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Questions on vertical X carriages

Posted by tymm 
Questions on vertical X carriages
May 16, 2014 12:52AM

I've now been using 3d printers long enough to know that I have too many assumptions when it comes to upgrades, but not long enough to stop with the assumptions.

I've got 2 printers at this point; a Prusa i2 and a MendelMax 1.5+ (i2 from ebay parts and scrounging, MM from scratch using the i2 for printed parts). Both have standard horizontal X carriages; the MM has a MTW leadscrew (which limits the available, pre-designed X-ends).

One of my longer chains of assumption issues started with hotend failures... the path there over the past couple of months is something like this:

Kill a couple of hot ends, decide to go ahead and get some nice metal ones. End up with an E3D figuring that will be the end of my hotend issues. It's great, but oh so painful to deal with whenever i need to do maintenance -- since the fan mounts slip over the top, the hotend needs to go up through the bottom of the X carriage... but the fan gets in the way of the screws. It's also a bit obnoxious as right now I'm mostly printing ABS, so the airflow can affect the print. Partially due to all of the moving around of wires, etc whenever I've needed to do work on my X carriage, I've managed to kill a thermistor on the E3D (at which point I ended up picking up some Aluhotends and a Hexagon as backup).

In my silliness, I totally didn't look at dimensioned drawings of either of these combined with the fan requirement. I've now printed a bit with one Aluhotend with no fan (but totally ended up killing the PTFE liner after a bit, which wasn't a whole lot of fun) and put the hexagon off to the side until I can sort things out -- both of these are small enough that it's really hard to sort out a fan mount that won't also potentially cause problems with blowing air over my ABS print.

I started looking at putting together a vertical X carriage design for the MM, but figured I'd first try to upgrade the i2 (at least I've learned enough to try the upgrades on the less crucial machine first)... though now I'm finding that the "standard" that was put together a while ago seems to be rarely used (70mm between bars; seems most of the designs are now closer to half of that), extruder mounting holes vary widely, and in general it looks to be much harder to just pick a design off of Thingiverse and have it work out.

So I think a few of the main things I'm curious about are:

- (the big question) Are E3D, Aluhotend and Hexagons much more manageable using vertical X carriages, or is that a bad assumption? Or are they always just really annoying to remove and put on? Anyone already put together a vert-X for a MendelMax using MTW leadscrews?
- Anyone sorted out a reasonable approach to using these hotends on horizontal carriages that doesn't involve a lot of time dealing with hotend unmounting / mounting?
- Have a good design for a fan that will work for Aluhotend / Hexagon on horizontal carriage?

Also, would like to get a general idea of whether people who have used both have seen advantages / disadvantages in general with the vertical setups...



edit: i apparently can't spell the word "questions" without going back and re-reading my posts.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/16/2014 01:30AM by tymm.
Re: Questions on vertical X carriages
May 17, 2014 06:26AM
I have a MendelMax 1.5 now running vertical carriage and with that a Merlin Hotend and Bowden system.

See it here:

It's not completely up-to-date, but it shows a bit of the printer.
Re: Questions on vertical X carriages
May 17, 2014 03:19PM
Cool -- how has your experience been? Looks like you're getting good prints -- how's maintenance / switching out parts? any luck with getting better cooling on the hotend?
Re: Questions on vertical X carriages
May 17, 2014 06:34PM
Yes, meanwhile I've ditched the J-head and the Merlin is now in place.
Here are some pictures of the Merlin mount I designed specifically for my printer:

There is a 40mm fan blowing on the PEEK part of the hotend and from the back of the carriage I have added a radial fan that cools the PLA that has just been printed. However, I am not sure if it is working well. I think I have to redesign the print cooler since it is now cooling from one side and I notice a bit of warping on my prints on that same side.
Re: Questions on vertical X carriages
May 18, 2014 11:48PM
I was using an E3D on a Prusa i2 and had the same issues, really hard to get at, and a pain to get on and off. Just built a Prusa i3 (in the process of calibrating it right now), and the vertical X carriage is soooo much better. Extruder (I'm using a wade's) bolts on at the front, and the Hot end is held in place by two more bolts into the front of the extruder. There's plenty of room for the E3D fan and shroud, and plenty of designs for nice ducted cooling fans for the work.

My main gripe with the i2 was the limited height, but if that doesn't bother you then a vertical carriage (with the belt in the middle of the rods : no more splitting the sides of the X ends!) would be a good move.
Re: Questions on vertical X carriages
May 19, 2014 08:23PM
Ooh -- awesome; thanks. Sounds like it'll end up being worth the time to re-design the Mendelmax X ends then. I'm sure that there are plenty of i3 extruders to choose from, so maybe i should just go for the i3 carriage too...

I do mostly pretty dense structural stuff, so reduced height isn't likely to be a problem - plus now the Mendelmax is my main printer, the i2 has been mainly used for experimentation... if it becomes an issue there i can do one of the mods for increased printing height.
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