Zidex is a small format 3D printer with two extruders that can be controlled independently in not only the X-axis but also the Z-axis. If you are wondering what the benefits of such a configuration are, then check out my post on Dual Extrusion. The original creator of Zidex is Stephenci and his dedicated Github repository and Onshape model made it possible to build this unique 3D printer. I made quite a few upgrades and changes to Stephenci’s original design, including adding a heated bed and part cooling fans, so if you want to build the Dr. D-Flo version of Zidex download the files below.
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Before we get started with the walkthrough I wanted to provide a fair warning that Zidex is a very difficult printer to build and calibrate. If you have never built a 3D printer before, then I would not start with this printer. Even if you are an experienced DIYer, I still recommend building Zidex with a real life friend or a buddy from the Dr. D-Flo forums. Finally, the biggest drawback of Zidex is its small print bed. However, I would not recommend expanding the print envelope of Zidex because as you increase the length of the cantilevered X-axes it becomes exponentially harder to make them square to the print bed. If you want a printer with a bigger print volume, then it is best to go with a different design.
Step 0: FamiliarizationFamiliarize yourself with Zidex’s coordinate system. I recommend watching my How to Build a 3D Printer video starting at 42:22 because you will be able to see a majority of Zidex's assembly, which should answer a lot of your questions.
Step 1: Preparation500mm V-Rail aluminum extrusion needs to be cut down to size. Figure 1 showcases the 4 different types of V-Rail that are used in the build and their respective sizes after being cut. Aluminum extrusion can be cut with a hacksaw or bandsaw.
Step 2: The BaseThe base is assembled by attaching the 300mm 20x40 V-Rails as depicted in Figure 2:
- Both ends of one V-Rail are tapped (M5) in order to attach the L joining plate to the ends with 8mm bolts.
- 8mm M5 bolts and T-nuts are used to attach the L joining plate to the sides of the rail.
- Use an engineer's square to ensure the that the base forms right angles.
Step 3: Y-AxisXL C-Beam Gantry Plate and V-wheels form the carriage that rides on the Y-axis and functions as the print bed.
- The Y-Axis Belt Capture (3D printed part) is attached underneath the XL C-Beam Gantry Plate with a 20mm M5 Bolt in the hole shown in Figure 3.
- The GT2 timing belt is wrapped around the Y-Axis Belt Capture prior to sliding the carriage onto the rail.
- 20mm M5 bolts are then used to attach the Y-Axis Idler Capture (3D printed part) and the Y-Axis Motor Holder (3D printed part) to opposite ends of the C-Beam V-rail.
- The idler pulley is then installed into the Y-Axis Idler capture with a 25mm M5 bolt and nut. The belt is then snaked around the idler pulley.
- Four 6mm M3 bolts are used to attach the Nema 17 64 oz.in motor to the Y-Axis Motor Holder. A 20T pulley is attached the motor shaft by tightening the provided set screw. The timing belt is then routed around the 20T pulley.
Step 4: Attaching Y-Axis to Base
- The Y-axis is attached 70mm from the front of the base with right angled brackets. An engineer's square is used to ensure that the Y-axis is perpendicular to the base.
Step 5: X-AxisThe assembly of the X-axis is tricky to say the least. The timing belt loops behind the 20x20 V-Rail, which gives this linear actuator a very low profile, which is critical for Zidex’s small form factor. There are two separate mechanisms that prevent the belt from rubbing against either edge of the rail when it wraps around. The first is a smooth idler which is concealed within the X-Axis Idler Capture (a 3D printed part). The second mechanism are two stack of 3x8x3mm bearings that are incorporated into the mounting of the stepper motor to the V-Rail. I will try and explain this setup in the enumerated steps below, but make any adjustments you need to make this setup work.
- One end of the 300 mm 20x20 V-Rail is tapped for M5 threads.
- The X-Axis Idler Capture (a 3D printed part) is attached with a 5mm M5 bolt to the tapped end of the 20x20 V-Rail. This is not pictured and the How to Build a 3D Printer video should be consulted.
- A 25mm M5 bolt and corresponding nut are used to secure the smooth idler to the X-Axis Idler Capture (a 3D printed part).
- A Mini V Gantry Kit which serves as the carriage for the X-Axis is assembled according to OpenBuild’s instructions and then is slid onto the rail.
- The motor with a 20T timing pulley is attached to the opposite end of the smooth idler, using an Openbuild’s Threaded Rod Plate, the X-Axis Motor Plate (a 3D printed part), four M3X32 bolts, M3 washers, and either a bearing stack or 20mm aluminum spacer. Figure 5 illustrates the location of the aluminum spacers and bearing stacks. Each bearing stack consists of six 3x8x3mm Ball Bearings stacked on top of each other. Because 6 of these bearings are only 18mm tall when stacked the last 2mm needs to be made up by sandwiching the bearing stack in M3 washers. Notice how the back bearing stack keeps the belt from rubbing against the edge of the V-rail.
- Finally, the GT2 timing belt is cut to size and connected to the ends of the Mini V Gantry after being snaked around the back of the rail and bearings.
- These steps are repeated to for the second X-axis.
Step 6: Z-Axis CarriageThe Z-axis has a unique carriage design, where the 60x20 V-Rail that is used for the Z-axis will run in between two V-Slot Gantry Plates that have V-wheels in between them. Having plates on either side of the Z-axis V-rail will allow for the mounting of not only the X-axis built in Step 5, but also a second 300mm 20x20 V-rail that will be used as the linear rail for the extrusion drive (more about this later).
- A nut block is installed in the middle of a V-Slot Gantry Plate (the Z-axis is lead screw driven).
- A 50mm M5 bolt is pushed through the second hole from the outside edge on all 4 corners.
- Two OpenBuild’s spacer blocks are placed vertically on their respective sides.
- On the left (as pictured in Figure 6) one eccentric spacer is placed per 50mm bolt. The flanged side down and mating with the spacer block.
- On the right (as pictured in Figure 6) one 6 mm aluminum spacer is placed per 50 mm bolt.
- On top of each eccentric spacer or aluminum spacer an OpenBuild’s Precision Shim (10x5x1mm) is placed.
- Finally a V-wheel, 9mm aluminum spacer and then the second V-Slot Gantry plate is placed on the 50mm M5 bolts prior to being secured with an M5 nut.
- These steps are repeated to construct the second Z carriage.
Step 7: Attaching X-axis to Z Carriage
- The two X-axes are connected to separate z-carriages on opposite sides, such that they mirror each other (Figure 7). Right angle brackets and 8mm M5 bolts and nuts are used to accomplish this.
- On the opposite side of each X-axis a 300mm 20x20 aluminum extrusion is also attached. This is where the extrusion drive will ride (more on this later).
Discussion and Feedback
Do you need more help? The best way to get your questions answered by Dr. D-Flo and other DIYers is to post a question on the forum. Click here for the forum topic specific to this project.
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