Printrbot Simple Extensible X-Axis

by Elkniwt, published

Printrbot Simple Extensible X-Axis by Elkniwt Jul 22, 2013
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(Tinkercad here: https://tinkercad.com/things/4Xq6l4uM02N (beta) and here: https://tinkercad.com/things/jEY9vuTsFWR (V2) )

Apparently, you can get a 3-foot length of 5/16" (or 8mm) metal rod from Home Depot for $5 (or amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Polished-Finish-Precision-Annealed-Diameter/dp/B0050RMXJO ). A hacksaw can cut it in two (eventually!), and the printed parts shown above will let you extend the X axis of your Printrbot Simple to an arbitrary length (other factors considered). It takes a lot of desk space when it runs.

I haven't been able to test the entire length yet, however, due to software limits on the axes ranges. I hope to address this by flashing the firmware mentioned here [update: the thread below has the firmware that eventually allowed me to use the entire range]: http://www.printrbottalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=2980&p=27110#p27110 as per the flashing instructions given here: http://reprap.org/wiki/Printrboard#Loading_Firmware_.28Windows.29

Now I just need some good print-bed material. Cardboard worked to a degree, but was ultimately too flimsy. I fear wood may be too heavy, as the metal rods themselves already cause quite a lot of vibration...

UPDATE: I found some cheap aluminum round at http://www.speedymetals.com/ and a nice, light piece of wood from A. C. Moore.

There are now two sets of files -- one for the Simple Beta and one for the Simple V2


Print one of each of these. You should be able to print them on the stock Printrbot Simple build plate if you rotate them 45 degrees and bring the slic3r skirt in to 1mm from the part (and possibly fudge the numbers for how large of an area you can print on). They are almost mirror images of each other except that one hole shifts slightly to match the way the original X carriage tries to compensate for the different positions of the fishing line.

You may need to ream out the holes in which the rods should fit. I typically do this by hand with a 5/16" drill bit, because using a powered drill has blown right through the cap for me a number of times.

Removing the old build plate is rather easily done, and only costs you two zip ties each time you have to do so. The hardware can then be reused to mount a new, larger build plate.

The interior holes at the negative-Y side of the brackets can be used to balance out the force caused by tightening the fishing line, but I found that it wasn't strictly necessary.

You might want to increase the infill (I used 0.3 and it may have been too little) and possibly change the angle, since you'll likely need to rotate the part 45 degrees (which matched my infill angle and possibly weakened the part). My first attempt is starting the split where the fishing line is mounted and I think it is due to these factors.

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I've customized a new version of this that incorporates a GT2 mod: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:316152http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

Printrbot Simple Extensible X-Axis and GT2 Upgrade
by Elkniwt

yea I already ordered the GT2 belt conversion as well, should be here tomorrow. I'll just wait until the parts come in. I've been trying to do this for 3-4 days now lol, just wanted to print some bigger prints before the extra parts came in. No big deal, belt concept is better any ways. Great idea you have here though, and thanks for the prompt reply!

I rotated it 45 degrees but like others have said it keeps building it slanted, like a step stairs.

I have found that many large parts will cause some X-axis slip (strangely, I never get Y-axis slip). You can test this by removing the build plate, homing the printer, and marking the string and the motor axle with a sharpie or something. After a print slants, re-home to see if marks still line up. If they don't, your X-axis line is slipping. I had previously mitigated this with a spring to keep the tension (see here: http://www.printrbottalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=113&t=4275#p34194http://www.printrbottalk.com/f... ). This worked well for quite a while, but I think the fishing-line idea has taken me as far as I can go, since the slipping is back again. I'm currently attempting to upgrade to GT2 belt drive. Printrbot sells a kit ( http://printrbot.com/shop/gt2-kit/http://printrbot.com/shop/gt2-... ).

:( my printer bot says my current build plate is to small to print these parts

you have to rotate it almost 45 degrees and watch the skirt option in slic3r (bring it closer to the part). you should be able to fit it in a 96mm-by-99mm area.

it printed like 6 layers then started to slant its been doing that on my bit prints 50mm or more it will start to slide i tighten the strings any thing smaller than 50mm it prints sweet

i set the skirt to 0 and it still says to big i rotated 90 degrees then placed on the plate then rotated the x axis 44 and place center and still same thing im going to continue to mess with it hopefully i can get this to work

Thanks.this works great i had to custom make new feet to put on it because it was scratching and screetching on my desk.

Nice concept. Great way to increase the build length of the board without messing with anything else. Just got a few 8mmx495mm smooth linear rods(hardened steel). So downloaded and modified your ends to remove the pointed skids and to reinforce the 8mm rod sockets.

A thought occurs to me. To increase stability of the platform, spreading the linear bearings further apart along the length of the x axis would give more stability. This necessitates expanding the footprint of the unit to increase stability, though. Anyways, will post an update once part printed and mod put into action.

Hello, thx for posting such a good stuff. but where did you get the big plank?

Have you considered maybe including a tensioner? Would be pretty nice to print that all in one part.

I don't seem to have much need for a tensioner. I use a small spring as shown in this post: http://www.printrbottalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=107&t=4275#p34194http://www.printrbottalk.com/f... This seems to keep tension so well that it reliably prevents X-axis slippage as well (which actually seems like two different issues: tension in a static environment vs. tension in a dynamic environment). Feel free to generate a derivative. The tinkercad link should give you the model to start from.

I see. Hadn't seen anything like that before. Might do a remix.

Did you use an 8mm rod or did you go for the 5/16" from Home Depot? You mention both in the Info. Reason I ask is because I don't want to damage my LM8UU bearings when I try to force a 5/16" rod through.

I used the 5/16" rods from Home Depot for a while. I have switched to 5/16" aluminum rod from http://speedymetals.comspeedymetals.com (at $0.80 each, I should have ordered far more than 4, given that shipping was $15!). I never purchased the 8mm from amazon. However 5/16" is actually slightly smaller than 8mm, and likely well within the tolerances of manufacturing, anyway, so no forcing was required. If it feels too snug, you might consider trying some other material.

Hey thanks for the reply! One more question. No loss of bearings from the smaller fit or too much play with the rods in there? (i know... i'm picky hah)

I haven't seen any binding or slop. The main hurdle seems to be keeping the fishing line on the motor shaft. With the extended range, it really walks up and down the length of the shaft and sometimes slips right off the end. I'm contemplating making a tube to slip on the shaft in order to increase its diameter. The steps/mm would be cut down, but I don't think the resolution would suffer too badly.

My V1 JR has a belt instead of line, but thanks for the tip on the rods. You might want to print out a funnel guide for your slippage issues. I've seen similar usage on robotic-mechanical drapes and blinds, although the heavy usage wasn't a factor like with our bots.

Try http://www.buildlog.nethttp://www.buildlog.net to have a look into your GCode. You can check if the shape that you are printing is looking OK.I hope help.

What slicer are you using? Because I'm using Slic3r and they come out whack. They do a wierd stair stepping thing and the infills don't connect edge to edge. When I watch the layers in Repetier I can see that it is the actual stl/slice that is messed up not my printer doing something funky because the lines don't touch in the image either. Some settings or what app you are using would help a lot.

the same thing is happening with my simple(beta).The parts came sided.I was trying to print without perimeters.Same.Slicer version 0.9.10b. My Y axis is moving one step back when is going to the second layer.The parts are far from be perfect.I am disappointed especially that they already replaced my printrbotboard due to an faulty. I just want to print in some way the parts for different model (plus)http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:16990http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... and upgrade the firmware on my printrboard.

I'm using slic3r 0.9.10b on Linux, with mostly default settings except what printrbot recommends to change. I don't think these shapes are terribly challenging for general 3D printing. Are you able to print other things well? One setting of note: I do not generate support material. (also note that these parts are for Printrbot Simple Beta, not Printrbot Simple v2)

I find very difficult to print the extensions.The 2 pins are useless.The screw location is very close to the exterior which is give not much material to provide some hardness.Great idea but some work is necessary.

You're right about the material. I originally aligned the holes to match the spacing on the stock, wooden plate, but I see that the PLA is not sufficient at that width (I've attached an image wherein my extension is starting to break).

The pins help support the print bed when it extends way to one end. This definitely prevents torquing on the LM bearings, but it turns out that if your print bed is that heavy, you have other issues. Also, they're a bit too short as they exist currently. I suspect they will really be more useful once I extend the Y axis as well, but that will involve a new design altogether.

Thanks.The idea is very good. I am thinking to use an deep cut saw and made the bed just let's say 10mm on one side and another 10 mm opposite.You think that your design can be improved?How can I post you some ideas an pictures about the thing.

You ought to look into tinkercad (first link). They're still providing free accounts, last I checked, and with a webGL-capable browser you can copy my part, modify it yourself right in the browser with simple editing, and post your own derivative.

That being said, I do intend to beef up the material. I can only see adding about 5mm more length before the part interferes with the X-Z motor cage of the Simple (beta). Unfortunately, I'm not sure it would fit on the original bed size of the beta at that length. It's already rather tight. Once I upgrade to the V2, I'll likely have a different mod altogether (the pins, for one, may need to be longer.

All that being said, I've updated the parts (see *_v2.stl), adding only 1mm in length on either end, and making the pins fatter in a failed effort to help them print better. I still get some curling at times when printing the pins, but even then the result is usable.

ok.let me try to print them and I will let you know.

I did a y-axis extension on my LC and i ordered a laser cut part in birch plywood veneer from https://www.ponoko.com/https://www.ponoko.com/ and it worked great and matches perfectly. The designing is hard but the site does a great job. it doesn't cost to much and looks professional. you will need inkscape (free) or illustrator (not free)

Note: that firmware is for Printrbot Original/LC/Plus, not Jr (or I imaging Simple).

I see that the http://printbot.comprintbot.com firmware download link say "(not jr.)" on it, but nothing distinguishing Simple. What is it about the Jr that makes it different from the others?

I guess I'll just have to try it to see. What sort of bad behavior should I be looking for?

Vague recollection that the stepper directions on one or more axis was reversed. I'd suggest looking deeply BEFORE loading firmware, it is not something you can play with on the fly, unless your into mircocontroller stuff (ie Arduino coding), even then I have not seen the Jr or Simple firmware configs published anywhere, so you probably need to pester http://printrbot.comprintrbot.com.

Well, it appears to work. It is printing now. There are some peculiarities, such as the M211 command did not seem to take effect immediately. Rather, I had to pretend to adjust the EEPROM config and rewrite it. Then I rebooted just to be sure. Also, things don't seem to move properly after reset until I hit the home button at least once. That really sounds more like a programming error than an incompatible firmware, though.

Also, there is significant shift on the X axis, but I believe this is from the combination of the Simple's design and the new, wooden build plate I'm using. It simply ways far too much to shake back and forth using fishing line tightened around a vinyl tube.

"things don't seem to move properly after reset until I hit the home button" that's normal, at reset wherever the axis is is zero and it won't move below zero (using normal moves - where by default - it does not check endstops), home ignores that and relys on the endstop, then resets position to 0.

What do you mean by "significant shift on the X axis"? Not retaining a constant repeatable position due to slipping? Initially reduce speed may help, or a few more winds around the tube...

No, it was stranger than that. Moving the x axis forward would work. Moving it backward would make it move forward 0.1mm... or something like that. Anyhow, homing fixed it.

The significant shift was like what happens when the fishing line slips a little after each layer, and the whole part is slanted toward negative x. Again, this only started happening after swapping out a cardboard build plate for a wooden one, so I definitely think weight is the issue. The firmware upgrade was probably just coincidental.

It could be that the Simple firmware had lower Acceleration or Jerk settings. Unfortunately I don't think details have been published...