Introduction: How to Take Ember Apart
If you want to repair or modify your Ember 3D printer, you'll need to disassemble it to some degree. This guide will show you how. We'll cover everything from removing the front panel to removing the projector.
Conveniently, Ember can be almost entirely taken apart using only a 2mm hex key and a 2.5mm hex key. It has a few #10 Torx screws, but those can almost always be removed with a 2mm hex key. The only parts that require additional tools are the build arm and linear drive, but we have a separate Instructable for that, since most people won't need to remove them.
Before you begin, make sure you have a bowl or other container to hold all the screws and bolts you'll need to remove.
Step 1: Remove the Front Panel
Removing Ember's front panel allows access to the electronics that are close to the front.
There are four screws holding Ember's front panel on, all of which can be removed with a 2mm hex key:
- Two M3 screws above the middle platform
- Two #10 Torx screws on the bottom
Step 2: Remove the Two Bottom Screws From the Back Panel
Use a 2mm hex key to remove the bottom screw from each side of the back panel.
Removing just the two bottom screws allows the panel to be lifted off with the rest of the frame later. However, if you'd like to remove the back panel without removing the rest of the frame, remove all six screws, not just the bottom two.
Step 3: Remove the Side and Top Frame Screws
Ember's aluminum frame is attached with three sets of four screws, all of which require a 2.5mm hex key:
- Two sets are located on either side towards the bottom
- The third set is on the top above the door.
You don't need to unscrew the screws that are near the top corners of the frame; they just hold the frame together.
If some screws spin in place instead of coming out, do the following:
- Remove all the frame screws that will come out
- Remove the remaining screws on the back panel, and remove the back panel itself
- Press down with one hand on the central plate (rotate the vat support plate out of the way) and firmly yank one side of the frame up until it comes loose
- Yank the other side of the frame until it comes loose
- Use pliers to hold each nut inside the frame, while turning the screws with a 2.5mm hex key
Step 4: Unplug the Door Sensor and Grounding Cable
The door sensor and grounding cable are attached to the frame and will need to be unplugged before lifting off the frame. Their connections are located on the right side of the Ember control board:
- The door sensor cable is is circled in blue. The connector has a lock, so it's often easiest to use a hex key to release the lock while gently pulling on the cable at the same time.
- The grounding cable is held on via a #10 Torx screw, which can usually be removed with a 2mm hex key. It's a green cable and the screw is circled in green.
Step 5: Remove the Frame and Door
Now, with the all the frame bolts undone, lift off the frame and the door from Ember, being careful to guide the door sensor cables on their way out so you don't ruin their plugs.
Step 6: Unscrew the Middle Plate
Unscrew the 8 outside screws of the middle plate using a 2.5mm hex key. The screws to remove are circled in green; remove the mirror image of these from the other side as well.
Step 7: Unplug the Motors and Sensors
Unplug the following cables, circled in blue:
- Two motor cables
- Z-axis sensor cable
- Jamming sensor cable
- Homing sensor cable
It's easiest to remove the z-axis and homing sensor cables using a pair of pliers or tweezers with a hooked or bent nose (gently!).
To remove the motor plugs, bring one hand in from the back and one from the front and squeeze your index fingers together over the latch while lifting up.
Step 8: Remove the Central Assembly
Now that you've disconnected all the cables, gently lift the central assembly off, making sure no cables get hooked coming out.
Step 9: Optional: Remove the Ember Focus Locking Screw
Most Embers have a screw that locks the focus of the projector so it doesn't change during transport. However, you may want to refocus your projector. If that's the case, remove the locking screw (circled in orange) with a Phillips screwdriver.
To focus the projector, use a 2.5mm hex key to turn the focus screw at the back of the machine above the power and ethernet ports.
If your projector still isn't focusing sufficiently, you can change the focus as much as you want by unscrewing the lens barrel. This requires removing the plastic housing over the lens barrel (2 screws) and loosening the knurled ring around the lens (sometimes requires pliers). Note that there are two lenses; you want to rotate both of them as one unit, not just the front one.
Interesting note: if you unscrew the lenses enough, you can actually double the resolution of the projector. However, the trade-off is that the build area is 4x smaller, and the focal length is only a few centimeters, which means that you have to point the projector directly up into the window, which requires building a custom lower enclosure to hold it.
Step 10: Remove the Projector
Before removing the projector, tighten each of the six 2mm screws (circled in green) to make a visible dent in the plastic sled. The second image for this step shows a properly-made dent. Marking the projector's position with dents will allow us to put the projector back in the exact same location, which will ensure that it projects across the entire build area and the image isn't cut off.
Now remove the projector as follows:
- Clip the zip tie holding the power plug in place (circled in blue)
- Unplug the HDMI cable (circled in blue)
- Unplug the green I2C cable if you have one
- Lift out the whole projector, sled and all
To remove the projector EMI cage,
Later when you reattach the projector, here's how to check that you put it back in the right spot:
- Put the central assembly in place. You don't have to plug in any of the motors or sensors or anything, but you might want to put two screws in the middle plate just to make sure it's in the right spot.
- Insert a resin tray onto the platform.
- Rotate the tray directly over the window.
- Plug in power to Ember.
- Connect to Ember via SSH with your computer.
- Type the command echo test > /tmp/CommandPipe to project a test pattern.
- Make sure the entire test pattern image is displayed in the bottom of the resin tray.
IMPORTANT NOTE FOR REASSMBLY: The green I2C cable is asymmetric -- it will either have a end that has a sharpie mark or the ends will be labelled J1 and J2. The end that says J2 or has a sharpie mark must be plugged into the projector (see images 3 and 4).
Step 11: Going Further
Ember can be disassembled even more, but most people won't need to. However, if you need to remove Ember's linear drive and/or build arm, there's a separate Instructable for that.
Removing the main PCB, fans, or front panel are all pretty straightforward -- just unscrew the screws and pull them out.
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