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Piper 1 (v2) 3D Printer build (Part 3)

Here we are at part three where we will put the finishing touches to the Piper Build. These first three parts are about actually building the Piper because I want to keep each of the stages separate which are

  1. Physical build

  2. Wiring and attaching parts

  3. Calibration and first prints

The reason I think they should be separate is that if you have an issue later with power or wiring then you know where to go to find the possible answer rather than looking through the whole set of posts. Anyway, let’s get building and as I said in this part I will be finishing the Piper off in respects to the physical build like the lead screws and finishing the X-axis and extruder parts. It’s coming along very nicely now and really starting to look like a proper 3D printer, which of course it is.

The first thing you should do is to get the X-axis out of the way so tie it up to the top of the printer this will allow you a bit more room and some space to insert the required parts into the printed components.

Now that’s out of the way I will start by fitting the Z-axis motors which are located on the Z-base mount and as we have already attached the Z motor mounts we can now fit the motor. Alex has kindly “elongated the motor retaining holes so you can move it around a little bit to get it in the correct position. It may be a good idea to only do these up finger tight to begin with because when we come back to line these up with the lead screw they will be easily moved. Do both sides and make sure the wiring plug is pointing outwards as shown below.

Now it’s time to fit the X-axis motor. It was here that I noticed a little “gotcha” not a huge but something you might want to check for. When I tried to fit a motor to this mount I noticed that the one I had was too long. The back of the motor was a little too long and stuck out and hit the lead screw. Luckily I had another smaller motor that I could use as seen below.

This isn’t a show stopper but something to keep in mind if you are going to be ordering parts for the build as you go.

Once you have attached the X-axis motor it’s time to drop in the lead screws when this is done the X-axis will stand on its own and the printer will begin to take on a life of its own. This is the great part about building a 3D printer. you start with a few parts and then as you start putting it all together it begins to take shape. Soon, it will be producing things that you need or that you have designed yourself. It’s the difference between being “animate” and “inanimate” object.

The lead screw that I purchased is from Here I wanted two more stepper motors for a Delta I need to refurbish so this seemed a good deal. Plus the addition of the 500mm lead screw for my Piper build helped the decision. This came with the brass nut needed by the lead screw so the first thing I did was to drop that in and it was flawless. It was just the right amount of tightness to told the part without it moving around. I used some pliers to align the holes then dropped a couple of screws in and tightened them up then fitted the other two.

You can tighten these fully make sure you do this for both sides.

As part of the lead screw kit, I got from Amazon I also got two “Shaft Couplers” instead of printing the ones listed in the files supplied by Alex I used these instead. But, no matter the ones you use I like to measure to make sure they are both at the same height. Because 3D printers are classed as “Scientific equipment” (they are, believe me) Certain things need to be precise and I have had problems in the past with other printers that I have set up and this particular preciseness at this stage is beneficial.

I’ll show you what I do to get this just right.

I used a bearing that I had laying around and placed that on the motor then lowered the coupler then tightened the grub screws. I did this for both sides to maintain a level of “sameness” for both motors. Notice also in the picture below that one of the grub screws is tightened up against the flat of the motor spindle. This helps the coupler keep in the correct position and not spin on the spindle.

When you are happy with how the couplers are set up and the bottom grub screws are good and tight against the shaft of the motor the next stage is to feed the lead screw through the brass nut and affix it to the top of the coupler. Do this for both sides.

When I did this to mine I was really impressed that the lead screw dropper perfectly in line with the top of the coupler. I keep saying this, but this printer has been really well designed and Alex has obviously taken a lot of time and effort and a huge amount of testing to get it to fit together as it does. I have brought kits before that were closer to a £700 that didn’t go together as well as this one does.

Tighten up all grub screws because now the X-axis can finally hold its own and stay up because the lead screw will be able to take the weight. When you are sure everything is ready you can undo the ties that we earlier put in place to hold it there.

The X-axis

Let’s turn our attention to the X-axis, like fitting the belt and the extruder mount.

You will need the “X belt holder” and a timing belt idler pulley and a bolt about 25mm long. Place the pulley into the holder and tighten up the nut and when you are done make sure the pulley turns freely.

Now unscrew the two bolts found in the middle of the Z roller bracket and attach the belt holder to this point reinsert the bolts then give them a tighten up. If you haven’t already done so attach the pulley to the motor spindle.

The next job is to thread the belt through and around each of the pulleys on the X-axis. I changed my X belt holder slightly here. Alex said that I needed two zip ties and I could see what he meant but I had another idea of how I could attach the belt without the need for another zip tie. I carefully cut out the small piece of plastic from the X belt holder. Only because it looked a little neater. Shown below.

Thread the X-axis belt through the motor pulley and the belt holder finish by tying them off at the X belt holder. If you want to keep it pure and as the original place one zip tie through the X belt holder and tighten it up, but not fully. Then get another zip tie and place this (loosely) along the belt. Thread one end of the belt through the first zip tie double it over and slide the earlier zip tie up the belt to nip the belt as below. Note: the below picture is for illustrative purposes only.

Now that’s done we can attach the extruder mount. For this, we will need to capture some nuts in the small spaces provided in the part. and then we will screw the bolt into the nut to keep it in place while we glue the nuts in place with a hot glue gun. You will only need four (4) nuts and bolts I used M4 16mm bolts and some flat nuts I had spare. Place the nuts in the holes then screw in the bolts keeping the nuts in place. Screw the bolts through the nut a few turns this will keep the nut in place while you glue it. Wait until the glue has set then you can attach the extruder mount to the upper and lower X-axis rollers.

Get these in place and before you tighten anything to check that nothing inhibits or fouls the X-axis belt. Gently push the rollers from one side to the other to make sure everything runs smoothly. When you are happy, attach and tighten the extruder mount to the X-axis roller assembly.

When you have finished that little lot you should end up with something like the following.

A couple of more bits to fit and we are nearly finished for this part of the build. We just need to fix the Y-axis motor mount and motor and the Y-axis belt pulley assembly.

Fix the motor mount to the Y-axis-Y mount.

Attach the motor making sure the plug is facing outwards for easier access to plug in the wires. While you’re there pop on the Y-axis pulley and tighten it enough to keep it on without it falling off. You will probably need to move it when it comes to fitting the bed, but at least you know it’s there.

Now put together the Y-axis belt holder. Like the X-axis belt holder, thread the bolt (I used an M3 50mm bolt) through the top, through the pulley then attached a nut and gave it a quick tighten then screwed it on to the front of the Y-axis-Y mount. like so….

That’s it apart from a coffee and a tidy up. In the next part, we will focus on getting the RAMPS board fitted and hopefully the wiring done. In the mean time, the printer is looking excellent and is nearly fit for taking it’s first test prints. See you soon.

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