P3Steel Build Log (#03) – Main Frame Assembly

By ChunkySteveo,

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With the frame painted and dry, first thing to do is bolt together the main structure. It slots together like a jigsaw and there was absolutely no issues or problems in this process.

All the bolts and nuts used to secure the main frame parts are M3 bolts and nylock M3 nuts. The RepRap Wiki suggests 12mm M3 bolts (about 60), and they fit just perfect into the pre-cut slots. There is also a space for the nyloc nut to sit, and this hole/lock system holds it all together.

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Orange is the New Black

oitnbMost frames are built with stainless steel hex bolts and nuts, but the overall colour scheme I am going for this printer is black and orange (the orange is a gentleman’s nod to Josef Prusa and the Prusa i3 which all P3Steels are decendant from!). So to accomplish this, I decided to use the “carbon black” nuts and bolts available, rather than the shiny silver stainless steel ones. I haven’t seem many finished printers with a full black frame, so was keen to go down this route. It does make it slightly cheaper too – as stainless steel M bolts and nuts tend to be a penny or two more expensive than the standard steel ones, only just mind!!

Laying Out the Frame and Assembling

You will need most of the frame for the main structure, except the y-carriage and the thin bed bar “thingy”. As I am going to build a Toolson Edition, I am not using the y-axis bearing clamps or the y-axis idler. More observant of you may have even noticed they were absent from my last post as I haven’t even bothered to paint them!

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In case you are rubbish at flat-pack, or can’t follow that swanky CGI video of the assembly on YouTube by those Spanish chaps, i’ll run down the rough order of how to put the frame together…

  1. Hold up the square main frame with the two vertical slots at the bottom (there is no front or back)
  2. Hold up the two triangular uprights so the long pointy parts go through the two vertical slots at the bottom of the square frame. Careful here, as for the 2.5 DXL frame the mounting holes for your electronics (which are located at the base of these uprights) are different per side. If you have an Arduino Mega ready, check the mounting holes match up on the left hand side (as you look at the printer) if you want it at the left. Otherwise you will have to mount it on the right, or print some mounting brackets so it fits.
  3. Push the upright along until they meet up with the square frame – there should be three sections on each side that meet up and intersect the frame.
  4. You don’t have to secure it just yet. Now take the two small trapezium shapes and slot them into the corners between the square frame and the long sections of the upright – you should see the slots where they go.
  5. Now, wherever there is a screw hole, add in a nyloc nut and M3 12mm bolt and screw it in. There should be ten to fasten at this point.

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  1. Next you can add the front and back strips to the…. front and back. They are identical, so just slot them on and fasten them up with two nuts and bolts either side, front and back (four in total).
  2. Take the two z-axis motor mounts (the rectangle/square looking parts with two hols in them) and slot in two of the small triangular parts, one on each side. The motor mount plates do need to be mirror images of each other – make sure the small hole is on the outside of each made up part. Secure the trangles to the mount piece with two nuts and bolts.
  3. Now take these two parts and mount one on either side of the main square frame. Remember that the smaller of the holes sits on the outside of the part. They won’t hold on the frame due to their weight, so they need to be held while you screw in the bolts – this is where you learn the tiny M3 nylock nuts are a fiddly pain in the….!!!

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  1. Top section now, which is the z-axis rod supports. These can only be fitted one way, so slot them on, and bolt them in with two bolts.

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And then you’re done, right?! I haven’t added the y-axis motor mounts at the back of the printer (seen on the table below) as I am saving these for another post. You can add them now if you like. They go on the back plate with the raised “hump” pointing up, not down.

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If you wish to view it in a glorious time lapse, click on the video link below. Excuse the loud PJ bottoms… this was a Sunday morning type of job, but who doesn’t love Marvel, right?! If you like the video, check out some of my other time lapse’s on my YouTube Channel and don’t forget to give them a thumbs up, and subscribe to me!!



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  Comments: 3


  1. Hey again!

    I have good news and bad news.

    Good: The frame arrived
    Bad: The box the frame came in was open on other end so im not sure if i got everything i ordered, also, the screws i got are not black which they should have been :/

    Oh well, i should be able to build a printer if all the parts are here.

    Time for beer and assembly! \o/

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