leftover extrusion when you extrude 100mm.
finnigan161 month ago

Thanks very much for the excellent instructable!

letroll597 months ago

You help me a lot, thank you !

riverswamp10 months ago

Thank you so much. I used this to calibrate mine and it worked great. you are so much help.

I have a Solidoodle and it works great I found that hairspray will help stop warping if you just spray it on build platform before print, also just add 15°c to the standard temp for bed/extruder.
ral dossery2 years ago
Thank you so much your are beg help :-)
zwilson52 years ago
I had no idea how off my printer was. Thanks so much
rusty01012 years ago
Nice job. I gather from the screen shots that there are other possible calibration options to look into as well, perhaps you could expand on the instructable with any suggestions for doing calibrations for x/y/z movements, or the like. Presumably that's stuff done during initial setup, but as a printer ages, you may find it useful to recalibrate those as well I would think.
triumphman2 years ago
Yea, if I could afford one!
valveman2 years ago
Nice Instructable. I just purchased the Solidoodle 3 and awaiting its arrival. I will be following your instructions. Also I hear you must level the table with the extruder as well. Have you done this also?
gathem2 years ago
you lost me at this step. Where does the config button come from? Where is this dialogue page located?
Is this part of pronterface? Is this a specific application for modifying the marlin settings without recompiling/pushing to the arduino through the arduino ide???
527666229 (author)  gathem2 years ago
This tutorial does not use prontorface. The screen shots you are seeing are from Repetier Host. I've added a picture to clear up confusion, other wise you can edit the config.h in your firmware of choice.