P3Steel Build Log (#09) – X-Axis

By ChunkySteveo,

  Filed under: 3D Printing
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  Comments: 8

Connecting the X-Axis Carriage

So we’re done with the stepper end and idler end, and it’s belt tension block. Now we need to get the x-carriage sorted so the hotend has something to attach to! I’ve gone with a bronze bushing carriage, which is another one of Toolson’s designs. He has also created an LM8UU version too. I did actually print both as I was going to do some testing, but ended up breaking the LM8UU version so concentrated on getting what I wanted to be a final setup from the start. I also liked the more minimalist design of the bronze bushing version.

Check out the video below which shows the part being printed, impressive stuff! This was a final print after a couple snapped when trying to get the bushings in. This part is going to take a lot of abuse, so best to print it will high strength material, or a high infill. My final print was at 85% infill.

The end result is shown below, with the bronze bushings inserted into their sleeves. These should clip in with a little force, and are designed not to be clamped in – to allow them to self align together. To stop them from coming out, they should have some retaining fasteners added to them – which are the black M3 screws shown in the image.


The retaining fasteners are secured to the part using the same drill and tap technique used on the y-axis bushings and also the z-axis bearings. You can find images of that technique in the P3Steel Build Log (#06) – Y-axis Carriage Clamps blog post. Similar to the y-axis clamps – they shouldn’t cover the 8mm hole, and are there only to stop them from coming out, they should not clamp down on the bushings too much.


Carriage and Belt Installation

Time to install the belt for the x-axis. You can do this prior to adding the x-axis to the printer frame, or after. I have done this before as I knew the measurements from a previous run, plus it’s easier to photograph! Slip the carriage onto the two smooth rods which should be installed on the stepper end of the x-axis. The blank end of the carriage should face forward, and on the back there is a neat little arrow printed on the part which should point up (or so I assume!!).

First off I installed the four retaining M4 bolts which go on the back and secure the hotend mount to the carriage. You can add this after if you like. Then you will need another 1m of GT2 6mm belt. First add one end into the printed teeth part so it grips the belt as per below. To do this you will need to push it in with some pliers.


Loop the belt round the idler, back through the top of the carriage and round the stepper gear and back to the carriage. It should then match up with the printed teeth. There you should then push it in with some tension on the belt. Enough to take the slack and for the tension block to be able to pull it tighter if needed.


IMG_7089 IMG_7088

Z-Rails and X-Axis Tension Block

Once the x-axis is complete, you will need to insall it onto the z-axis rails. These are the final 8mm smooth rods which need to be installed from the top, down into the LM8UU bearings of each x-axis end and then secured into the holes in the stepper motor mount plates of the z-axis. The z-axis smooth rods are held in with friction alone. You may need to shuffle the idler block end so the x-axis moves smoothly up and down. Below are a couple of shots of the tension block in place on the z-axis rails. Ignore the black parts – they were from a test print!!

IMG_7085 IMG_7087

With the z-axis rails done. Check the x-axis movement by moving it back and forth on the rails. It should move smoothly back and forth.Now we need to install the z-axis lead screw into the x-axis ends, and the z-axis stop mechanism. You can see these installed below. I have skimmed over this part, but will cover it in more detail along with more info on the z-axis installation.





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  Comments: 8

  1. Nice one Steve! 🙂

    I’ll try to build up my x-axis this weekend.

    As always thank you for the very detailed and nice to read build log!

    Best regards, Anil

    • Thanks again Anil, and I will try to get the next step (Z-Axis) written up too!! Have not worked on the printer for some time, need to kick my own butt into gear!!


  2. Hello again!

    I have now probably printed all the parts i need for my setup.

    I had a question about the X axis tension block, did yours slide nicely into the “receiving” part?
    I spent some minutes just now going over the thing with a knife to get it somewhat in, and yes i did check the orientation of the little keyed things there, It just wouldnt fit!

    I wonder if my prints just came out weird, hmm.

    Anyways, should be receiving my frame and other stuff on friday (atleast lets hope so, you never know with ups :P)
    Gonna be just in time for weekend beer and assembly project \o/

    • Hi Akseli,

      Thanks for the comment and update! Glad to hear you have all your parts done! Regarding the fit of the parts. They will all need a little trim for parts to fit. The x-axis and tension block does need some filing and sanding. A good tight fit will work well – it took me a while to make mine fit well. Your 8mm rods will take some time to fit into the x-axis blocks!!

      Best of luck with your build – a great weekend (and beer!!!) project – keep me posted!


  3. Hello again, i keep spamming your comments section 😛

    I was able to get my printer working, but had some problems along the way.
    How long is the distance between the Z smooth rods on your frame?
    The X axis rods i got were 375mm long so too short, then i got some mild steel rod from a shop nearby and cut that to ~390mm according to some BOM i found on toolsons site, and even that was too small, if i have the ends of the rod flush with the x idler, its not gonna work, its atleast ~15mm too small.

    • Hi Akseli,

      No problem! The x-axis rods should be 375mm for the 2.01 frame, and 385mm for the 2.5 DXL frame. Mine were 385mm and fitted fine. Not sure what version your frame is though, so they should be 375 or 385mm. 390mm will be too long, but should not be too short certainly! Can’t measure the distance between the z-axis rods at the moment.

      When you have the rods flush with the x-axis idler part as per the images above, they should go into the motor part fine. They don’t go all the way in for me, but the motor part end is used to secure them in, and should be a tight fit. Even with 390mm rods, they should not be too short if they are wedged all the way in?

      When you are measuring the z-axis rods and test fitting the parts, were you using the holes in the frame for the z-axis threaded rods, not the smooth rods? Seems odd?


      • Hi,

        Yeah, might be that the orballo printings frame is bit different from the originals, on their website it does say that its compatible with the mk42 heatbed which is wider than a standard 200×200 bed which could be the problem. (Not too big of a problem, i do have a MK42 bed coming in soon :P)

        But yeah, I got the X axis rods completelly into the motor holder, so if im thinking right the idler end should be flush with the rods and everything should be good, but no, its visibly too short if i rest the whole thing on the Z motor mounts. just to confirm tho, smooth rods on the outside of the Z motor holders and threaded rods on the inside? I dont think you could even put them the wrong way around tho.

        • Hi Akseli,

          That’s correct, smooth rods go on the outside, threaded rod on the inside. I suspect your smooth rods on the x-axis are just in too far into the stepper motor plastic part.. As long as it works though!


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