When I first started my 3D printing journey, I wasn’t sure how to get my printer operating at its best potential. Sure, you can follow instructions from the manufacturer to calibrate it. But what if that isn’t enough?
You might be wondering why your prints are coming out sloppy, crooked, or with ugly layers. There’s lots of reasons that you could be having these issues. To figure out which one it is, you’ll need to do some testing and calibrating.
Fortunately, there are some great models out there designed to do just that. With these best 3D printing test and calibration models, you can whip your printer into shape in no time.
I start my printer Calibration with the Kickstart/Autodesk FDM test. This print will show you the areas to focus on. After that use models like the XYZ cube (movement), the Temperature Tower, Stringing test, Bed Leveling test and wrap up with a “Benchy” print to so you can share your results!FDM Assessment Protocol: Geometry
Looking for a great test print that also comes with guidance on what the results mean? Then you need to check out the FDM Assessment Protocol. This awesome geometric model tests every aspect of your printer and the handy online guide gives you feedback about what you see.
This model includes arches to test overhang, spires to test stringing, pins to test accuracy, and XYZ testing. It is a great starting point if your prints aren’t coming out great and you want to dial in on what’s wrong.
When printing, be sure to stick to one material as using different ones will ruin the analysis. However, you can change up the temperature or one setting at a time to adjust in between prints.
Once you get this model printed, follow along with the guide online to see what your printer’s problems are. This test model is also really cool because it tells you what each defect means and gives you a good way to fix it. It also gives you an overall score and you can see how it compares to some other popular printers.
We highly recommend starting here to get a baseline of where your printer is functioning. Find it here.
How To Fine Tune Your Prints
Once you run a baseline test with the model above, you’ll know which areas you need to fine tune. The models below are some great open-source testers that allow you to adjust individual settings on your printer based on how they come out.
Like we mentioned, Benchy is the flagship (literally) for testing out your 3D printer’s settings. It challenges your machine in almost every way and makes it easy for you to find problem areas. Best of all, you get a fun little boat to mark your progress each step of the way.
This all-around testing is a great starting point if you know there’s a problem but don’t know where to start identifying it. Benchy tests everything on your printer from the extruder to overhangs. Check out the model on Thingiverse here.
2. XYZ Calibration Cube
While some struggle with learning to level the bed on their 3D printer, other movements can be just as problematic. Linear X (left/right), Y (front/back), and Z (up/down) movements are the bread and butter of 3D printing. Thousands of these movements need to be perfectly coordinated to the millimeter (or less) for your prints to come out cleanly.
The XYZ Calibration Cube from iDig 3D printing is a perfect way to test out these movements. As a bonus, it doesn’t use a lot of filament to test.
This cube prints with letters indented into each side to show you which side is the X, Y, and Z. You can then see which sides are coming out sloppy and make adjustments to your printer based off of that. Check out the model on Thingiverse here.
3. Quick Temperature Calibration Tower
Depending on your specific printer and the material you’re using, the best temperature can vary quite a bit. This cool calibration tower is a quick and easy way to see what temperature works best with your printer.
Unlike some test models that print all at once, you’ll have to print out several copies of this. Fortunately, it’s pretty small and is a quick print. It also stacks nicely and looks cool after you’re done.
For each print, increase your printing temperature by five or ten degrees. Then, after getting several done, you can see the differences between the different temperatures. Check out the model on Thingiverse here.
4. PolyPearl Tower
If you want your 3d test model to be more than just a test, then this one is for you. The PolyPearl tower puts your printer through its paces and leaves you with an intricate, cool tower decoration afterwards (hopefully).
If your prints are struggling with overhangs, bridging, hanging, and curves, then this is the test model you should go to. I love the DNA-like double helix in the center of the tower as well as the elegant spheres on either side of it. This is much more than just a 3D test print.
The PolyPearl Tower makes a great desk trinket, gift, or way to show off what you can do with 3D printing. Check out the model on Thingiverse here.
5. Ultrafast and Economical Stringing Test
Are your prints constantly plagued by ugly, hair-like strings trailing off of overhangs and arches? If so, your printing temperature might be too high or you might need to adjust your retraction settings.
Help figure out that problem without wasting a bunch of filament with this Ultrafast and Economical Stringing Test model from s3sebastian.
Weighing in at just .23 grams, this print is super quick and won’t use up your filament. Each time you print, if you get strings, just adjust the temperature or retraction and print it again until you finish string-free.
Check out the model on Thingiverse here.
6. Bed Leveling Calibration Test
Most 3D printing enthusiasts have the hardest time calibrating their bed level. However, this level is an essential step if you want to get even, clean prints. Luckily, this test will help you get it just right.
This model is fairly simple and won’t really leave you with anything to show. Other than a perfectly level bed.
It prints out a pattern of squares in just one layer on in six locations on your bed. You can easily see if your bed is level by looking at the squares and how they compare to each other. If your bed is level, you shouldn’t see a difference between the squares in different areas.
This test is a great one to run if your prints are coming out wavy or with obvious layers. Check out the model on Thingiverse here.