Replicator 2x Upgrade: Indexable Print Bed Leveling Nobs

by tyleryoungblood, published

Replicator 2x Upgrade: Indexable Print Bed Leveling Nobs by tyleryoungblood Apr 21, 2013
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It's easy to lose track of a perfectly level print bed. A quarter turn to one leveling nob here ... an eighth of a turn there to compensate for problems from print to print ... and whamo! Suddenly you need to re-level your print bed. Wouldn't it be nice if you could get things level, and then set some sort of indicator to tell you what orientation the nobs need to be returned to in order to reset the platform back to its original height? Well, now you can!

Please remember to "LIKE" if you dig it!


Shells: 1
Infill: 10%
Layer height: .1mm shown in pictures, but .2mm should work fine.

The concept is simple. These nobs press-fit onto the existing nobs used for leveling the print bed. But these printable nobs have a needle that indicates their orientation (state of rotation).

Once you've installed the nobs and leveled your print bed it's easy to use your finger (or fingernail) to rotate the needle on each nob so that it's pointing toward you. Once all 3 needles are pointing in the same direction you've locked in your "level" state. Any adjustments to the nobs is easily reversible returning the bed back to it's original level state.

Why would this be useful? Sometimes my print bed bends slightly after it fully warms up. A quarter turn on the right front nob fixes this and returns the bed to level. But once cool the nob needs to be returned back to it's original position. So switching between PLA (cool bed) and ABS (heated bed) requires this adjustment.

It's also sometimes necessary to raise or lower your platform by .05mm or so to get that first layer to stick. It's nice to know that a quarter turn works perfectly for this. But how do you tell if you've turned each nob the same amount? By making sure all three needles are pointing in the same direction.

It's also nice to be able to level your build plate with Kapton, and then turn the nobs a half turn when you need to print in PLA (and have thus applied a layer of painters tape over your Kapton). Once you're done with your PLA print you can remove your painters tape, return the nobs to their normal position, and resume printing in ABS.

To use, print 3 nobs and 3 needles. Make sure the needle is printed in a bright color like white or yellow. It's dark under the print bed! I printed my nobs in orange and my needles in black. I should have done it the other way around for better visibility.

Once printed, remove the two single support rings from the nob. These should pop off with very little effort. The purpose of the rings was to prevent the plastic from drooping during the print.

Press the nob covers onto the nob. It's convenient to use a smooth jaw vise for this, but you can also use a pair of smooth parallel jaw pliers - which are by far my favorite pliers ever!

Parallel Jaw Pliers:

If you use pliers YOU MUST USE parallel jaw pliers and allow the jaws to span the nob. Otherwise the nob will slip and the pliers will bend/deform the sidewall of the nob.

Once you've pressed the metal nob into the printed plastic nob the final step is to install the needle. This is a press-fit. The needle should slip over the nob with no issues.

When looking at the underside of the print bed, turning the nobs clockwise increases the distance between the nozzle and the build platform. Turning them counter clockwise decreases the distance.

Please let me know what you folks think! Feel free to tweak or improve. Sketchup and STL files included.

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Fantastic... now my makerbot is 0.034% self made :D hahaha.

I don't use the indexer, but the origional nobs were a pain to turn... this is so much better, thanks.

Glad you liked it! Yea, it makes the nobs a lot easier to turn!

I'm having the same issue. The knobs print fine but the needle only prints what appears to be the needle, not the base that attaches to the cylinder.

I used Makerware to slice and had no issues. What are you using to slice? You could always open the sketchup file and export from scratch.

Did you try the skinforge slicer too? ;) ... The knobs also printed better for me using skinforge.

For some reason I can't print the needle from makeware. It shows up as dark grey and wont export

I used Makerware with no problems when I originally printed it. No raft, just the needle - used the settings listed at the top. It's been a few months, were you ever able to print it or did you give up?

I never did get it to print using the latest version of makerware. The needle is still shaded out

Finally got around to fixing this little needle. Looks like the problem was a missing bottom from the model and some cracks around the top. I uploaded the manifold model as a remix. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:191247http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

Replicator 2x Upgrade: Indexable Print Bed Leveling Needle
by furicks

Did you try the skinforge slicer? ... I had better results with that.

This is a really great idea. I'll definitely be printing a set of these.

Thanks! Try a different color combination and see if you can get a better photo than mine. It's really dark under the print bed.