Calibrating Your Extruder

Signs Extruder Needs to be Calibrated:

If you extruder is not calibrated correctly it will cause under extrusion or over extrusion. If under extrusion is occurring it will look similar to this:


The purpose of this article is to fix, and rule out hardware related issues with your print. Each type of filament may extrude more or less than your standard PLA. Using this walk-through you can test other filaments and how much they extrude. You can then change these settings in Simplify 3D for that specific Filament. It is best to use PLA as your base Extruder Calibration. 

**(to learn how to change extrusion in Simplify 3D here)**

How often should you calibrate it?

It all depends on how often you are using your printer, but it is recommended you do it about once a month, or when problems show up, just to rule it out.

Why does it happen?

There are multiple reasons that the calibration could become off. What typically sets it off is filament not feeding through correctly and the motor is working overtime, or slipping, because it can't extrude a material through a jammed nozzle. This causes that awful audible 'clicking' noise when printing.

How to Calibrate Your Extruder

To make sure that your prints turn out well, you need to be sure that your extruder is calibrated; that the printer knows how much filament each rotation of the extruder motor pushes out. This is simple to do right from the Altair without needing to hook up a computer at all. 

1. Remove the Bowden clip from the hot end by sliding it sideways.

2. Remove the Bowden tube by pressing down on the black ring surrounding the tube and pulling the Bowden tube up.

NOTE: You may have to preheat the machine to get the filament out of the hot end. Select Menu>Prepare>Preheat

3. Take the filament and use a razor blade or pair of scissors and cut the filament completely flush with the end of the Bowden Tube. The closer to flush that you can get the filament the more accurate your printer will be. 

4. Hit the button on your panel and scroll down to "Custom"

5. Scroll down to the button that says, "Extrude 100 mm".

6. Now grab a pair of calipers and measure how much filament is sticking out of the Bowden tube in millimeters. The more accurate you can get this measurement the more accurate your printer will be. 


7. Now go to your panel and go to "Prepare"

8. Scroll down to the menu that says "Extruder"

9. Scroll down to the menu that says "Settings"

10. Scroll down to the menu that says "E-steps/mm" and take note of the number written there.

11. Now we need to do a little math. Take the current E-step/mm number that we just looked up and multiply it by 100 divided by the distance that we measured using the calipers.

New Steps per mm = (Current steps per mm) x [100 / (measured distance filament traveled)]

12. Select the E steps/mm. Use the scroll wheel to change the E-steps to the new calculated value. 

13. To make sure that it is calibrated correctly, try extruding 100mm again. Make adjustments if needed.

14. To save the calibration go to the "Custom Menu" and Scroll down to "Save Settings" and press the button to select it. 


15. Some of the old firmware versions don't have the "Save Settings" feature so you can either go to and update your firmware to the newest version or you can run a bed calibration routine to save the settings that you changed by going to Menu>Custom>Calibrate Bed. Further instructions on bed calibration can be found here.

16. Insert the Bowden tube back into the hot end and put the Bowden clip back into place. 

Note: You can press on the extruder arm to push the filament back into the tube if you need to. 

To calibrate the extruder using Matter Control read the following article here