As with every device involving moving parts, 3D printers can also suffer from mechanical problems that prevent motion from occurring smoothly and correctly, making for a suboptimal printing process and potentially causing you to re-print your model due to the flaws that appear as a result.
Fortunately, such issues aren’t very regular, as they commonly show up either as a result of the improper first assembly of the 3D printer or due to wear and tear that eventually occurs after a long period of usage, meaning that you won’t have to deal with these issues frequently.
Today, we will dive into one such mechanical problem that can affect the motion of the Ender 3 printhead, known as the X-axis wobble, where the X-axis gantry becomes loose and causes the printhead to move in an inconsistent manner during the printing process.
So, what can cause the X-axis gantry of your Ender 3 to wobble?
The primary reason that causes the X-axis gantry of an Ender 3 to wobble is the eccentric nuts holding the X-axis gantry in place becoming way too loose, which can either happen due to mistakes during the assembly process or wear and tear as a result of prolonged usage.
Next up, we will be analyzing the potential causes behind the Ender 3 X-axis wobbling problem in better detail, find out what we can do to fix this problem as efficiently as possible, and take a quick look at the correct way of leveling the X-axis for a successful printing process.
Why Does the X-Axis (Gantry) of My Ender 3 (Pro/V2) Wobble?
A wobbling X-axis gantry will, without a doubt, cause problems for the 3D printing process by throwing off the movement of the printhead on the X-axis, which will prevent the printhead from extruding the plastic in the correct locations.
Loose eccentric nuts are the number one reason behind a wobbling Ender 3 X-axis gantry, as these nuts are essentially the parts that keep the X-axis gantry connected to the Z-axis gantry, and the tightness of these nuts is entirely responsible for the movement of the X-axis gantry.
As the eccentric nuts are designed to rotate easily for adjustment, it’s likely for them to start in a loose position after you complete the assembly process for the first time or loosen in time as you print with your Ender 3.
You can find the eccentric nuts on both sides of the X-axis gantry right next to the wheels that bring the X-axis gantry and the Z-axis gantry together.
How to Fix the Ender 3 (Pro/V2) X-Axis (Gantry) Wobble Problem?
Fortunately, the X-axis gantry wobble problem is a pretty straightforward one caused by a very apparent reason, making it an issue that is quite simple to fix due to the process of finding the root cause between many potential culprits not being required.
Fixing the Ender 3 X-axis gantry wobble problem is as straightforward as it comes since all you need to do is bring the eccentric nuts to a level of tightness where they aren’t loose enough to cause the X-axis gantry to wobble anymore.
As these nuts rotate relatively quickly, we would recommend performing small rotations and checking the wobbliness of the X-axis gantry after each rotation, which will allow you to find the perfect level of tightness quite easily.
Please note that you shouldn’t tighten the eccentric nuts way too much either, as this will prevent the wheels from turning smoothly and cause the X-axis gantry to struggle to move freely along the Z-axis gantry, causing a new set of problems.
How to Level the Ender 3 (Pro/V2) X-Axis?
Ensuring that the X-axis gantry is level is a vital part of ensuring that the printhead can move to the correct locations on the X-axis, as an X-axis gantry that isn’t level will cause the actual movement of the printhead to differ from the 3D printer’s calculations.
To correctly level the X-axis of your Ender 3, you need to ensure that the distance from any point of the X-axis gantry to either the top of the rail or to the build plate is always equal, meaning that the X-axis gantry needs to be perfectly straight.
Below is a quick guide you can follow to straighten the X-axis gantry of your Ender 3 as quickly as possible and get your X-axis to be level:
- Power down and unplug your Ender 3.
- Pick a side for reference (left or right), and move the X-axis gantry up until there are 10 centimeters of space between the X-axis gantry and the top of the printer.
- Loosen the nuts and the wheels on the other side of the X-axis gantry to free the other side while holding it to prevent it from falling.
- Move the side you have loosened upwards or downwards to be level with the reference side you have picked in step 2. You can easily do this by using a spirit level or sticking an object that is precisely 10 centimeters (such as a ruler) in the space.
- Clamp or hold the loose side in place while ensuring that it’s level, and tighten the nuts and the wheels back.
Finally, confirm that the X-axis gantry is indeed level by either measuring from both sides or using a spirit level, as it’s possible for the loose side to slightly move during the process of tightening the nuts and the wheels back on, especially if you haven’t clamped it in place.
While a wobbling X-axis gantry is a critical problem that you should look to resolve as quickly as possible due to its ability to adversely affect the printing process considerably, solving the problem shouldn’t take too much of your time or effort.
To quickly recap, the main culprit behind the X-axis gantry of your Ender 3 wobbling is loose eccentric nuts (the nuts can loosen due to reasons such as improper assembly or wear and tear), which are the components that are responsible for fixing the X-axis gantry to the Z-axis gantry.
Fortunately, tightening these nuts is a pretty straightforward process that does not require any technical expertise, meaning that anyone should be able to stabilize the X-axis gantry of their Ender 3 without the need to spend too much time or effort.
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.