There are two reasons I installed a second z-axis; one reason was to balance the weight of a direct drive extruder I planned to install. The other reason was to balance the weight of the x-axis in general. I noticed in December that the axis was lower on the right side of the machine by about 4 mm. Considering that my first 3D printer was about 13 inches wide with dual z-axes, I was always leery about having a printer with a wider width and one z-axis. I suppose this upgrade was inevitable.
This installation was easy, thanks to Chris Riley. His video explained every step well. I just had one issue; the screws attaching the holding bar to the motor. I could not get a clear view of the screws in the video and was unsure about the correct size. There were two sets. After looking at the video posted by the manufacturer of my kit HICTOP, I was able to figure out the proper size. You may ask why I didn’t follow HICTOP’s video instead of Chris’. My answer would be, Chris made a very good video and it was for generic z-axis upgrade kits. That is all.
Chris recommends directing the Z axes all the way to the top and then homing them. My axes did not reach home. The motor began making a noise when it reached the bottom and I turned the machine off. I was concerned that the screws provided for attaching the motor (see photo to right) were not flat enough and that turned out to be the case. I ordered a case of screws from Amazon and waited another week. After receiving the kit, I replaced screws with M3 12s from the kit.
The last instruction Chris gave in his video was to grease the lead screw. I was going to skip this step, but found it was essential. When I moved the axes up and down after replacing the screws, the lead screw squeaked and the x-axis gantry did not go all the way up. I applied some machine oil to a paper towel and wiped around the lead screw from top to bottom. I tested it again and it operated as it should. Mission completed.
I installed a Micro Swiss Direct Drive Extruder a few days ago. Since I watched a video before buying the extruder, I knew the extruder motor would be stationed on the x-axis. I decided then that a second lead screw was needed and installed it the day before installing the extruder. There will be a post on that installation as well.
The extruder installation was uncomplicated until after it was completed. I asked in a Facebook group I belong to (it was the weekend and the business was closed) about how to get the extruder to move. I wanted to check if it was working properly. A wonderfully nice gentleman assisted me right away by telling me to heat the hot end to filament temperature. That piece of information was missing from the instructional video and manual.
Something I figured out on my own was that filament loads differently from the MK8 extruder that comes with the printer. With the MK8 extruder, filament must be pushed into the nozzle. When I attempted to do this with the direct drive extruder, I could not get it to enter the compartment below the gears. Here, again, some additional information would have saved me some frustration. I recalled my experience printing on a Prusa MK2 at a maker place over a year ago and realized trying to push the filament to the nozzle was not going to work. I tried manually pushing the filament to a point between the extruder gears and advancing it further via the control box. That worked.
Something I wanted to point out, that is unrelated to the Direct Drive Extruder, is the wheel I removed from the bottom of the MK8 extruder assembly. There are pieces of missing rubber (see photo to right). After seeing the wheel, I understood what was causing issues with the assembly rolling across the axis. Fortunately for me, I had one wheel remaining from replacements I made last month. I do not know how the wheel was damaged. I may have caused the damage when I replaced the other wheels of the assembly.
I changed to a Direct Drive Extruder in order to print foaming PLA, as recommended by RichRap3D in his blog post about the filament. I’m not making airplane wings, though. I have other plans.
Occasionally, when I am cruising through a Facebook 3D printing group to find answers to questions or wanting to help others looking for answers, I get the feeling that Creality Enders are all the rage. I see what seems to be endless announcements of new Ender 3 purchases. I own a different Creality printer and when I see the announcements I wonder if people know what they are in for. I have seen many complaints about the printer; especially a couple of years ago. It turns out that I am the one with the limited imagination. I failed to see the printer’s potential. Enders are open source, starter printers and if it had been around when I bought my first printer in 2016, I would never have sold it or given it away.
My first printer was a RepRap Prusa i3 clone. I gave the printer away shortly before I received a Creality CR10 mini printer. I wanted to give that printer away this year out of frustration, but I remembered that I gave away the RepRap, after making modifications, due to its acrylic frame. The frame warped in the printer enclosure. Replacing the acrylic frame at that time with a metal frame cost around $150.00. It was more sensible for me to buy a printer with a metal frame. I came to my senses this month about the CR10, realizing I could practically build another printer on the frame I already had. Frustration be gone! I am never selling or giving away this printer.
I learned last week, in a Facebook group, that someone created a MMU2s clone for Enders (see page 5 of this post), meaning it could work on the CR10 as well. While researching this post, I learned Ender’s 220 mm square bed can be extended to 400 mm. I thought something like that should be possible, but I never thought it would ever happen. Open source leads to boundless imagination.
Creality offers a series of Ender printers. I asked myself which one would I buy now as a first printer. My answer is the one which costs the least, Ender 3. Other pages contain information, videos, and links that I hope are helpful for present and future Ender 3 owners.
General Information About Enders
YouTube channel, Teaching Tech, revealed in an upload on September 11 that all Enders will have 32 bit boards. This means it will become less problematic to install BL Touch. Teaching Tech’s video is below along with two other videos explaining the differences between Ender 3, Ender 3 v2, and Ender 3 Pro.
Creality 32 bit V4 board guide – Ender 3 V2, BLtouch & more
I have seen photographs of Benchys for years and I did not understand why so many people printed one. It was not until I found a benchmark tool created by Kickstarter and Autodesk last month that I bothered to find an answer. I did not realize that it is an actual bench-marking tool. After owning a 3D printer for four years, I downloaded a zip file from Thingiverse and printed my first Benchy.