Inspecting your 3D Printer's Parts

Inspecting your 3D Printer's Parts

Prerequisites Required- How to Train your 3D Printer, Tools to Inspect your 3D Printer's Parts

This is a continuation of the How to Train your 3D Printer Series, during which, we build a capable and reliable Ender-3 3D Printer. In the previous articles, we disassembled our printer into its constituent parts and we prepared the necessary tools for inspection. In this article, we carry out the inspection.

This is not a step-by-step guide but is instead a general guideline for measuring the critical features of your printer. What you choose to do with the measurements is up to you. At the very least, knowing the tolerances of your printer's parts will help you understand the fundamental limitations of your printer (no printer is accurate everywhere to $<0.001$"). In cases where you've bought a new printer with very bad parts, you might be able to seek warranty replacement parts or return it.

Inspecting Extrusions

As explained in How to Train your 3D Printer, the Ender-3 moves the axes linearly by riding on a set of extrusions. The straightness, twist, and width of the linear guide extrusions are all very important to the accuracy of the printer.

Figure 1: Ender-3 has three primary degrees of freedom (X,Y,Z) that each move perpendicular to each other. In the above animation, each axis's moving carriage (X,Y,Z) is labeled.

The extrusions that serve as linear guides are labeled and colored below in red.

Figure 2: Ender-3 has four primary extrusions, highlighted in red, that serve as the linear control surfaces for the axes.