Breaking Down M2 - The Z Stage

September 15, 2012

In the previous post we took at quick look at the M2 leveling mechanism. Underneath the leveling system is the Z platform.

The Z platform consists of a rigid, machined aluminum plate, a stainless steel linear rail & carriage (top of photo), and linear bearings (bottom of photo). The aluminum plate is machined to tight tolerances so that all of the parts are properly positioned. Linear rails are really nice because you can run the printer month after month and get consistent results with minimal maintenance. The carriage on the linear rail is filled with ball bearings that allow for smooth linear motion with little play - exactly what you want in a linear motion system. If you open a commercial laser cutter (Epilog, for example) or a Vertical Machining Center, you'll find this type of linear mechanism.

We've been running a variety of 3D printers (some of them around the clock, every day) for a couple of years to print the plastic parts included in our kits. Our experience is that it is not difficult to make a printer that produces a few good prints but then requires considerable tweaking/maintenance to maintain consistent print quality. M2 uses precision parts so that you get consistent results with minimal maintenance.

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