Dial Indicator carriage for Replicator / 2

by RodLaird, published

Dial Indicator carriage for Replicator / 2 by RodLaird Apr 21, 2013
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There are many dial indicator support designs available; those which rest angled plastic on the rails are unlikely to tram accurately while those that clip to the extruders are not going to be highly repeatable in absolute measurement from use to use.

This dial indicator uses roller bearings in conjunction with hold-down magnets to provide excellent support stability and smooth and accurate and repeatable absolute tramming. A simple tramming coupler links the carriage with the extruder using magnets. The coupler has spacings for the correct lateral offsets for both modified and unmodified Replicator extruders. (The modification introduces a lever which collides with the dial indicator, requiring an additional offset.) Full design files are provided in Rhino3D and STEP formats. Carriage updated Aug 13, 2013.


A Dial Indicator is a very effective tool for managing build platform levels and checking the condition of the build plate. There are many available and this project uses a pretty common Mitutoyo 543-683.

With a stock of nice small bearings I decided a bearing based carriage might provide the smoothest tramming and a very stable geometry. The springs on the dial indicator require some modest down force - and the indicator itself and carriage do not collectively provide enough mass to do this. So small magnets are built into the design to ensure consistent contact of the bearings and the extruder rails.

So that the carriage can also be tracked with the extruder head, there is also a connecting arm which is magnetically coupled both to the dial indicator carriage and the extruder. It has insets for magnet spacings that suit use with both modified and unmodified Makerbot Replicators. (If you have improved your Replicator extruder with the spring-lever modification, the carriage needs to stand further off the extruder. You can find a version of this modification in my designs).

This design uses

  • 4 x bearings 12mm OD, 8mm ID, 3.5mm depth
  • 1 x bearing 12mm OD, 6mm ID, 4mm depth
  • 8 x rare eath magnets 6mm x 2mm
  • 1 x Mitutoyo 543-683 dial indicator.

Included in the downloadable materials are Rhino3D and STEP CAD files so you can use different bearings, magnets and dial indicators. Enjoy; this works superbly, delivering repeatable absolute readings from use to use.

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I uploaded the STL file for the carriage to netfabb's cloud service. The file did have errors, and netfabb was able to automatically fix them. I'm printing the carriage now using Makerware. Although not complete, based on what I see so far the issue has been addressed.
I'm new to 3D printing and still learning. Thanks for the help.



First of all, thanks for sharing your work. I've printed your lid hinge and air scrubber for the 2X. I'm waiting for the bearings and filter to arrive to allow assembly, but I'm very impressed so far. Thank you again.

I tried printing this dial indicator yesterday with the latest Makerware release. The carriage does not print correctly. The recessed cavity where the dial indicator sits is filled with material. I've tried with and with out supports and rafts, even tried printing the carriage upside down. Always the same results. I've filed a support case against Makerware. I thought I would ask if you had built the carriage using Makerware, and if so what version did you have success with?



Hi Orrin
I've only started using Makerware from 2.x; previous versions did not work for me... I previously sliced with Skeinforge. I have also improved my export parameters and it is possible the STL has some problems. I am not on a PC on which I can check it. I suggest you get the free version of netfabb studio and run its check / repair on the STL. (It's a must have utility for this in any case) I'll check the STL later in the day and refresh it if needed....
cheers and good luck. It's a nifty little design which works a treat. Gets lots of use.

hi rod, this look interesting. i have a replicator dual. i will give this a go. i'm hoping the hobby shop in hornsby will have the small bits. i will get back to you in a week or 2. thanks conroy

Any good model shop will have the bearings. There is an Australia magnet supplier who provides fantastic service and good prices; have a Google!