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Replicator Bed Level Jig

by phineasjw, published

Replicator Bed Level Jig by phineasjw May 18, 2012

Description

Frustrated with the bed leveling procedure on your new Replicator? Thought you got it level only to have your print fail the first layer or not bond on one side?

I believe the 4 screw leveling design and the difficulties with achieving a truly level build plate are the root of many user's build problems. They certainly were for me.

With this jig and a dial/digital indicator you can get your build table as level as is possible.

You can also use this to find out if your build plate is warped!

Video procedure at http://youtu.be/hgWeew6SmjQ

Recent Comments

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Do you know if this will fit a flashforge pro? thanks
I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for making this model. I've been using it every time I print for 2 years now. There are so many things that one must watch out for that can cause a print to fail. This add on helps immensely in eliminating the most common problem, unleveled/trammed bed. Thank you +1000!
I was careful to not jam the dial indicator too far into the printed part. In Phineasjw's instructions and the youtube video, he mentions not to sink the dial indicator very far down, as it could cause the issue like you are seeing. Have you tried simply moving the dial indicator farther from the build platform in the printed part? I'm using a digital indicator (the exact model shown here) and its worked great for me on my Replicator 1.

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Instructions

This procedure is a work in progress. I have done this on mine and my print quality and first layer bonding to the build table are the best they have ever been. Your mileage may vary.

This may sound very complicated but if you have any machinist experience it should be relatively straight forward. I will try to add photos later to augment the thousand words here.

It might be easier to perform the standard Replicator leveling and then fine tune it with the Digital Indicator and this jig.

I have started doing this after I heat the build plate as I have seen to plate go way out of level after heating.

UPDATE 5/21/2012: I consistenly see the front of the build plate droop about 0.3mm-0.4mm when the plate is heated to 100C. That's pretty much the diameter of the filament and is definitely enough to mess up a build. I suspect the plastic bed support arms are softening slightly in the heat. Now I always preheat my plate and then check level, being careful of course not to burn myself! Builds are consistently good now with 0.2mm layer height.

Watch your extruder nozzles throughout this procedure - don't crash them into your build plate!

  • Print this jig. I used 25% fill, 0.2mm layer height, bed temp 110C, nozzle temp 227C, 1 shell.
  • Install 0.25" Diameter X 0.25" thick magnets ( http://www.amazon.com/Magcraft-NSN0617-4-Inch-Magnets-20-Count/dp/B000SQK2JK/ref=pd_cp_hi_1 ) just flush with surface in their respective holes. See magnet install picture http://www.thingiverse.com/image:136277.
  • Carefully insert digital indicator into the top center 0.375" hole. It is a press fit. If your bonding between layers is not good it might crack. Don't push it all the way in just get it started.
  • My Pittsburgh (Harbor Freight 93295) Digital Indicator has 1" of travel. I seated it in the jig such that there is a gap of 0.34" between the top of the jig and the bottom of the Digital indicator body (See gap photo http://www.thingiverse.com/image:136278). We want the dial indicator seated such that the needle just starts to move when the jig is installed with the build table in the home (top) position and the jig attached to the X axis rails. The build table deflects easily with very little pressure so if the dial indicator is set too far down its spring force will deflect the table down and cause measurement errors.
  • Before you install the jig on the X axis rails, use the Replicator Home Axes from the Utilities menu to send the build plate to the top Home position.
  • Put the nozzle(s) over the back right corner nearest that leveling screw. I used a 0.001" shim (I happened to have paper that thickness). I'm an not sure about this thickness yet. I might want it a little thicker? I got some feeler gauges ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005689P7A/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i01 ) and will test some different thicknesses.
  • Adjust the back of the build table till the nozzle just "bites" the shim when you pull it. This is your reference height. Makes sure there is no plastic sticking from extruder nozzle as this will mess up your measurement.

NOTE: Watch it when you move your nozzle(s) for the next steps - don't crash them into the table before it is leveled. Move them to the far left to keep them off the work surface and out of the way for the rest of the procedure.

  • Now place the jig on the X axis rails with the Dial indicator needle facing down toward the table. You should feel the magnets click the jig in place. It should sit flat and steady - no wobble.
  • Carefully move the X and Y axis and slide the indicator jig such that the indicator tip is just forward of the back right build plate leveling bolt (See home zero picture http://www.thingiverse.com/image:136276). Don't put the indicator tip on the bolts. Put it on the plate somewhat close to the bolt. The indicator tip should contact the table and move up slightly.
  • Carefully zero the digital indicator without pushing up or down.
  • Now go to each leveling bolt starting with the back left one so the nozzle(s) stay off the build plate.
  • Adjust the leveling screws to get close to zero on each. It takes a light touch on the leveling screws - pushing up or down even slightly on then shows up on the gauge.

NOTE: 3 points in space is a plane, 4 points is a pain! Because there are 4 leveling screws you will find that you get 3 right and then you get to the 4th and it seems to mess things up. Get it close and then check the other 3 again, it took me a couple passes at first becuase my table was out of whack but now it is easier to get it back into shape.

NOTE2: If you have OCD like me you'll want all corners exactly zero. This will drive you nuts. Remember 0.03mm is less than 0.0012". Don't get too carried away. UPDATE: 5/22/2012 I don't follow my own advice - I keep going till I get all zeros anyways!

  • Now enjoy the high quality printing you expected from your Replicator!

UPDATE: I added a 3D CAD file in .igs format exported from Alibre 3D for those you want to modify this to fit their own indicator.

UPDATE 7/9/2012: I added a version 2 with a V shape for the back rail, elimianated the superfluous hole in the side and leveled the contact points front and back. Also added version 2 with the harbor freight 5/16" magnet holes ( http://www.harborfreight.com/10-piece-rare-earth-magnets-67488.html ). I undersized the holes by 1/64" so hopefully a press fit. I have not printed the new version yet.

Do you know if this will fit a flashforge pro? thanks
I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for making this model. I've been using it every time I print for 2 years now. There are so many things that one must watch out for that can cause a print to fail. This add on helps immensely in eliminating the most common problem, unleveled/trammed bed. Thank you +1000!
when i print this the magnet holes are 5.8 mm or .22" instead if 1/4" so they need to be drilled out more to fit the magnets
I made something similar to this, but what I have found is that the dial indicator actually pushes down on my replicator 2's build plate (waiting on my aluminium arms to strengthen my z axis). I guess you know what that means, I can't actually level my build plate using my current dial indicator. Has anyone had this problem? I think analog dial indicator's spring is just too stiff. I ordered a digital one, I hope that one will work.
I was careful to not jam the dial indicator too far into the printed part. In Phineasjw's instructions and the youtube video, he mentions not to sink the dial indicator very far down, as it could cause the issue like you are seeing. Have you tried simply moving the dial indicator farther from the build platform in the printed part? I'm using a digital indicator (the exact model shown here) and its worked great for me on my Replicator 1.
Will this fit the rep2?
the yellow plastic you use on your buildplate, how do you make it stick? i have a roll of that material, but dont know how to stick it to the build plate... thanks in advance!
If you are referring to the original Kapton, it is adhesive backed already. However, I quit using Kapton in favor of this polyester tape for its superior strength and toughness thingiverse.com/thing:50729 I have been using the same piece of this tape since February 2013.
Rigid Polyester Tape for Replicator Heated Bed
thank you for your reply. the roll i have looks exactly the same, but has no sticky back as far as i can see
This is the best tool ever!! great work!!
This works really well and is so much easier than the shim method. The method I've been using to try to get my new machine figured out is coarse level with the shim, fine level with the indicator, then recheck with the shim, and tweak it in to perfect with the indicator.

That bit about leveling at your build temperature is really important and I wanted to comment to reinforce it.

I ran an experiment with running my replicator HBP up and down from room temp (19C in my basement) to 110C. I think I may have a warped plate issue, so this may be an extreme example, but here's what I got:

When the plate was perfectly level at 110C, flatness was off by about 0.004".

When I drop to 19C and allow to stabilize for a while, the HBP appears to be perfectly flat, but about 0.030" (~0.08mm) off level.

I also wondered a little bit about creep so I ran it back up to 110C and checked it at T=0, T=15min, and T=30mins. I realize that this is a relatively short timescale for creep. I did see some minor changes (0.001"-0.002") at each location but I'm guessing these differences may have more to do with *ahem* 'operator technique' than actual creep and would need to run a little Gauge R&R on myself and my indicator/fixture before I draw any definite conclusions. Initially, I suspected that the warpage with temperature issue may have been primarily due to the plastic arms, but if that was the case, I would expect to see a little bit more obvious creep response. So, I'm guessing the warpage is primarily HBP design or manufacturing process related and that going out and purchasing aluminum arms to replace the plastic ones won't help much..
Printed it, but the Harbor Freight magnets did not fit. I will redesign and then post online as a derivative.
:-D thank you for taking the time to make this and the video, this has helped me increase my accuracy and level incredibly.

End of line.
I only did 10% infill and it seems pretty good, also the magents are a press fit or will a little superglue help?
This is simply brilliant. It takes the frustratingly subjective leveling process and makes it mechanical and repeatable. My Replicator prints have gotten very reliable since building this.

I made a variation for the 0.375" magnets I got from Edmund Scientific: scientificsonline.com/ceramic-permanent-magnets.html
THANK YOU!! This fixed 90% of the problems I've been having with larger prints! Now if I could only get long, thin things to print without being bowed when they come off...
Just waiting on my magnets to get this show on the road.
Finally got the Harbor Freight delivery.

Just curious, why doesn't the jig itself doesn't sit level?
I changed the design mid-stream and forgot to adjust the rail contact points to keep them even. As long as it is repeatable it doesn't make a difference though.
THANK YOU! I had nearly made up my mind to box my machine up and sell itb ecause I was unable to make ANY successfull prints... after many attempts, I got this one to kind of print and voila... it fixed everything.
A simple solution to the problem. This method works very well.

Harbor Freight sells a stack of rare Earth magnets for $1.89. They are 5/16" though, not 1/4".

harborfreight.com/10-piece-rare-earth-magnets-67488.html
A 5/16" drill bit to widen the holes, and the above linked magnets work great.
This is a great tool. Thank you for uploading this.i was wondering if you could also upload the CAD file as I was hoping to make a few modifications to suit the dial indicator and magnets I have available.

Thanks
I made a derivative (a remake in OpenSCAD) that worked out well for me. My dial and magnets had different measurements. It's parametric so you might find it useful:

thingiverse.com/thing:24694
Parametric dial gauge holder for Replicator
by Bror
I uploaded a .igs CAD file. Hopefully your CAD can import this format. BTW, I use Alibre.
I love this. I made one and I'm using 1/4 magnets. The fit was to snug for me to clamp it in so i drilled it just a little bit to fit. I also used epoxy to cover and hold the magnet in. My bed has never been more level. Thanks for designing this!
Quite liking this. Didn't have the magnets properly, but gravity alone did a pretty solid job. This just feels much more reliable than the official method. Well done!
I like it. I'll go get the indicator today.

Fast question though. Any good source for the magnets?
I don't remember where I got the ones I had laying around but I found these that should work.

amazon.com/Magcraft-NSN0617-4-Inch-Magnets-20-Count/dp/B000SQK2JK/ref=pd_cp_hi_1
Great idea. I will be using this soon. I also made a comment section on my last video (MakerBot Replicator) about an automatic leveling idea. Let me know if you think it's a good one if you have the time.

Andrew
Latest video: youtube.com/watch?v=CeD2ySdbvyw
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