Layer shifting

Some 3D printing issues, such as layer shifting, may appear because of many different causes. As seen in the image, you can see there’s a shift in the print on both X and Y axes, plus the layers are not aligned. There are several fixes and also preventive actions that can be done to resolve layer shifting.

It is usually associated with improper movement of the X-axis and/or the Y-axis, leading the extruder head to be misaligned mid-printing. To troubleshoot the issue correctly, it is crucial to recognize in which axis did the layers shift. See the 3 photos below demonstrating three different kinds of layer shifts. Troubleshooting itself is the same for both axes.

It is usually associated with improper movement of the X-axis and/or the Y-axis, leading the extruder head to be misaligned mid-printing. To troubleshoot the issue correctly, it is crucial to recognize in which axis did the layers shift. See the 3 photos below demonstrating three different kinds of layer shifts. Troubleshooting itself is the same for both axes.

 

Preventing layer shifts from happening:

Check your printer’s power mode.  For objects larger than 200–300g, or for objects with complex geometry, we recommend running the printer in Normal mode. You can change Power mode in the LCD Menu – Settings – Mode. Keep in mind that in Stealth mode, the crash detection option is turned off.

Make sure the extruder and the heatbed can move freely

Check the X/Y belts.  Make sure that belts are properly tightened. Belts should be tight enough to sound like a low bass note when plucked. If the belts are loose, please refer to our manuals to learn how to tighten them properly.

Check the X/Y axis pulleys.  Make sure that the pulley on the motor shaft is secured and the idler pulley can move freely on the opposite end. A loose pulley is usually the main cause of staircase layer shifts. The motor shaft has a flat section – make sure that the screw in the pulley rests firmly on this flat section and the pulley doesn’t slip. Both grub screws need to be tight, one of them has to be tightened against the flat part of the motor shaft.

Both pulleys on both axes also have to be aligned, meaning the motor pulley has to be well centered.

Make sure nothing is blocking the movement of your axis – Check for any obstructions in the path of the bearings or any possible waste from previous printings stuck around the belt (usually around the Y-axis pulley). You can read more about general printer maintenance in this article.

Another instance of obstruction is when the zip ties or another part of the extruder cable bundle are not arranged following the manual.If the cables hit the frame before the extruder assembly does (if it’s an MK3) or before the X end-stop des (if it’s an MK2/S or an MK2.5) the printer detects an inaccurate end position. See the photo below and make sure the cables are arranged accordingly.

You can read more about printer maintenance in this article and in this guide.

Also, verify if the smooth rods are not scratched and if the bearings are properly lubricated. According to our testers, the best lubricant is a homogeneous, soft grease with lithium additives, such as the GLEIT-µ HF 400. Another good lubricant is the Mogul LV 2-EP. In general, Super-lube or any other multi-purpose grease will do as well.

Check the tension of your belts – If you have an MK3 3D printer, check the Belt Status numbers via LCD menu – Support – Belt Status. The values should not be under 240 and above 300, but there is no single ideal value. The number does not represent any specific quantity and should serve only as a general guidline.

  • If your value is under (or close to) 240, you need to loosen the belt
  • If your value over (or close to) 300 ->  you need to tighten the belt
  • The values are updated every time you run the Selftest.

The MK2.5, MK2/S and lower models do not have the belt status option. The clue we can give you is that the belt should sound roughly like a low bass string when plucked. It should be possible to pinch the 2 sides together with your thumb and index finger, but you should feel a little bit of resistance.

The belts can stretch and get looser over time or during the shipping (in case of an assembled printer).

Complex geometry – Objects with larger overhangs are generally harder to print. These overhangs might warp mid-printing and hit the nozzle. To prevent this, you can cut the object (check out our article Cutting STL models). You can also try to increase the print fan speed or increase the Z-hop distance in Slic3r PE. Both of these settings can be changed in our Slic3r PE. Print fan speed in Filament settings – Cooling and Z-hop distance in Printer Settings – Extruder 1

None of this solved my problem

No worries, at least you have checked some of the most important parts of the printer and you can now be sure they are OK. Please try to print one of the gcodes that were on the SD card when you first used it. If you have deleted them, try this one if you have an MK3 and this one if you have an MK2.5 or an MK2/S.

Objects with overhangs are generally harder to print. These overhangs might warp mid-printing and hit the nozzle. The same may happen in some cases if you choose too small infill percentage when you slice the model.

You may also simply try to toggle the Crash Detection off (LCD Menu – Settings – Crash. det. [on/off] or, during the print LCD menu – Tune – Crash Detection). It also usually helps if you slow down the print speed (in the Slic3r or during the print by turning the knob counter-clockwise).