CR Touch Vs BLTouch: Which Auto Bed Leveling Sensor is Best?

Mario De Lio

Last Updated:

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A BLTouch auto bed leveling system on an Ender 5 3D printer with the red led on

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • CR Touch and BLTouch are ABL sensors with slightly different technology and precision capabilities.
  • Consider the hardware and firmware compatibility, installation process, and price while deciding which is best.
  • The CR Touch is the best choice, especially for a Creality 3D printer.
Our Pick
 
4.7
4.5
  • Technology: Optical Sensor
  • Weight: 11g
  • Length: 39.46 mm
  • Pin Length: 6 mm
  • Accuracy: 0.005 mm
  • Technology: Hall effect sensor
  • Weight: 7g
  • Length: 40.13 mm
  • Pin Length: 4 mm
  • Accuracy: 0.005 mm
Our Pick
4.7
  • Technology: Optical Sensor
  • Weight: 11g
  • Length: 39.46 mm
  • Pin Length: 6 mm
  • Accuracy: 0.005 mm
4.5
  • Technology: Hall effect sensor
  • Weight: 7g
  • Length: 40.13 mm
  • Pin Length: 4 mm
  • Accuracy: 0.005 mm

The CR Touch, made by Creality, and the BLTouch, made by Antclabs, are two popular auto bed leveling (ABL) sensors. When installed on your 3D printer, the system improves the accuracy, efficiency, and quality of your 3D printing.

Despite their similarities, the ABL sensors have different sensor technology and precision capabilities, which can impact your 3D printing experience. Additionally, their hardware and firmware compatibility, ease of installation, and price play an essential role when deciding.

We’ve used the CR Touch and BLTouch for over two years on over a dozen machines. While they’re both excellent choices, there’s one clear winner in the battle of CR Touch vs. BLTouch. 

Understanding CR Touch and BLTouch

Although the CR Touch and BLTouch may look quite similar at first glance, both products allow you to upgrade your 3D printer with automatic bed leveling (ABL). They both use a pin to probe the bed’s surface, but there are differences between them.

A BLTouch auto bed leveling system on an Ender 5 3D printer

The BLTouch is the most popular ABL sensor on the market. Antclabs developed the BLTouch, which has proven to be a reliable system compatible with most 3D printing brands. The sensor uses a Hall effect sensor with a retractable probe to measure the distance between the build plate and the nozzle.

Creality CR-Touch Installed on an Ender 3 V2

The CR Touch is a newer ABL sensor by Creality that was released in 2021. Creality’s CR Touch shares a similar name to the BLTouch, along with the device’s shape and use of a probe to measure the distance. However, the CR Touch uses an optical sensor instead of a Hal sensor to detect when the probe touches the build surface.

Both sensors provide accurate leveling and precision. And they’re both easy to install.

However, some differences between the two ABL systems make one better than the other.

Design

A side by side comparison of the design of the CR Touch Vs BLTouch

The BLTouch and CR Touch are nearly identical in shape and size.

The BLTouch is a white, almost translucent plastic with a white calibration pin. The plastic pin is silent during calibration. But it’s not without issues.

The plastic pin on the BLTouch can break if the printer malfunctions, but it is replaceable. We had one BLTouch probe break during our two years of use when the sensor pin collided with the print bed, but it was as simple as replacing the broken piece.

One reader reached out to us with an issue with a bent pin. After prolonged use, the probe on his BLTouch had bent slightly, causing inaccurate readings. 

We haven’t run into this issue, but it is worth noting.

The CR Touch comes in a sleek black case with the Creality logo on the side. Creality’s ABL is slightly larger and heavier than the BLTouch, but that shouldn’t impact your printing.

The size difference is minimal, but could be an issue if you add more hardware to your printer’s extruder head. Adding more weight to your print head can lead to inaccuracies and print defects. But the difference is minimal and shouldn’t impact your print quality.

Unlike the BLTouch, Creality’s CR Touch uses a more durable metal pin. The pin extends the sensor’s lifespan and makes a satisfying clicking sound during automatic bed leveling.

We never had any issues with breaks or damage to the CR Touch’s metal pin during our testing.

One nice feature of the CR Touch is the retraction of the pin.

The pin retracts when not in use, so it can’t collide with the print bed or 3D printed part like our BLTouch pin did. The CR Touch also uses a longer 6 mm extendable pin than the 4 mm pin on the BLTouch. But the extra length isn’t an issue, as the pin retracts when not in use.

Sensor Technology and Precision

Regarding sensor technology, the main difference between the CR Touch and the BLTouch is their type of sensor. The BLTouch employs a Hall effect sensor that measures the approach of its metal probe into the sensor using electromagnetic fields. In comparison, the CR Touch utilizes an optical sensor that detects the probe position by reading reflections from the metal probe.

But how does that affect accuracy?

The CR Touch and BLTouch have a high precision level and deliver very accurate measurements. The sensors assure probe accuracy of 0.005mm or one-tenth the width of a human hair.

With that level of precision, both ABL sensors provide a consistent and reliable bed leveling experience.

In fact, they have nearly identical precision. Dr. Igor Gaspar from My Tech Fun conducted a probe accuracy test and found the CR Touch is slightly more precise than the BLTouch. The better accuracy of the CR Touch is likely because the optical sensors used in the CR Touch provide more accurate results than the BLTouch’s Hall effect sensor.

We ran a similar test using the Marlin M48 Probe Accuracy Test. We measured the distance to the build plate ten times with each ABL sensor. After taking the mean, we looked at the standard deviation to determine the precision of each device.

Below are the results of our test.

TestBL TouchCR Touch
10.0013010.001175
20.0012450.001042
30.0013450.000994
40.0013500.001076
50.0010210.001141
60.0014650.000976
70.0011400.001210
80.0012630.001027
90.0013540.001001
100.0012170.001267

Just like in Dr. Igor Gaspar’s test, we found that the CR Touch has slightly better precision. However, the difference is so tiny that you won’t notice it during regular printing.

One noticeable difference is the type of pin used by the sensor. The BLTouch utilizes a replaceable plastic pin, while CR Touch employs a non-replaceable metallic pin.

Note: You can also run the test in Klipper using the Probe Accuracy Check.

Hardware Compatibility

A BLTouch mounted on an Ender 3 3D printer using a 3d printed mounting bracket
(Source: u/mathewj2 via Reddit)

When choosing between the CR Touch and the BLTouch, it’s essential to consider their hardware compatibility. Both sensors can work for any printer. However, the BLTouch has better compatibility with more printers.

Depending on the kit, the BLTouch comes with one or several mounting brackets. The brackets use a basic two-screw mounting system and fit most print heads.

Thanks to the vast community of BLTouch users, you can print plenty of designs for custom mounting brackets. So you’re almost guaranteed compatibility with any 3D printer.

A Creality CR Touch mounted on an Ender 3 V2 3d PRINTER

Creality manufactures the CR Touch, primarily designed for its Ender 3D printers. Creality ensures the sensor is compatible with most of their printer models.

The CR Touch comes with several mounts. The brackets provide compatibility with different styles of printheads. One mounting bracket is designed for mounting to the Ender 3 V2

Like the BLTouch, you can find models for custom mounting brackets online that you can print at home.

You can connect the cable to the mainboard after mounting the bracket to the print head.

Both sensors use the same 5-pin port to connect to the printer’s motherboard, which is standard on modern 3D printers. If you have a printer with an older mainboard, you must use an expansion board to connect either sensor.

Both ABL sensors are tied in terms of printer compatibility.

Firmware Compatibility

Both the CR Touch and the BLTouch have been designed to be compatible with a wide range of firmware options.

One of the most popular firmware options for 3D printers is Marlin, an open-source firmware widely used across the 3D printing community. Both the CR Touch and BLTouch support Marlin firmware, making it relatively easy to integrate them with your 3D printer.

Marlin firmware is highly adaptable and works with 8-bit and 32-bit boards. This means that regardless of the type of board your printer uses, you should be able to configure Marlin to work with either the CR Touch or BLTouch, offering you a lot of flexibility.

For those who prefer a different firmware option, you might be interested in Klipper. Klipper is an alternative firmware known for its excellent performance and high-speed capabilities. While Klipper isn’t as common as Marlin, it is still supported by the CR Touch and BLTouch sensors.

The BLTouch is also compatible with the less commonly used Repetier firmware.

We haven’t tested either sensor with Repetier. However, community members have advised us that the BLTouch and CR Touch are fully compatible with Repetier.

Many users have stated that the CR Touch can be used with any printer firmware that supports the BLTouch because of how similar the sensors are. However, you will find better out-of-the-box compatibility for the BLTouch.

We give BLTouch a slight edge for firmware compatibility. But you shouldn’t have any firmware compatibility issues for either sensor.

Installation Process

Installing a 5 pin wire connection on an ender 3 v2 3d printer

Installing both the CR Touch and BLTouch sensors involves a few steps that you need to follow. The process generally includes assembling the sensor, connecting it to your 3D printer’s control board, configuring the firmware, and calibrating the sensor.

Both sensors are equally easy to mount to the printhead. They both come with mounting brackets and screws and are compatible with most 3D printers.

After mounting the sensor, you’ll need to configure the firmware for your printer.

Upgrading your printer’s firmware depends on the make and model of your 3D printing machine. But it’s here that Creality’s CR Touch has an edge.

Creality’s website offers a library of CR Touch-compatible software for all their 3D printers.

The pre-configured firmware files make selecting and installing the appropriate firmware for your machine easy.

Antclabs also provides pre-configured firmware files for many popular 3D printers. However, we prefer to use the firmware files provided by the printer’s manufacturer.

After installing the firmware, it’s time to calibrate your sensor.

The configuration creates a bed leveling mesh that your printer uses to compensate for the shape of the bed.

It’s best to perform manual bed leveling before calibrating the sensor.

After a manual leveling, you can calibrate the sensor.

You’ll need to first to set the Z Offset. After connecting the ABL system, your printer uses the ABL instead of the Z-endstop. Setting the correct Z offset is essential to avoid issues with your print head crashing into the build surface.

It’s also a good idea to add a line of G-code to your slicing software to run a mesh bed leveling before every print.

If you’re using Cura, add the following command code:

G29 ; ‘Comment’

The G29 command tells your printer to run an automatic bed leveling. It’s essential to add the command directly after the “G28” command, which sets the home position for the print head.

Installation Guides:

Price

The BLTouch and CR Touch have comparable prices. Generally, the CR Touch is $5 – $10 more than the BLTouch, but they’re typically equally priced.

Which to Choose: CR Touch vs BLTouch

Both sensors offer excellent performance and precision with compatibility with a wide range of 3D printers.

Our pick is the Creality CR Touch for its more durable design, a slight edge in performance, and seamless integration with Creality 3D printers.

But if you’re on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the cheaper BLTouch. It’s precise, flexible, and offers excellent compatibility.

Our Pick
Official Creality CR Touch Auto Leveling Kit
Amazon Creality
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Also Good
Antclabs BLTouch : Auto Bed Leveling Sensor
Pros:
  • Simple assisted bed leveling
  • Easy to install
  • Improve first layer adhesion
Amazon MatterHackers
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Article by

Mario De Lio

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