If you're struggling to get your 3D prints to stick or want to print on top of an existing model, Z offset is the answer. Learn more!
What Is It?
For many 3D printing enthusiasts, getting the perfect initial layer dictates the quality of the resulting print. A key to this is setting the right Z offset, which is the distance between the hot end and the Z home position on 3D printers.
Ideally, this would match the distance between the hot end and the print bed. However, differences in limit switch position, homing probes, and manual bed leveling complicate this issue.
Why Adjust It
The most common reason for adjusting the Z offset is to allow for the addition of a glass or thicker bed material. Other reasons include the following:
- Printing directly on top of an existing object (for example, printing directly on glass to make a picture frame)
- Embedding magnets inside a print (for example, by pausing mid-print)
- Fine-tuning the first layer for perfect printing
There are two methods of adjusting the Z offset: altering the G-code or directly inputting the offset in a slicer. In this article, we’ll explain both. Let’s get to it!
Adjusting with G-code
The key to adjusting Z offset using G-code is to home the printer first with
G92 Z0.1 can be used to set a manual Z offset for printing. In this case, the printer has established the current (home) position to be Z = 0.1 mm. This will create a -0.1-mm offset, where any movement command after this will be lowered by 0.1 mm on the Z-axis.
Note: To raise the nozzle to print on a surface, you’ll want to use negative values of Z offset (Z-0.1). This will shift the head up (0.1 mm).
Adjusting with a Slicer
Adjusting the Z offset using the slicer can be much easier than doing it manually in G-code. The exact location of this feature will depend on the slicer you’re using, but here we’ll walk you through the steps for the commonly used Cura. You’ll need to install a plug-in to access the Z offset settings. Here’s how:
- In the latest version of Cura, 4.9.0, go to the marketplace by clicking on the icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. This will bring up a box of downloadable plug-ins.
- Navigate to the bottom of the list and click on the icon called Z Offset plug-in.
Once installed, you can access the setting under the “Build Plate Adhesion” dropdown box to set the amount of offset.
Yes, it’s that easy! However, there are still a couple of things to keep in mind.
First, problems can occur when inputting a Z offset that causes the printhead to hit the limit switch. This will prevent the offset from occurring as it overrides any written G-code.
Secondly, if you’re trying to print on a significantly uneven object, you might have issues. If the printhead runs into the object as it travels to start the first layer, you accommodate this by adding G-code. However, it’ll have to be specific to the object being printed on.
Overall, adjusting the Z offset is an easy process that will expand what you can print. Using this guide, you’ll reach new heights in no time!