CR-10 Ultimate Z-Box: The ideal drag chain + X-axis stepper damper bracket + wire management solution

by superkris, published

CR-10 Ultimate Z-Box: The ideal drag chain + X-axis stepper damper bracket + wire management solution by superkris Mar 3, 2018


This is my 1.0 release of my Utimate Z-box the the Crealitly CR-10. It combines my idea of the bracket for the dual X damper with stevenfayers drag chain design.

Currently printed in a 2 tone white and black design, but of course any colors can be used.

The 1.0 design has the following features:

  • Drag chain
  • Damper bracket for dual X dampers
  • Wire management system
  • Filament sensor
  • Hotend LED

I will soon add a cover without filament sensor mount but with filament guide.

Some features are optional. I do recommend this mod for people that have (very basic) knowledge of electronics. Depending of the features you are going to use, you will need to do some basic soldering. I have not tested with the wire extension kit, so i'm not sure if it will fit my design. Personally i prefer to cut the wires, and extend them with some extra AWG24 wire. Just solder it, and add some heat shrink.

What you will need to print:

  • 1 pce Z-Box_Housing_V1.0.stl
  • 1 pce Z-Box_Cover_V1.0.stl
  • 1 pce Filament_Sensor_V1.0.stl
  • 9 pcs Dragchain_A_type_V1.0.stl
  • 9 pcs Dragchain_B_type_V1.0.stl
  • 1 pce Bottom_Bracket_V1.0.stl
  • 1 pce Bottom_Bracket_cover_V1.0.stl

Besides these printed parts you will need the following materials:

  • 11 pcs M3x12 screws (shorter can work too)
  • 4 pcs M3x8 screws
  • 2 pcs M3x6 screws
  • 2 pcs NEMA17 stepper dampers (6mm thick)
  • 4 pcs M3x5 screws (often supplied with dampers)
  • 2 pcs M3x40 screws (for mounting of 2nd damper to stepper)
  • 2 pcs M5x50 (optional, the original bots are just 3-4mm short, but work)
  • 4 pcs Hammer head M5 nut.
  • 4 pcs M5x8 screws

Optional electronics for Filament sensor

  • General purpose limit switch. Available on aliexpress. Check out photos.
  • Thin wire to hook up switch.

Optional electronics for hotend LED.

  • 1 pce 5mm LED, red, 20mA
  • 1 pce resistor approx 600 ohm (anything between 500 and 1000 will do)

Optional electronics for hotend terminal

  • A total of 2x8 positions PCB screw terminal with 5,08 mm pitch
  • Prototype PCB with 2.54m pitch holes and a minimum size of 50mm x 25mm

Mounting of box:
1) Remove stepper (if you already have a single damper, forward to step 4)
2) Place damper on front of stepper using the the supplied screws
3) Use brass distance bolts to mount stepper. The other 2 distance bolts are not needed
4) remove 2 screws from the back of the stepper, and use M3x40 screws to mount damper
5) Screw back screws of V-slot wheels so the nut comes loose, or replace with M5x50.
6) Mount Z-box on stepper using the V-wheel screws + nuts, and mount damper with M3x6 to the Z-box (there are holes in the back for this purpose)

Mounting of bottom bracket:
1) use hammer heads + M5x8 bolts to mount to frame. See pictures for position
2) the hole on next to the bed, can be used to route the Z stepper cables

Drag chain assembly:
1) I highly recommend using braided sleeving around the wires in your dragchain.
2) Place all wire in the Z box in the right position. You will need to cut the hotend cable.
3) Snap the A and B type links together around the cable startring at the Z-box housing's integrated drag chain link. Alternate between A and B type to close chain. I should run very smooth. If it doesn't, you may have connected the wrong links with each other.
4) connect the last link bottom bracket.

Wire management
1) The extruder cable goes trough the square hole in front of the stepper connector
2) The X limit switch cable goes trough square hole at the near the bottom.
3) The hotend cable goed trough the round 11mm hole and should be routed under the PCB

When done, use a cable tie at the bottom of theZ-box to lock the cable in place.

Hotend connection terminal:
1) Cut PCB to a size of 50mm x 25mm (the 25mm can be a bit more or less)
2) Make 2 rows of 8 connector and solder them to the PCB back to back
3) Use solder (and wire) to connect the terminals together as shown in photo
4) Place PCB in housing. If it doesnt fit, sand it down a bit.
5) I recommend marking the connections with a sticker of marker pen.
6) Connect wires coming from drag chain to the back side of the terminal block
7) Connect wires coming from hotend to front side of the terminal block.

  • The (white) thermistor wires have no polarity
  • The (red) hotend wires do have a polarity, but switching them doesn't matter.
  • The fan wires do have polarity, and should be connected correctly.

Hotend LED
1) Cut the pins of the LED to approx 10mm
2) Solder the resistor to 1 of the pins. 600 ohm is a good value. Increase value for less light
3) Solder wires to the other pin of the LED, and the other side of the resistor. 10cm is plenty.
4) Use isolation material (like heat shrink) to cover any bare conductors
5) Connect to the back of the the screw terminal block on the hotend wire.
4) Push the LED into the hole on the front. Use glue if necessary.

  • LED's have a polarity, so if the LED doesn't work while the hotend is heating, try switching the wires on the terminal block. If that doesn't work you probably have a bad connection, or the hotend isnt heating.

Filament sensor
1) Route the wire/cable coming from the drag chain behind the terminal block
2) Route the wire/cable trough the square hole in the Z-box cover
3) Route the wire/cable trough the square hole in the filament sensor and underneath bridge
4) Solder the wires to the Normally Open pin and the common terminal.
5) use 4 pcs M4x8 scres to mount the sensor to the Z-box cover
6) Place to lengths of PTFE tubing in both sides of the sensor. Its important you put them all the way trough (8mm and 18mm) or the filament will wear out the sensor. Depending on the performance of your printer it can be hard to get them in. If so, carefully smooth out the holes with a small screwdriver or a long m3 screw. It the PTFE is to losse, use a little bit of glue.

  • The used llimit switch is the most standard type i could find on Aliepress. Check out the pictures for more info.
  • My CR-10 does not have a stock filament sensor. I will be connecting it to my Raspberry Pi running octoprint in a later stage.
  • In my case i will be using the NO pin (normally open) but i dont know if other the original sensor may be connected as NC (normally closed).
  • There may also be the need of some resistors depending on what you are using now. Copy the original design, or use that PCB by removing the switch, and solder the new limit switch to it using some wire.
  • There are kits available to add such a sensor to the original motherboard of the CR-10 (non S). I guess these could work with a little modification
  • I will not be advising you on how to implement the sensor output on your CR-10.

Print Settings

Printer Brand:













All parts are printed in PLA with a 0.4 nozzle @ 0.44 line width and .22 layer height.

Supports are NOT needed for most of this print. Only the chain link in the Z-box needs a little bit of spoort to print. I suggest using the experimental CURA tree supports. It worked great for me.

Basically all pats should be printed with the big flat side laying down.

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Hi Kris,

really nice design.

I'd like to add it to my CR-10 but Z-Box_Housing_V1.0.stl crashes S3D while it is calculating infill. I've processed the STL through Netfabb but that didn't help.

Could you send me or post a link to your Fusion 360 files so I can try to fix it? As I'd like to make some changes to the filament sensor and add support for the hotend wire, it would as well make my life easier, if I could work with your native Fusion 360 files instead of fiddling with a BREP generated from the STL.

Hi, like i wrote as a reply to another commend. I dont mind sharing the fusion 360 files, and i think it would be great if you want to remix things. Just pm me you email and i will sent you the files.

I must warn you, my Fusion 360 file is a bit messy as this is only my 2nd 3D design ever made. There are some issues with the PC hanging for a couple of seconds for certain edits. I think its probably something in the timeline. Disabling history will probably fix it.

If you want to publish any remixes/edits of my design, i prefer you only upload the edited STL and not the whole project. In the description you can tell what the edit is all about, and link to my thing for the rest of the files and instructions. In return i will add you mod to the start of my description. This way we keep al the info and files in a central place. Just sent me a PB with your email adres, and i'll sent you the files.

I'm curious what ideas you have about the filament sensor and the hotend wire support. Personally i dont need a hotend wire support, because i'm using the updated extruder that creality provided with the 99 cent upgrade kit. It already contains such a hotend wire support as you can see in the video.

Sorry if you are having troubles with slicing. It worked flawless for me in CURA 3.2. I do recommend printing at 100% infill because some scews will put a lot of stress on the plastic.

Anyway, its important that the STL works for everyone. I rendered a new file with more details. Can you test and tell me if it helps? You can find the STL attached below.

The attached file slizes nicely in S3D, thanks. Have not tried to print it as my CR-10 is currently partially disassembled. It will move on top of a rolling table with the control box underneath the printer. So your Z-box will be handy.

I'm not sure I'll use the PCB screw terminals (hard to find) or just use JST connectors ( JST now has wire-to-wire connectors too) except for the wire to the hotend heater, where I might use a 2-pin Molex connector. Where did you cut your hotend cable? I'd probably keep the cable between the hotend and the Z-box intact and put new longer cables between the Z-box and the control box. Need longer cables anyways as the control box is now further away from the printer.

Sent you a pm for the Fusion 360 files. I won't upload the project neither your's nor any changes I'll make, only STLs as you requested.

I'm curious what other ideas for upgrades you might have up your sleeves. ;-)

For some reason the reply i posted here yesterday seems to be gone... I'll try again.

Happy to hear the "HD" STL file works well. I'll update my thing with this file. Thanks for your feedback!

The PCB terminals should be very easy to find. General sources like Aliexpress, Ebay, and Amazon should have LOTS of different options. Any distributors of electronic parts like Farnell, RS, Conrad, or other local sources will over a much wider range.

There are countless brands and solutions to choose from. The only requirement is that they fit the PCB you are using (usually meaning the pitch is 5.08mm if you using prototyping board). Also the maximum height is 20MM if i'm not mistaking. You can use spring clamps, or scew clamps.

Just a few examples:

I did not cut the hotend wires at any specific length other than getting them in the right spot within the housing.

Its fine if you want to upload the edited STL's to a new thing. I even recommend its. Thats what this whole open source community is all about. I just request that you dont reupload the whole project just because a edit in the filament sensor for example. In such case just upload the edited filamen sensor, and refer to my project for the rest of the files. I'll put a link to you mod at the top of my description.


are the chain links from https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2757810 compatible? Is there a chance to add other filament sensors housings, im using this type of sensor https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2763796

thank u for this design :)

Creality CR-10 Z axis cable drag chain
Filament sensor for Creality CR-10 using Raspberry Pi Octoprint


The chain links i used are a 1:1 copy of the mentioned design, so no problem there.

I see no problem adding other filament sensor versions to the design, but they should have extra value. I like the desing you linked too, but i dont like it doest use PTFE tubing to guide the filament. This can causes wear to the sensor. I also think my version with little wheel on the switch might be better, but i'm not sure it there will be a read difference there.

I do not have a sensor of the type described in your link available, so i cant really create a new design based on it. However, if you already implemented that type of sensor, it can be a very easy fix. Just remove the switch from the PCB, and solder 3 wires to the pads. Connect these wires to the switch i used. The output of both switches is the same. The pcb can fit nicely in my Z-box housing.


thanks for quick reply!

I have modified the filamentsensor enclosure in tinkercad to fit the sensor mentioned above. Also ive thinking about to do this for a hinged version. Is there a chance to get fusion files for sensorenclosure and housing?

Also modified the housing to get the xlr cable through. Printing atm. But not enough time to mount all this weekend.

U agree to remixes?


Nice to see you are already adding to my design. That what's reprap and thingiverse is all about!

I dont mind sharing the Fusion360 files, but as this was my 2nd design ever made, they area bit messy and do have some problems with the PC hanging on certain edits. This may be prevented by turning of history

I dont mind remixes at all, but i do like to keep this project in 1 central place. So if you want to upload a slightly remixed version of my design, or added features like a other type of filament switch, i suggest the following: Only make a new thing (remix) of the edited STL and refer to my thing for the rest of the files and instructions. In return, i will add a link you your modification at the start of my post. Does this work for you?

If you still want it, please give my your email so i can sent you the fusion 360 file..

Hi, atm im fine :) Let me see when all is mounted next week. If i need the F360 files after this, i send u a message.

I still linked ur design at: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2757823 :)

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