Loches Z Axis Upgrade for MakerGear Prusa Mendel

by Lochemage, published

Loches Z Axis Upgrade for MakerGear Prusa Mendel by Lochemage May 11, 2012
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Update May 20, 2012:
Uploaded a new X-Carriage Endstop holder that is designed to attach and give clearance with the triangle frame at the very top.

Update May 13, 2012:
Added a new X-Carriage version that requires no support. It assumes you can bridge well and requires you to cut excess material at the end. Note: I have not actually printed it as of yet, so I can't be sure it all works properly.

Update May 12, 2012:
Here is a video of me printing the Pink Panther Woman http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1216 at full size (147.535mm tall).



  • Increase the Z Axis Build Range.
  • Modify Plastic Parts only and re-use the current Vitamins.


  • So many plastic parts have been modified, I'm not sure if I should consider this an upgrade or a full blown new printer version.
  • It's possible that this change isn't limited to the MakerGear Prusa, but I will leave that to you.
  • I had a few issues with the X and Z endstops and had to jury-rig my own solutions. Perhaps I will design some new mounts for these.

My original build area was about 80mm, I came across a print that required more height so I decided to try and design my own modification that would give it to me. Looking at my printer, I noticed a few areas that could possibly be improved, so I went to work! My new and improved build height is now 150mm!

Problems and Solutions:

  • Problem 01: The rear mounted X axis belt collided with the threaded rod on the triangle frame vertex assembly. This resulted in a clearance issue when raising the nozzle.
    To fix this, I had to consider a new location to mount the belt. I chose to utilize the space just underneath the X track rods as that space is already used by the extruder nozzle.

  • Problem 02: A good amount of rod space on the Z axis ends up being un-used. The motor mount blocks the Z axis from going beyond the two threaded rods on the top of the printer.
    To fix this, I extended the upper frame vertex piece so that it raised the two top rods a good distance. This in turn also raised the Z axis rods so I also extended to lower Z bar clamps to compensate. This worked because the space taken up by the lower clamps was previously un-used rod space anyway.

  • Problem 03: My current extruder mount caused a clearance issue because the side mounted motor would go underneath the upper frame vertex. Since my new vertex still blocks this, a new extruder mount was required.
    To fix this, I designed a derivitive extruder mount that was essentially the same as the one I was using except the motor protrudes from the rear instead. Since I previously moved the X axis belt, there was no issue with the motor colliding with it. You can find this derivitive here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:22395.

  • Problem 04: I found it difficult to tighten the X track rods in place without causing the X carriage to bind.
    To fix this, I changed it from using the tension screws (on the bottom of each X-end) to just having some clamps on the rods themselves. The clamps prevent the rods from sliding out, but it's still ok if they slide a little bit, they don't need to be tightly locked. One of the rods is in a hole that does not give it room to 'wiggle', this gives it the stability it needs so the nozzle doesn't move around in the Y direction. The other rod is in a slightly elongated hole which provides the track with the 'play' needed to keep the carriage from binding. I've found that this modification works well and causes no noticable change in print quality.


Build of Materials:
2x: Loches_Upper-Frame-Vertex.stl
1x: Loches_Lower-Z-Bar-Clamp-Left.stl
1x: Loches_Lower-Z-Bar-Clamp-Right.stl
1x: Loches_X-Carriage.stl or Loches_X-Carriage_NoSupport.stl
1x: Loches_X-End-Idler Bushing.stl
1x: Loches_X-End-Motor Bushing.stl
4x: Loches_X-Track-Bar-Clamp.stl
1x: Loches_X-Track-Endstop-Holder.stl
Various nuts and bolts, mostly re-used from the original setup.
Various vitamins re-used from the original setup.


  • Print out the above parts. 50% infil should be enough.
  • Remove your current Z axis rods and assembly. This includes the Z smooth rods on either side, the threaded rods attached to the Z motors, the Z motor mounts on top, and the Z rod clamps on the bottom.
  • Take out all the bearings, nuts, screws, brass bushings, motors, pullies, belt, rods, and etc from the the removed parts.
  • Take off the two upper frame vertex pieces and replace them with the new versions.
  • Re-mount the Z motor mount plates on top.
  • Mount the new lower Z bar clamps on the bottom, don't forget to attach the bearings to them. Note that the new version has the lower rod hole in the center and is not offset from the Z axis bar clamps like the original part, so you will have to adjust accordingly.
  • Assemble the brass bushings and Z axis nuts into their respective places on the new X-ends and X-carriage.
  • Thread the Z axis threaded rods into the X-ends so they protrude about 1/3 of their length from the bottom of each end.
  • Place the bottom of each Z axis threaded rod into their respective locations on the lower Z bar clamps (where the bearing goes) and attach the tops to the motor Z couplings. The motor mount should be on the left side of this assembly.
  • Slide and clamp the Z axis smooth rods through the top motor mount, X-ends, Z endstop, and lower Z bar clamps. The smooth rods should be almost exactly the length to clamp in.
  • Level both X-ends with eachother and slide both X smooth rods through their respective tracks on the X-ends and the X-carriage. The X-carriage belt mount should be in the back and facing down.
  • Place 4 X-track bar clamps on the X-track smooth rods. They should be on either side of each rod in between the X-ends. You will need a M3 nut and bolt for these clamps. Alternatively, you could also just use some tape to clamp them. Note, these clamps should be snug, but not too tight, we want them to 'wiggle' a little to provide optimal track clearance for the X-carriage. It's possible that a modified X endstop mount is necessary, but so far I haven't had a problem with my mount rotating with the rod, since the rod is only snug and could essentially free-rotate.
  • Attach the X axis belt motor and idler pullies on each side. These mounts are slightly adjustable, when you attach the belt you need to adjust them so you can freely slide the X-carriage from min to max without the belt rubbing against the Z axis rods.
  • The new X carriage endstop is design to clamp onto a single track rod on the X axis while rest on the other rod. This is because the new method of clamping the X rods allows them to free rotate to some degree, so we don't rely on them to keep a single clamp stable. The second function for the new endstop is to allow clearance when the Z axis is at the very top while still triggering early enough that the X carriage doesn't bump into the triangle frame.
  • The Z endstop is now mostly blocked by the belt now, so I had to aim it at the motor pully instead (image provided). This works and I haven't had any problems with it so far, but a possible new mount can be designed if you're not comfortable with this.
  • Run your machine and make sure all axes move in the proper direction and without binding. I had to reverse my X axis motor since the belt goes in the other direction now. You shouldn't have to re-calibrate your steps per unit settings if you did not change the belt or pullies that you were using before, but it's always a good idea to double check your calibrations :)

Please provide any questions and comments you may have here, I will try and keep my eye on this thread so as not to miss anything. If you decide to build this upgrade, please share your thoughts! Any improvements on this will be much appreciated! Thank you!

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Very good improvement for a old Prusa V2! I will do this on my printer. Thanks a lot for sharing and congratulations for the solutions. Top!!!!

Only one question. I see the belt of X, not aligned with the pulleys.... Why?

hi I wanna ask I was thinking in just changing the e carriage stepup ive got currently on my anet a8 into the same step up that you got goin on

reallyyy nice, i just wondering why i had not see this 3 years now!. My total height is 63mm. Printing parts 150mm!! is a new printer for me. i will start printing all parts and i will ask you if i face any problem. For now , i have a question about your extruder base , but discus it to the proper.

Couldn't answer that for you, but the important thing is that you found it now! It's never given me any problems (beyond anything normal) for as long as I've used it, and it seems to work well for everyone else so far. Just make sure you use ABS plastic for the carriage and the extruder block, PLA will just melt.

For the extruder base, I am using a variation of someone elses design: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:22395
It works quite nicely, made to be really quick to open but secure when locked. It makes maintenance much easier. My modification to it is turning it so the motor faces the back instead of the side, it fits better with this upgrade.

Please give it a try and let me know what you think!

MakerGear Simplified Extruder Block with Quick Release and Rear Motor Mount

Hi Sir , i print Loches_Lower-Z-Bar-Clamp-Left and i add somethinglike support on the clam and it is perfect, like this

Bu i have try to print 3 times Loches_Lower-Z-Bar-Clamp-Right and i have problems.
20mm before the top ,x,y moves but extruder stop and start after 10mm before the end. Something crazy hapens all the time. I have also check at sketch up the color of this is not white, it is grey like the photo below. Also when i import to slicer 1610 problems found. I don't know sketchup very well and i can't fix it. Can you please or somebody fix it and add this support i am trying to add on the clamp??

It's hard to tell without actually inspecting the model itself, but from a glance at your pictures I would say it might have something to do with the model not being manifold. Some slicers might be able to work around a non-manifold area, but it is always a gamble. It could explain why one side printed fine when the other just won't.

What type of bearings did you use in your x carriage?

I used the ones that came with the printer at the time, I believe they are brass self-aligning bearings.

Hi, This looks like a great upgrade. I'm looking to print this, but not sure if I should use ABS or PLA? I can print much better using PLA, so will it be ok? At least for the non extruder parts?

You can use PLA for all of the parts except the X-Carriage and extruder block. But I still recommend ABS for all of it if possible.

PLA is much weaker then ABS and I would not recommend it. If you can do it in ABS then that is what you should use, especially for the extruder mount, x carriage and every other part that is near any sort of heat(PLA has a very low melting point as you know..)

cool. I thought that would be the case. I probably just need to get some better quality ABS and fix my machine up a bit. btw, is the Makerbot ABS any good/will work with the reprap? I can get it here in Melbourne but wanted to know if its worth the extra money.

I can't really say much for the Makerbot ABS, haven't tried it. I've been pretty satisfied with Octave so far, so I've been sticking to that.

http://Hobbypartz.comhttp://Hobbypartz.com has some good ABS at reasonable prices(compared to Makerbot). Just a heads up :) I will check out Octave's filament on the first..but still to this day, all time favorite ABS, is Ultimachine's(When I can afford it).

How long threaded rods and smoothed rods I need on Z axis ?

I believe the threaded rod is 210mm and the smooth is 330mm, they should be the same as the original build.

will your x carriage work with linear bearings?

I made a quick polygon modification for the dimensions of standard 15mm OD x 24mm Length LM8UU bearings.


I've only designed it based on my current build. Unfortunately, If I were to update it for different builds, it would be guess work on my part. It's probably better if someone who actually has the set up make the modifications and then upload a derivative if possible.

yes this would be nice to get a version with lm8uu, i have no lucky hands with blender so if someone can make a version with lm8uu or a scad version of it it would be realy nice

Built one months ago -- been printing lately at 200-300mm/sec quite happily with no stability issues or print quality problems.  :)

I can't say that my printer looks anything short of a calico cat though with the different amalgamations of materials and colors though.

I can't bridge that well yet apparently - it looks like it'll be less work to just deal with a lengthy cleanup.  Any awesome advice to bridge more effectively to print things like this without support?

After chewing on this concept (that I really like) just thought you would like to know that I am throwing some plastic at it right now. I hope that it performs as well as it looks as I was looking for something to increase my build size. I will let you know how it turns out on this end and if I add a thing or two to enhance the design I will let you know. Any changes since your initial upload? Besides the no support version?

I'm glad to hear that you will be trying it out! I haven't done any changes to the design, however, I have modified my current build to use a dual bowden extruder setup so it looks a little different now.

Are you running dual extruders for support material? If so what type of material combination are you using and how difficult was it to get the FW setup with regards to the offset of the hot ends? Thanks. I am new to reprap but not to designing. 8-)

No, this is for dual coloring mostly. It depends on the software you are using, but the offset setting should be part of the slicer, which only a few actually support afaik. I was actually writing my own splicer program that was going to splice multiple gcode files into a single one for you, but that project isn't getting much love at the moment, I was just going to wait for someone else to do it :P

If you want to see what I've done on the program so far, you can check it out here: https://github.com/Lochemage/LocheGSplicerhttps://github.com/Lochemage/L...

Sorry for the long delay but I finally uploaded a pic of my printer. Also went ahead and made an account so I will no longer show up as a guest.

Awesome, it's looking good. How is it working for you?

Worked good for 6 months but I finally out grew it and had to completely re-design the geometry. Still needed more height for my filament recycling project http://omnomproject.comomnomproject.com. Built a complete chassis upgrade for the one you see there that has a build size of 8"x8"x10 and a whole new machine that has a build size of 9"x17"x10". All using your z-axis mod.

I almost tried this once, but I wasn't sure how stable the printer would be at say, 140mm high with the x-axis whipping back and forth. Figured I'd have to start from scratch with the frame. Is it prone to "racking"? Great work here.

It's actually quite stable, I was worried about that too at first. I haven't noticed any change in print quality since the change (besides me overall just getting better with printing), only that I have more height now. I suppose, as an alternative, you could get longer Z rods and avoid using the extended lower Z bar clamp... if any part of my upgrade is to be unstable, it would be those. But, as long as it is bolted very tightly to both the base rod and the Z smooth rods, I think you will find it to be quite stable though.

How high have you actually printed with this setup?

I took some shots and video of me printing the Pink Panther Woman in full size with this upgrade. It is 0.2mm layer height and hollow with 2 perimeters:


Impressive. I'd already started printing prior to seeing that, but this gives me confidence that it'll be a true upgrade with no tradeoffs.

I've only got about half the parts printed, but in the morning, it should be ready for the rebuild. After thinking about it for a minute, I realized that this design changes every printed part except the pulleys, y-axis rod clamps, and lower frame vertices. I'd say this changes enough to be consid
ered a new printer design.

Perhaps it could be the "Loches MG-Prusa" just like a "Greg's Wade-extruder" was a redesign of the classic "Wade's extruder".

I have to say, I'm excited to see that someone is interested in trying this design. I very much would like to know how this fares for you! Since you are building it, and will have first hand knowledge of the design in action, I'd very much like to know how it works for you and if you have any suggestions to improve it!

Not related to your design, but Slic3r really needs some work in the support generation area. It's okay except it puts the crap in all holes and it's really difficult to remove unless it's entirely external. The x-carriage was impossible to clean-up (literally, I never finished cleaning it up).

Yes, I see what you mean, that part was by far the hardest to clean up, especially in the bushing hole. After some time with an exacto knife, I finally got it cut out... doesn't look pretty but it works.

I am working on a modified version of it that should be able to print without support... it will be uploaded soon.

I've added a new version of the x-carriage that should print without the use of support, asuming you can bridge well.

I just printed your support-less x-carriage. Dude, that thing is AWESOME. Watching that one print run I learned quite a bit about how to properly design parts for being printed. I'd read a couple of articles on the design-for-manufacturing concept, but it was all academic until I saw your print.

Excellent! I'm glad to hear that it worked out for you.

I've only had most of the parts printed for a year now. Got the last ones printed this week, and gonna tear my machine apart this weekend.

Uh oh, dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun