How to Calibrate a 3D Printer

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Updated March 21, 2023

After buying the best 3d printer, you’ll need to know how to set it up. Knowing how to calibrate a 3D printer is done by dialing in the distance from the nozzle to the print bed, measuring the motor movements along every axis, and finding the right temperature for the nozzle and print bed. These are all things that you need to do, even to the best printers.


  • Every type of 3D printer needs to be calibrated before printing a model to obtain consistently high-quality results.
  • One of the essential calibrations is ensuring the nozzle is the correct distance from the build plate.
  • 3D printers must be calibrated along each axis to ensure the nozzle moves at precise distances.

If you’re looking for more guidance on how to navigate your life as a 3D printer owner, feel free to read our other material. We have a guide on how to maintain a 3D printer and guides explaining topics like what an all-metal hot end is.

Insider Tip

Always clean your 3d printer’s build plate after every print. Failing to remove any excess adhesive or leftover filament can cause the next print job to turn out poorly.

How to Calibrate a 3D Printer

Unfortunately, some find out the importance of printer calibration far too late. Calibration helps ensure your prints come out exactly how you want them to, and the printer needs to be calibrated every so often to avoid running into imperfections and issues. Otherwise, you might also need to read our article on how to unclog a 3D printer nozzle.

It’s important to remember that every 3D printer has its unique calibration process. For example, some have physical apparatuses, like levers and dials, while others are calibrated through software. However, there are some general steps to follow regardless of the calibration technique that we’re outlined below.

Keep in mind that when it comes to 3D printing, many facets go into creating the perfect prototype. For more on print materials, we have guides on how to store 3D print filament and others explaining how to print with PVA.

Some other things you should know before beginning to 3D print are what size feeler gauge is right for 3D printing.

STEP 1 Read the User Manual

  1. The first thing to do is consult your user manual, which will likely have tips and a guide showing you where to access calibration controls.


If your 3D printer’s retention screws aren’t tightened properly, your calibrations will become undone more quickly.

STEP 2 Calibrate for First Layer

  1. Switch off the “Z Offset” setting and experiment by producing layers. A quality first layer is crucial for achieving the best possible print. The most critical factor in getting a good first layer is ensuring the extruder is at the proper distance from the bed — not too high or too close.
  2. Check the first layer at multiple heights; if the nozzle touches the layers, causing it to smoosh or string, the nozzle is too close. If the layer is having trouble adhering to the print bed, it’s too high.

STEP 3 Calibrate X, Y, & Z Stepper Motors

  1. Use a micrometer to measure a distance of 100 mm with two pieces of tape. The stepper motors move the nozzle head along the X, Y, and Z axes. Therefore, if they are off, even slightly, this can cause the entire print to be constructed in the wrong way.
  2. Then, input a command to have the printer move precisely 100 mm from one piece of tape to the other.
  3. Measure the difference with your micrometer and then program the M92 values until you get exact movements along each axis.

STAT: The most common nozzle size in 3D printing is a .4mm diameter. (source)

STEP 4 Find the Right Temperature

  1. Start by checking the packaging and setting your printer temperature to the recommended number. Remember, every 3D filament will print better at a specific temperature.
  2. Then, print a series of 1cm blocks, each at a different temperature. (Usually, it’s good to test in intervals of 5 degrees Celsius.) To change the extruder temperature, you’ll have to go into the G-code and adjust.
  3. Then, examine each block to see which temperature provides the best-looking print.
  4. Do the same experiment with the heat of your build plate and find the right temperature that optimizes adhesion but doesn’t make the object challenging to remove.

How to Calibrate a 3D Printer FAQs

Do all types of 3D printers need calibration?

Whether using a filament, resin, ceramic, or metal-based 3D printer, you should always take time to calibrate the machine.

Why is it essential to adjust the printer’s flow?

Adjusting the printer’s nozzle flow rate helps ensure that the correct amount of filament is used during the print process.

What is a 3D printer’s extruder?

The extruder is the part of the 3D printer that feeds the printer filament into the heated nozzle.
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