Check for play on axles

The four X and Y axles are locked in place by the pulleys. However, it is possible that one or more of the pulleys will become slightly loose over time, which could affect their alignment. If this is the case, there could be play on the X and/or Y axles which can cause issues with print quality.

It is recommended to check for play on the axles at least once every three months.

Start with the right X axle. Place the print head in the back-left corner of the printer to keep it out of the way. Hold the frame of the Ultimaker 3 with one hand, and firmly hold the right X axle with the other. Attempt to move the axle forwards and backwards; do not be afraid to apply too much force.

01_Loosen-all-the-pulleys

Repeat this for the other axles. Make sure to move the print head to the opposite side each time.

The axles should not move at all. If one of the axles does move, you can observe a ticking noise of the pulleys hitting the frame. In this case it is recommended to calibrate the print head.

Calibrate the print head

The print head shafts should be perfectly perpendicular to the X and Y axles. This ensures that the movement of the print head is accurate. If the print head shafts are not at a 90º angle, this can affect the dimensions of your print.

If this is the case, or if you are experiencing play on the axles, it is recommended to calibrate the print head.

To perform this procedure, you will need the print head calibration sticks. This tool can be 3D printed.

Download the .STL here.

⚠Caution: Make sure the Ultimaker 3 is turned off before starting this procedure.

1. Loosen all the pulleys

  • Use the hex screwdriver to loosen the set screws of all the pulleys. There are nine in total.

2. Tighten pulleys on the X axles

  • Make sure the X axles are in the middle of the bearings in the frame.
  • Push the double pulley in the back left corner against the frame and tighten the set screw.
  • Push the pulley in the front-right corner towards the frame and tighten the set screw.

02.a_Tighten-double-pulley-back-left-corner
02.b_Tighten-pulley-front-right-corner

3. Tighten pulleys on the Y axles

  • Make sure the Y axles are fully inserted into the front panel.
  • Push the pulley in the back-left corner towards the frame and tighten the set screw.
  • Push the two pulleys in the back-right corner towards the frame and tighten the set screws.

03.a_Tighten-pulley-back-left-corner
03.b_Tighten-pulleys-back-right-corner

4. Use the calibration sticks - back X axle

  • Place the print head in the middle of the printer and place the calibration sticks around the back X axle, one on each side.
  • Move the print head to the back until the set screw of the back-right pulley is visible.
  • Clip the print head calibration sticks around the print head shaft and make sure that it falls into the same notch.
  • Push the back-right pulley towards the frame and tighten the set screw.

04.a_Place-the-calibration-sticks-on-back-X-axle
04.b_Click-the-calibration-stick-on-the-shaft

5. Use the calibration sticks - front X axle

  • Remove the calibration sticks from the back X axle and place them on each side of the front X axle.
  • Move the print head to the front until the set screw of the front left pulley is visible.
  • Click the print head calibration sticks around the print head shaft and make sure that it falls into the same notch.
  • Push the front left pulley towards the frame and tighten the set screw.

05.a_Place-the-calibration-sticks-on-front-X-axle
05.b_Tighten-front-left-X-pulley

6. Use the calibration sticks - right Y axle

  • Remove the calibration sticks from the front X axle and place them on each side of the right Y axle.
  • Move the print head to the right until the set screw of the front right pulley is visible.
  • Clip the print head calibration sticks around the print head shaft and make sure that it falls into the same notch.
  • Push the front-right pulley towards the frame and tighten the set screw.

07.a_Place-the-calibration-sticks-on-right-Y-axle
06.b_Tighten-front-right-Y-pulley

7. Use the calibration sticks - left Y axle

  • Remove the calibration sticks from the right Y axle and place them on each side of the left Y axle.
  • Move the print head to the left until the set screw of the front left pulley is visible.
  • Click the print head calibration sticks around the print head shaft and make sure that it falls into the same notch.
  • Push the front left pulley towards the frame and tighten the set screw.

07.a_Place-the-calibration-sticks-on-right-Y-axle
07.b_Tighten-front-left-Y-pulley

8. Check the print head movement

  • Remove the calibration sticks and place the print head in the front-left corner.
  • Move the print head diagonally towards the back-right corner.
  • Now move the print head diagonally from the back-left to the front-right corner.
  • If the movement is smooth, the calibration was successful. If not, repeat the process.

08_Move-the-print-head-around
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