Part 4: The Z-axis

Our next step: mounting the support rods, lead screw, and the motor to drive the build platform inside the printer.
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Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:

Putting on the limit switch

The rods and the motor go in easily enough, but installing this plastic limit switch, which tells the printer that the build platform has reached its upper-most limit, was a little tricky.
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Photo by: Rich Brown/CNET / Caption by:

Lead screw

The build platform moves up and down along this threaded rod.
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Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:

Part 5: The extruder

Most of the steps in this latter phase are pretty easy. MakerGear thankfully preassembled the extruder head, so all we really need to do is mount it, its motor, and the cooling fan. MakerGear even includes an extra fan, which we assume you're supposed to use if you buy a second, larger gauge extruder.
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Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:

Final extruder assembly

Again, this part was pretty simple. Pop the motor in the plastic collar we installed yesterday, mount the extruder on the motor, then mount the fan on the extruder. All you really need to do mechanically on this step is drive a few screws.
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Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:

Step Six: The build platform

This step, where we install and level the build platform, is easy enough, but also kind of interesting. And yes, those are standard binder clips.
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Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:

Built platform mount

The mount surface on the Z-axis we installed earlier. Everything we're about to add is anchored by that small metal plate. Note the three springs.
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Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:

Built platform first layer

The first layer of the build surface sits on top of the springs, and the whole setup is anchored to the lower plate with screws. By adjusting the screws, which run through the springs, you can level the build platform in relation to the extruder head.
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Photo by: Rich Brown/CNET / Caption by:

Adding the heating element

Once we leveled the base plate, we add the heating element simply by resting it on top. The heat helps keep the melted plastic from forming up too quickly, which would lead to shrinking and eventually an uneven print.
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Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:

Your DIY is showing

Binder clip time. They might look jury-rigged, but they actually seem like the perfect tool for the job. The print will ultimately rest on this upper plate, but to ease project removal and cleaning, it's better to be able to take the plate off easily. The clips also help sandwich the plates and the heat element together.
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Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:

Steps 4-6, done

Overview of the installed Z-axis, the extruder, and the build platform. Only the electronics remain for our steps today.
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Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:

Step 7: The electronics

The parts for this step include a basic circuit board assembly, a wooden mounting plate, and few assorted pieces of hardware. When the rig is all done, we will connect it to a PC via the included USB cable.
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Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:

DIY strikes again

The zip ties bind the circuit board to the wooden mounting plate, which itself is screwed into the wooden printer frame. The zip ties are a simple, effective solution. They also don't conduct electricity.
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Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:

Rats nest

This step was about as hard as connecting the front panel jumpers on a PC motherboard. It involves a little trial and error, but with a clear diagram it's not too painful.
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Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:
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