Calibrating E steps for new filament

  • Is it a good idea or do I need to calibrate my E steps after I switch to a new filament due to the different types I use (to make my prints accurate)?

    E.g. calibrate when switching from PLA to ABS/PETG?

    Welcome to 3DPrinting.SE!

    In general, the recalibration will be unnoticeable unless you're trying to print to less than roughly 100-micron tolerances.

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  • No that will not be necessary.

    However, you could use calipers to measure the diameter of the filaments (e.g. at 5 positions over a few meters) and calculate the mean diameter, if there is a significant difference between the new and the currently used filament you could change the diameter in the slicer (or the flow modifier), you do not need to calibrate the steps per millimeter every time you change filament.

    You only need to calibrate the steps per millimeter if you change something in the extruder hardware setup, e.g. different extruder, different stepper driver, a new gear, etc. As long as the hardware is not changed a calibrated extruder setup will move a certain amount of filament regardless of the diameter variation (per rotation of the extruder gear an amount of $2 \times \pi \times (gear\ radius)$ mm of filament.

  • No, it is not a good idea to recalibrate the machine for each filament. Instead, use a different profile and adjust the flow multiplier to adjust to different polymers.


    Steps/mm is a mechanical setting that is dependent only on the extruder gear. The diameter of the filament is independent of this: one rotation of the extruder still has the same length of filament moved.

    To adjust for manufacturing differences, you adjust the filament diameter accordingly in the slicer. This is independent of the filament type.

    However filaments behave differently on heating, and a good slicer does adjust for that already: if we assume PLA as a baseline, then HIPS will need a higher material input for the same print results because it has a different compressibility and heat expansion behavior in the hotend.

    Could you elaborate: does HIPS shrink as it liquefies (and doesn't re-expand when cooled), for example?

    they don't "shrink" per se, but (depending on filament & filler materials), the filament is able to to be packed tighter after the extrusion than in the filament spool (increasing the density)... I don't understand it fully myself, but some filaments just liquify in this strange manner.

    The "effective" diameter the gear is biting into the filament changes, therefore there is nothing wrong with having an extruder calibration per type of filament.

    @Estaworks3d Your edit was rejected, because a) it was a rant. b) it said **exactly** what I had said in the very first paragraph. c) it was a substantial change. Write your own answer.

  • That above is not entirely true. Maybe in a perfect world but we are far away from that. Just this week I tested it with an All-Metal MicroSwiss.

    • Calibrated with PETG at 240 °C. Result E116

    • Calibrated with PLA at 180 °C. Result E96...

    A huge deviation one can't control with the flow. The more smart way to calibrate the extruder would be to remove the heating and nozzle out of the equation. Just run the filament dry out of the end of the PTFE tube with the same calculation method. Unfortunately this is still unreliable.

    Just to clarify, which (or whose) answer above is not entirely true, or do you mean both? If not both, please specify which. Thanks. Hi and welcome to SE.3DP, btw :-)

    Also define what a huge deviation is and why it cannot be controlled with a flow modifier, this is possible, so explain why you mean it cannot. The shown example can perfectly be changed with a flow modifier.

  • It is normal to have different filaments with different hardness, therefore the teeth of the gears will bite at different depth in the filament strand.

    As result, the effective steps/mm will change and you should have a calibration per type of filament.

    Repeating the calibration for each new spool is not needed, if you only change brand or colour, but at the end... it just takes 10 cm of filament. Is it really an issue?

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM