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README.md

ZLeveler

Postprocess 3D printer G-Code output from Cura or Slic3r, adjusting hotbed uneveness in Z-axis.

Adjustment of z-axis can be done manually (without automatic Z-leveling hardware).

Written in python

Calibration file

Negative Z-value describes 'valley' (nozzle too far from surface). Positive Z-value describes 'hill' (nozzle too close to surface). Units are in mm.

Normal file should consist of all negative Z-values. Adjust hotbed mechanically so that without zlevler nozzle at Z=0 doesn't touch the hotbed surface.

Surface sampling: Move the nozzle accross the hotbed and count how many papers can be inserted between the nozle and hotbed. Example: at point X=10 Y=20 you can insert 3 papers. Assuming each paper is about 0.1 mm then you'd enter a line:

X10 Y20 Z-0.3

Example of complete file:

cat ~/.zlevel.xyz

X0   Y0   Z-0.1
X25  Y0   Z-0.2
X50  Y0   Z0
X75  Y0   Z-0.1
X100 Y0   Z-0.2

X0   Y25  Z-0.3
X25  Y25  Z-0.1
X50  Y25  Z-0.2
X75  Y25  Z-0.2
X100 Y25  Z-0.1

X0   Y50  Z-0.1
X25  Y50  Z-0.2
X50  Y50  Z-0.3
X75  Y50  Z-0.2
X100 Y50  Z0

X0   Y75  Z-0.3
X25  Y75  Z-0.2
X50  Y75  Z-0.2
X75  Y75  Z-0.3
X100 Y75  Z-0.4

X0   Y100 Z-0.2
X25  Y100 Z-0.1
X50  Y100 Z0
X75  Y100 Z-0.1
X100 Y100 Z-0.2

A 2D interpolation method "RBF" is used which is adaptive so the calibration points can be randomly sampled. You don't neccessary need to sample e.g. complete 5x5 grid over the hotbed.

Graphical view:

./zleveler.py -v1

ZLEVEL

Install

There are not many dependencies, and they are hopfully easily obtainable:

apt-get install python3-numpy python3-scipy python3-matplotlib

Works with Python2 or Python3. Copy zleveler.py to any command search path

chmod +x zleveler.py
cp zleveler.py /usr/local/bin

Repetierhost

Open repetierhost, select "curaengine" or "slic3r" slicer. Printer Settings->Advanced->Post Slice FIlter enter in the input box example:

[zleveler.py --inputfile=#in --outputfile=#out --view=0 --updown_threshold=-0.001 --updown=-0.10 --zoffset=-0.03]
[x] Run Filter after every Slice

Slic3r

Save this post-processing script to any file:

#!/bin/sh
# slic3r in-place post-processing script
exec zleveler.py --inputfile="$1" --outputfile="$1" --view=0 --updown_threshold=-0.0 --updown=-0.0 --zoffset=-0.01

make it executable:

chmod +x /home/user/bin/zleveler-slic3r.sh

Configure slic3r:

Print Settings -> Output Options -> Post-processing scripts

And enter absolute path to this post-processing script.

Options

 -n --toz=float

Apply Z-adjustment up to "toz" height [mm]. On each successive layer Z-adjustment will decrease lineary. After "toz" height, Z-adjuestment will not be applied because the layers will become completely Z-flat. Default value 1 mm.

 -v --view=int

Graphical preview of the Z-adjustment values. After changing Z-level file it is recommended to preview it graphically before sending g-code to the machine. If there's some extreme value in ~/.zlevel.xyz file, it would be obvious.

 -z --zoffset=float

Global Z-offset [mm] adjusts nozzle to hotbed distance.

 -u --updown=float

Up-down mechanical gap of Z axis [mm]. This makes an important workaround to let Z finish at same level when approaching from either up or down. "updown" value should be normally of opposite sign than the Z-direction in which layers are built. When Z must travel in opposite direction of the layers, "xymax" segment will be split into two halves. In the first half of "xymax" segment, the Z-motor is driven to a trip "below" the layer level. Because there is mechanical gap nozzle will stay at layer level. On the other half the Z-motor is driven to the layer level. For example, if layers go in positive Z direction, start with small negative value like -0.07 and watch 1st layer. If filament is applied too thick on Z-valley or detaches, gradually increase by 0.01 into more negatve values until you see slight waves on filament desposted on 1st layer during correction of Z-valley on the hotbed. Be careful because having this value too large will press nozzle down into the hotbed.

-t --updown_threshold=float

When Z-travel during a "xymax" segment is larger than this threshold value [mm] then Z-downup correction will be applied. This value should normally be of opposite sign than Z-direction in which layers are built.

-x --xymax=float

When nozzle XY direction travels a distance longer than "xymax" [mm] then the nozzle path in G-code will be split into N smaller segments, each segment will be shorter than "xymax". Default value 10 mm.

-i --inputfile=string

Input G-code file without Z-axis correction. Currently files from "curaengine" and "slic3r" are known to work. Default is "-" as stdin.

-l --levelfile=string

Z-level file. Default is "~/.zlevel.xyz"

-o --outputfile=string

Output G-code with Z-axis correction. Default is "-" as stdout.

Automatic Z-probing

You don't need any special autoleveling support in firmware or hardware, only a working Z-endstop switch and some G-code command (M119) which reports endstop status.

Z-probing switch should be connected parallel to Z-endstop switch. so triggering Z-probing switch will make the same signal as Z-endstop switch.

Z-probing switch should be temporarily mounted on the hotend in order to generate zlevel.xyz file and removed afterwards.

Python script "zprobe.py" will send G-codes to scan hotbed over a XY grid. At each point of the grid it will lower the hotend until Z-probing switch triggers, recording each point to a calibration file "zlevel.xyz".

During normal use, hotbed will keep its shape so Z-probing needs to be obtained only once and will last for a very long time (months, years).

Z-probing adapter

Openscad 3D-printable adapter "zprobe.scad" can hold small PCB with Z-probing switch. Adapter has fittings to be properly mounted on the hotend and also has hooks to temporarily hold fan assembly. This adapter is suitable for "Fabrikator II mini".

On z-probe adapter mount small switch with help of some universal PCB and screws. Try to position the switch so that when pressed it makes contact "click" at approx the same xy position as the nozzle. z contact position doesn't matter here. Take also care that this swich will replace signal of z-stop switch and should be able mechanically go to xy home, go down until itself is triggered for new z-stop and without breaking leave this xyz-home position in y direction.

Connect 2.54 mm 2-pin header parallel to original z-stop switch. Connect female 2.54 mm 2-pin socket on the z-probe switch with wires, of suitable length for z-probe to move around xy plate, wire should be not too short not too long cca 20 cm.

To mount z-probe first raise up Z axis so nozzle is about 2-3 cm above printing plate. Remove springs that hold fan assembly and carefully separate fan assembly from the heatsink.. Check z-probe assembly (with the wired switch) trying to place it at the heatsink to test if it exactly fits with its "back" side mathcing the space inside heatsink fins.

There are small holes for the springs at the zprobe. Place rear spring first at hole of the zprobe adapter, holding probe at some z-angle relative to heatsink so spring doesn't tighten yet. Now holding heatsink, gently place zprobe adapter correctly z-angle = 0, and rear spring will tighten. With help of some tool carefully place front spring to zprobe front hole. Connect z-probe switch wires to connector parallel to original z-stop switch. Return fan assembly into the "hands" of zprobe adapter it should exactly fit. Move motors manually to check if everything is mechanically ok (nothing should break nor scratch) before) letting machine use z-probe.

Disclaimer

This code may have bugs and produce g-codes which lead to hardware error. Be extra careful and always graphically preview generated g-code in e.g. repetierhost slice by slice before sending them to the machine.

It currently supports only absolute G code. Relative G-code will be converted wrong and can damage the machine.

Todo

[x] Split long g-code into shorter ones --xymax=10.0
[x] Option for global z-offset --zoffset=-0.5
[x] Plot surface with matplotlib -v1
[x] G92 support (change origin)
[x] introduce xymin, don't half short segments
    but rather alternate them
[x] default function as stdin/stdout filter
[x] slic3r support (--tolayer -> --toz)

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G-Code postprocessor for Z-level adjustment in Cura or Slic3r output.

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