An Easy Fix For Inconsistent Layers In Cheap 3D Printers

Inconsistent layer heights in a 3D print

If there’s one thing you can say about [Stefan] from CNC Kitchen, it’s that he’s methodical when he’s working on an improvement to his 3D printing processes, or when he’s chasing down a problem with a printer. Case in point: this root-cause analysis of extrusion inconsistencies with an entry-level 3D printer.

The printer in question is a Cetus MK3, a printer that found its way onto many benches due to its ridiculously low price and high-quality linear bearings. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot to be desired about the printer, and its tendency for inconsistent layers was chief among [Stefan]’s gripes. Such “blubbiness” can be pinned on any number of problems, but rather than guess, [Stefan] went through a systematic process of elimination to find the root cause. We won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say that the problem was subtle, and could probably be the cause of similar problems with other printers. The fix was also easy, and completely mechanical — just a couple of parts to replace. The video below shows the whole diagnosis process, as well as the before and after comparisons. [Stefan] also teases an upcoming treatment on how he converted the Cetus from the stock proprietary control board, which we’re interested in seeing.

If you haven’t checked out any of [Stefan]’s other 3D printing videos, you really should take a look. Whether it’s vibration damping with a concrete paver, salt annealing prints for strength, or using finite element analysis to optimize infills, he’s always got an interesting take on 3D printing.

[Baldpower] tipped us off on this one. Thanks!

26 thoughts on “An Easy Fix For Inconsistent Layers In Cheap 3D Printers

  1. I would not consider the Cetus Mk. 3 an entry level printer. An entry level printer would be something closer to an Ender 3 Pro. And regarding it’s “insanely low price”, I paid $780 total for my Cetus Mk. 3 Deluxe Extended Edition with touchscreen (that includes tax and shipping from China to California) and that was bought directly from TierTime’s website. Not exactly cheap…

    1. Such price-tags and still having to deal with problems scares me away a bit from starting this as a recreational activity. Thanks for the input and thanks to HaD for linking this interesting YT channel. I enjoy watching people improve their machinery.

      1. Yeah, the Cetus was/is expensive, and justified it with the linear rails, which are a dubious improvement anyway…

        If you’re price sensitive, get and Ender 3 and you’ll be set. There are other printers in the ~$200 category that are just as good, but the Ender has probably the biggest userbase, and it’ll be easiest to troubleshoot online if you’re new.

        You absolutely shouldn’t be afraid.

        1. “Get and Ender 3 and you’ll be set”.

          Yes. Set to begin learning about how 3D printers work, what can go wrong, and how to troubleshoot and fix them. I have an Ender 3 and I like it. But, for anyone that asks if *they* should get one, I liken it to owning an old European car. It’ll run well so long as you’re willing to tinker with it. That’s not a knock on either the printer or the car. The owner just needs to have the right mindset and not mind the tinkering. There are printers out there available as kits, partial kits, or free CAD files that require very little tinkering after being built and dialed in. But, they’ll cost more than the $180 I paid for my Ender (with upgrades I actually paid ~$250).

          You definitely shouldn’t be afraid. 3D printing is a load of fun.

          1. There are no fdm printers that sit on a desktop and don’t require tuning and tinkering. It’s not the printers fault. It’s the expectations that go up as you print more and more. Most people want their parts to look beautiful and 3D printing has so many avenues for deviation that it becomes impossible to please even the most experienced hobbyist. The best way to use a 3D printer is to leave it alone and accept what comes out of it as an artifact of it’s cost.

      2. If you have such an aversion against even tinkering a little bit, then using a 3D printing service is probably a better option for you.

        That way you don’t even have to change spools of filament.

      1. Just the usual 10++ mins video to fully monetize it. It even includes paid promotions at the start. But the production quality is high. Not that they receive a cent with me blocking ads + watch time beacons. As much as I want to support content creators, I rather donate them money than keeping the ad industry alive.

        1. The problem is, no one donated ever*. I would like to donate too, I’ve even donated for repetierhost, but donating to each content creator is too much “hassle”. So, we have donate indirectly through ads.

          * those who donated would be considered “below margin of error”.

          1. Advertisements are the exact opposite of donations.

            With donations you choose something you like and you support it.

            With advertisements you get something shoved down your throat that you do not want and on top of that it wastes your time.

            Advertisements are per definition for products that are never ever the product that suits your mix of interests best. The advertised product may “work adequately” in your case, but very likely there are better products from a company that does not have a $$$ advertisement budget that would be a better fit for you, but you never find that product if you act upon advertisements.

            There are some laws against “misleading advertisements”, but those skip the simple fact that all advertisements are misleading in this regard.

            Advertisements distort competition to the companies with the biggest advertisement budget. It’s one of the mechanisms that causes small companies to struggle and big companies to grow even bigger.

            I do agree that making small donations is a nuisance. There are / were a bunch of websites to distribute donations but those never got widespread use and there are / were too many of them, and they got mostly pushed out of the market by advertisements.

            Imagine this:
            If there was a button on hackaday, and if you like an article you click on it with the result that you donate 25ct to that project, and 5% of that to Hackaday. Would yo click on such buttons?

          2. [paulvdh] wrote:

            “If there was a button on hackaday, and if you like an article you click on it with the result that you donate 25ct to that project, and 5% of that to Hackaday. Would yo click on such buttons?”

            Considering the inadequacy of the HaD commenting system, each “click” would probably be a purchase toward a Benchoff Buck and nothing else.


          3. @ paulvdh Yeah, that would be ideal and I would donate much more often. The problem is that you currently have to have credit card and then actually transferring those 25c costs way more, and there is no other universally working system. But such system would be perfect. Hmm, maybe that’s good idea for youtube-killer?

        2. YouTube Premium is a couple dollars a month and you get more than ad-free videos. I don’t watch “TV” and Premium is very much worth it for me. I don’t watch the TV type material either. There are more machining and welding and DIY and math lecture videos than I can ever finish. And Aussie Man Reviews of course.

  2. Well, Dan, reading through the comment section, “We won’t spoil the ending,” is not what any of us seem to want. Information in video format is onerous and wasteful. Spoil the ending, if I wanted clickbait, I’d be reading buzzfeed. If it’s good info, then we can support by watching.

    1. This, please… I come to HaD for a summary of interesting projects, HaD is useless to me if I have to go watch YouTube to find out. At that point I might as well scroll through the YT app.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.