Printrbot Simple X upgrade.

by iamjonlawrence, published

Printrbot Simple X upgrade. by iamjonlawrence Feb 25, 2014


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Increase your X travel to GT2 belt drive and 165mm print area while keeping the stock print plate. Larger area is capable with a custom plate.


  • Well calibrated printer.
  • Ability to print 98 mm x 98 mm (use "Orientated" files), or print 125 mm length (use standard files). I installed my Y-Axis No-Sag upgrade first, then printed parts for this one (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:242185).
  • 8mm linear rods 87 mm longer than the hole center distance on your print bed. For the stock bed, that would be 254 mm long rods, which gives you 165 mm print area.

2014-03-10: Updated Rod ends to increase thickness next to bed mounting bolts.

2014-03-19, RevB: Updated Rod Ends to increase thickness next to belt slot. Updated RodEnd-Mirror to move belt anchor away from Simple 2014 fan. The stock fan should clear nicely now.

2014-05-13: Added a couple files to allow for any length rod to be used. By installing "RodEnd-Mirror-Mid.stl" at the edge of your bed, and "RodEnd-Mirror-Overhang.stl" at the end of your rods, the rods can extend well past the edge of the print platform. Pass the belt thru the Mid part and anchor on the Overhang portion. This way the belt tension will pull on the ends of the rods and not bind the bed leveling screws.

Design inspired by ahaer http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:215294


Assembly Tips:

  • Thread belt around timing pulley and between bearings BEFORE mounting motor plate on machine.
  • To get the belt length, secure one end of the belt in a rod end part. Temporarily snap the rod ends onto the 8mm rods and thread your belt thru the other end, and the belt tensioner. Mark where the belt comes thru the back of the belt tensioner and cut it about 15mm longer than that mark. Remove one of the belt ends to give you some working room. Fold the belt at your mark, wrap around a 6mm piece of filament, and insert into the belt tensioner. Re-install and tie-wrap both rod ends in place. Tension belt.

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Silly question but will this work with the 1405? Are these files included in the 1405 x axis upgrade? Thanks

If I were to do the X and Y upgrades, and make my printer say... a whopping 400mmx400mm, how could I install more than one HBP? If I made it 406x406mm, I could theoretically use 4 8x8 HBPs together. Is this possible? Does it seem like a bad idea? I would mostly use it for long length prints, not giant things, so if I had to put screws in the middle that would be ok. Do you use anything on top of you HBP? How good is acrylic, (I'd probably throw buildtak ontop of it), because I could cut that into a 16x16in aka 406x406mm and engrave a bit out where the HBPs need room for screws. Thinking about it, I'm sure you do have something on top of the HBP hot plate, so I guess I'm just wondering your thoughts on acrylic with buildtak, since I could make that work much easier than anything else, as well as the best way to connect 4 8x8 HBPs from an electronic standpoint? Thanks!

I have a Printrbot Simple Makers 1405, if i print these out, and get some precision rods, will i be able to use the full build platform? can the precision rods be more that 87 mm longer than the bed?

If you have the 1405 Makers, then use the ends posted here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:376515
There the rods can be longer since they go thru the ends and are clamped in place.

1405 Simple X Ends

((Bed only travels 100mm)) I made a custom aluminum bed, 6 inches x 12 inches, but my Printrbot will only travel the original 100 millimeters. I changed the settings in Repetier-Host V 1.0.3 (Config>Printer Settings). Are there settings elsewhere or do I need to change the firmware?

You will have to tell the Printer itself the new print area. Repetier does not communicate the print area settings to the printer.

In Repetier on the manual tab, there is a box at the top labeled G Code. This is where you manually enter commands directly to the Printer. At the bottom of the screen there is a bar "Show in Log" grab the divider just above this and drag it up. This expand the command log window so you can see the commands going back and forth between Repetier and the Printer.

Type M501 in the G Code window and press enter.
You should see a list of codes with settings. These are the firmware settings in your board. Scroll down this list and you should see one that says M211 X100 Y100 Z100, or something similar. This means the current print volume is X = 100mm, Y = 100mm, Z = 100mm. To change this simply enter in the GCode window M211 X300 Y150 and press enter. This will temporary set your new volume to X=300mm, Y=150mm and Z will be left at whatever it was before. Test your new volume and see if it works. If all is well enter M500 in the G Code window to permanently write the new values to the board. Enter M501 to confirm they have been saved correctly.

Note: If you loose power before saving, just like any other computer program, your new settings will be lost. Don't forget the M500 command.

Have you experienced any problems with the heat coming from the X motor ?
Can the heat transfer through the screws to the bearing caps ?
Thank you

I just recently had my X plate fail, but I was pushing way past the machine limits so I take full responsibility for that one. After this fail I added a fan to blow into the box behind the Z motor and up to the X. That area is just ripe for overheating and keeping things cool is always a good idea.

Thank you for sharing this upgrade, just made it and i love it !

any news about the same design like "double precision ?"

Not at this time. Competing priorities, and the paying job wins. :(
Hang in there, I will get to it one of these days.

Forgive me for being thick headed, but what is the "overhang" for?

Could you add the "clamp" solution to these aswell? Like you did with your 1405 thing or your dual precision bed.
Or will the 1405 "arms" work for the 2014 simple aswell?
The clamp design seems to be superior to the current design here

If I have the new 1405 simple with a GT2 belt already, can I just print the ends (Don't upgrade to GT2 Belts Again)?

doesn't the rod end mirror mid interfere with the 2014 fan like the first parts did before you created rod end revb mirror.

I have been having some issues with the hex nut holes. They keep cracking when tightening. I got it working now but broke 4 other sets of parts! is anyone else having this issue?

I put the screws in the other way.
So the nuts will be on the bed, and the screwheads in the hole.
You might lose some printing area, since the nozzle might collide with the hex-nuts.
Also you will only be able to adjust your bed, if you can access the arms from below

Actually I put them in this was as well. It allows for longer adjustment screws without hitting the frame. Yes, a pain to adjust so I finally broke down and purchased a 5.5mm open end wrench. Makes all the difference when the old way was with needle nose pliers...

nice to know
that's why I wanted an altered version of the duct aswell (losing 2cm in x direction because of it hitting the nuts&screws before the nozzle does)

I had a similar problem but only on the right side. i plastic welded them back together and they are holding just fine. i have printed up new ones and have used a small flat file to make the "nut" holes a little wider to stop this from happening again. good luck

what are the bearings your using for the motor mount? thanks steve.

They are 608z bearings. The motor parts and better documentation can be found on the GT2 X Thing: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:194686http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

Timing Belt X GT2, Printrbot Simple V2

Could you update / add right rod ends where the rod can go all the way through? That way any length of rods will be usable. Movement in that direction is prevented by the bed anyway. I used a drill to do that, but your RevB version has way too much material after the hole's end.
Also my hex nuts crushed the hex holes, now I got hex nuts stuck in round holes

Done. I added a couple files. One to mount your bed to that will slide along the rods, and another to anchor/tension the belt at the end of your rods.

Is it possible that the new center part will collide with the 2014 fan? If so, could you remake the collision-free remake?

awesome. I guess your design is now the best x upgrade. I'll comment / post a 'made' once I built it

I didn't even think about this until I started the print, but will this work with the XL aluminum plate with a 4.5x6 heated bed? It looks like nothing is actually contacting the bed and I did see your photo with a heated bed and the wooden buildplate, but I'm curious about how much the aluminum may act to effectively melt the PLA parts simply due to proximity...particularly when running around 110C for ABS prints.
Thanks again for all the excellent designs, Jon!

If you are using the aluminum bed, you will get some heat conduction thru the bed leveling screws. Unfortunately, I can't offer much advise here, short of print a spare set of parts just in case. If you are printing ABS, then I would strongly recommend printing your machine parts out of ABS.

is anyone having any issues with the belt slipping off the belt when they increase the lenth of the x axis? unless I losten the belt to what seems like way too loose the belt will pop off at the ends of the boards movement. it seems to print ok when they are loose but I found the quality was not as good. I was thinking about doubling up on the bearings to make them wider? they just roll of the front of the bearing the closer they get to the end of the belt. Any other ideas. ?

I've had issues with this too on both axis upgrades, my only guess is that calibration between the different parts is slightly out, I'm going to try reprinting everything when I get a chance

I ended up making guards to replace the bearing caps that hold the belt in if they try to slip off.. that seems to be working great so far.

Do you have a file for the guards that you can upload? I'm having the same problem and was thinking of a similar solution.

Maybe I'm missing the obvious, but what does the light green thing above the motor mount do?

ginnpc is partially correct. It cools the Y-Axis motor and the Rrintrboard itself. It is part of http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:187380http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...
I put it in when troubleshooting quality issues on my machine. I wanted to rule out overheating of the motor drivers causing missed steps. Since then I saw no reason to remove it.

Extruder Cooling, Printrbot Simple V2

It's a fan mount directed towards the Y-Axis motor.

That little motor gets insanely hot, which is not surprising since the other motors are relatively large and this small one has to move the entire y carriage across.

I came up with a really great solution to cooling that motor... first turn down the pot obviously (the lowest you can go without it slipping) I pulled apart a broken ATX power supply. they all seem to have the same type of heatsync. they are long and thin. I cut my to size and mounted a 40mm fan to it.. and my motor is cool to the touch at all times. I was really worried that it would softened the PLA on JON's y axis upgrade since the entire mount was printed. take a look. http://www.thingiverse.com/make:73384http://www.thingiverse.com/mak... it is the last two photos in this build...!

Printrbot Simple, 300mm Y Axis-No Sag!

I am having trouble tracking the comments... I see that you just put out a REVB for the end pieces? they look a bit longer, What is the advantage? Thanks

In the thing info I give an overview of the revisions. The longer RevB parts are for the 2014 simple where the side mounted cooling fan would hit the belt mount (right hand side). The RevB will work for both versions if there is any doubt.
Those with the long motor shaft may still have problems at this point.

I've printed all the parts. The motor mount fits perfectly and the captive nut slots only needed a few strokes with the file to let them slide in, so my calibration must be pretty good. Problem is the rod ends piece (very top of the print where the bed screws in) clashes with the bearing caps and then with the motor shaft. It means my X end stop is a long way from being hit. What have I done wrong?

I've printed the RevA version... I'll replace with RevB once I get a working printer again.

PS The Y upgrade is in and it appears to work great on my Simple 2014. Thanks.

mine clashed with the motor shaft but not the bearing caps. I wonder if my motor mount was shorter than yours thus allowing the clearance.

I have uploaded a section view of the bearings, caps, and end piece. By the model it should clear by 2.4mm. Hopefully it may help to show the intended arrangement.
Sounds like something else has changed between my printer and the 2014 version. This is the 2nd time somebody has mentioned a longer motor shaft. Here is a link to a similar motor issue on the GT2 belt upgrade http://www.printrbottalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=113&t=5697#p42861http://www.printrbottalk.com/f... .
I will have to dig into the 2014 dxf files to see if they moved the bearing locations closer to the motor. Give me a couple days, and I will get back to you on that one. I know, no help for you at the moment, but the printers are constantly evolving and it is quite a challenge to keep up with all the variations.

I have the motors from the original printrbot simple beta and the X motor is larger and has the longer shaft, it sounds like the 2014 model came with the larger motors as well. I think the easiest way to deal with it will be to modify the wooden base plate to move the x motor back a bit and add some sort of spacer. I don't know why the bearing caps would be an issue though.

Slic3r is saying the object is not manifold on the mirrored end. Any suggestions?

Fixed with Netfabb all is well

"8mm linear rods 89 mm longer than the desired print area" is slightly unhelpful. The rod size should be cut relative to the mounting holes on your bed. I ended up having to cut my rods twice. They ended up actually being 71mm longer than the hole centers on the bed.

Good point, the print area is not directly related to how to mount the thing. I will update the description accordingly.
By my measurements, the rods should be 87mm longer then the hole centers (43.5mm each side). You should be able to measure the distance from the center of the screw mount hole to where the end of the rod stops. This should measure 43.5mm. Can you check this measurement on your part?

Man i knew i would have to take my printer apart to do this but i didn't think i would have to take it apart as much as i have had too. Oh how naive i was LOL. it was a bit of a pain to fit the motor mount. I had to do a lot of filing. I guess my printer was not as well calibrated as i thought it was. But i also had to file the toothed pulley from printrbot. the one that came with the belt. I was really surprised that it didn't just slip right onto the motor shaft. And it was a bit of a trick to get belt pulley and bearing all together. I guess i should have read the instruction first LOL. Anyway i am past that and now the only thing holding me up is that the nuts keep slipping out of the wooden parts...now where did i leave that tube of super glue :D

Hi, do I need to buy a pulley for this or I only need to buy the rods? The project looks great.

I haven't completed the documentation yet. For the timing belt, pulley, and hardware please see the GT2 upgrade http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:194686http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

Timing Belt X GT2, Printrbot Simple V2

The wall next to the belt hole is pretty thin. I don't have a problem with it breaking right now, but i can see it happening in the future

I updated the files to add some material in that location. Also extended the right hand side to clear the extruder fan. See parts RodEndRevB.stl and RodEndRevB-Mirror.stl

I know what your talking about. i thought about that too but decided that i didn't think it would break. It seems as though the pressures will be distributed elsewhere. I think it is just there to keep the belt from slipping out the back.

if you decide to adjust anything further in this design i would advise you to thicken the wall where the nut goes that holds the bed...if that makes any sense. while trying to put the nut in my part split.

QQ for you, when i print these parts can i use infill of 20% or should i print them with %100 filled so they are solid? thanks for the great design, i will let you know once i get mine upgraded

I print PLA with around 20% for all my parts and have never had an issue. This requires you have good layer adhesion, not always easy with all filament makers.
Backup parts are certainly recommended.

I printed with 40% infill and it seems to be holding up just fine with enough strength.

Make sure to print back-up pieces because I've already broken the bearing mount and luckily i had an extra motor plate.

Cool Design! Do you happen to have these files in Solidworks format? I am not ready to go to belts yet and would like to try my hand at not using the zip ties.

I am happy to share the STL files under "Creative Commons - Attribution." If you have SoildWorks, you can import the STL and run FeatureWorks to recognize the features.
If you are looking for the machine, the model can be downloaded from the following: http://printrbot.com/2013/08/14/download-complete-3d-inventor-files-for-both-the-printrbot-simple-and-printrbot-plus/http://printrbot.com/2013/08/1...
Hope this helps.

Is support material absolutely needed for this?

No. No support needed for any of my designs.

I love that!
Really great way of thinking "printer-friendly"

Thank you.
I keep all overhangs to 45 degrees, give a little clearance under bridges assuming there will be some sag, and have developed some other tricks to get good results on bridging.

Good luck, and happy printing.

Hi Jon,
I have a (currently) stock V2 simple - i have been able to nail down my x, y, and z calibrations but my inside holes always come out too small - do you think I could print these and drill out the holes to size and have it work properly. I think with the gt2 upgrade I could get better control of the issue (hopefully).

As long as the distance between holes is accurate, then you shouldn't have a problem. The nice thing about these designs is you don't have to modify any of the original components. If things don't go as planned you can always return to the stock configuration to reprint parts or try something else. No harm, no foul.

I'll give it a try then. Thanks!

It's like you can read my mind! I was looking for exactly something like this. My printer is already printing the parts. Thanks again!

Hi iamjonlawrence,
Is it possible to print these parts with Printrbot simple? I just bought it and according to my knowledge, the printrbot can only print parts that are not over 100x100mm. Those seem bigger than the bed.

Use the "Oriented" parts which are rotated to allow printing on a 98 x 98mm print area. You will not be able to print with a skirt, so just manually extrude a little filament right before starting the print.
Since this is a new machine, make sure you have taken the time to accurately calibrate your X and Y axis, and are able to print without the corners lifting off the print bed.

I like your rod attachment method. Much easier and quicker. Your setup should also be much stiffer too.
One question: how are you handling bed leveling or is it no longer needed with your new yz plate?

Added a shot of the leveling spring.

I am using the stock bed springs, with captive nuts on the bottom side. I'll get a shot of it tonight, but nothing different than the original Printrbot design. When time allows, I will make a formal drawing, material list, etc...
The new YZ plate made RE-leveling a thing of the past.