Install TL-Smoothers to Reduce Salmon Skinning

The stock stepper drivers on the A5 use the Allegro A4988 stepper drivers. These drivers can be susceptible to showing “salmon skinning” on curved surfaces, or zebra striping on flat surfaces, like the cabin on a 3Dbenchie boat.

These artefacts can be reduced by several methods. One option is to install TMC stepper drivers. This works well, but is a bit more complex to do.

Another option is to install smoothing diodes - and these are very easy to install. These are simple devices that are plugged in between the stepper driver board, and the stepper motor. The reason that this works is not definitively known, but the result has been conclusively proven to reduce or eliminate salmon skinning effects. These are available in both 4 diode, and 8 diode version. The best results are obtained with the 8 diode versions.


These products are often branded “TL-smoothers”, as the company who developed them is called Triangle Labs (TL).

Where to buy

TL-smoothers can be found from a range of suppliers, such as:

How to install

  1. Cover TL-smoother with insulation sleeve (usually included) to prevent touching metal frame
  2. Unplug the printer
  3. Open the main chassis
  4. A video guide by DaHai of opening the main A5 case/chassis can be viewed here.
  5. Unplug the x and y axis stepper cables
  6. Plug in the short supplied cable into the motherboard, and then into one side of the TL-smoother. Then plug the cable that goes to the motor into the other side of the TL-smoother.
  7. You can use a heat gun to shrink the insulation tubing after installation.
  8. Should look like this after installation:

Examples of Salmon Skinning (click to enlarge)

Example of Salmon Skinning on Benchie - visible diagonal lines (click to enlarge):

Example Video

a5/tlsmoothers.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/25 04:08 by samuelpinches