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By: Ben Creality3d

Ender 3 Bed Leveling: All You Need to Know


Any structure needs a strong foundation. That's why Ender 3 bed leveling is so important. Learn how to ensure that the all-important first layer is solid.


Solid Foundation

Creality3D Ender 3

The term “bed leveling” is actually a misnomer. You’re not making it level with the ground but placing it so that the nozzle tip is at the same, correct distance over the entire surface of the build surface.

This is important because the first layer in a build is the main support for the rest of the print. In order to achieve a solid base, the bed must be properly oriented to provide the correct adhesion and delivery of the printing material.

If the nozzle is too far from the bed, the filament won’t adhere to the build plate at all. Too close and the nozzle will push past the layer height, preventing the material from extruding and sticking. Either way, the foundation will be unsatisfactory. The sweet spot is when the nozzle allows some space but applies just a little pressure to the flowing filament in order to help it adhere to the build plate.

The Ender 3 doesn’t have an auto-leveling feature, so you have to level the bed manually. Fortunately, this isn’t too difficult and is aided by some of the printer’s features. The menu provides actions that prepare the device for leveling, and the four large knobs under each corner of the bed make the job easy.

You’ll find that once leveled, the bed will stay that way for some time. Periodic re-leveling may be necessary but once the procedure is learned it should take less than five minutes to re-level each time.



Prepping the Plate and Nozzle

Creality3D Ender 3

Before starting to level the Ender 3’s bed, there are a few things you should do to get the machine ready:

  1. Make sure the build plate is clean. On the Ender 3, you can remove the build plate and clean it. 
  2. Clean off anything that is sticking to the surface. Use a spatula if needed to break off loose material.
  3. Wash the build plate with warm, soapy water, and dry it with a clean cloth. Make sure no lint or particles remain.
  4. Reattach the build plate to the heated bed using the clips. Check carefully to ensure that the entire build plate is flat with no ripples or high spots.
  5. Ensure that the nozzle is clean and free of material. It shouldn’t have any plastic protruding from the tip. An easy way to do this is to heat up the nozzle to the temperature last used and gently wipe off the tip with a soft cloth. If you do this, wear a glove so that you don’t touch the hot nozzle with your fingers.

Note that it’s not necessary to preheat the bed or the nozzle for bed leveling. 



Prepping the Machine

Creality3D Ender 3

To prepare for leveling you have to position the nozzle and bed. The Ender 3 controls make this easy.

  1. Turn on the machine.
  2. Press the control knob and scroll to the PREPARE menu.
  3. Scroll down to AUTO HOME and press the knob. The hot end will move to the left front of the bed and stop.
  4. Once again go to PREPARE.
  5. Scroll to DISABLE STEPPERS and press the control. This will make it easy to move the bed back and forth.
  6. Next, rotate each of the four leveling wheels counter-clockwise to lower the bed. One or two turns each should be sufficient. The purpose of this is to make sure that the bed is lower than the nozzle tip.



Leveling the Bed

Creality3D Ender 3

The only tool you need to level your bed is a piece of printer paper. Once equipped, you’re ready to go:

  1. Move the nozzle so that it’s positioned over the left corner of the bed. A half inch or so from both sides is a good location.
  2. Slide the paper between the nozzle and the bed. If it doesn’t fit, drop the corner until it does.
  3. Once the paper is able to slide under the nozzle, very slowly raise the corner with the adjuster. Remember: Clockwise moves the bed up. As you do this, gently slide the paper back and forth. The moment you feel even the slightest resistance to your moving the paper, stop turning the knob. That corner is (almost) ready to go.
  4. Do the same for the other three corners of the build plate. Always advance the hot end to a new corner slowly. This will prevent damage to the build plate in case the nozzle starts to drag. If this occurs, simply lower the next corner (before starting the leveling process) to make some room.
  5. After you’ve adjusted each corner once, go back and check the four corners again. You may have to do further adjustments to get all four correct.

Congratulations! You’re now ready to print on a leveled bed!

Originally published at https://all3dp.com on January 26, 2019.

Paul - Tue Aug 02 10:53:18 UTC 2022

Using a set of metal feeler gauges, what is the proper distance between the nozzle and the bed?

Pat - Tue Mar 22 15:57:10 UTC 2022

This makes sense. I wonder about disregarding the nozzle temp or bed temp, as things expand thus. I would like some specifc info about the leveling; what printer paper is used? Maybe just the measurement of the paper?

Paul - Tue Mar 15 14:44:05 UTC 2022

I was completely stuck, and thought I was never going to get this printing correctly. This walkthrough was exactly what I was looking for. If folks are still having trouble, don't forget to readjust as needed once you have set all four. I had to go back and readjust my first wheel, after the fourth wheel was done. I'm back on track, and watching my print finally take (the correct) shape.

Darryl Chamberlain - Sat Mar 12 05:11:45 UTC 2022

Whereas you have not answered Mr. Windsor's question, mine is the same. After leveling the bed, the nozzle is too high to get a decent print. I regret buying this thing and your website gives no contact information where I can get help. My only recourse is to put this thing in the trash and count it as a loss.

B. Windsor - Fri Nov 19 10:40:40 UTC 2021

Thank you for this walkthrough. I did it as per the instructions BUT when I went to do a print the nozzle was 4mm ABOVE the bed! Can you explain what I am doing wrong please?

B. Windsor - Fri Nov 19 10:40:35 UTC 2021

Thank you for this walkthrough. I did it as per the instructions BUT when I went to do a print the nozzle was 4mm ABOVE the bed! Can you explain what I am doing wrong please?

Adam Smith - Tue Oct 05 03:50:37 UTC 2021

I've seen a lot of videos on YouTube and google that show how to do this but, this was the best information and the way it was portrayed was excellent like this quote "The moment you feel even the slightest resistance to your moving the paper, stop turning the knob." perfect that is what I was missing. all the others say to do it till the paper "bunches" up and I think that was what was getting me messed up. this did a perfect print "FINALLY". thanks for your instruction.

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