Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Easy Way to Level the Cube 3 Print table

Leveling the Cube 3 print table is much easier than with previous 3D printers I've owned.

It's especially easy if we have a tool to help us track the number of turns we need to make to perform the adjustments provide to us by the printer itself.

While I have created and printed a Level Gauge Tool to be used with the Cube 3, it is just as effective to print the gauge with a standard printer on paper and cut it out.  Here is a template for you to download.  This is a PNG meant to be printed with .5" margins in 8.5"x11" portrait.

8.5x11 Level Gauge Template for Laser or Inkjet

Creating The Gauge

Print the template using .5" margins.  The heavier the paper the better.  Cut out the shaded shape and use something like an Exacto knife to remove the centers of the tree circles.

Mounting The Gauge

Remove the print plate. 

Print Plate Leveling Pads as seen from the back of the Cube 3

The print plate rests on 3 magnetic pads.  Looking from the back of the Cube 3, we have numbered these pads from 1 to 3.  For each pad there is a corresponding setscrew that can be loosened and tightened using the hex wrench that came with the Cube 3 tool set.

Pad 1 to the right and back of the group.  Pad 1 is the anchor, or pivot point, for all level adjustments.  It should never need adjustment.  But, should we suspect that it has worked itself loose, the factory setting (as I understand it) is that Pad 1 be turned clockwise all the way down until it stops.  Be sure to loosen the setscrew before adjusting and tighten it after adjustment.

It's easy to identify how to place the Adjustment gauge over the pads.  The ring that has no markings goes around Pad 1.

Gauge mounted in place

Notice that a mark has been written on both Pad 2 and Pad 3 that gives us a 'dial' to use against the gauge.  A 'Sharpie" was used to create these marks on Pad 1 and Pad 2.

Using the Gauge

Following the marks that are written on each pad, each time the mark on the pad passes a mark on the gauge 1/16th of a turn has been made.  1/8th of a turn would require turning the Pad so that the mark on the Pad passes two marks on the gauge.  So, all we have to do is count the number of marks the "dial" passes to turn the pad very precisely according to the specifications reported by the Cube 3's Level Adjustment procedures.

General Observation About Leveling

The setscrew for each pad must be loosened before the pad is turned and then tightened after the pad has been turned.  The steps are:
  1. Loosen Setscrew (Using hex wrench supplied with the Cube 3)
  2. Turn Pad
  3. Tighten Setscrew

Neither Pad 1 nor Pad 2 operate completely independently.  Raising Pad 2 tends to lower the back edge of the plate requiring a slight re-adjustment of Pad 1.  So, Leveling can be an iterative process requiring smaller and smaller adjustments when done correctly.  Always re-run Level until the Cube 3 reports that no more adjustments are needed.

I hope this has been helpful.  Please let me know if I've been unclear or have missed something. 


  1. Hi Tom ,

    Thanks for sharing . I bring good news , I managed to repair blocked cartridges with 100 % effectiveness . I managed to do it thanks to Eric Albert comment made on this video:

    I can make a video with instructions if necessary .

    A greeting !!

    1. That would be great to see

      Also, thanks for linking to the video. I hope the person that did it is a blog follower and sees how much we appreciate it. :)

  2. Thanks for this template. It made leveling my new Cube3 much easier. My Cube like yours, needed nozzle adjustments. After 5 test prints I've finally got it right. Can you explain to me how to set up a file for printing in 2 colors? Thanks so much for this blog. Setting up my Cube would have been much more difficult without it!!!

  3. I'm glad that the blog is a help to you. Thanks! :)

    While it is different in each 3D design application, Wth Moment of Inspiration, setting a file for 2 color printing with the Cube 3 is a matter of NOT using UNION to bring all the pieces into a single object. I tend to UNION, when possible, all of the objects intended for the same color. So, more often than not, I have an 'assembly' for each color in the SAME STL file for the Cube 3.

    In the Cubify software, you drag a color to a part and all the UNIONED features become that color. It's helpful to drag the lightest color to any part first so you can see the features better and apply the darker color in the right places.

    Interestingly, the Cubify Client sometimes can determine a distinct surface and let you color that individually. But, you can't count on it.

    With the CubePro, each color must be saved as a separate file and the CubePro software brings them in as assemblies.

  4. It seems to me that every time I power off and then power on the printer, I need to run Auto Gap again. Is this correct? Also if I change a cartridge, I need to run the nozzle alignment procedure and then auto level auto gap? Is that correct? I am amazed at the high resolution of this printer!!!! We have a Makerbot Z18 at work, and the Cube 3 prints are much better!!!

    1. In terms of having to re-gap after a shut-off, that certainly should not be the case. But, frankly, it's not a bad idea in any case.

      The way the tip, inside the print jet housing, is constructed, it would not surprise me that changing a cartridge might require a re-gap to be safe. There is a little locking collar around the print jet tip that seems to act as a spacer. Consistency requires that the little collar be assembled in EXACTLY the same place on every print jet tip. But, I have observed that it IS possible that it could slip in one direction. I can't be sure that it ever does. But, it certainly is in the realm of possibility.

      I wish I could be more definitive; but, without filament I'm down and cannot test my machine for those situations.

      And, yes. The print quality is amazing, Absolutely amazing. Which makes it all the more sad that its reputation is marred by clogging issues. I'll be glad when it's all behind us. Because, in spite of it all, this is one seriously terrific printer.

    2. Have all of your cartridges clogged? Even the ones you received directly from the factory? My neon green and black cartridges have clogged. However, the blue cartridge I ordered is still printing. I noticed there are "lot#'s" on the cartridges. The black and neon green have similar #'s but the blue cartridge has a # that is way out of range of the other two. Does this indicate a good batch and bad batch? Also, the 3d systems logo on the blue cartridge box is darker than the logo on the other 2 cartridges boxes. Anyway, this printer is so good that it is worth it to wait for them to work out the problem!

    3. Yes. In recent days am now getting clogs with just about every new cartridge.

  5. I had mixed results with the new material. Darker colors worked until I ran out. Lighter colors have clogged.

    But, I JUST got word that FIVE new Cube3 printers have arrived at the YouthQuest office. So, I will be checking them out this weekend. It will be interesting to have more than one with which to assess the situation.

  6. Good day,

    Every time I turn off the cube 3, it ask for a auto cal. its that normal?

    Also, every time I want to switch materials or calibrate, i hear my step motors doing a horrid sound (something like it reach the limit but still try to move). Sometimes its a minor sound, but in some occasion the sound can be very loud and take several seconds to stop. There any guide to fix this? or should i been thinking in a factory issue?

    Thanks for your time

  7. Have you ever actually run the auto-cal? It sets the baseline from which the actual gap is to be set.

    Have you seen the auto cal video to make sure that you are performing the proper procedures?

    The stepper motors drive belts. The noise you hear is probably the table coming to a hard stop and the stepping motor continuing to run, skipping the cogs of the belt. It could be that one of the limit switches is defective or moved somehow. But, if an auto cal has not been performed correctly, I suppose the firmware could also be confused as to the position of the table or head.

    We can try to step through some debugging if you'd like.

  8. I can't find any hex wrench that fits. I don't know where the one is that came with the printer. Is it the 1.3 mm wrench that you mention elsewhere?

  9. Search for "1.3mm Hex Driver" and a number will pop up. They are difficult to find locally.

  10. What about level plate parameters? what is default cal1?

  11. What about lever plate parameters? What is default CAL1? or how to fix it?

    1. Please explain more about what you mean. I'm not clear.