Quick Change Build Platform for TOM

by tomlombardi, published

Quick Change Build Platform for TOM by tomlombardi Dec 18, 2011
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I really love my heated build platform with an aluminum top covered with Kapton tape! It's an awesome way to go, but I REALLY miss the automated build platform for repetitive, decorative and small parts. I miss the fun of watching a part dropping on my desk. The sadness of your trusty ABP sitting on a shelf... it's just not right.

This thing makes it right again, no tools, just unplug and press the release and in 20 seconds you've swapped out the HBP with an ABP! Another benefit is that you can pop out a platform to service it, i.e. put new tape or fix a belt.

I've designed this upgrade to be completely non destructive, a bolt in replacement. You won't loose any build area, it replaces the undercarriage of both platforms.


All parts were printed on a TOM with a MK6+ on a heated build platform. My settings were: Object infill% 35, Layer height(mm) .32, Number of shells 0, feedrate (mm/s) 32.

Print all of the parts on a HBP for accuracy. Take the time to clean up all of the flash in the slots, I use an xacto and an emery board. Make sure you clean up the ridge along the side of the carriage, you want that to mate nicely.

Remove the bearings (or buy extras) from your ABP and press them into the carriage, don't glue them they will stay in just fine. You'll need twenty 3X10mm screws and two 3X20mm screws. Install the new sides, front and back to your ABP and test fit your carriage, it should snap in nice and snug. I put a little pressure on the release to keep the wear down on the latch.

If everything looks good it's time to remove your HBP from your TOM. Before taking apart your HBP slide the carriage on the X axis rods and test fit it in the machine. This is where I had problems, because we are printing this carriage in plastic and plastic tends to shrink I had to tweak the carriage dimensions to get it to slide freely. Mine was just slightly too wide (< 0.05mm) so I got it out of the TOM slipped the two rods through and gave it a slight squeeze, when I placed it back in the machine it slid freely. Get this right before you proceed, you can still put the HBP back in, tweak and reprint a new carriage if you need to.

Once you are sure the carriage fits install the belt to the bottom of the carriage. Use the belt block and two 3X20mm screws and nuts, the notched edge of the belt block points toward the front. Snug the block down but NOT TOO tight, you'll notice a SLIGHT bow in the wall behind it. Give it a tug, it's not going anywhere!

Install the carriage in your TOM, nose forward, the belt will be looser because I've fixed the geometry, the belt is inline with the carriage and doesn't tighten up towards the end of travel. Reassemble the Y stage and adjust the belt.

Install the new front back and sides to your HBP. This is where I ran into another problem, the slots on the HBP and ABP were the same in the MBI drawings so I thought I'd only need to design one set of interchangeable sides, I found my HBP slots to be slightly narrower. I have build 3491 and there was an update so I designed some that work with my build. I've included both sets of files, if you are not sure what you need you might want to print both before you rip the thing apart!

So now that you've got it all together, grab a platform and hook the back of it around the back of the carriage, and snap the front down until it clicks. I put a little pressure on the release to keep the wear down. Next plug the cable back in and fire up your TOM.

You'll need to recalibrate for both platforms. The motherboard onboard preferences will need to be changed each time you change out the platform so I've included two handy scripts, "USE ABP" and "USE HBP". Once you get the new calibration numbers for each platform just enter them into these scripts then when you change platforms select the appropriate script and it will write the values in your motherboard onboard preferences.
Place these scripts where the File->Scripts->Calibration live so they are handy. These scripts will remind you to change the machine type i.e. "Thingomatic w/ ABP...". Don't forget to select the correct platform when generating new gcode.

Notes: I almost didn't post this thing because of my concern of whether the carriage will fit correctly in other TOMs. I'm use to much higher precision while working with metal, even if I get it right others with slightly different setups could get different results.

Also note: I shut down my TOM before I unplug my platform just to be safe. An ESD could kill your board and it's better to be safe than sorry.

Well that's it. Sorry for being long winded, I've spent days on this project and piled up a small mound of rejected parts, I hope it works out for others. Owning my TOM has been a wild ride, what an amazing little device, my thanks to all of the people at MBI and all of you in Thingiverse.

*UPDATE 12/18/2011

PieterBos made me aware of thing 8158 a Thing-O-Matic X-Axis Follower, which has origins back to Ed Nisley and has been improve / modified by Cariac, Tbuser, Joakim and others which would solve my biggest concern with my thing. I had to print many variations to get the carriage to slide freely and included the one that worked. If I modify my thing to include this follower idea it would solve this problem, however I don't have any 693 bearings laying around. I spent a few hours today modeling an experimental carriage that includes this follower feature. If someone out there would like to play with this I would appreciate it. I've incorporated a .1mm preload suggested by Ed Nisley. I've left a .8 mm space behind the bearing for a spacer / washer. I have these bearings on order and I'm going to try this asap.

For the experimental carriage you'll need two 693 (8mm X 4mm X 3mm) bearings, two 20mm X 3mm screws, nuts and washers.

UPDATE 12/22/2011

I received my 693 bearings in the mail from VXB and printed the new experimental carriage. The experimental carriage is no longer experimental, it works! I'm very impressed by this X axis follower idea, it is ultra smooth with no slop! So go with the carriage with follower if you can get the bearings, this makes this upgrade fool proof.

UPDATE 12/27/2011
I unintentionally left out the T-slots on the center part of the ABP sides, I've fixed this problem and uploaded the new files.

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Finally made this and I love it! had some trouble with the carriage being a bit too wide as well, but nothing a dremel couldnt fix :P

Love the design by the way, forgot to mention! 8-)

Been trying to print this five, six times on the ABP, it always tears itself loose

Waiting for titanium belt in the mail, and will try then with acetone disolved ABS hope that will solve all my problems.

If at all possible print this on a HBP. I've tried a .002" steel belt and could not make it work. Let me know if it works out for you.


I finally finished the print on the ABP, with titanium belt (brand new!) and aceton/ABS glue!

Sadly it shifted a bit on the top layers on the y axsis, so don´t know if it will work, but will deff. give it a try!

With the aceton/ABS solution I barly got it out the build platform!! I think this is the way to go for semi raftless printing.

barley got it off, meant to say off. hmmm typo!

Will the "standard" linear bearings used around here fit in the same holes as the original bearings? I think they are .625" outer diameter.

Yes, the linear bearings I'm using are .625"OD, I think that's standard.

Designed Well. Prints perfect! Gotta have 2! Oh, I do have two.... :-D

I have taken your design to the next level and made it narrow for more travel on the X.

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:18085http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... :)

But to use it you will have to be willing to make this hack.

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:18074http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... =-O

Not something I am willing to do.

Quick Change Build Narrow Platform for TOM
Open Top ToM

I'm not willing to do that hack either!!! I'm eventually going to buy a Replicator, but not for the extra room; I'm waiting for MBI to get support material all dialed in. So many compromises without support material!

You said: "The sadness of your trusty ABP sitting on a shelf... it's just not right."

I thought they didn't make the ABP in a "trusty" version lol, that's the whole point of why noone uses it full time!

I just looked closer at your HBP picture. Is that white lithium grease stuffed into the Y-axis bearing recess?

I ordered my 693 bearings and have the ABP structure printed. WooHoo!

I saw this when you posted and thought - too much work to tear my machine apart. Now, I'm doing more and I re-read your post and the updates.

Your prints are very, very nice! And the update for the X-follower - Bee-U-teeful!

Sure am glad you didn't refrain from posting. This looks to be a classic upgrade!

Thanks! :-D

I finally took the time to take apart my ToM X/Y and install your magnificient upgrade. I printed mine in Silver, but probably should have stuck with a non-metallic color. Silver seems more brittle than other colors and the tab broke on the HBP. Luckily the fit of the entire HPB was snug enough on the carriage for me to print a replacement "HPB Front" without a needing the tab's support - though my accuracy suffered.

A few observations. First, my HBP seems to be lower in the back than in the front - so I had to relevel by raising the back on both corners by over a millimeter. No big deal, just wondering if others found the same thing. I printed the "experimental" carriage with VXB bearings (works great!).

cond, one of the two HBP sides (can't remember if it was left or right) printed a layer or two thicker than it needed to be. I reprinted it thinking that my Z height was off for the first layer and might have caused the problem, but even after recalibrating my XYZ axis, the part was still too thick.
No big deal, I just filed it a bit and it fit fine. I printed with the recommended settings (zero shells). I suppose it could have been my GCode, I didn't ever try re-compiling the part.

Oh, and a third observation. If you have the Gen4 Interface Kit and like to clip it to the front of your Maker
bot you'll want to reconsider. At least if you ever print a part that uses your entire build platform's travel. The front of the HBP latch (and I assume that ABP as well) hits the Interface Board and can jam. Options are to not hang the interface board on the front when printing larger parts, or pos
sibly shave down the tab on the latch.

Anyway, awesome mod. It's definately made my life easier!

Shortening the tab is a good idea, I don't have an interface kit, but it would be less prone to breaking if it were shorter.

As for the thicker side, I'll check the model to see what's up.

Mine also ended up low on the aft side, I think about 0.7mm, which is odd because as an assembly in Solidworks it's perfectly level. It must be the way it locks into place.

I spent days on this and I'm glad you're enjoying it.

Finally had a chance to install this. Added a wire clip to the HBP to act as a strain relieft for the wires which works great.

It looks like youre using some sort of compressable rubber spacer between your HBP and your wooden HBP base. That's a great idea instead of springs. What type of rubber did you use? Where did you get it, ect?

Sorry...just saw your message now. Yes, it's the left over rubber tubbing from the ABP. As Tom said, it was something I saw on here or the forum...can't remember where.

Yes, I'm using short pieces of silicone tube. I found this idea on thingiverse.

Wow, great idea! Funny, I never thought of using one on the HBP. Thanks.

The best upgrade for me so far.... Very quick change over whilst helping sticktion issues in X axis. Added a Radio shack power connector and then modified a HBP and a ABP cable to mate. Now the strained connection at the heater board is permanent. Still working on a clean cable management/chain.

Thanks Tomlambardi

Awesome mod!

Any idea how long it is supposed to "pause" between the generating code and printing steps (for carriage.stl)? I've been waiting for over 10 minutes and I can't see why it would still be paused. Nozzle and bed are both to temp. File says print time is 2:20, how long is the normal pause for a print
that takes 2:20? Is there a "normal" pause?

Also, were you able to print these on a HBP with bolt heads sticking up, or did you have the flush aluminum plate addon? I had trouble with the first part (hpb front) smacking the bolts.

I think the total time was around 2:30 for the carriage at 32mm/s. It takes about 5 minutes to go from cold to printing with a MK6+ (cartridge heater) and that probably goes for the newer (MK7 - MK8) as well. If your machine is pausing it's not related to the model you are printing, I would look someplace else. I am using flush head screws on my HBP. If you are having problems with the nozzle hitting the screw heads try turning off "outline" in Skeinforge. Also, make sure your HBP is calibrated and finds center, this is important when printing larger models. You might consider buying some countersunk screws from your local hardware store, it's a cheap upgrade. Use a countersink bit to cut the heater board. If you don't have a countersink bit you could try using a large drill bit by hand and carefully make the cuts for your new countersink screws.

Good luck.

Ha! I was wondering if I could turn off the outline. Thanks for the tip! That's exactly what's hitting. But I need to get some flush screws as well. I have a countersink, just need to go to the hardware store for the screws. That will help a lot. I also have the aluminum plate upgrade coming. I've only had my printer operational for about 12 hours (just got it two days ago) so I still have a lot to learn. But your quick change was at the top of my upgrade list.

One other question, and sorry if this is obvious but I don't see it stated anywhere above. To effectively use this upgrade you have to have a second heated build plate, right? So I'll have to order one for $50, but they are out of stock at the moment. Hmm...

I'll also have to crack open my case o
ne last time to add the wiring for the conveyor motor of the ABP.

Anyway, thanks again for your help and for the outline tip!

Hi There you indeed need a second heated build plate if you want to use ABP and HBP. They are out of stock but you can also get them from robotsavvy http://robosavvy.com/store/product_info.php/products_id/1735http://robosavvy.com/store/pro...

Glad to help! Wow, this is an ambitious build for someone new to the makerbot! You can use this to swap around both types of platforms, but it also allows you to pull out a platform and service it i.e. change tape or belt or clean the surface easier.

Yes finally i installed it, look good, works great, thnx again for making this

Nice work!

Finally assembled all my pieces last night and tested with both my ABP and HBP. This is THE BEST mod I've done to my ToM. Your design is amazing and simple. LOVE IT! :)

Thanks! This morning I was using my ABP to print peg board hangers by the handful, now I'm using my HBP to print a precision part! I love it too.

I printed it out and gave it look over.

Dam it surpasses mine. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:9626http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... =-O

Nice job 8-) It s rock solid.

Something you may want to clean up.

1 On the side rails on both APB and HBP eliminate the t-slops holes in the center. They are not needed and will cause the side to be weaker. Also on the HBP remove the T-slop center bumps just like you did fore ABP.

2 Make the hex nut opening a little wide on the T-slots. If they slip throw it
’s not much of a problem, only when they are too tight will they drive you nuts….. :-D

Interchangeable build platforms.

Wow, leaving the center T-slots bumps off the ABP sides was a mistake, I uploaded an intermediate edit and not the final file. I've fixed this and uploaded the new sides. You are right, without the T-slots bumps that hole in the center would weaken the whole thing. The loads at that point are in shear and the screw only holds the T-slots bumps in their place. I actually like the tight fit of the nuts, they stay in place; you are right they are a little trouble to get in, I use a hemostat. Thanks for your input on this, I don't think I would have caught this without you critiquing my thing. BTW, I searched for a similar thing and did not see yours, that's when I decided to design one. It's a lot easier when someone else does the work!

Really like this. I am currently using linear bearing on all my axes. I never liked the bushing that came withe the TOM As i had problem with smooth movment now and then affecting the prints. I will print the carrier, but can you tell me the with of the carriage. I am just wondering if I am able to fit 2 linear bearing without them sticking out to much as this would requier some changes to the Y stage. 2 bearing side by side is 1-3/4" or 44.45mm Thanks, :)

The width of the carriage is 61.3mm. I agree, the bushings that come with the kit are sloppy, the quick change setup is rock solid. I'd like to incorporate linear bearings, where did you get them? Could these bearings be mounted with a press fit?

I got them on ebay. They have the same OD as the bushings and should fit directly into the carrier. I am now printing the carrier exp. I willcome back when I know how the berings fit.

I do not yet, so i can't mount it on my TOM yet.

Awesome! thanks for trying this out. If they are the same OD then they should press in nicely, just remember to trim the ridge off of the one side. If you get stuck pressing them in, I would cut the plastic apart rather than risk ruining the bearing. Let me know how it turns out.

I finally finsh the carrier. It was ok to push the bearings in. I used 2 linear bearings first but was unable to get them aligne them when just i presseing them inn. I tested with only one bearing and there was no play in any direction pushed it to the middle of the carrier. I am still waiting on the 693 bearing. The liear bearing I used was SW06UU.

VXB sells a double width linear bearing. How do you use linear bearings on the Y axis?

I got the 693 bearing yester day and mounted it into my TOM. Sorry to say but sigle linear bearing did not work as planed. to much slop. I desided to put in some more work to aligne 2 bearings. I finally got them alomost perfect, and mounted the carrier back on and now is it moving warry quiet and smooth. I am really happy with the X-axis. I uploaded a new picture when it is mounted and with 2 beraings. I have also see the doubble length beraings I porbably would have gone that way if I did not already have the other beraring.

As you can se on the pictures I have only mounted the liearbearing temporary in the Y stage. I am looking for a good solution. Currently is is between: MakeALot http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:11601 and litwan http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:11518 . I think I will go for MakeALot's solution or make my own designe.

Linear Bearing Y Axis Carriage for ToM
linear bearings for Y stage
by litwan

I got my linear bearings and I'm trying to line them up, any tips?

Looks great! I think instead of scrapping the entire Y axis it would be better to print an integrated linear bearing holder. I think I'll work on that next. In the mean time I need to find a cheaper place to buy 3/8" linear bearings, $16 isn't bad, but I need 8 to replace all of the bushings.

That's interesting, something I wouldn't have guessed. Well I guess if one bearing works without slop then why not? there's hardly any load. You'll like the 693's on the back, the whole thing should be slick.


How stable is the platform?

Rock solid, there's no slop.

I will be printing this not because I want to swap out for ABP, but to make replaceing/cleaning the build surface easier. You sir, are a clever man!

PS. looking at the pics it appears you have basically no "wobble" on your flat surfaces, any tips on achieving this?

It's nice to get the platform out to do work on it and you don't even have to unplug it, the cable is plenty long enough! I'm using all of the stock print-o-matic settings, it's printed in ABS, I wipe down the Kapton tape with acetone before each build and I'm careful to keep the rods greased, belts adjusted and the platform leveled. I'm using an MK6+ head with 3mm filament. The MK6+ has been the greatest upgrade ever to hit the makerbot and I'm sure the new MK7 must be even better. Please read my notes on this project and let me know how it turns out.

I saw your update GREAT will start printing carriage experimental.stl asapn :)

Great, let me know how it turns out. I've got some bearings on order, I can tweak the dimensions, just let me know. BTW, the original design works great for me, but having bearings in the back would be fool proof.

printed carriage experimental.stl look good so far. printed with full support btw in pla.

but bettime now :)

Nice job! I need to start printing colors other than black! I've never used the support feature, let me know how that cleans up. I designed the cutout on the back side with a nice arc, you should be able to print this without support, either way there's always some cleanup to do.

It cleaned up nicely, but before i will install it i have to think long and hard if there arrant any other upgrades i can print BEFORE i take it apart ;)

Wow, that is awesome! I can't wait 'till you try it in. I've got over 20 hours printing on mine and it's rock solid, the prints haven't changed.

Excellent idea and design! It should have been standard from Makerbot!

This is an impressive upgrade. I love the non-destructive design.

Excelent work! I retired the ABP after the first couple of weeks. Would be great to bring it back into action :)


Really like this maby i Will drop http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:8163http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... just tot ge able tot use my ABP platform again :-)

TOM X-Axis Follower - Recessed Bearing Bolts
by tbuser