Call me old fashioned..
I still manually level my 3D Printers and my process produces great results. While there are a lot of proponents for automated leveling, I find the endstops to be inconsistent and automated leveling unnecessary. I can manually level my printer in about a minute.
The only time I have to re-level is when I change tips or I power it off without moving Z to 0MM after a print.
Before any of this.. you need to ensure your platform is fixed and does not shake. I used brackets to fix mine to the wall and shims to level the surface the printer sits on. Your are looking for perfectly flat or close to it.
Step 1: Replace your glass!
Most stock glass that comes with printers is not level. It’s also think and harder to heat.
They used to come in 10 packs.
Glass works great just apply a layer of Elmer’s glue stick while the bed is at 60C. Maintenance is quick, I occasionally use a razor to scrape a bit of glue off and recoat. I never clean the bed all the way.
Step 2: Get some levels and a straight edge!
This is to ensure your printing surface is flat and not warped. If your stock glass is good to go, the metal straight edge should not rock or show gaps below.
Digital Level I prefer this level but I am a bit of a geek.
Circular Bubble Spirit Level This is a great solution on the cheap. Typically, the bigger the better.
Line Level or if you want to go in really cheap but still be effective.
You will use your chosen level to level the printer.
Step 3: Turn of your printer and level you Z-Axis
This process is pretty simple, just level the bubbles (digital or analog). Assuming you have a Dual Z-axis just spin the lead screw on the right side left or right to get the bubble centered. Occasionally, you will feel some tension in and see the Z-axis arm move a little after you let go, this is a redo. You don’t want up or down pressure.
The Z-axis should sit at 0 after you let go.
Once your Z-axis is level, power the control box back up.
Step 4: Autohome
Autohome your printer: Prepare, then select Autohome
Step 4: Disable Steppers
Disable Steppers, just roll up 1 and select Disable Steppers
Step 5: Grab a sheet of paper and get to leveling
Start in the front left corner about 3-4 in from the corner. Adjust your bed leveling screw until your feel slight friction on the paper. You may have to push down on the bed to get the paper in at first. I work counter-clockwise around the print surface.
Work the paper back and forth a centimeter or so, you will get a feel for what is to loose and to tight. If there is too much friction you will see your extruder motor struggle to feed filament and it will click or simply not feed filament. More on that later.
Move your print head to the front right. Same process, adjust the bed leveling knob until you get a slight scratch with the paper.
NOTE: Ensure you are moving the printhead using the mount, not the printhead itself. If you do, you will notice the printhead come loose.
This is probably a good opportunity to talk about Loctite Blue Stick – Medium Strength, this is a must have for a 3D Printer. I usually get it from Amazon Warehouse for about $10 as used, but they have always been new when I opened them.
Move your or bed (Y axis) to the back right. Same process, adjust the bed leveling knob until you get a slight scratch with the paper.
Move your or printhead to the back left. Same process, adjust the bed leveling knob until you get a slight scratch with the paper.
Now that you have been around once, you will repeat the process one more time, or, until you are satisfied. To fine tune your level, use your levels.
I find my print bed will level with a level left and right, but not along the Y-Axis. Just ensure the bubble is centered left and right because your Z-axis was perfectly level when you powered the system up.
This print takes about 20 minutes and is a good test of your printers level and stringing.
Let me know if this helps or hurts!