Adventures in 3D Printing : Build Day 5

Part 5 of our 3D Printer build.

In this part of our printer assembly, we:

  • Installed bearings and bearing caps for the bearings which will allow the X and Y axis rods to rotate smoothly
  • Assembled the X-Y carriage rod clamps
  • Began mounting the X and Y axis rods into the printer and installing pulleys and belts


  • Time for this step: 2 hours
  • Total build time: 11 hours 50 minutes

This is the fifth stage of our 3D printer kit build. For the background to the project and details of the kit we are using, take a look at the introductory page here, or click here to see all our posts about this project.

We began by mounting eight sealed bearings on each corner of the printer frame where the X and Y rods will terminate, to allow them to rotate smoothly when driven by the X and Y axis motors.

day 5 (7)

We also mounted end caps which hold them in place. For now only one screw is done up to allow the rods to be inserted into the printer.

day 5 (8)

The next step is to begin assembling the X-Y carriage clamps. These attach the carriage rods which actually move the print head to the X and Y rods. These use plastic linear bearings which must first be trimmed to remove any excess bits of moulding residue.

day 5 (1)

The bearings fit into the clamp parts shown below. The small feet protruding from the upper half of each clamp piece will side through the endstops to interrupt their infrared beams so that the printer knows when the print head is in its home position.

day 5 (2)

The bearings fit into the lower half of the clamp, while nuts are inserted into the upper piece to hold it all together.

day 5 (4)

We then mounted the carriage rods into the bearings below the print head, adding a little fine machine oil for lubrication. The carriage rods are not an equal length so it’s important to make sure you get them the right way around. As before, wear gloves when handling the rods as they can be corroded by contact with skin.


day 5 (3)

The clamps then fit onto the end of the carriage rods. The distance between the clamps should be as specified in the assembly manual, this will be fine tuned when the belts and pulleys are 5 (5)

The clamps in place on the carriage rods.

day 5 (6)

The next step is to install the X and Y rods into the printer by pushing them through the bearings added in the first step. This was where we hit the first significant problem with our build, one of our rods was extremely hard to fit through the bearing and could not be inserted more than an inch or so even with considerable force. When we removed the rod, the cause became obvious, when measured with callipers it was wider than specification (8.04mm).

We have got in contact with  Velleman, the kit manufacturer, via their support website and requested a replacement rod, so as of this point the build is on hold until we receive the replacement part. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long and can finish the build, we’re nearly there!

Keep an eye on the 3D Printing section for all the posts about our build, post questions in the comments or tweet us at @dannynic or @sarah_nic.

Author: Danny Nicholson

Danny is an author, Science teacher, ICT Consultant, PGCE lecturer and computing / interactive whiteboard trainer. He has delivered training courses across the UK, in Europe, and in Canada. Please get in touch with your training requests.

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