The DIY 3D printer X-axis and Z-axis are next. With all three axes in place, this collection of plastic, metal rods, screws, and nuts is starting to look more like a 3D printer. Let’s look at the X and Z axes individually.
DIY 3D Printer X-Axis
The X-axis moves the extruder left and right over the build area. In the picture to the right, you can see the two steel rods and the piece in the middle that holds the extruder. That piece in the middle looks simple enough, but it includes 10 bearings and a lot of little nuts and bolts. The reason it is so complex is that it needs to position all of those bearings in just the right places so that it rolls freely back and forth, and at the same time hold the extruder securely.
On the right side of the X-axis is a large piece of plastic with a hole in it. That is the mount for the stepper motor. The motor will sit on top of the plastic and the pulley attached to the motor will fit through the hole. On the left side are two more bearings used as pulleys for the belt that will stretch from the motor across the front of the X-axis, around the bearings on the left, and then across the back as it returns to the motor.
Just inside the ends are holes for the Z-axis smooth rods and threaded rods to fit through. You can see how it all fits together in the picture below.
DIY 3D Printer Z-Axis
The DIY 3D printer X-axis does not attach to the rest of the printer by itself. The whole X-axis assembly is attached to the Z-axis. The Z-axis guides the X-axis as it moves up and down. The steel rods for the Z-axis are fastened to either side of the printer and just inside the steel rods are threaded rods, also on both sides. On both sides of the X-axis, there are roller bearings to allow the X-axis to travel smoothly up and down on the steel rods. Also on both sides of the X-axis, there are nuts that fit over the threaded rods of the Z-axis. These nuts are not allowed to turn so when the threaded rods turn, it moves the X-axis up and down. The two threaded rods will be attached to a stepper motor with a belt.
It looks like it is getting close to being done, but there is still plenty to do. I need to attach the motors and all of the belts, heat bed, extruder, end stops, wiring, main electronics board, align everything, and then I start connecting it to the computer.