Mod plans for my Prusa i3 for 2017

I first started purchasing parts for my Prusa i3 back in January 2015.  By September that year, I had assembled everything and got the first print going.  Since then, I’ve identified lots of  ways to mod my Prusa i3 to get it working just the way I want.

The z-axis

So far, the main mod I’ve made has been to the z-axis endstop.  I wasn’t satisfied with how the one in the base Prusa i3 Rework was working, so I found a new model on Thingiverse that I’ve since printed and still use.  Going forwards however, I plan to remove the z-axis end stop altogether and use an induction probe in conjunction with an aluminium build plate.  This will in turn allow me to setup auto-bed levelling, removing the main thing that needs to be re-calibrated most prints.

Keeping with the z-axis, another mod I plan to do, and perhaps the first I will implement this year, is switching the z-axis motion from threaded rods to leadscrews.  I purchased new stepper motors last year with leadscrews embedded in them to remove the need for couplers.  This mod should make the z-axis motion smoother, leading in turn to an improvement in print quality.

X-Axis rods

The original aluminium rods and new steel rods for the z-axis of my printer. The shiny ones are steel and the duller ones are aluminium.  You can just make out the groove marks on the aluminium rods from the LM8UU bearings.

Extrusion Assembly

Moving on, we get to the extruder assembly where I have 2 main mods planned.  The first is a change in the extruder itself from the Wade’s Geared Extruder included in the Prusa i3 Rework to an E3D Titan extruder.  The Titan is more compact and lighter-weight, which should allow me to increase the print speed slightly without loosing print quality.  It is also flexible enough to allow the second extruder mod I plan which is to switch from 3mm filament to 1.75mm filament, as well as potentially switching from direct drive to Bowden extrusion in the future.

The decision to change filament size came about for several reasons.  First, there are more filaments that I’ve seen for 1.75mm then 3mm.  Second, I’m interested in using the E3D Chimera hot-end in the future for dual-extrusion, and this only works with 1.75mm filament.  Finally, I’ve read that if you want to print with very fine layers then 1.75mm is the best option as 3mm filament can create too much pressure inside the hot-ends with small nozzle sizes to get decent control.

Heated Bed

As part of the mod to use an induction probe for the z-axis limit, I plan to switch out my PCB Mk2 heated bed to an aluminium Mk3-Alu heated bed.  I did consider using an aluminium sheet with a silicone heater on, but in the end it was easier to order a pre-made Mk3-Alu bed.

Another mod to the heated bed will be to add some cork board under the heated bed to insulate the bottom and improve the heat up times.  I already tried this before, however it seemed to bow the Mk2 PCB heated bed I have slightly, so I think I’m going to need to adjust the height of the bed over the carriage assembly.

The final mod I have planned for the heated bed is to try out the FlexPlate system from BuildTak that was released last year.  I’ve been wanting a flexible build plate for a while to help make it easier to remove prints and given that I’ve had good experiences so far with BuildTak it makes sense to me to stay with BuildTak products.

Mods purchased so far

All the mod parts I have ready to go so far.

Looking ahead to the rest of the year

With any luck, the planned mods for my printer will, in conjunction with the enclosure I already posted about, make it easier and more convenient for me to print off objects to the quality I want.  I’m also in the process of trying to buy a flat which should allow me to move the printer out of my bedroom and into its own space and let me not worry so much about when I can print with it.

I suspect once I’ve completed these mods I’ll find more to do as I try to tune the printer even further.  I guess that is the problem with building your own printer vs buying one off-the-shelf, you get to know every nut and bolt on the printer and try to work out  how to improve every part of it.

Have you been busy modding your printer, or feel like having a go after reading this, then feel free to leave a comment below.

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