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Supavitax

Ender-3 Z-motor spacer / support

by Supavitax May 22, 2018
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Works perfectly on my ender 3. My Z motor was really off (Z rod could not be turned per hand!), so i "fixed" this with cardboard and by not tightening the screws. Found this print and now it fits perfectly. thank you for that!

Check with a Caliper the thickness of the side spacer came out to be 0.76mm

It worked fine for me.

Used aluminum foil and wrapped it around the spacer to make a nice contact with the frame.

Checked with temperate gun, dropped 8* C.

i knew my lead screw was not terribly parallel to my vertical aluminum extrusion, have had my machine since march and never really had issues with binding. yes it got tough to drop the x-axis near the bottom of the screw, and difficulty raising it without a modest amount of force by hand. all that said, i never any issues with print quality. went ahead and printed this, in prep for the weekend so i could try and straighten it up. upon disassembling and taking the x-axis off, i watched the lead screw bow in towards the vertical arm. and when i compared the distance from lead screw to arm at top and bottom of the screw, the thing was 1-2mm off, im amazed i got away with it like this for so long...

the pieces printed well (v2), and they fit the aluminum extrusions, and they seem to alleviate the issue of the zmotor just "floating", but upon tightening the 2 screws that bolt into the vertical arms, it was very apparent the z screw was misaligning with the slightest tightening, even with this guide. Needed to slide a shim (was a piece of a temp tower i had lying around) near the top of the plastic attachpoint so the motor wasnt pulled inward, and misaligning the lead screw. remeasured after the install and im now at a muuuuuch nicer. 0.01-0.02 mm difference from screw to arm as compared at various spots along the screw

overall this print helped by supporting the bottom of the motor and allowed for easy tightening of the bolts, but seemed to do little to help preventing the lead screw from becoming nonparallel due to tightening the screws to the vertical arm. testing a print now, we'll see if i have any change in quality.

how do I know if I need this? I bought my ender 3 in January

Youll probably need it. Look at the z axis lead screw. You will notice the screw is not parallel with the the upright

I've just purchased the Ender 3 in March 2019, unfortunately it looks like these are still required as my kit (v3.6) has very blatant miss-alignment when placing the Z axis rod.

I'll be printing this after I've managed to sort my levelling issues.

great. but i have to fix temporaly z axis before print this patch, lol

This model is excellently designed - it fits without any issue or force.

But do be careful - it appears Creality themselves fixed the issue in later production batches, so if like me you have a later batch where this issue is already fixed, adding the side shim will actually create the problem again. Took me far longer than I like to admit to figure out why I had z-binding all of a sudden :p
But if you DO have an issue that requires the side spacer, it is amazingly made

Great design ! Fits perfectly on Ender 3 ! Works great !
I choose light version with holes.
Thank You !

Worked great....thank you

Ender 3 Pro Nov 18, just used the bottom one thanks, the side one pushed out too far, so things have changed, but underneath the motor looked unlevel. Printed in PETg, seems to have improved, many thanks :)

i just ordered an ender 3 pro and i needed to space the motor from the side. i actually increased the thickness of this spacer from .5mm to 2mm in order to get the lead screw straight

Thanks for posting. Works a treat.

Why we should rotate the model in cura? Why didn't u do it, and upload it with the correct rotation?

Wow. Lmao. Took seconds. Probably longer than typing this.

heh, as it was one of first prints - i have printed it as it is, and it's printed fine, still working :) thanks

The alignment of the Z motor on my Ender 3 Pro was off a good bit, this spacer worked perfectly to bring the Z rod parallel with less drag/binding.

Works on week ago arrived Ender 3. Thank you!

Thank you very much

I think they fixed it in later revisions, because my Ender works better without it.

Same here, I haven't ran into this issue on my Ender 3

What difference did it make?
As in, what made the prints better without it?

It actually made it nearly impossible to level my bed. I can't level the bed no matter what I do anymore because of it. I only added this so I can add the axis guide from here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3033151

Guide z-axis Creality ender 3

Does this required for Ender-3 Pro version as well?

I'm not sure as this was designed for one of the earlier Ender 3's so I can't confirm it.

Would a regular PLA be okay for this one? Concerned with the heat the stepper motor generates. Would there be any issue? Thanks!

I used PLA for it about 4 to 5 months ago and still the same. No issues.

Thank you for this thing! Thumbs up to you!

  • Posted with 3D Geeks Thingiverse Browser App

do I need this if I don't have any problems?

thats excaclty what I'M asking myself right now. I got it really recently maybe they fixed it? but Its so small I think I will just print it and see if it does any good... if its not good then I can just remove it

I think creality fixed it in recent versions, i tried to install this mod on mine and that make the Z axis not parralel to the Z frame and i had to force the z axis to center it in the extruder support hole, so i didn't try to go further. In all cases i was not experienced binding without this mod (i had to no tighten too much the "Z guide" screws otherwise i had binding). Maybe will be a good idea to compare our serial numbers... Do you have 4 "open" rings for the "Z guide" screws? (two above and two under)

What do you mean by Z guide Screws? And no, I dont have 4 of any open hole in one space of my printer.

I now printed it and put the spacers in and I cant really tell the difference. I think when I assembeled it I had the feeling that there is a little bit too much space and tried to put a cardboard in and then threw it away because it wouldnt stick. The spacer is so tiny idk if this is my fault or if it is intended that way but I think now its good.

I'm speaking about the golden part fixed to the extruder support: https://i0.wp.com/letsprint3d.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/ender_3_assembly_x_axis_installed.jpg?w=327&h=327&crop=1&ssl=1 for each screw i have two of these washers: https://www.vis-express.fr/c/8751-tm_category_default/rondelle-grower-din127b-inox-a4.jpg one go above the other go under the golden part

Thanks a lot for sharing your design and mod. Until I printed and mounted, didnt think it would work. But it works like magic. Thanks

Amazing stuff Supa! It boggles my mind that simple things like this go unnoticed or aren't included when they sell a printer like this. You would think the measurements would be corrected to begin with!

Thanks for spending the time to improve our 3D printing experience!

Thanks for adding this, I noticed right away it badly needed a spacer and it saved me having to dig around for shims =)

This has improved my prints and I really appreciate you sharing this. Thank you very much.

With this mod my Z rod is perpendicular to my Ender-3's frame for the first time. I was experiencing X and Y shits at the same Z height on every print. After installing the spacer and support my Z axis movement is super smooth and the random layer shifts have vanished. Thank you very much for the designer of this.

¡Gracias, me va a solucionar ese problema con el stepper Z!

¡Saludos desde México!

Can you use these with rubber vibration dampers?

Straightened out my Z-axis problem perfectly but there is one thing I would add to the details; Buy a heatsink for the Z-axis motor.

When the motor is directly mounted to the frame then the frame acts as a heatsink, notice all the other motors are mounted on metal brackets for that reason and with the Z-axis loading more weight, holding torque, and the friction of the lead screw it has more load on it than x/y/extruder motors. For short prints it isn't an issue but on long prints (4+ hours) mine has gotten very hot, once I removed the brackets it was fine. Heat is not a stepper motors friend especially not to the cheaper kind on the ender. As long as the motor is below 80c it should be fine but better safe than sorry.

The mod is awesome and worth the effort of getting a heatsink especially if you are doing long prints, any cheapo 40mm x 40mm stepper motor heatsink off amazon will do, they usually come in four packs anyway so you can throw a heatsink on all of the motors.

Could you post a picture of yours with the heatsink on, and include a link to the heatsink you bought. I would really appreciate the information so I can make the same changes to mine.

I would imagine Z stepper doesn't move all that frequently, and hence typically not that hot to require a heatsink.

Oh, it gets very hot on long prints; even with a damper installed.

Stepper motors don't need heatsinks. they can handle heavy load and up to 75 degrees Celsius. There is nothing to melt or fail at those temparatures inside those motors.

Mine hit 78c 3 hours into a print, also the ender 3 motors are rated for 80c not 75c as are most steppers. Heat matters beyond just melting things.

That's really strange, 2 and a half hours is my longest print, and i have yet to ever notice a stepper motor (ender 3) getting anything past warm. I have an infrared thermometer to back that up.

Can you get away with just the side spacer to get around this problem do you think?

You could try. I am not sure how much it would affect the alignment but it would dissipate heat being against the frame again.

Best uprgade for ender 3 ;)

hey mate, this was a great print for my new rig! Great job!

Many thanks for this. My z axis was binding quite badly like one of the others that commented at about 100mm. After I printed and fitted this is moves without any binding through the entire axis.

Wow game changer! 10 times smoother Z axis movement with this spacer!

can confirm this fixed my z issue, i had slight banding from about 100mm up and turning the z by hand with the printer off i could feel it binding. Also with z nut loose i could see the z nut move when i changed from up to down. With this spacer intalled I can now run my z nut tight and the z moved very smooth all the way to the top. Thanks!

Fellow Ender enthusiasts, do not use the bottom support, It is meant to just hang there. The space isolates the motor from the frame to reduce vibration transmission that contributes to ghosting and ringing. You will notice the power supply also has a space beneath it.

I think it is by far some of the best attention to detail I have yet seen in a 3D printer.

I've not noticed any of that on my prints with the bottom spacer installed and I've probably been through at least 20Kg of filament. All very clean without any ghosting or ringing.

Regardless, you are defeating a design feature and potentially introducing noise. I don't how much filament you pushed before the change or your previous experience with ringing but the Ender 3 does have plenty of ringing, especially when using higher print speeds, as the ripple test cube will reveal.

I can't claim that that the motor block will directly affect vibration in the head but I can guarantee that it is definitely not needed and could potentially have a deleterious effect on print quality.

That being said, thank you for the spacer design, very elegant. I currently have yours installed on my printer.

If it was the X or Y motor then I'd agree that it could potentially add ringing but this is for the Z motor and I personally don't believe this causes ringing. I know the that the Ender 3 does suffer from ringing but it's a cheap printer so I don't expect high speeds from it and that's probably why I haven't seen any ringing.

What is that piece under the bottom of the motor for ? (on the 4040 extrusion)

The bottom one is mainly for support as I noticed without it the motor just hangs there. It might not be required but it should help take some strain off the bolts.

The side spacer came out really thin, is that normal?

Yes, should be the same as the second picture.

Sorry, I'm confused about this.

  • What exactly is the problem that these spacers are designed to fix?
  • What does your spacers do when installed under the Z motor - How does this fix the problem?
  • What do you mean by the Z rod is "binding?"

Turn the Z rod up and down, if you feel it "tigten" from the middle to the lower end then it's binding and you'll need to either use my spacer or loosen it and put some paper/card in between the Z motor and the frame.

So these two pieces will "straighten" the Z-rod if it's skewed or crooked (e.g. Not straight vertically)?

I'm going to give this a shot - Thanks for replying and explaining the design.

Did you need to use longer screws after using this spacer?

No I used the stocks screws.

Cool. Thanks for the fast reply. I had to fiddle with mine when I built it and right now the Z seems ok. But I think with one of these it would be smoother. If I ever take the printer apart for maintenance I will be sure to print one of these and install it. Wish I had one when I first built the printer.

These are really easy to install without a lot of dismantling. Just undo the two screws on the motor and the top one will slide down and the bottom one will just slide under.

Hi Supavitax,
Thanks for your great design !
Do all Ender3 printers need this tweak ?
Is the gain really noticeable after doing this change? What is the best way to unmount/remount ?

I don't know if all do but mine and others I've seen online either have to use paper/card or to leave the motor slightly loose so the motor can move slightly preventing the z rod from binding.