Printrbot Simple V2: The Complete Guide [Updated 8/29/13]

Printrbot Simple V2: The Complete Guide [Updated 8/29/13]

Postby bradleyc » 2013-Jul-Fri-01-Jul

8/29/13 Minor edits by RetireeJay courtesy of suggestions from scantrontb and permission from bradleyc
The document is still entirely reflective of bradleyc's experience. (RetireeJay does not have a Simple and has never flashed his firmware).

8/21/13 Update Overview:
- Made changes to assembly instructions with regards to securing the tube to shaft and sandpaper to tube.

8/14/13 Update Overview:
- Made changes to the assembly instructions with new guide.
- Added the Troubleshoot section

Hi there!

If this is your first 3D printer kit or going to be your first, then this post may be of some value to you. This is my first 3D printer kit and I will provide you with step-by-step instructions and tips to hopefully help you get it up and running.

If you haven't purchased it yet, head over to my post on its flaws before you make this purchase. Link:

The following walk-through is based on my experience as a "super brand new consumer to 3D printing". Basically, I have no idea of what people were talking about in this help forum at first, because of their terminology without illustration to go along. So after having several issues and spending 6 days tinkering with it and seeking help in troubleshooting section, I believe that I finally understood how most of the stuff works and will try to put it down in layman's term for you.

Before I begin, I like to point out some things.

Building this kit will be 100x painful if you're new to 3D printing like me. They don't give you tools to work with so you may have to go and buy some. There's just enough zip ties and fishing line, so if you screw up, you have to go buy some. Zip ties are cheap. The time it takes to build this is incredibly long like 5+ hours for me, partly due to some design/laser cutting flaws and lack of details in the instructions. So I suggest you buy the assembled version for $100 more and saves you lots of time just figuring it out if you don't have the time. Of course, unless you want to really understand it, then go with the kit. Also, the filament colors and sizes will affect your prints. They will probably give you clear filament which is pretty hard to print compared to other colors. You'll need to get 1kg of colored filament with your purchase, because .5kg that comes with it won't be enough to satisfy you or your needs and testing. Okay, let's go!

PART 1: ASSEMBLY - Follow this instruction for the Simple V2:

1. Lay all your stuff out and check to see if you got all the stuff before you even begin.
2. Get a ruler and measure the 4 rods to see if they are 6.5 inches and NOT 6 inches. (Some people got 6 inches rods from previous version by mistake)
3. Get to home depot, lowes, or some hardware store and get a hex key tool set ( You'll need 1.5 and 2.5 mm keys), some 4 inches zip ties (they come in a bag of 100 for like $2.89), and a hammer if you don't already have them. You WILL NEED THEM!
5. On step 8 and other steps regarding getting the vinyl tube on the stepper motor's (that square metallic thing) shaft, do NOT slide it in all the way into the shaft (the circular metal sticking out of the stepper motor in the center), because that will cause friction between rims of your motor and the rotating shaft. Just slide it in 3/4 of the way and secure it with a zip tie. Also, for the X axis motor, you HAVE TO somehow get the zip tie as close to the stepper motor as possible without the vinyl touching the inner circle of the motor, because if you don't - when you rotate it, the zip tie's head will hit the printing bed.
4. In the instructions above, on step 11 - Do NOT zip tie the power adapter to the board! Just save that step for the step 25 because it makes plugging in and out the circuit board easier.
5. On step 13 - 14, don't worry about the power adapter for now. Get two pieces of tape, tape it to each of the color wire sets coming through the bottom hole. Mark it X and Z accordingly. This way you'll know which is which.
6.On step 20 where you need to install the fishing line. This is one of the few important parts to get it right. You need to put a piece of sandpaper around the vinyl tube to prevent slippage between the fishing line and the tube. Use a fairly fine-grit sandpaper, and wrap it around the shaft with the rough side out. Secure down the sandpaper with the zip tie or super glue it around the tube. For extra grip, you can even super glue the tube to the shaft by dropping a few drop between the tube and shaft. When securing the fishing line, all you need ONE OR TWO loop around the vinyl tube. Move the bed to the center. Then make sure the line is as tight as possible without sagging. What I did was put one end of the string into the left hole. Secure it screw and nut in. String it once around the tube to the other side and pull it through the other hole, tug on it as much as I can while screwing it in.
7. On step 34, don't install the Y-End Stop like they did. The heat from the motor will damage it and it's a pain to get it out when problems occur. Just install it and don't loop the wires into that space but put it to the side or hangs free.
8. In step 25, you should now plug in the power adapter and leave it above the board. Also take a look at the circuit board. There should be four dials for each of the motor pins on the left which you can use a small flat head screw driver to turn them. These dials set how much current/power each motor receives. Their default position is 3 o'clock or horizontal, but this in my experience is a lot. It makes the motors get very hot and causes several problems. So I would highly recommend you do this. Turning the dial clockwise will increase the current and counter clockwise will decrease it. So take your screw driver and change it to about 1:30 o'clock for all motors. Maybe 2 o'clock for the X axis motors (the bottom most dial), because it makes a squealing sound if it doesn't get enough "juice".
9. They say it's recommended to file the shaft, but I personally think it is A MUST! Because it's going to slip over time if you don't.
10. Once you're done, take a drink because you've just spent 4 or 5+ hours on this thing. The next huddle is calibration which will take a couple of days :lol: .


For Windows Only:
1. Install the USB driver before you plug the printer's USB into your computer.

Direct Link:

2. Install repetier's host software on your machine. If the latest version gives you problem, download and install the previous version over it. You don't have to uninstall the current version. Just install the one want you want over it. The settings for your printer, EEPROM, and slic3r will retain its value if you change versions, so you don't have to worry about them.


3. Once that's done, plug in the printer's USB cable into your computer and start up repetier and hit connect. If it connects, go to the next step. If it doesn't, make sure the USB cable is plugged in firmly and go to control panel if you have Windows pc. View by small icon at the top right corner. Look for device manager and under ports, make sure there's usb port COM#. If you don't see any port number or it's not showing up, go to troubleshoot area below.
4. In repetier, go to the manual tab on the right side. See the blue bar? It should say "idle". If it says "command waiting", then your usb is either not plugged in or the computer could not find it. Try troubleshoot section below if this occur.

At this point you will see X Y Z arrows light up and becomes clickable. Let me explain:

The house image next to X Y and Z are called homing axis. If you have End Stops installed, then you can use them to set the starting position on your printer very easily. If you don't, then you have to manually home them by eye. X means side to side. Y means back and forth. Z means up and down. Minus X moves the extruder (the red/hot nozzle) to the left. Plus X moves it to the right. Minus Y moves it towards the front or towards you. Plus Y moves it back or away from you. Minus Z moves it down. Plus Z moves it up. See this post for a picture of the orientation: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=3484 The number associated with each bar is in millimeters of movement. You may try to move it to see if it connects now.

Below that is the Speed Multiply where feedrate means the speed at which the printer's nozzle will move when printing your object. The higher the number the faster it moves to printer your layers, but the less accuracy it will produce. Lower speed means higher accuracy for the most part. This speed is associated with the speed in slic3r (a built in program of repetier's that will make your object printable, explain later). I'm not sure what flowrate means how much the extruder spits out the plastic (also associated with slic3r). So if you aren't getting enough or too much plastic coming out, you can try changing the slider here.

Below Speed Multiply is Extruder, Printbed (if you have a hot bed for ABS printing), and Fan (I recommend you getting a 40mm fan to help cool the plastic as it comes out the extruder -). **** Fan is not included with kit - updated 8/14/2013

Link to a good fan:

You can set the temperature of the extruder here as well as extrude and retract the amount of plastic you want. You can only extrude and extract when the nozzle is hot (175+ degrees). So heat it up and wait for it. Also move your Z axis up about 10 mm from the bed to give the filaments space to come out.

You can try it now by inserting in the filaments between the drive gears and into the extruder. Then hit the extrude button. If you have a fan, you can plug it into the circuit board where it says fan at the top.

When you change settings, remember to click the ok button at the bottom to set it.


1. With Repetier software opened up click on Printer Settings in the far right, next to emergency stop. Under connection tab, set "Reset on Connect" to Disabled. This fixes a communication "handshake" setting that applies to some printers but not to Printrbots with the stock Marlin software. If you don't have it Disabled, you may not be able to see the Firmware EEPROM settings or perform some other tasks. Close this window.
2. Next, go to the Repetier Config menu at the top and then EEPROM firmware settings. Take note of the XYZE steps per mm values. This is your CURRENT default value for each axis and extrude filament amount. Hit cancel.3. Go here for the rest:
4. Click Apply and Ok to close.

Slic3r is a program that turns your stl files into printing code that tells the printer how to print your objects.

1. Go to Slicer tab on the right. Click the first configure under slic3r.
2. If you hover your mouse over the input area, you will see an explanation of each setting. I'll try to put them in simpler terms.

Layers and perimeters
- Layer is the surface area on which the printer prints.
- Layer height is how high you want your print layers to be. If you set it to 0.35 then the extruder will lift that much amount for every layer. A lower value means more accurate prints, but take a really longer time. Generally the layer height should be in the range of 65% to 80% of your nozzle diameter.
- Vertical shell perimeters is how many times it will go round the outside of your object. Higher is better, but takes more time and sometime risk smudging.
- Horizontal shell is how many layers to build as "solid" rather than "infill" at the bottom and top of your object. Higher is better, but takes more time.

- Infill is the region of print inside the hollow parts of an object.
- Fill density is how packed the fills will be. Higher means more tightly packed, where 0.1 is ten percent and 1.0 is completely filled (no voids).
- Fill pattern is the way it approaches the path to fill. Different pattern servers different purposes.
- You can learn more here:

- Speed is how fast the printer prints
- Speed is very important to printing a successful object so test them out. Lower speeds for each part means better printed parts and higher sticking likability.
- Acceleration is how much movement in speed the the extruder will go during each associated part. Lower acceleration is better. Period. Higher will cause axis skewing on the Simple.

Skirt and brim
- This sets up a small perimeter print around your object before/after it prints your object.
- Loop is how many times it will go around to print the perimeter.
- Skirt height is how high you want the perimeter to be.
- Brim: it can be described a couple of ways, one being: brim is like the rim on a cow-boy hat, or better, a Top-Hat.. it is a flat "ring" around the actual printed object, solidly connected to the base. the second way to describe a Brim, is that it is "just like" the Skirt loops that go around the initial layer on the Bed, but unlike the skirt which is separated from the actual printed object by a few millimeters of empty space, the Brim has NO separation, and is solidly connected to the base of the printed object. either way it is described, it's purpose is to provide a larger surface area on the Bed for better initial filament sticking, and is discarded after removing the object from the bed at the completion of printing. this is especially helpful on very small surface-area (per initial layer) prints as it will dramatically increase that first layers sticking power and resistance to tipping over as the print height increases.

Support is plastic structures that Slic3r adds to the design in order to support parts of your object that are not well supported by lower layers of the object. In other words, if you have an object that has a significant overhang, then when the extruder gets to that part of the object, the plastic it extrudes has nothing to land on; you will just get spaghetti on your bed far below. So Support adds thin vertical walls to give something for the plastic to land on. Unfortunately, you have to cut it away after the print is finished - but it's supposed to be fairly easy to remove. It's a necessity for some objects, but I (RetireeJay) try to design and orient my parts to minimize the need for support.

Don't worry about output options, multiple extruder, advance yet. The default settings are fine and you'll be a real expert before you ever need to change these.

3. Under the filament settings:

- Diameter is the width of your filament. Use a caliper to measure the width at several points and take the average.
- Temperature for the first layer should be 200 to make the first layer stick. Other layers are lower than that around 185 to 190. You'll have to experiment with this number to get the right prints to stick and not break all over the place.

- If you have a fan, cooling helps your extruded filaments from curling up too much as well as cools the current layer for the next layer to be applied. Set the fan speed to max is all you need to understand here or enable cooling. Also un-check the keep always for fan.

4. Under the printer settings:

- Bed size is the printable area of your bed. It should be 100mm x 100mm.
- Printer center is where you want your prints to print on the printable area. Always half of the printable area if you want it to be centered.

- Start G-code is the programmable code that initiates when you start the print.
- End G-code is what runs at the end.

- Pretty self explainatory if you hover your mouse over each input area.

After every setting change in Slic3r, save your settings by clicking the blue diskette save image. It will let you rename your settings. Rename it to how they did it in the Getting Started Guide link you have viewed above.


1. Go to the Manual Control tab. You want to position your extruder to the front left side of the print board. The front is the closes side to you and the back is the furthest away.
2. Hit the Minus X arrow/house and move the extruder to the left all the way. Once there, hit the Minus/house Y moves it forward all the way. That is your X0 Y0 plane.
3. Next, if you have Z End Stop installed, make sure the tall z screw in the back of the printer is wind up a distance from the end stop. Hit the Minus Z ARROW slowly 1mm at time down towards the bed/board. DO NOT hit the House Z button yet. Once you get it close enough, hit the 0.1mm Minus Z until your hit the board. Once you hit the board, hit the 0.1mm Plus Z 3 times. That's about the depth of a business card (0.25mm). This is your Z0 for now.
4. Try sliding a business card under it. If it slides under with a bit of tug, then you're good. If you have Z end stop installed, wind your screw in the back of your printer down to the end stop until you hear a click or depressed the stop button. Now click the House Z button and it should retract and move back to where it was. You can't move down beyond that point anymore. But if you want to make it move down a bit, just unscrew the screw until you no longer depressed the z end stop and hit the Z house button again.

If you don't have Z end stop installed, once you have the XYZ homed, you want to go to type this into the G-code input area below the blue bar: G92 X0 Y0 Z0 . Then hit Send. Finally, enter: M114 into the same input once it clears. Hit send. This basically tells the printer that your extruder is "homed".

5. Now, you want calibrate your print area and motor rotation movement. To do this, you will need a caliper or ruler with mm and a calculator.
6. First, let's calibrate your X axis motor. Move the extruder up a bit so it doesn't touch and drag on the bed. Do this by hitting the 1mm plus z three or four times.
7. Take a pencil or piece of tape and make a mark right on the print bed right above the extruder. Take your ruler/caliper and measure 50mm across the horizontal of the print bed and put down another pencil/tape mark there.
8. From your homed X position, click on the 50mm Plus X button to move the extruder to the right towards the mark. When it stops, take your ruler and measure how far it has traveled. Take that number and entered it into the following equation:

(Current default axis value steps per mm X expected distance)/total distance travel = actual axis steps per mm

The current default axis value can be found in the EEPROM firmware of repetier which I mentioned above. So for example, my default X step value is 119 and the total distance the extruder travel is 47.5mm.

(119 X 50mm)/47.5mm = 125.26mm

To calibrate Y and Z, do the same thing, but in their respective axis.

To calibrate E: Go to page 4 of this link under software calibration:

Once you have all four actual numbers: Enter them into the EEPROM settings and hit save to EEPROM. Some people put this in their Start G-code as well for each axis, but RetireeJay recommends against it. The problem is that the configuration settings that you save in Slic3r contain this G-code. If you modify your configuration settings (for example to take account of a different filament) and save the settings, then you now have at least three independent copies of the Calibraion numbers: one in EEPROM, and one in each of your Slic3r configurations. Then if you need to change out the sandpaper on your motor and you need to re-calibrate, you will have to remember to change all three copies. Why bother? The EEPROM takes care of it once and for all. If you need to change it, you have only one place you need to go.

Take notice of the acceleration value in the EEPROM setting. Changing this value will help with certain prints.


Leveling the bed does not mean making it level with respect to gravity (with a spirit level). It means making sure the extruder maintains a consistent distance from the bed no matter what the X Y coordinate is. Because the extruder and motor at the front is a bit heavy, it causes the front part to droop downward a bit. If you look at the printer from the side with your extruder set all the way to the front Y axis (Minus Y), you'll see the droop. So you need to make the bed/board slated toward the front and higher at the back to compensate for the droop. This is leveling the bed. If you need to get the front leveling screws to be shorter so it doesn't touch the bottom of the printer, just saw/grind it off or find a shorter one at the hardware store.

There are a software and hardware fix to this drooping problem in the forum somewhere. Just search for y axis drooping in the forum and you'll find it under the user member JohnSL.

Look under leveling the bed:

Once you're done leveling the bed. It's time to print.


1. Most people will NOT gets their first print right! So don't worry if it goes wrong. Just kill the job and analyze what went wrong and get help on the forum or look at the troubleshoot section below.
2. Download and try printing this wall first.
3. Once downloaded and unzip to a folder, go to the repetier's Object Placement tab and click the plus circle to add your object.
4. Once you add it, go to the Slic3r tab and hit configure.
5a. You can either go here to look at the official settings for Printrbot slic3r settings or the link below.
5b. Here's the another setting by an avid beta tester known by rsilver's:
6. Enter in your own XYZE values for your own printer. Don't use his G-code as every printer is "unique" in their calibrated values. Also your bed size should be 100 x 100 and center area is 50 x 50. Once you're done. Remember to save your setting for all three tabs
7. Prepare your print area, by covering it with painter's tape. You can use Kapton's tape or blue painter's tape. Different types of tape produces different sticking results as I've saw posted in troubleshoot. Putting tape helps the first layer stick and prevents your wooden bed from burning/damage from the hot extruder.
7. If you haven't put in the filaments into your extruder, you must do it now. Lift up the spring screw, put the filament all the way into the extruder, and close down the spring loaded latch. The tension on the springs should be high enough to assure good pull/push on the filament, but low enough to avoid flattening the filament.
8. Heat up the extruder to 200 degrees in the manual control, once there, extrude out about 5 mm to make sure it's ready and prime for printing. You'll notice that the filament will continue to ooze out of the extruder constantly and that's ok. Just take a pair of pliers and pry them off until you're ready to print. It's one of the problems that can't be fix yet.
9. Make sure you're at the HOME position for all three axis. Then hit Run Job and let the printer do it's thing. If you see any potentially serious problems during your print, you can kill job and change up the settings accordingly, clean the bed, and re-print. If it came out successful, then congratulations! :D

If I'm missing or is wrong about anything, please let me know and I'll update it for everyone with your credits.

I made some modification to help my prints, which you may find valuable. Take a look:










1. Q: Why is my USB not recognized on any PC even though I installed the USB driver and everything?

A: Check to see whether you have a faulty USB cable first or if it's tightly plugged the mini port on the board. If that's not the case, then check the firmware. To do this, look at the circuit board and find the pin that says "BOOT". This pin lets to boot into the firmware and reset the board and other stuff. Only do this if you absolutely sure there's no other way. If you see a jumper on the board, pull it out (this would be on a board below Rev D - pretty unlikely on a new Printrbot). If you don't see a jumper, put one in (this would be on a Rev D board, the current design). Then plug your USB cable. If you don't see a driver in your device manager after doing this, then something is wrong with the board, contact Printrbot. If you do see one, it should say AT90USB128 UDF, which means the board is not dead and your USB is working fine. It's just the firmware that's the problem. You need to reflash it:

Here's how I did it:

1. Turned off power and disconnected the USB cable. Then unplugged everything from the board. Reconnected only the USB cable and turned on the power.
2. Put the board into BOOT mode (jumper on/off the BOOT pin depends on the version) and press RESET. This will make the PC sees the USB as AT90USB128 UDF, but will not recognize it yet.
3. Follow the instructions in this pdf: ... rmware.pdf
4. Within the instructions, there is a driver that I had to sign up for and use to update the AT90USB128 UDF driver in Device Manager to let Atmel's "Flip" software communicate with the circuit board thru the USB cable.
5. Once I flashed it, take out the jumper and press RESET. This allowed the USB cable to be recognized as a COM port again and connect with Repetier and/or Pronterface.

2. Q: Why are my stepper motors getting really hot?

A: Turn the dials/pots on the circuit counter clockwise to lower it's current output. Put it at 1 or 2 o'clock position. You may turn it back all the way, but that will cause the motor to stop, because no/too little current is going into it.

3. Q: Why are my prints skewing/drifting/leaning in the X or Y position?

A: Probably because your fishing line is slipping. This can be caused by high acceleration/speed values in EEPROM settings which produces jerking/force on the string during corner and sharp turns by infill prints. It can also be that your fishing line is not tightly gripping the shaft or that the vinyl tube is too far into the shaft causing it to drag. You can either slow down the acceleration/speed or check to see if your lines are gripping tightly by centering the hot end to the dead middle of the board and then tighten your fishing lines..

4. Q: Why are my prints not sticking?

A: If the first layer is not sticking, then it means that your extruder is too high off the bed or your speed/acceleration values are too much. Assuming you set the temp to 200, while you're printing the first layer, you need to manually turn the Z axis acme rod until the extruder is pressing the hot filament down onto the bed. Alternatively, change the first layer height value in Slic3r to a lower value should also work the same way. Also try to lower the speed. You can also try to wipe some isopropyl alcohol on the bed, it helps it stick easier.

Also, try a different type of tape. Blue painter's tape is said to be the standard.

Basically, when you have non sticking problems, what you want to do here is have a hot filament coming out of the extruder and enough z space in between the layer and extruder so it gently presses the layer onto the layer underneath with relatively low speed. If you have a fan, you can turn it on or set it in Slic3r to help it cool the current layer for the next one to be applied.

5. Q: Why are my motors spinning in the wrong direction?

A: Just flip the axis pins on the board. Unplug the axis pin with the problem, flip it, and re-plug it in the other way.

6. Q: Why can't I home my X Y or Z axis using the HOUSE button anymore?

A: Probably your X Y or Z axis is broken. Check for broken wires. Restart the Repetier's or Prontoface program.

7. Q: How do I level my bed with the front of my printer is drooping?

A: The front end with the extruder is heavier than the Y axis frame can support it, so it causes the drooping. You have to adjust the bed patiently at the same angle as the droop's angle. Just be patient with it. I had to shave the front screws a couple of millimeters off for this.

8. Q: Why is my filament melting/slipping/spiraling out of the extruder gear area before it goes into the hot end?

A: Because your extruder stepper motor is too hot and the heat causes it to melt. Try turn the Extruder dial/pot on the board counterclockwise to 1 o'clock. Go to the top and click on the post link about design flaws for a photo of what I mean.

9: Q: Why is my Z axis starting too high for each print?

A: You need to "Home" it for each print as it assume the current location or wherever it is at - the home position and starts from there. Use the Z house button for each print to make sure.

10: Q: Why are my prints too small or too big?

A: You didn't scale it down/up correctly. When you add an stl file, it lets you scale it down. Look for a scale ratio value in your program.

11. Q: Why are my motors making knocking/squealing sounds?

A: Could be that it's not getting enough/too much current or something stuck in it. Try turning the dial/pot on the circuit board or looking to see if something is stucking in between the shaft and motor. If neither, it's probably a bad motor and you need to contact Printrbot.
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Printrbot Simple V2: The Complete Guide [Updated 8/29/13]



Re: The Complete Guide to New Printrbot Simple V2

Postby Extrude3D » 2013-Jul-Sat-07-Jul

Great post, OP. I'm looking forwards to building my Simple over the next few days. I annotated the current instructions on my iPad so I should have no issues with assembly. Thanks for all the work you put into this post.
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Re: Printrbot Simple V2: The Complete Guide [Updated 8/8/13]

Postby mpcahn » 2013-Aug-Wed-01-Aug

This post should be stickied, it's better than the stock guide.
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Re: Printrbot Simple V2: The Complete Guide [Updated 8/14/13

Postby REPRAP SQUAD » 2013-Aug-Wed-08-Aug

Great job. Its in depth and includes all the info thst was confusing to some. Definitely sticky this
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Printrbot Plus V2 W/
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*Heavily Modded and all axis extended
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Re: Printrbot Simple V2: The Complete Guide [Updated 8/14/13

Postby Marcus » 2013-Aug-Wed-09-Aug

Thank you very much for putting so much effort in your post, this is very helpful.
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Re: Printrbot Simple V2: The Complete Guide [Updated 8/29/13

Postby RetireeJay » 2013-Aug-Thu-17-Aug

This post has now been made "sticky" at the top of the Simple Stock talk forum.
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Printrbot Plus operational January 2013
Brass threaded rods (5/16" X 18) & nuts for Z axis
GT2 belts & pulleys
Cable chain to reduce probability of fatigue failure in wires
E3D V5 Hot End, 0.4mm nozzle, also 0.8 and 0.25 in use occasionally
PB fan mount + 40mm fan -- using printed mount adapter, not the E3D supplied fan
Injection molded extruder gears
Optical Z "endstop" (custom designed and built)
Have used many pounds of T-Glase filament. Now also doing some work with Ninjaflex SemiFlex
Print on glass with Scotch Craft Stick or other glue stick
"My next printer is..." Prusa i3 MK3
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Re: Printrbot Simple V2: The Complete Guide [Updated 8/29/13

Postby UndCon » 2013-Aug-Fri-06-Aug

As per calibration goes I suggest doing like I did... feel free to use the images linked
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