Layer shifting

Updated 2 months ago ​by Tomáš Chvalina

Layer shifting is an error which causes some of the layers to shift from their designated positions. It is usually associated with improper movement of an axis, leading the extruder head to be misaligned mid-printing without any notice. In other words, there is at least one layer which is not properly aligned.

You may experience layer shifts in different axis movements. To troubleshoot the issue correctly, it is crucial to diagnose to which axis it is happening. To clarify, check out the photo below which demonstrates three different kinds of layer shifts. Troubleshooting itself is the same for both axes.

Troubleshooting - Original Prusa i3 MK3 

  1. Check your printer’s power mode – For objects larger than 200–300g, or for objects with a complex geometry, run the printer in Normal mode rather than in the Stealth mode. You can change Power mode in the LCD Menu – Settings – Mode.
  2. Check your X/Y belts – Make sure that belts are tight enough. Belts should be tight enough to sound like a low bass note when plucked.
    1. You can check the belt tightness in  LCD - Support - Belt status.
    2. Values 240 + / - 40 are good. If you want to tweak your belt tightness, this value is updated once you re-run the Selftest. You can run it via LCD Menu - Calibration - Selftest.
    3. A lower value means more belt tension; a higher value means a looser belt.
  3. Check your X/Y axis pulleys – Make sure that the pulley on the motor shaft is secured and the idler pulley can move freely on the opposite end. A loose pulley is usually the main cause of staircase layer shifts.
  4. Make sure nothing is blocking the movement of your axis – Make sure there are no obstructions in the path of the bearings or any possible waste from previous printings stuck around the belt (usually around the Y-axis pulley). You can read more about general printer maintenance in this article.
  5. Difficult geometry to print – Objects with larger overhangs are generally harder to print. These overhangs might warp mid-printing and hit the nozzle. To prevent this, you can cut the object (as was shown in this article: Cutting STL models). You can also try to increase the print fan speed or increase the Z-hop distance in Slic3r PE. Both of these settings can be changed in our Slic3r PE. Print fan speed in Filament settings – Cooling and Z-hop distance in Printer Settings – Extruder 1.

Troubleshooting - Original Prusa i3 MK2/S 

  1. Check your printer’s power mode – For objects larger than 200–300g, or for objects with a complex geometry, run the printer in Normal mode or Auto power mode. You can change Power mode in the LCD Menu – Settings – Mode.
  2. Check your X/Y belts – Make sure that belts are tight enough. Belts should be tight enough to sound like a low bass note when plucked.
  3. Check your X/Y axis pulleys – Make sure that the pulley on the motor shaft is secured and the idler pulley can move freely on the opposite end. A loose pulley is usually the main cause of staircase layer shifts.
  4. Make sure nothing is blocking the movement of your axis – Make sure there are no obstructions in the path of the bearings or any possible waste from previous printings stuck around the belt (usually around the Y-axis pulley). You can read more about general printer maintenance in this article.
  5. Difficult geometry to print – Objects with larger overhangs are generally harder to print. These overhangs might warp mid-printing and hit the nozzle. To prevent this, you can cut the object (check out one of our previous articles Cutting STL models). You can also try to increase the print fan speed or increase the Z-hop distance in Slic3r PE. Both of these settings can be changed in our Slic3r PE. Print fan speed in Filament settings – Cooling and Z-hop distance in Printer Settings – Extruder 1.

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