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Z Axis Stage
January 3rd, 2011

The Z axis stage is basically identical to the Y axis stage for ease of assembly and in order to simplify part production. The only real difference between the two is that the Z axis stage has ten counter bored holes towards the end of the plate which are used for attaching various tool heads.

The Z axis stage mounted onto the Z beam

The Z axis stage uses four linear ball bearing blocks, two per each rail, as opposed to the X and Y stages which each use two. This was implemented in order to give the Z stage a larger degree of rigidity when subject to transverse loads. In the above image, the through holes on the Z beam are clearance for the screws that fasten into the linear bearing blocks. Speed is not an issue for the Z axis because it moves very small distances (~.425 mm) only intermittently (once per 3D printed layer). So, this stage uses 3/8″-12 (1 start) ACME threaded lead screws. This gives the Z axis a high resolution for traversing to each incremental layer while a part is being printed. Layer height is crucial when 3D printing high quality parts.

The Z axis stage and Z beam mounted on the 80/20 frame

Here the Z beam, with the newly attached Z axis stage, is mounted onto the Z axis support structure. Once again, the Z beam is positioned with laser cut jigs so that when the plastic extruder is attached, its nozzle will be perfectly centered over the build base.

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  1. Esther de Bruijn
    January 5, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    The larger your build volume gets, the more attractive it becomes to use a moving toolhead design instead of moving table. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the ambition and ruggedness of this design, you’re definitely pushing it with this design…

    • Jim
      January 5, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

      That is not necessarily true, you have to keep in mind that I also designed this machine to be capable of doing some light milling, in which case a stationary spindle/Z Axis would be best.

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