Adjusting the Belt Tension of your Printer for Optimal Performance
The print head on your printer moves using a system of motors, pulleys, and belts. For optimal operation, it is important that belt tension is maintained at the correct level. High belt tension will contribute to premature bearing wear. Low belt tension can lead to reduced printing accuracy and/or dislocation.
Belt tension is adjusted at the factory using an expensive meter to measure the audio frequency of the belt when it is plucked, as there is a direct relationship between belt tension and frequency.
Since belts may stretch over time, it is recommended that users occasionally (every 100 prints) measure belt tension and adjust as necessary. This can be done with any device that allows you to measure audible frequencies in hertz (Hz). One inexpensive option is to use a mobile device equipped with the free version of either the Fine Tuner app (for iOS) or the Fine Chromatic Tuner app (for Android). These applications are designed to tune musical instruments, but they can also be used as accurate frequency meters.
Note: To ensure accurate measurements, always take frequency adjustments in quiet surroundings.
To adjust the belt tension on your printer:
Install and open a tuner app on your mobile device.
Note: If you are using the Fine Tuner app, you can disregard the lower of the two numbers on the main screen.
Turn off the printer and manually place the print head in the far back left corner.
- Place your phone's microphone close to, but not touching, the back belt. Pluck the front stretch of the back belt as if it were a guitar string. Using a 3mm hex key, adjust the rear belt tensioner until the app reads a frequency of 49Hz.
- Place your phone's microphone close to, but not touching, the front belt. Pluck the back stretch of the front belt as if it were a guitar string. Adjust the front belt tensioner until the app reads a frequency of 62Hz.
Learn More About Adjusting Belt Tension
A few hints for best results:
- Make measurements in quiet surroundings. If you cannot secure a quiet environment, consider investing in a shotgun condenser microphone to plug into your mobile device.
- Place your phone's microphone close to, but not touching, the belt.
- Remove any protective case on your phone, if necessary, to get the most accurate reading.
- Do not over-pluck the belt such that it vibrates against the gantry plate.
- When you initially pluck the belt, it will produce harmonics at multiples of the fundamental frequency. These will quickly die off and you will be left with only the fundamental frequency. For this reason, ignore early readings that appear to have measured a multiple of your target. With a little practice you will obtain highly repeatable and accurate results in under two minutes.