Mk8 Spring loaded Drive Block Replicator 1 / Duplicator 4 / FlashForge / CTC

by thruit00, published

Mk8 Spring loaded Drive Block Replicator 1 / Duplicator 4 / FlashForge / CTC by thruit00 Feb 3, 2014
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Adapted version of ivcs fillament drive block: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:62510

Update: DriveBlockBase V9 allows printing of NinjaFlex and other flex filament and is tested on WanHao Duplicator 4 and CTC Dual with NinjaFlex. Please see attached pictures and read instructions for some tips how to configure your slicer right to not blame the drive block for mistakes you make.

Original idea was to modify it that it can handle bigger draw rolls, like used on Wanhao Duplicator 4, which has a 11mm cylindric gear-wheel with and a 12mm ball bearing draw roll with a grooved surface and a shaft diameter of 3mm.
I read a lot of broken ball bearing shafts and because 3mm is a very weak shaft diameter if you use a strong spring I decided to add a M3 pan head screw as shaft instead. In addition all spring loaded drive blocks I know have overhanging ejection units on the outer sides. I think this might disturb some ideas to use the extra head room we have in the printer especially to the left to install a bigger heated build plate. On top of the extruders here we have some space left, which I decided to use for the ejection buttons.

I had several stages of development of this unit but I run my current version since 6 months now, without any issues and decided to release it now as stable.

Of course this mod should also work with the Original Replicator and 623ZZ ball bearings ivc recommends.

See instructions tab for information how to print and what extra parts you need.



  • 1x M3 x 16mm Flat Head Cap Countersunk Hex Screw
  • 1x M3 x 8mm Flat Head Cap Countersunk Hex Screw
  • 1x M3 x 6mm Flat Head Cap Countersunk Hex Screw
  • 1x Compression Spring, 0.360"OD 0.276"ID 0.630"-0.900"L (9mm OD x 7mm ID x 16-22mm L), 32lbs/in spring rate
    (I bought a too long Spring named normal strenght at Hornbach in Germany and cutted it to a lenght of 24mm)
    if you dont have a ball bearing draw roll with an inner diameter of 3mm in your printer already:
  • 1x Ball Bearing, 3mm ID x 10mm OD x 4mm Width, typ. 623ZZ bearing

My advice is to print it with ABS (better heat resistance than PLA if you want to print ABS later on with it) .
I printed all of the parts with a layer height of 0.10mm, 2 shells and a solid infill of 100% which makes it more stable.
ONLY for the Base unit you will need supports and should switch them off if you print the Levers and Covers.

Notes concerning NinjaFlex prints:

  • Never print faster than 30mm/s
  • set rectraction to zero
  • disable any slowdown options for layers under a given time or bridging
  • Extruder temperature ~235°C
  • Heatbead temperature ~50°C
  • directly print on glas or mirror glass without any addons!
  • don't use the fillament loading option inside printer menu cause it's loading the fillament to fast. Manually load via your slicers USB control interface or simply just push carefully the fillament into the nozzle with pressed drive block eject button and it's loading the fillament while doing the start code wipeing or Simplify3Ds skirt layer.
  • keep nozzle distance from heatbed farer away than on normal prints
  • do not print with a layer hight of less than 0.2mm
  • if your extruder clicks while printing it will fail the print and you did not follow my upper recommendations or your nozzle distance was still too low. Remove the extruder fan and heat sink and fix the fillament pushed together directly above the nozzle.

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Hi Th0mas,

thanks for Your remarks on printing NinjaFlex.
For the first time since I got it I actually managed to print something with it :)
Before all I got were bird's nests. Flexible but useless ;)

What's the speed setting in Your slicer?
Is the "no retraction" setting really necessary? I've got bearded tyre tracks because of that ;)


Could you make one that has the diameter of the circle to be 24mm? As your current one is 20mm and my drive block circle does not fit it as it's too big, please as I'm hopeless with designing 3d files.

Hardware ordered for this and a z axis support and y axis support, once they turn up just have to remember which bearing goes where

Just printed this and thought I'd reuse the bearing from the stock CTC extruder. However, the stock bearing has a V groove in it and doesn't line up with the hole in the driveblockbase. It looks like it's offset by about a 1.5mm (too far to the front of the machine).

Has anyone used this with a FlashForge?

The 16mm screw on the arm seem a bit small..... It fits so it reaches the base but doesn't secure it.

Any help wold be appreciated.

Can I print this without supports?

I don't want to sound like an idiot is this an upgrade in general or just an alternate peice meant for flex filament printing only? If printed and installed on my dreamer can I still print pla and abs as usual? And will they benefit from this if so?

It will not affect your filament other than preventing the flexible filament from getting pulled in between the gear and the extruder block

I am having a hell of a time trying to find the Compression Springs for this. Can someone provide a source in the States?

The print came out beautiful. Thank you for the great work!

I used a 3 hole punch that I got from goodwill for $1 for the springs.

This is probably the best part i have printed,an actual upgrade to the stock extruder. I printed this for a duplicator i3 ,printed the DriveBlockBase V9 version too and it just comes up to the gear perfectly. Thank you very much for this.

How do you manage to get prints that look so avergae on the flashforge? looks like you have some serious over extrusion in those prints. Have you tried simplify 3D?

I got a question.
If I a use a "M3 x 16mm Flat Head Cap Countersunk Hex Screw" to connect the "moving" part to the motor the crew is to short for the thread in the motor. It is suposed to be like this or should i use longer screws ?

If a longer screw fits your printer take this one. The drive block works for different printers and some of them need a that shot screw because of their stepper motors.

OK, I've printed this out and I found springs that I think will be suitalbe, but I'm not sure that I have the screw lengths right despite using what is on the instructions tab... or if I have a print quality issue, or if something else is going on...

Placing the screws as such: http://imgur.com/igqvVwh

If I'm not mistaken the 6 and 16 anchor into the stepper motor, but with a 16 I don't have enough thread proud to securely mount it. The 6 seems like it would be OK, but even there it's not a lot of thread going into the stepper motor.

For the 8 it seems to be the right length, but doesn't seem to bite the ABS well enough to hold things securely.

I'm currently reprinting at .1 layers so maybe that's the difference, I didn't remember to switch down from .2 earlier...

Also the whole arm thing seems wobbly, is this held stabil by the back of the heat sync or is there an issue with my print quality?


Some steppers have very short mounting threads because the screws from the back of the motor are very long. The length of the screws I listed in the instruction tab describes screws which worked for all of my printers at home - even the ones with short threads. If you have longer threads you can use longer screws at position 6 and 16, of course. Anyways, make sure you use countersunk screws!

The thread for screw 8 is a core hole - so it is designed to use a thread cutter/die to create the thread for this screw. Some people had no thread cutter available and used the M3 screw with a lot force to cut the thread. This only works if the print is very accurate and you apply the right amount of force to end up with a thread and not with a bigger hole :-)

For about 50% of my printed drive blocks (all ABS with 0.1mm Layer height and an active cooling fan pointing to the nozzle) I was to lazy to walk down to the basement and grep the thread cutter. So I used the screw with force to cut them. It worked all the time, except once - but the accuracy of my prints is fairly good.

The arm should not be wobbly if the screw is fairly tightened. The way slicers handle small holes is very different. Some tend to make them to big while others make them to tight. In Simplify3D (which I use) and Makerware (which I used in the past) small holes tend to be too tight and in my case I sometimes needed a 3mm hand drill to make them fit perfectly. So It might be a problem of you slicer as well if the holes are to wide.

Kind regards,

I'm using Simplify3d and have an M3 tap on hand... another 30% on the current print at .1... thanks for the feedback.

Hi, can you publish solid model for R/L DriveBase V9 please?
I have WanhaoDuplicator with unstandart gear size .. just wand to remix for print FLEX/RUBBER filaments
at this moment it jam from stepper-motor side 8( (~1 mm difference)

The drive block was designed for a Wanhao Duplicator 4 produced in 2013. See my answer to the question before over here. I don't offer any solid models but the stl should perfectly match your printer gear.

What is the drive gear used? I have an MK8 like this http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTIwMFgxNjAw/z/95MAAOSwxCxT1BD3/$_57.JPG. It seems like the gears pictured here are a larger diameter.

You are right! Your MK8 gear looks different than the MK8 gears of my Wanhao Duplicator and CTC printers. (google for 'drive gear wanhao' to see pictures of my drive gear. There are a lot people out there which printed my drive block and use it with a huge amount of different printers. I truly wonder why nobody complained about this before! Would you give it a try and tell me, if it works for you as well even knowing that it was designed for a different drive gear?

Changing the models for your drive gear would also require to adapt my filament guide model http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:340031 and I have none of this drive gears to test.

PTFE FIlament and Cable Guide for CTC / FlashForge / Duplicator / Replicator

Great replacement on FolgerTech Prusa i3 printer! I have been using the left-hand version for a week without a problem. This extruder works MUCH better than similar ones with printed bearing shaft! Thanks for the thing. :-)


Will this work on a FlashForge Dreamer?

If I would guess I would say yes - but why not give it a try?

Just to say for my confirmation and the benefit of others ... If you already have the MK9 upgrade, then you'll only need to print the base as all the other parts will be re-usable.
I started printing but it started warping so I stopped it. Will try again when the ambient temp is a bit warmer I guess

MK9 is just the name WanHao gave their extruders after the shipped them with a spring loaded drive block. When I bought my Duplicator 4 in summer last year there was no drive block like this from WanHao and I started developing it. Even when I released my Drive Block after half a year of heavy testing and improvment itterations in Jannuary WanHao didn't have that <new> MK9 invention ;-) So if the WanHao MK9 lever fits to my base block it's just a coincidence. But because all spring loaded drive blocks rest upon the original Makerbot spring loaded drive block design (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:53125)http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... there is a small chance that it will fit.

Spring-loaded Replicator 2 Drive Block

I can't see a difference between DriveBlockBase_V8 and DriveBlockBase_V9

Please see the second last picture. It points you to the bottom fillament guilde where I made the distance between the feeder wheel and the ball-bearing 0.75mm smaller. This leads to enough room that both wheels still can run flawless but now there is no space left anymore that the NinjaFlex fillament can escape between feeder and Nozzle. Of cource it can still jam inside the Nozle pipe if your build plate distance is to low, if you extrude to fast or your temperature is to low.

I don't know how I missed that pic back when i bookmarked this. Maybe it wasn't uploaded yet. All good and I'm finally successfully printing NinjaFlex! I had to raise the thermal barrier going to the heater block so it didn't fold between the cooling block and after making a custom profile wight he right filament diameter and print speed I am printing at .1 layer height. Working great so far. Thanks!

I use this thing to calibrate my nozles: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:299331http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...
For this setup I designed the drive block to directly hand over the filament to the thermal barrier. Without using the upper thing you finally have the same setup ;-)

Wanhao Nozzle Gauge Tool
by Raggen7

Also, retraction set to zero made too many strings, using makerware I set it to 2.5mm and 75mm/sec for speed and it made a huge improvement.

Great to know, that extruding that fast is possible! I just did gaskets with it and for those using a small nail cutter worked well to remove the strings but that retraction is evan possible with this soft fillament I would not have dreamed of! Thanks for your feedback! Before you rewrote the rulset the rule for NinjaFlex in different forums was to 'keep it going slowly without speed changes and without retraction'.

75mm.sec is my extraction speed. Im printing at 30mm/sec at .2 and .1 layer height. .3 jams with my current settings because its extruding too fast.
using makerware:
"feedDiameter": 1.65,
"retractDistance": 10.0,
"retractRate": 75,

OK, thanks - now I got you! Will try your retraction settings in simplify3d after I'm back at home next week.

Just ordered my hardware kits for these!

Printed these a few weeks ago. I print for 3 hours + everyday and have been working great. I printed them in PLA. The heat from the motor and extruder have no effects on the PLA. Nice job.

Hi there, did you printed without scaling ?

Construction was in metric system and printing was done without scaling. The fitting of the stepper ring is very tight. Depending on the quality of your print you might need a few scraping turns with a carpet knife to make it fit closely. You might also nee a drill to expand the drill holes a little. My target was to have a real close fit to avoid backlash which would cause unnecessary higher forces. Because of differences in print quality I took the risk of having to use a drill and a carpet knife for the perfect finish.

Thank you ! now the hard part is to find the springs etc !

I bought mine in the hardware store next door (Germany). They had 4 different springs of the matching size which just differed in the strength and the screws should be available anyway anywhere.