While most 3D printing-related problems occur during the printing process itself and cause the 3D printed model to turn out suboptimal in one way or the other, there are rare times where issues can entirely prevent the printing process from starting at all.
Fortunately, the issues that prevent the printing process from starting are often easier to solve due to the limited amount of factors that can cause such problems, as opposed to the ones that occur during the printing process, where there are hundreds of things that can go wrong.
In today’s article, our topic is the No TF Card issue that pops up on the interface of Ender 3 printers and prevents you from printing with an SD card, which can be a bit of a pickle due to the error message being slightly cryptic.
So, what causes the Ender 3 (Pro/V2) No TF Card issue?
The primary culprit behind the Ender 3 No TF Card issue is using an SD card that does not have the FAT32 filesystem, as the Ender 3 can only detect SD cards if you format them with FAT32.
Aside from the filesystem incompatibility, not initializing the SD card after inserting it can also cause the Ender 3 No TF Card issue, especially if you have inserted the card while the printer is on.
In the upcoming sections, we will analyze the Ender 3 No TF Card issue in more detail, go over all the factors that are possible culprits, and look at possible fixes to solve the problem as quickly as possible.
What Causes the Ender 3 (Pro/V2) No TF Card Issue?
Seeing the No TF Card issue on your Ender 3 just as you are about to print a model can be pretty disappointing, especially combined with the fact that the error message itself does not reveal much.
In the majority of the cases, the Ender 3 No TF Card error shows up as a result of using an SD card with an incorrect filesystem, such as NTFS, instead of FAT32, which is the only filesystem that the Ender 3 can process.
A vital point to also consider alongside the filesystem is the partitioning style of the SD card, which should be MBR, as the Ender 3 won’t be able to process an SD card with a GPT partition table, even if the filesystem is FAT32.
While the filesystem and partitioning style problems are responsible for most cases, a few other factors can also be the reason for the Ender 3 No TF Card issue at times, such as:
- Uninitialized SD Card – In cases where you insert the SD card while the Ender 3 is active, the printer may not initialize the SD card automatically and require initialization before it detects the card.
- SD Card Corruption – The filesystems of SD cards can get corrupted at times due to various reasons, rendering them unusable by the Ender 3.
- SD Card Capacity Too High – While this technically shouldn’t be a problem as the maximum capacity of a FAT32 partition is 32GB, which the Ender 3 should recognize, high capacity cards are known to cause the No TF Card issue for reasons unknown.
- Issues with filenames – Using directory or filenames with special characters (such as underscore) and spaces can prevent the Ender 3 from accessing the files and trigger the No TF Card error.
- Pathing issues – Using directories to store the .gcode files instead of keeping them at the root directory of the SD card is a known culprit behind the error.
How to Fix the Ender 3 (Pro/V2) No TF Card Issue?
Fortunately, the Ender 3 No TF Card is one of the easier problems to fix in the realm of 3D printing, as what causes the issue is usually apparent, and the solution options aren’t too technical.
Here is a step-by-step guide that covers the fixes for all the possible culprits behind the Ender 3 No TF Card issue:
- Insert the SD Card into your computer.
- Switch the partition table of your SD Card to MBR.
- Format your SD Card with the FAT32 filesystem.
- Copy your .gcode files to the root directory of the SD card (refrain from using folders), and avoid using file names with special characters and spaces for your .gcode files.
- Insert the SD Card into your Ender 3 and power it on.
- Use the Init. TF Card option in the Ender 3 interface to initialize the SD card.
- Use the Refresh option in the TF Card menu.
To stay on the safe side, we highly recommend inserting the SD card into the Ender 3 while it’s powered off, as inserting the card while the printer is on is known to be a culprit behind the No TF Card issue.
What Does TF Mean on a 3D Printer?
Even if you are familiar with technology, there is a good chance that you’re seeing the word TF for the first time on your 3D printer, as it’s not a term that is used commonly nowadays.
The abbreviation TF that you see on your 3D printer stands for TransFlash, which was the original name for the memory cards we currently know as SD (Secure Digital) Cards today.
That being said, since it has been over 15 years since the word TransFlash was used to refer to SD Cards, it’s hard to tell why 3D printers, such as the Ender 3, use the terminology of TF Card instead of SD Card, that we are all more used to see.
In most scenarios, solving the No TF Card issue of your Ender 3 printer should be an effortless process and not take more than a few minutes of your time, as the cause and the fix are pretty much set in stone.
To quickly recap, we can say that the main reason behind the No TF Card Issue on an Ender 3 printer is an SD card with a filesystem, such as NTFS, or partition table, such as GPT, that the Ender 3 cannot read.
To make the SD card compatible with the Ender 3 and resolve the No TF Card issue in this case, you need to format your SD card with the FAT32 filesystem and ensure that it’s using the MBR partition table.
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.