How do I fix a tilted gantry without screwing other things up?

Hi all-
New to 3D printing and learning a lot. My A5S has been largely awesome, but now I'm having a few issues I suspect are interrelated.
I printed for a month almost non-stop using Hatchbox filament with great results. The problems started when I switched to a metallic Mika3D material.
The first attempt resulted in a glob of filament all over the print nozzle. I don't know enough to diagnose whether it's poor quality material, whether the nozzle temp was off, or whether there was some other problem.
In an attempt to clean the nozzle I ran the gantry up +Z all the way to the top so I could get my head under the nozzle to try and get all the plastic off. As I ran it up apparently I got impatient and hit +Z too many times so there was some stuttering as it tired to rise higher than possible. I responded by hitting -Z and it stopped grinding.
I got the nozzle clean and tried to restart my print - like a moron without re-leveling the bed for the first time ever ><
The print started and the nozzle ground across the bed, ripping off all the painters tape the printer shipped with which I had managed to keep pristine for over six weeks. I cancelled the print, removed all the tape, installed my clips, and went to level the bed only to discover that the gantry is 1/2" inch lower on the left side than the right side. Getting frustrated, I resolved to diagnose and fix this later and to try my print again so "leveled" the bed with the plate much lower on the left. Now the feeder is clicking and stuttering and won't feed filament so it was printing in midair with no PLA feeding.
1) what is the correct way to level the gantry without forcing or breaking anything? and do I try and adjust the left side, the right side, or both?
2) is there an easy way to determine the cause of the feeder clicking?
3) should i completely remove the nozzle and clean it with a torch or something?
Thanks in advance for any and all help and suggestions.


  • Laser8302Laser8302 Posts: 151Member, 🌟 Super Member 🌟
    Hello and welcome!

    I hope I can answer your questions. Here goes.

    1) There are a couple ways. The #1 way I've read is to raise the gantry up so you can measure with calipers between the top of the frame and the gantry. Turn off the stepper motors (M84 in pronterface, or if you have the community firmware on the LCD, the M-off button) Then twist the Z-screws until your measurements are the same across the gantry. I'd do 3 points just to be safe.

    Another way would be to use a bubble level to check how level it is (make sure you have your printer on a level surface.)

    A 3rd way is to print specific Z spacers to hold the gantry level on both ends and then screw it down into them by hand.

    2) The feeder clicking is usually a clogged nozzle or heater tube. You can use up to 240ºC to try and clear it. Take a piece of filament off your roll and see if you can do a hot pull where you push the filament into the heater block by hand. If it's really stuck, you will need to disassemble the block/tube. There's 2 grub screws on the left side of the heatsink inside 2 threaded holes. Back those out and you should be able to spin the heater block out after you remove the heater cartridge and the temperature sensor.

    3) It's a BAD idea to use a torch on the stock hotend. It's got a PTFE tube inside that melts/releases nurotoxins when heated past 245ºC. Best bet is a needle drill bit or a regular drill bit once you have the nozzle off. I ordered extra heat breaks and nozzles as these are consumables on your 3D printer. They don't get used up as fast as the filament though. I'd say the nozzle should last ~3-4 rolls and the heat break should last ~8-10 rolls.

    Hope this helps.
  • Samuel PinchesSamuel Pinches Posts: 2,588Administrator
    Welcome @Learning_Curve !

    Sounds like you're doing great, and I think the problems you mentioned can be overcome. @Laser8302 has given some great tips.

    If the nozzle has ground on the bed then it is possible that it has damaged the tip. Replacement nozzles are very cheap - anything "e3d V6" compatible should be fine. When changing the nozzle, please be sure to support the heater block as you tighten the nozzle, as the tube that holds the heater block to the x-carriage is thin and will snap if twisted firmly.

    The left and right z motors for the z axis are not mechanically connected, but they are electrically connected - this is why its so hard to twist one without the other twisting. If the printer is off, you should be able to turn one while holding the other without too much difficulty.
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