Achieving the perfect print is all about configuring the settings of your slicer and printer correctly, as every single parameter plays a vital role in how the models you print will turn out.
The Z offset, also known as nozzle offset, is one such parameter that is vital to the process, which determines the position of the printhead relative to the build plate in the Z-axis. As you can imagine, configuring this parameter is imperative to ensure that the first layer of the print turns out error-free, which will be the foundation for the rest of the object.
While the primary way of configuring the Z offset is through the interface of the printer, a common question we get is whether it’s possible to configure it through the Cura slicer software, as configuring things in the slicer is usually a lot more user friendly.
So, how to set Z offset, also known as nozzle offset, in Cura?
There are two methods to set the Z offset (nozzle offset) in Cura.
The first method is to download the Z Offset Setting plugin from the Ultimaker Marketplace, which adds the Z Offset option to the Print Settings Section of Cura.
If you prefer not to install a plugin, you can use the second method of inserting the G-Code for setting home offsets (such as M206 in Marlin) with the Z value you would like to use to the Start Scripts section of Cura.
Since following either of these methods can be challenging if you don’t have experience with them, we will be outlining how you can apply both of these methods in detail in the upcoming sections.
How to Set Z Offset (Nozzle Offset) in Cura?
Setting the Z offset in Cura is no different than setting any other parameter, except that it requires one additional step due to Cura not having this option by default.
Here are the steps we recommend taking to set the Z offset in Cura easily:
- Start by launching Cura.
- Add the Z Offset Setting plugin to Cura. As downloading plugins from the Ultimaker Marketplace requires an Ultimaker account, ensure that you create one if you haven’t already.
- Cura will ask you to sync the settings of your account, which will initiate the installation process for the plugin. After confirming a few dialogs, the installation will be complete.
- When the plugin installation is over, Cura will ask you to restart the application for the plugin to activate, which you can do through the button that shows up in the popup.
- After relaunching Cura, go to the Print Settings section, click the icon next to the search box, and click All from the dropdown menu. This process will allow all the settings in Cura to be visible to you, as Cura doesn’t show some of the more advanced settings to the user by default.
- Type “z offset” in the search box to bring up the input for the Z Offset parameter, and input the value you would like to use.
Due to its ease of use, we recommend using this method over the G-code one we will be covering in the next section.
Since the plugin already has hundreds of thousands of downloads, we don’t think there is any room for concern in terms of reliability and safety.
How to Set Z Offset (Nozzle Offset) with G-Code in Cura?
As it’s possible to do everything your printer allows with G-code, an alternative way to set the Z offset in Cura is by executing the G-code for setting offsets before the printing process.
Here are the steps you can follow to set the Z offset in Cura with G-code:
- Find the G-Code for setting offsets for the firmware you use. We will use Marlin firmware as an example, where the G-code for setting offsets is M206.
- Click the Settings option on the top menu of Cura.
- Mouse over the Printer option, and click Manage Printers from the dropdown.
- Choose the printer you would like to configure from the list on the left, and click Machine Settings.
- Add the G-code for setting the Z offset into the Start G-code box. For instance, inserting M206 Z-0.2 would set the Z offset to -0.2 before every print if you’re using the Marlin firmware.
While this method does not require downloading an extra plugin, it’s also more technically challenging.
As a result, we only recommend using this method if you are experienced with G-code and Cura.
Cura Z Offset Not Working – What to Do?
While it’s undeniable that it can be very frustrating when something doesn’t work as intended, there isn’t much that can go wrong while setting the Z offset in Cura, making it easy to troubleshoot the issue.
Here are the possible factors that may be stopping the configuration from working as intended:
Z Offset Larger than Negative Value of Layer Height
An incorrect Z offset value is the primary cause of the parameter not working as intended.
The Z offset value can’t be smaller than the negative of layer height, as this would mean that the printhead ends up bumping into the build plate.
For instance, if the layer height you’re using is 0.5mm, the minimum value for the Z offset can be -0.5mm.
In such a case, the firmware would either completely ignore the Z offset or show an error stating that the value is incorrect.
Printhead Is Hitting the Endstops
If your printer is entirely ignoring the Z offset you set, a likely culprit is the printhead hitting the endstops.
Every printer has physical endstops where the printhead isn’t allowed to move past, which may cause you to think that the Z offset isn’t behaving as it should.
By locating the endstops on your printer and observing the printhead carefully during the next print, you can easily find out whether this is the issue or not.
Printing on an Uneven Surface
Finally, if you are experiencing issues with the first layer even though you have set the Z offset correctly, the Z offset may not even be the problem.
A bed that isn’t level can make you think that there is something wrong with the Z offset due to the similar signs they show, even though an uneven bed is an entirely different issue than an incorrectly configured Z offset.
If everything else seems to be in order, we highly recommend taking another look at the print bed to ensure that it’s level.
Setting the Z offset in Cura is a breeze regardless of the method you decide to use, allowing you to configure the Z offset without the need for using the printer’s interface.
To quickly recap, there are two ways to set the Z offset in Cura:
- By using the Z Offset Setting plugin, which you can download from the Ultimaker Marketplace
- By inserting the G-code for setting offsets in the Start Scripts section of Cura
As there is no difference between setting the Z offset in Cura (no matter the method you choose) and through the printer’s interface, you can feel free to use Cura for this task from now on and enjoy the convenience that comes with it.
Mike started his 3D printing journey with the Anet A8 when it first came out back in 2017, and has been obsessed with 3D printers ever since. Nowadays, he primarily uses his Ender 3 to print functional parts that make his life more convenient whenever possible.