Installation Notes – CR10 Mini – 2nd Z-Axis

Z-axis upgrade

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.

Installation Notes – CR10 Mini – Direct Drive Extruder

CR10 Mini with upgrades

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.

Direct drive extruder

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.

Wheel damage

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.