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Extended bed levelling code for FlashForge Creator Pro

by DrLex, published

Extended bed levelling code for FlashForge Creator Pro by DrLex Aug 1, 2016
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Summary

This is a set of x3g files that are intended to offer much more flexibility, as well reliability, than the default plate levelling file that comes with the FFCP. There are four sets of files:

First, three sets of ‘AlignPlate’ bed levelling files with the following improvements:

  1. There are separate files depending on whether you want to level only the right (R), left (L), or both (LR) nozzles.
  2. They position the nozzles, or the center between them, (nearly) exactly above each adjustment screw.
  3. They do not position the nozzle inside the recessed zone around each screw, but just outside of it. This avoids inaccurate levelling if your printing bed is covered by a non-rigid material like tape or BuildTak.

Next, ‘BedProbe’ files that position the nozzles over a grid of 9 points. This can be used to check how level and flat your printing platform really is. Ideally, after you have levelled your platform in the usual 3-point way and you run this file, the levelling sheet should reveal similar friction for each of the nine points. In reality though, at least in my reality, the bed proves not perfect and the nozzles are higher or lower in some areas. This file can be used as an extra test before starting a print that covers a large area of the platform, to ensure that some parts won't be detaching because the nozzles are too high there. The general advice though, is to use a sufficiently thick first layer to be robust against unevenness in the platform.
 

Using

Each X3G file comes in three versions. Use the one whose suffix corresponds to the thickness of your levelling sheet. Use the ‘10’ files with a 0.1 mm sheet (typical plain paper), the ‘15’ files with a 0.15 mm sheet (flyers, magazine covers, …) and the ‘20’ files with a 0.2 mm sheet (like the blue plastic one that comes with the FFCP).

To make this work reliably, preheat the bed before leveling. This means you probably should not use a plastic sheet when preheating to 90°C or more, use regular paper instead. It also means you must re-level when switching to a different filament that requires a significantly different bed temperature. Do not preheat the nozzles, you wouldn't want to try leveling with them oozing all over the place anyway. Only make sure they are clean.

Use the files just like the original: the nozzle will be positioned above each adjustment knob. Make sure you can move your levelling sheet under the nozzle, then adjust the knob until you feel a good deal of friction, but can still easily move the sheet. Depending on the bed surface and particular filament, you may need to aim for slightly more or slightly less friction, but you should never tighten the knobs to the point where the sheet can no longer get under the nozzle.

To verify that everything works correctly, do a test print with only one layer. Measure how thick this printed layer is, using an accurate caliper or a micrometer (if you don't have one, you really should). It should correspond roughly to the first layer thickness as configured in your slicer program. If it is way off, check the paragraph below.

By ensuring that your first layer is printed at the correct thickness, you can reliably tweak the following things to get optimal adhesion:

  1. First layer extrusion width. I usually take 150% of the nozzle diameter, i.e. 0.6 mm for a .4 nozzle.
  2. First layer thickness. I never go below 0.25 mm for a 0.4 mm nozzle. You shouldn't make it higher than 2/3 of the extrusion width either.
  3. First layer speed. I usually stay within the range of 20 to 30 mm/s.
     

If your first layer is consistently too thick or thin…

… Then check the “Home offsets” setting in the printer's LCD menu and adjust the value for Z until your first layer has the expected thickness when following the above levelling procedure.
For instance, after upgrading my FFCP's firmware, all my prints suddenly had way too tall first layers with horribly bad adhesion as a result. I measured the thickness of single-layer test prints, and they were consistently too thick by 0.15 mm. Somehow, the new firmware had changed the Z homing offset. By changing it to -0.15 mm in the menu, things were back to normal.
 

These files are meant for the FlashForge Creator Pro, but will probably work for similar printers with a 230x155 mm build plate as well.

(I included a simple cube STL file to have at least something to display as a preview.)

Updates

2016/09/28

Each file now comes in three variations to allow more accurate levelling depending on how thick your levelling sheet is.

2017/07/03

Increased the clearance for travel moves from 3 mm to 6 mm. This is to avoid that the nozzle will carve into your build surface in case you have mounted something extra on top (like glass) and forgot to install a shim to lower the Z endstop. (Of course this will still happen if your added height is 6 mm or more.)
Also added a more verbose LCD message at the start of each file.

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THANK YOU SO Much! My FFCP cam with a very BASIC cal file - so basic as to be relatively useless.
This set is awesome and I tip my hat to you sir!

You say that " This only works reliably if you preheat the bed; " why is that?

Heating the bed will cause parts to expand and the Z position of the bed to change. The amount of movement depends on the temperature. You want the bed to be levelled at the temperature it will have during the print. My guess is that FlashForge provides a 0.2 mm thick levelling sheet because this more or less compensates for the movement that occurs when heating it from room temperature to 110°C. If you deviate from that scenario in any way, e.g. heat to a different temperature or try to level while the bed is hot, the levelling becomes unreliable.

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