Smooth and consistent motion is undeniably the most significant factor for a successful 3D printing process since the health of the extrusion entirely depends on the printhead being at the correct position at the right time, and even a tiny inconsistency is capable of ruining the print.
Unfortunately, achieving perfect motion isn’t always an easy task, as software, electronic hardware, and mechanical hardware need to all work seamlessly together to control and regulate the movement of the printhead, which introduces a lot of complexity, and many points of failure.
In today’s article, we will try to tackle one of the rarer but critical mechanical problems that you can encounter while printing with your Ender 3, where the X-axis of the Ender 3 suddenly refuses to move, making it impossible to conduct the printing process until you resolve the issue.
So, what can cause your Ender 3’s X-axis not to move at all and stay still at its position?
Below, we have listed the common reasons that can prevent your Ender 3’s X-axis from moving:
- Incorrect or loose wiring
- Damaged wiring
- Loose X-axis timing belt
- Loose X-axis pulley
- Non-operational X-axis endstop
- Malfunctioning X-axis stepper driver
- Malfunctioning X-axis stepper motor
Moving forward, we will take a deeper look into the factors that can prevent the X-axis of your Ender 3 from moving correctly, go through the potential solutions that correspond to the most common culprits behind the issue, and finally, discuss the signs that an X-axis that is not moving will create.
What Can Prevent the Ender 3 (Pro/V2) X-Axis from Moving?
The X-axis of your Ender 3 not moving is definitely a troubling situation since there is no way to use your 3D printer again until you resolve the issue, which is made even worse by the fact that there are plenty of distinct factors that can play a role in the occurrence of the problem.
Here are the most common culprits behind the issue of the Ender 3 X-axis not moving as intended:
- The wiring is loose or incorrect. The wiring between the mainboard and the stepper motor being loose or done incorrectly will prevent the necessary signals from going to the X-axis motor and prevent the X-axis from moving. A widespread example of this is the extruder motor and X-axis cables being switched around, which we have heard about many times in the community, and in such a scenario, you can see signs such as the extruder gears turning when you issue X-axis movement commands.
- The wiring is damaged. Damaged wires will also prevent the stepper drivers from sending the necessary signals to the stepper motor, creating a scenario where the X-axis is unable to move. In this case, the stepper motor wouldn’t move at all.
- The X-axis timing belt is loose. When the timing belt is loose, the movement of the X-axis stepper motor will be lost despite it rotating, with no motion being transferred to the printhead, resulting in the X-axis not showing any movement.
- The X-axis pulley is loose. Like a loose belt, the X-axis pulley being loose will prevent the rotations of the stepper motor from being transferred to the timing belt, which will cause the X-axis to stay motionless. As this part is directly connected to the stepper motor, you should see it rotate when the motor is operating.
- The X-axis endstop isn’t functioning. While a non-functioning endstop won’t technically prevent the X-axis from moving, it will cause the 3D printer to order the X-axis to stop due to the endstop not being present. In this scenario, you should be able to move the X-axis through the LCD panel manually.
- The X-axis stepper driver is malfunctioning. As the stepper driver is entirely responsible for sending the necessary signals to the stepper motors, a malfunctioning X-axis stepper driver will halt the X-axis stepper motor. In this scenario, the stepper motor would not rotate at all.
- The X-axis stepper motor is malfunctioning. With the X-axis stepper in a non-operational condition, nothing can supply the necessary motion to the X-axis, meaning that there is no way for the X-axis to move. If this is the case, the stepper motor shouldn’t be performing any rotation.
How to Fix the Issue of the Ender 3 (Pro/V2) X-Axis not Moving?
Fixing the issue of the X-axis of your Ender 3 not moving will require a decent amount of trial and error unless you already have a good idea of what could be causing the problem in your case, as there are many solutions that correspond to the common culprits, which you will need to go through one by one.
Below, we have listed the corresponding solutions for the likely culprits behind the issue of the Ender 3 X-axis not moving:
- Redo the wiring between the X-axis stepper motor and the X-axis stepper driver. For this process, we highly recommend putting the wiring diagram for the Ender 3 on your phone’s screen and ensuring that what you see on your mainboard exactly matches what you see on the screen, as many wiring issues occur to orientation problems. After getting the wiring correctly, ensure that they are connected tightly to both ends.
- Inspect the X-axis wiring for signs of damage. Scratched, cut, tangled, or even bent wires can result in the signal not being transmitted correctly. If you see any of these signs on the cables, we recommend replacing them.
- Tighten the X-axis timing belt. To tighten the X-axis timing belt, all you need to do is loosen the belt tensioner nuts, re-position the tensioner by slowly pulling it until the belt is tight, and put the nuts back on.
- Tighten the X-axis pulley. The pulley should have a set screw that allows you to adjust the tension, which you should tighten until the pulley is tightly coupled with the stepper motor to let it turn as the stepper motor rotates.
- Redo the X-axis endstop wiring. Once again, we recommend consulting the wiring diagram for this step and ensuring that the cable is connected tightly to the socket. To avoid confusion, we recommend looking at the mainboard from the same point of view that you see in the diagram.
- Diagnose the X-axis stepper driver. The most straightforward to find out if the stepper driver is at fault is to swap the X and Z axis wires with each other and try to move both of the axes through the LCD panel. The X-axis stepper driver is the problem if the X-axis moves, but the Z-axis stays motionless.
- Diagnose the X-axis stepper motor. The quickest way to find out if the stepper motor is malfunctioning is to hook up the X-axis stepper motor to the wire currently connected to the stepper motor of one of the axes operating correctly and attempt to move that axis. The X-axis stepper motor is the culprit if the axis ceases to move after the change.
How to Identify the Issue of the Ender 3 (Pro/V2) X-Axis not Moving?
While spotting that an axis is not moving should be pretty straightforward if you pay attention to your Ender 3 during the printing process, it’s entirely natural not to be sure about the name of the problematic axis if you have recently stepped into the world of 3D printing.
The X-axis of your Ender 3 is the horizontal axis that the printhead moves on, responsible for the motions toward the left and the right of the build surface, meaning that an X-axis that isn’t moving will prevent the left and right movements from happening.
In the case of this issue, the X-axis of your Ender 3 should entirely be motionless, as cases where it’s moving inconsistently or moving way too slowly point towards different problems that require distinct solutions.
While a rare mechanical issue that you are unlikely to face, solving the problem of the X-axis of your Ender 3 not moving can definitely take a considerable amount of time and effort due to its cryptic nature and the requirement of technical expertise to apply some of the solutions.
To quickly recap, anything between the stepper drivers and the belts that transfer the movement to the X-axis can create the issue of your Ender 3 X-axis not moving, with wiring, the timing belt, the pulley, the stepper driver, and even the stepper motor itself being potential culprits.
Aside from the factors that directly prevent movement from being transferred to the X-axis, an issue with the X-axis endstop can also be the culprit at times due to the printer stopping the motion when the endstop is not detected, even though the X-axis movement is technically not restricted.
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.