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How To Calibrate an Extruder Using Cura

Cura is a popular 3D printing software that you can use to prepare your prints. Many experts use it, but it’s still simple enough for beginners. If you’re using Cura, you’ll want to know how to calibrate your extruder with it.

Here’s how you can calibrate an extruder using Cura in 6 easy steps:

  1. Make sure you calibrate the printer.
  2. Open the “Initial Layer Flow” setting.
  3. Adjust the flow rate to reduce specific issues.
  4. Load filament and connect to your PC.
  5. Mark filament and extrude.
  6. Measure and make final adjustments.

I’ll go over these steps in more detail below. Changing the extruder’s setting is excellent for dealing with over and under extruding, making your prints turn out a lot smoother! So, here’s everything that you’ll need to know.

1. Make Sure You Calibrate the Printer

Before you do any 3D printing, you’ll need to ensure that you calibrate the printer first. When the printer’s bed is out of place, it can cause many problems that the extruder makes more noticeable.

Calibrating your 3D printer is simple. Tune the Z offset first to ensure the nozzle isn’t too close or far away from the printing bed. You can print a single layer of material to check. It should stick to the bed without peeling away from it or looking too thin.

The material should extrude smoothly when you’ve made the correct adjustments. Once your printer is working correctly, you’re ready to move on to the next step! 

2. Open the “Initial Layer Flow” Setting

Next, you’ll need to locate the flow rate settings in Cura. There are several different versions of Cura available, but most should have this option in the exact menu location. You’ll need to open the “Initial Layer Flow” menu by following these steps:

  1. Go to “Custom” settings view.
  2. Right-click, then click on “configure setting visibility.”
  3. Hit “Check All.”
  4. Hit “Close” (Make sure your settings are on “Expert” first).
  5. Go to “Material” and then “Flow.”
  6. Under “Flow,” you will find the “Initial Layer Flow” sub-menu.

This sub-menu allows you to adjust the extrusion multiplier setting through Cura. Changing the flow rate can help you deal with several different printing issues.

3. Adjust the Flow Rate To Reduce Specific Issues

Changing the flow rate from this menu allows you to correct specific extrusion problems. It can take some testing to find the perfect flow rates on your extruder. 

Here’s what you can change to deal with common printing issues:

  • Over-extrusion: Lower the flow rate in 5% increments until print quality improves.
  • Under-extrusion: Increase the flow rate in 5% increments until print quality improves.
  • Drooping Bridges: Lower the flow rate in 5% increments until the bridges droop less. There also will be fewer “spider webs” on the final print.
  • No bed adhesion: Increase the flow rate in 5% increments. The print should stick to the bed without popping off and warping.

It can take some experimentation while doing this. Moving the setting in small increments helps without going too far in the other direction.

4. Load Filament and Connect to Your PC

Next, we’re going to calibrate the extruder fully. Start by preheating the printer nozzle and loading the filament you want to use. 

Ensure the temperature you heat the nozzle to is correct for the filament you want to print with.

Connect the 3D printer to your computer or laptop using either a USB cable or a Wi-Fi connection. Then, go to the Cura program. Each printer connects to the computer differently, so make sure you know how to do this.

5. Mark Filament and Extrude

You’ll need to run 100mm (3.93 in) of filament through the hot end to calibrate the extruder. Before printing, mark the filament strand at 120mm (4.72 in) before entering the extruder. 

Then, you’ll want to enter this G-code in Cura’s command center: G1 E100 F100.

The code has the printer run through 100mm (3.93 in) slowly over a minute. If the extruder goes through 100mm perfectly, you won’t need to make any adjustments. However, that’s unlikely! 

6. Measure and Make Final Adjustments

The printer should’ve extruded precisely 100mm (3.93 in) worth of material. You’ll need to measure the amount of filament that didn’t go through. 

If there’s only 20mm (0.78 in) left, the extruder is already perfectly calibrated, and you won’t need to do anything else.

However, the printer over-extruded it if the leftover material is under 20mm (0.78 in). You’ll need to turn down the flow rate under the “Initial Layer Flow” sub-menu. 

The opposite is true if more than 20mm (0.78 in) of material is there- the printer under-extruded it, and you should increase the rate.

Knowing how much the extruder was off is a great way to calibrate it. You’ll need to adjust for the discrepancy between what the printer should’ve extruded and what came out. Use this code in Cura:

  • M92 Exxx

Replace “xxx” with your new extruder constant, which you can get by using:

  • 100 * steps per mm / actual extrusion length

If you make a mistake, you can reset the extruder with:

  • G92 E0

Once you’ve made all of your final adjustments, the printer extruder should be fully calibrated! It can take some time to learn, especially if you’re new to using Cura and 3D printers. However, taking the time to learn to do it now will save you a lot of stress in the future.

This video covers the process and why it’s important:

In addition, if you are still having issues, one quick fix might be to “Turn off Wall Overlaps” in Cura. So, check these settings and turn off the overalps, which might make your wall thicknesses much more accurate. 

Final Thoughts

In short, Cura is a 3D slicer software that you can use to calibrate your 3D printer’s extruder. It’s easy to use, so you should pick it up quickly. Cura allows you to change several settings that impact the nozzle and the flow rate of the material.

As long as you follow the above steps to make the changes, you’re sure to get the results you want in no time! You can also update the settings for each new project for other effects.