Construction Of A DIY 3D Printer Part 7 – The Z-Axis and Gantry

Previous <- The Y-Axis Testing           NEXT -> X-Axis and Carriage


This is the continuation of my attempt to build a 3D printer with a minimum budget of around $400 using new and recycled parts.

This build is very similar to the Y-axis build, just vertical. The lower rod mount needs to attach flat to the base frame so I used a horizontal shaft support. The top of the rod will use a standard shaft support. The gantry bar will slide on 4 linear bearings on 16mm steel rods.

Shims under the supports are used to align the rods as before.

A cable is attached to the gantry running over the top though a 60mm pulley and back down to the counterweight sliding in a track. The final amount of weight will be determined after all the parts are on the gantry.

Build cost for this section

  • $0.00 – 2 – 16mm X 700mm Steel Rod
  • $0.00 – 1 – 37mm square Aluminum Cross Tube
  • $6.00 – 2 – Machifit SK16 Linear Rail Shaft Support
  • $6.00 – 2 – Machifit SHF16 Horizontal Shaft Support Linear Shaft Support Rail
  • $20.00 – 4 – SBR16UU 16mm Open Block Slide Aluminum Linear Bearing Block Linear Motion Bearing
  • $3.00 – 1 – Stepper Motor Bracket
  • $10.00 – 1 – Stepper Motor
  • $4.00 – 2 – Belt and Idler Pulley
  • $6.00 – 2 – 60mm cable pulley
  • $3.00 – 1 – 4mm cable
  • $0.00 – 1 – Bag-O-Weights
  • $10.00 – Bolts with nuts and washers
  • Shipping?
  • $58.00 – Z-AXIS and GANTRY SUB-TOTAL
  • $53.18 – BUILD BED SUB-TOTAL
  • $42.81 – Y-AXIS SUB-TOTAL
  • $50.00 – FRAME SUB-TOTAL
  • $277.59 TOTAL SO FAR

Making the gantry frame and mounting the bearings was easy, deciding to do it that was was not. I draw, think, plan, build and redesign over and over. I try to look for simplicity and cleanness in the design, but what is winning lately is what parts are available.

The parts that I ordered for this section was going to bolt to a plate of aluminum then to a cross member, then I thought just use a “U” shape frame and eliminate the plate. It is lite, strong and easy to work with.

I first mounted the top rod support and got an accurate distance between supports, now for the lower support. It mounts very to close to the vertical frame member and so much so I can not drill the bolt holes. With that in mind, I have another problem after re-calculating the Y-axis “0.00”  home location, I must be 40mm off. That means I must move the Z-axis frame.

After about 30 minutes it is down to the main frame again, and the first thing in the rebuild is drilling the support block holes with ease. With the z-axis frame off I easily mounted the stepper motor bracket too.

IMG_20170506_211806This reassembly is paying off for the new alignment I am making to the X, Y, and Z directions. My accuracy is not perfect but it is the best I can do and I hope the software will help me the rest of the way.

The smooth sliding of the z-axis is a marvelous reward and with four bearings it seems very stable.

Next up we need to get the gantry to float, or put gravity on hold by countering its weight. I run a small rope from the center of the gantry thought two pulleys to the back of the printer. A plastic bag of screws and bolts will do for testing that I can add to as parts on the gantry increases. Now the single stepper will have no problems doing its job raising the extruded to the proper height.

Now all I need to finish this is a motor and belt then I could have two axis’ complete.

Till next time thanks for following. 5-9-2017


The bearings now have their zirts and 2 shots of grease and are rolling smoothly. I also mounted the Z-axis Idle pulley the same way the Y-axis’ was. 5-14-2017


Previous <- The Y-Axis Testing           NEXT -> X-Axis and Carriage


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