Nozzle offset calibration

A project log for Tool Switching - Multi Extrusion

A scaleable approach to multi extrusion, easy to adopt in most CoreXY/H-Bot printer designs.

rolmierolmie 07/24/2017 at 09:572 Comments

The first thing to think about when talking about precision is what is actually required. Finally the precision of the whole process is limited by nozzle size and the viscosity of molten plastic. The smallest usable nozzles are 200µm, 1/4 (50µm) of this seemed like good choice of what is required in X and Y. The requirements for Z can be derived from minimum layer height. Objects printed better than 100µm layer height are hardly seen. Again using 1/4 gives 25µm precision in Z.

Neither the printed parts nor off the shelf hotends are manufactured precise enough for these requirements, but Slicers as well as printer firmwares have options to compensate for such errors.

I'm using a low budget USB microscope attached to the build plate to measure the offset of each nozzle. The resolution is in the range of 5µm per pixel, good enough for the requirements.

A mirror at an angle of 45° is used to get an upwards pointing field of view in the left half of the image, this allows calibration of XY. The right half of the image has a field of view that allows for Z calibration. 

OpenCV and some python scripting are used to extract XY offset and estimate for Z. Instead of relying on camera perspective and resolution, gantry movements and bed height adjustments are used to move the nozzle onto the respective reference points. The calibration is repeatable to about 10-20µm in all three axis.

Side by side comparison of two hotends after offset calibration (rotated view).

The process of offset calibration is still a bit tedious, but faster, more reliable and accurate than using thickness gauges and printing variations of vernier scale patters.

Areas for improvement are


Aaron wrote 08/28/2017 at 18:08 point

This is a really cool mechanism for validating the offset of a new printhead. I'm curious if the method could be used to calibrate a single printhead. I realize that you need a reference point, but could some other fixed position on the printer serve as that point?

I'm very impressed by this approach. Good work.

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rolmie wrote 08/29/2017 at 06:00 point

The only thing that come to my mind would be a kinematic joint for the camera on the Z carriage (outside of the printbed) that allows you to insert the camera with high repeatability, or simple leave it permanently attached.

Out of curiosity, why? Offsets don't matter with a single printhead, Z maybe, but there are better solutions for printbed leveling. 

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