Anet A6/A8 Bed Level Thumbwheel Upgrade

by Area51, published

Anet A6/A8 Bed Level Thumbwheel Upgrade by Area51 May 28, 2017
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Manual bed leveling the Anet A6/A8 is a little awkward and could be made a lot easier. There are some good solutions on the net - I took the best, made modifications and kept it simple.

This solution allows you to cover the entire hotbed with a build plate as you no longer need access to adjusting bolts from the build surface. All adjustment is done with the thumbwheels!

All metal! at the hot end - this allows you to heat up the bed for ABS, Nylon and other high temperature filaments without melting your bed level adjustment.

>> Don't forget, if you like it, please leave a like or a tip... :)

From the kit you will need:

  • 4x Springs
  • 4x Screw M3*30

Additional you will need:

  • 8x M3 Nut (Optional: Use self-locking nuts for thumbwheels)
  • 4x Steel/nylon M3 washer (Optional: I used large, but regular is OK)
  • 4x Spring Cap (Print model)
  • 4x Thumbwheel (Print model)
  • A 3mm or 1/8" drill for stripping M3 thread

Note: To make this bed level upgrade, you need to strip the M3 thread in the Y carriage aluminum frame. This can not be reversed.

If your heatbed has copper traces under the washers, I recommend using nylon washers instead of metal to protect the heating element (eBay Search).

Just follow the photos to assemble.The M3 nuts is a tight fit in the thumbwheels to prevent them falling out.

2018 January 13.: Added thumbwheel for Nylock nuts.

Print Settings

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2 perimeters, 3 top and 2 bottom layers.

Tip: Print all parts at once, this will help the small parts cool between layers and give a better result.

Shown parts is printed in PETG.

My Anet A6/A8 Upgrades

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I had some troubles to press the nuts into the thumbwheels, but everything else went smooth.

I added a m3 metal washer between the frame and the thumbwheel to make it even easier to turn the wheel.

The nuts can have a tight fit into the thumbwheels, depending on the used filament and printer setup.
You can use a screw to pull the nut into place or heat up the nut before inserting.

If the thumbwheels turns too easily, they can unscrew during print and make the bed go out of alignment.

Printed only the thumbwheels for my Chinese i3, they fit perfectly! Just big enough to have some clearance of the mount plate to turn them but not too big to be in the way of print bed movement. Heated up the nuts to insert them. Thanks for the design!

My thumbwheels brokes when I put the M3 nut :(

printed with infill 100% ...

I printed it with 100.35% for x and y (z:100%) and it works fine.

When printing with 100% infill, there is no place for flex when press-fitting the nut.I recommend 25% infill, as this will make a strong part.
Others has suggested heating the nut up to make a perfect fit.

I'm basically using a similar mod. Just without the washer and without the spring cup. So if you don't want to print them: they're not a must. It'll just work with the stock parts + thumbnut + regular nut to fix the screw onto the hotbed.

Comments deleted.

What has the video to do with this upgrade?

Free clicks more traffic to his site=spam

I printed these out over the weekend and the following tip might help if you use PLA.
After printing, I used a pair of long nosed radio pliers to squeeze the nut partially into the thumbwheel. However, this had the effect of warping the thumbwheels somewhat. What I did was to put some boiling water in to a jug and then drop the thumbwheels in the water for a couple of minutes. PLA goes pliable in hot water, so after a couple of minutes I quickly removed each disk (the radio pliers are handy here!) and swiftly squeezed them in a vice to flatten them out and cool them down. You have to be really quick here, as the PLA starts to harden again within 10 seconds or so of removing from the water. Once removed, you'll have a flat thumbwheel and the nut nicely squeezed into the centre.

Would it work by printing 8 of the spring cups and using 4 of those instead of the washers to go against the hotbed?
I hope to be printing these out today - looks like a great workable mod.

The PLA won’t hold up against hotbed. That said, the washers aren’t critical.

The reason for the washer is to protect the heat bed from the end of the spring and fastening nut. If there is no electrical traces where the spring/nut has contact with the heat bed, it can be left out.

Consider that the hot bed gets "hot" and any plastic in contact with it can melt/soften - if replaced, select a material that can withstand the temperatures you will be using. I would recommend nylon.
It is just a small disk with a 1/8" (3-3.5mm) hole and can easily be made from an old credit card or similar...

Thanks. I only use PLA at present, so wondered whether the cups would be fine against the hotbed temperature wise.
To be on the safe side though, I'll source some Nylon washers. Thanks for the design though!

How do you print all parts at once? sorry brand new to this

Just print the file "Bed_Level_All_Parts.stl" it has all parts in one file.

Any chance you could make an stl for m2 screws and nuts?

Are you sure it is M2?

That is a tiny screw for a heat bed, but yes I can make one.

Thank you VERY much!!! This is THEEEE best mod so far! I put the nuts on the end of a screw, then heated with a lighter, then stuck them right where they needed to be. Perfect!!!!!

Thanks a lot for your site and creative ideas. Thank you very much. Please insert the link of our site in the links. Please visit our site https://www.baneh.com

This was a lifesaver for my Tronxy X1, since one of the 4 wingnuts that came with the kit was not tapped properly. Thanks!

As I put this all back together, the thumbwheels would have to be a little less than 2x as thick to allow for the size of the M3 Nylock type nut. The current parts were made with a relatively well behaving Anet A8.
I am going to stretch the STL before I slice it and try for something a little deeper to house the locking nut for a second attempt.

As I understand the problem, the Nylock nut needs a ticker (deeper hole) to fit into the thumbwheel.

Just added a thumbwheel that is 2mm thicker to work with Nylock nuts.

Wonderful! Really easy to print and install. Thank you!

This is really game-changer. Leveling is so much easier.
One warning: washers (in original configuration, springs) rest on heating pcb, protected only by solder mask. This could result in it cutting thin mask and short across heating element, potentially killing power supply or control board. I just used some cardboard between washer and bed, should be ok for PLA. Few layers of kapton would be better.

Good idea the Kapton tape. I have that right there ready to go. Missing all my small drill bits though arrrrrgh :-)

Thank you.
On all the PCB heatbeds I have seen, there is no active copper traces in the corners, only the solder mask. Compared to the original setup, the washer is protecting the heating layer from the sharp edges on the end of the spring.
In my opinion there is no danger of a short and the modification is safer than the original construction - if you want more isolation I would suggest using a nylon washer under the metal washer. Nylon will resist the heat when printing ABS (100C).

It is indeed safer. On my bed traces were definitely under springs, something worth checking for. I'll probably just use thick teflon tape, i'm almost sure i had some .2mm somewhere.

I would recommend nylon washers. They are cheap and easy to get on eBay: https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=m3+nylon+washer

Teflon tape will work, as it can withstand the heat without softening - If it is pluming tape, you can wrap it on a metal M3/M4 washer to keep the shape and use that.

This was one of the best things I have done. There was a guy on Anets I was watching on youtube that drilled his bed screw out and raved about how much better it was. I actually had an issue where my thread got crossed on the bed screw and had no choice but to drill it out, best mod ever, never looked back. This one is a winner

Awesome. I was just thinking about doing this myself and then though, "Someone must have this on Thingiverse already...


Do you need to do anything to the top of the bolt to stop it freely turning as you try to adjust it?

I would assume that with a self-locking nut it would just spin the bolt rather than adjusting.

The bolt is fixed with the M3 nut under the hotbed (covered by the spring), this prevent bolt from turning when using the adjusting wheel. See photos.

Hi, nice upgrade ! I wish i had a drill right now :p
Other thing, what is the caramel colored tape/surface on the bed ? It looks like the adhesive around the cables on the extruder.
Is is working well ? I'm currently using the classic adhesive paper tape but i still have to heat up to 260 for the first ABS layer :/

Thank you.
The tape on the hotbed is Kapton tape - good for ABS print. I plan to replace it with a PEI sheet.
With ABS slurry it works well for ABS printing, but PEI can be used "as is" and works with a lot of other filament types.

my 4th print ever and it is fantastic. It only took trying to level the bed twice for me to search for a better way. This is it.

This works great! It is very nice to not have to use a screwdriver to level the bed. Thanks!

Great mod, i'm doing this now. One suggestion, you can use M3 spring/lock washers instead of the nylon locking nuts to help lock the thumb screw from moving inadvertently. The M3 lock nuts are typically bigger height wise and may have problems sticking in your thumb wheel since they are a little thin. Overall great design, thanks!!

damn i dont hjaver a drill

Aluminium is soft - You'll find a way :-)

great design. used it for a week and leveling is much easier now. thanx

Thank you for the feedback :-)

Do you use the stock springs of the printer? And why M4 bolts, are M3 not enough?
Thanks for the feedback.

I use the printer kit springs and bolts (M3), not new M4.

So the stock springs and M3-30 screws from the A8 work with this?

Only tried with Anet A6, but I expect the A8 to be the same. Photos shows stock kit springs and M3 screws.

the fit for the nuts was so tight I couldnt get 2 of them in, but heating the opening up with a lighter made it soft and I could push the nut right in.

great mod, works very well!

I just heated the nut with a lighter and pushed it into place. Great tip.

Thank you.
Depending on filament type and slicer used, the fit could be too tight.
Using heat to fit the nut is a great solution, as you did. Making the model 2-5% larger before print is another solution.

Comments deleted.


thanks for the post

i have a question, why there is a need to drill the 0.3 mm hole?, i thought we are using the stock screws here, why there is a need to make the hole wider?

forgive my ignorance :)

In this design the M3 screw is locked to the heat bed with a nut. For the bed leveling to work, the screw must be able to move freely through the threaded hole in the y carriage. Therefore the threading must be stripped with the drill (3mm or 1/8").

Hope this help understand.

Drill the carriage, not the hot plate, right?

Yes, using 3mm drill to strip M3 thread in y-carriage. The hole should just be big enough for the bolt to move freely up/down, not side to side.

You can even improve that with self-locking M3 nuts. Other than that - great idea.

Thank you.
The pressure from the spring combined with the friction between y-carriage and thumbwheel should prevent the bed from "self adjusting".
But as you point out, the regular M3 nuts in the thumbwheel can be replaced with self locking M3 nuts (with nylon).