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Which bowden setup to go with the E3d carriage?
I've been lurking around here for a while, and decided I'm finally going to take the plunge in setting up Andy's e3d bowden carriage and I was wondering if you guys could share some of the steps you have taken, parts you have bought, considerations you've had to take, modifications to the printer, etc. It appears as if all of the information is scattered between a bunch of different posts, so if I can, I'll update this thread with the full bill of materials / steps / configuration to help other people in the same exact situation as myself once I am more educated in the subject.

Pardon me if I seem 3d Printer illiterate -- I am just a lowly software engineer who tinkers with hardware as a hobby, and I'm pretty new in general to the 3d printing world.

I have been looking at the following:

Airtripper V3 ( (Bill of materials is linked on the thingiverse page to his blog)
Andy's E3D bowden carriage (

Materials I have so far:
AirTripper V3 printed parts
E3d Bowden Carriage printed parts
4x LM8UU Bearings
4MM OD 2MM ID teflon tubing
E3d v6 12v + bowden add-on

Materials I know i still need:

Screws / nuts / washers / virtually everything for the AirTripper

- As far as the 12v fan goes that comes with the E3D.. have you guys just plugged it into the arduino DUE in the davinci and repurposed the 5v fan for cooling PLA?
- Does the Davinci already use MK7 gears that the AirTripper recommends?
- How did you go about attaching the filament feeder to the printer externally?
- How did you wire everything up?
- Did you need to re-do the thermistor tables to work with the E3d instead of the one in the stock repetier firmware for davinci?

Sorry if these are stupid questions, but I'm really trying to learn, and if I can get this going, I will happily document the process and materials so somebody else as clueless as myself can do this.
- As far as the 12v fan goes that comes with the E3D.. have you guys just plugged it into the arduino DUE in the davinci and repurposed the 5v fan for cooling PLA?

i reused the cooling fan to continue to cool the e3d. I actually use an external fan blowing into the davinci when printing pla. Others have mounted a fan on the carriage and attached directly to the power supply. Orders use a 5 volt fan parallel to the oem fan. There are numerous ways, the all seem to work.

- Does the Davinci already use MK7 gears that the AirTripper recommends?

No. The 1.0 has a breech cut gear. Its teeth, imo, are shallow and do not grip well. Get the mk7 gear, you will be much happier. I removed the oem gear from the stepper and installed the new gear to the existing stepper.

- How did you go about attaching the filament feeder to the printer externally?

I mounted the airtripper on the z shelf using the existing left hand smooth rod mount holes and an existing hole. A short tube guides the filament from the stock feed location into the airtripper, a long tube feeds to the left along the top of the printer back around to the extruder . I can take some pictures if you would like.

- How did you wire everything up?

I used the stock pcb board. I trimmed the extruder stepper connector to allow it to be plugged into the stepper motor backwards. I did this so i would not need to modify the firmware every time since airtripper feeds backwards from oem. Fans go in the fans plug, thermistor to thermistor, heater wires to the extruder, just like oem only the stock pcb is now mounted on the z shelf.

- Did you need to re-do the thermistor tables to work with the E3d instead of the one in the stock repetier firmware for davinci?

I cheated, i reused the stock thermistor.

Thank you so much for explaining all of that. That clears up a LOT of what I was confused about. Should have everything ready to go Monday (except i'll be ordering the MK7 gear tonight) and hopefully get this mod done next weekend!

If you could post some pictures of your setup that would be awesome! I would love to see how you have the airtripper setup on the davinci. Most of the talk here seems to mostly cover the carriage portion.

I'm going to try using the thermistor that came with the E3D and see how that goes -- from what I've read, they're pretty similar.

Stay tuned! I'll try and document the whole process and take tons of pictures.
Is it complicated to replace the drive gear with the MK7?
Such a relative question, and the answer depends on if you have the correct tools or if you are using your fingers anf teeth. Wink

The gear must be pressed off.


some pictures of airtripper mounted on the z shelf would be most welcome.

I'll throw my experience here as well.

I've gotten a modified version of Andy's carriage and a bowden extruder setup on my machine. I requested .STP files from Andy directly so I could modify his part a little bit. I don't know how guys are getting it to fit without modifications, I must like a little more room for cabling. I opened up the opening for the E3D V6 a bit more to allow me to run the cartridge heater wires the way I wanted to. I've gone thru a few exturders. Currently, I have a brand new custom design that I really like alot. I'm more than happy to post images/files if desired...but they are on my home computer.....

- 12V fan on the E3D.

I ran a 12V lead off the Main board's power rail. I ran it alongside the existing wiring, removing the sprial wrap and re-wrapping it with the 12v line inside. When I got to the top, near where the Filament tube is, I T-ed it off and put a 12V connector at the top for an extruder fan (thats where I put the extruder). I continued the 12V line in the spiral wrap to the carraige where I used a connector so I can easily detach the wiring and remove the carriage.

- Been covered..the Davini is just a fine cut gear. It's pressed on. With a simple gear puller from a hobby shop it's an easy job to take it off. I started with a MK8 on an extruder, and just recently replaced that. I was having nothing but problems with the MK8 gear chewing up and slipping on ABS filament. The new extruder I put together is a MK7 based one and it is working great.

- Extruder location. I started with an extruder off Thingaverse ( and sorta like it. It used 2 screws to mount it. I ended up placing it on the top back of the frame, just off center near where the filament tube is. Has worked pretty well, while letting you have a pretty short lenght of Bowden tubing. My new extruder is just using those sames holes. I had to drill and tap the holes.

- Wiring wise, I ran the 12V to the E3D fan, so as soon as the system is turned on, it's turning. I re-purposed the Da Vinci fan for the layer fan, and left it plugged into the small board from the Da Vinci extruder. When I was running the 12V line into the sprial wrap, I pulled the Stepper motor wiring out of the bundle kept it separate. there is plenty of room in the back of the frame to house the extra service loop...I didn't trim it it all.

- I used the E3D thermistor, but I did splice it into the connector that they stock thermistor used. That way it is plugged into the small board from the extruder and passed thru the existing wiring bundle. Works great now that the PWM/PDM settings have been updated in .92 Smile In the .92 firmware, I believe the default thermistor table is set to 5. E3D says to change that to 8. I ran several weeks without changing the thermistor value in the firmware without any real issue....I honestly don't know how much of a difference it makes. In order to change that setting you need to do it in the .92 Source file and recompile and flash with the Aurdino IDE. You have to to do that as well for re-purposing the extruder fan as a layer fan.

Something you may not realize is that you will need to fabricate an X-Axis endstop piece for the carriage. As the file sits, there is nothing to engage the Opto Endstop on the X-axis. I printed out something small and glued it into position once I had the carriage installed.

Another piece of advice. There is a version of Andy's carriage that uses a small square piece screwed into the bottom to trap the belt, another has openings for using a zip-tie. If your doing the small piece, make sure you don't print it in fact don't use PLA anywhere in the carriage assembly. I replaced that part a few times before learning that lesson. It only took a few hours to soften the PLA up enough to let the belt slip.

Last but not least...DON'T damage any stock component until you get the carriage to the point where it will fit and slide SMOOTHLY on the rods. This is a BIG deal. Some have had no problem, others fought it. I went thru 3 prints of the Carriage before I got it to properly sit on the rails. The last thing you want to do is get to the point where you want to assemble the carriage, and it's rough, and you already damaged the printer to the point that you can't print a replacement part.

Let me know if you have any questions.
Kieth[Image: 20150126_200646.jpg][Image: 20150126_200706.jpg]
Here's a few images of mine....

guess i don't know how to properly embed them like Keith!!![Image: 20150126_175236.jpg][Image: 20150126_175258.jpg][Image: 20150126_175325.jpg]
Just click "insert" after selecting the file name to put the pictures inline.

I like the extruder. Any issue with controlling the tension on the filament?

I'm considering making a filament guide to utilize the stock sensor that detects filament.

I chose to move the pcb to minimize movement of the factory wires.

I've only got a few hours with the extrude on so far. Thus far I've been pretty happy. I kept trying to make other's designs work for me, but being a mechanical engineer, I've been less than satisfied by most available designs I've come across. Mainly because most designs out there are overly flimsy and allow too much flexing.

With that said...this one is the result of only 3 hours of work, and setup around the springs I had. Haven't seen anything but very clean teeth marks and extrusions. Been able to drop my ABS temps by 20C and continue to cleanly extrude, while keeping a 5mm retraction. I've also put thru 4 different materials thus far with no issue (XYZ ABS, Shaxon ABX, IC3D ABS, and HatchBox PLA) So I'm happy. Most importantly, it's a design that I have native files for, so modifying can be done in a few moments.

I intend to revise it a little bit to try and close the filament opening as much as possible and see if I have any luck with ninja flex. But that's a weekend project.

FYI, the springs were #17 compression springs I grabbed at Ace Hardware. Don't think that numbering means anything, they are roughty .300" OD and about 1.25" long uncompressed. The bearing is a standard 8MM ID and 22MM OD. Other than that, it's a 4MM nut for the tubing and a few M3 screws.[Image: Extruder1.jpg][Image: Extruder2.jpg]
Thanks for posting all of that. Both implementations look awesome! Sorry for asking for a million pictures, but I'd also love to see how you guys both configured the X carriage as I would imagine you guys both did it differently. I was thinking of going the zip tie route for attaching the carriage to the belt since I can't seem to get that part to print and not look somewhat flimsy.

MAtt -- I love the extruder design. For a few hours that looks great (and a million times better than I could do). I'm going to initially go with the airtripper, as I've already taken the time to assemble the whole thing and print all of the parts, but I definitely might try this one out as well.

Kieth -- Did you design that Y carriage yourself or find it somewhere? I have some extra bearings after getting all of the parts for this project, and I might try and do something like that next to get rid of the stock da vinci bushings.

I have all of the parts together for both the carriage and extruder, and I'm going to be jumping into it this weekend! I will try and get the whole process photographed.
I can take a few more images when I get home.

I have the little locking plate with 4 screws. I don't particularly like it. Not sure I would like the zip-tie either. The issue is that the location is difficult to get to, being on the bottom and close to the heating block. I was in a hurry to get SOMETHING working and just settled with what I had. I may re-visit that issue and modify the carriage some more to incorporate an easier way to tie the carriage to the belt. Though I don't relish the idea of trying to print that carriage again and fight with the warping.

I had significant issues getting the bearings/bushings to fit properly and aligned. I'm using 8mm x 20mm Oilite bushings, by the way. Ultimately, I ended up having to create a little template piece with multiple holes and adjusted the hole size by .025mm at a time until I got a hole size that fit the bushing snugly. Think I ended up printing a dozen of those template pieces before homing in on a good number. I can't emphasize enough the importance of having the bearing/bushing holes straight and true WITHOUT having to modify them. As soon as you have to Modify them after printing, the higher the risk of the bearings/bushings binding when installed on the rails.

Another tweak you may consider since your going to be tearing apart the x-axis setup is to replace the belt idler pulley, The one you see in Keith's picture. The stock design is a pulley that has a pressed pin in it that runs in groove in the plastic. If yours hasn't started squeaking and wearing yet, it will. It's a horrible design. There are a few options out there, but I prefer my solution ( Tongue ). I designed and printed a 2-part replacement pulley that is double bearing supported. I used the same pin, and a couple of bearings I had from one of my RC Helicopters. The bearings are pressed into each side of the pulley, and the pin rides in the channel the same way. It's the same what that a tail rotor is supported on an RC Heli, which is spinning +20,000 rpm. Only difference from stock is that now the pulley will spin relative to the pin, and the wearing of the plastic part is eliminated......

I can put those files up here as well when I get home, as well as specify the bearing size.....
That would be awesome, MAtt! I am pretty new to this all, and like any tinkerer, I'm not sure if my hobby is printing stuff or messing with my printer Tongue I would love to do any mod that will make this guy run better and wear down less.

Also, if you have the files for your modified carriage, that would be great too. I'm not going to be swapping all of this until the weekend, so I have plenty of time to print a bunch of parts and go with the one that works the best.

Thanks again for all the suggestions / help / pictures. You guys have cleared up a ton of questions I had about getting this modification done. Can't wait to be rocking the bowden setup! How are your prints after all of these modifications? At this point, you're basically rocking a reprap printer with a cool enclosure lol.
Using andys carriage, i had no trouble aligning the bearings. maybe it is the methods? I reemed the hole to allow the bearing to push in and out easily with finger pressure. Then i slid a rod through the carriage. I wiped (smeared) the outside of the bearing with some gasket maker and then pressed it in place, leaving about 1/4 inch sizing out each side in the front. The extra sticking out was to facilitate removal (with vice grips, etc if need be ). The rear bearings i just sat in place and slid the rod in. Both rods slide very easy with no binding, and so far i have none of the wear from the lm8 balls that some people speak of; i suspect they may have the bearing orientation wrong or it may have been sure to a defective bearing. Lm8s are cheap after all.

I can take a few more pictures soon. Not sure it will be tonight, since I'm working late today and early tomorrow.

Yes, you've figured it out pretty quickly.....the hobby is the printer, not what your printing. DEFINATELY!!!

I'll put a bunch more up when I get home. With some better pictures.

The printer is pretty good. I haven't dialed in a good method or perferred material for ABS yet. Still trying to get a hold on warping. ABS Slurry seems to be the only thing I can get to be consistent with larger parts...but I hate cleaning that stuff up. But for PLA, I've gotten it to be pretty much print-and-forget. Using bare glass and 70C build plate, I've had no issue with PLA regardless of size of part. Finished quality of the part is matching the MakerBot Replicator 2 I use at work for comparable settings. I'm also able to print PLA at ~60mm/s and ~90mm/s infill pretty consistently.

Next challenge is to get ninjaflex to print properly...... Smile

Yeah, I've only put ~$120 into modding the machine, and I got it for $300 on a Black Friday, I'm pretty happy with it.
Na....mine just printed tight. I really didn't get deep into calibrating the printer until AFTER I got the carriage up and running. I printed a carriage for both the LM8 bearings and for the 12mm bushings.....both were tight. And once I tried to open up the holes, it just went downhill from there. Maybe with a proper jig and a good drill press it wouldn't have been an issue, but I didn't have that.
What's the wrong orientation for the bearing?
Please see andys thread with the carriage- i explained it there with my crude ascii thrills, i meam spills, i meam skillz. Wink

The short version is the load must ride on the plastic liner with the balls capturing the tolerance of the bearing. In other words, on a 3d printer if up is north, no balls of the lm8 should ever be at north or south; the bearing should be rotated 45 degrees. Hope that makes sense.

Here are the .STL files for the Pulley and the Modded Carriage I made

The pulley is 2 parts, and I made the a little loose fitting. You will need to glue them together. The bearing were just ones I had laying around and fit the pin properly. I believe they are 6mm OD 3mm ID 4mm thick. Should be able to verify from the printed part, they fit pretty snugly.

The carriage is pretty much the same as Andy's (version for the 12mm OD bushings) except I removed a bit more material where the hot end sits. The way I configured it just need a bit more room to freely fit the heater cables and the E3D fan.

and a few more images of my carriage assembly. Also an image of an assembly printed with this setup. There is ABS, PLA and even 1 part printed on a MakerBot in there.....

Do'H! I forgot to grab the STL file for the end-stop piece that I printed and glued on the to carriage to trip the X-Axis opto-Endstop......

[Image: 20150127_180906.jpg][Image: 20150127_180923.jpg][Image: 20150127_180944.jpg][Image: 20150127_181006.jpg][Image: 20150116_095021.jpg]

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