Introduction: M3D Printer Setup External Extruder
Many of us using the M3D Micro 3D printer will have the Direct drive motor for extrusion burn up on us After several motor replacements I have decided to take on setting up an external Extruder which is common for many printers but for the M3D its a task being that the Firmware is locked down and keeps from modifying simple things like motor parameters.
This tutorial will take you through setting up your M3D with custom Firmware (allowing the use of several other 3D Print Hosts such as OctoPrint) and setting up the external extruder with a bigger motor than the stock one.
I do not normally do these so I hope it all goes well and is easy to follow. Shopping links change so much and the Parts List is very common so I did not put in Purchase Links for the few simple items as I go as cheap as I can and shop ebay usually.
Step 1: PARTS LIST
Fairly common parts for a 3D Print user but very easy and cheap to obtain as well.
• $12 (Or Print One) Greg Wade Reloaded extruder (9/47 Ratio) - any ratio or Extruder setup will work but you WILL have to change the Steps_Per_mm Units for the E Motor in the Firmware which Ill explain at the end.
• $14 Nema17 Stepper Motor - again any stepper you want to use 11,14,17 etc. but steps modification may be needed.
• $4 Bowden Tube with 2 Push-Fit connectors.
Thats it for pieces.
Step 2: Files Needed
• M3D Manager ZIP V00.10!
• Printer Host (In This case MatterControl but OctoPrint also works fine)
• Firmware (Located in the next Step)
• STL File for Bowden Connection
Step 3: Setup the Firmware
After Downloading the M3D manager from GitHub and Un-Zipping you will ave a folder for the M3D manager inside and have the Windows installer. Also need to download the iMe.Nema17 ZIP file posted here and unzip as well.
1. Run that and open up >
2. Plug in the Micro >
3. Click Connect inside the M3D Manager
4. Click 'Install Firmware From File'
5. Navigate to the iMe.Nema17 hex file
6. When complete Click 'Firmware Mode'
7. Click Disconnect
• Every time you SHUT OFF the Micro Printer you will have to repeat step 5 to get communication to your host software. (I leave mine on all the time for this reason)
• Firmware is setup now for the Nema17 motor.
Step 4: Setting the Host Up
(Need the MatterControl Profile I added here)
I am currently using Matter Control as they have nice features and layouts. Their download page was posted earlier and once installed open it up. We have to setup a new Printer for the M3D and since it is not Supported yet (I am working on that with MatterControl support) you will set it up as printer Model and Type as Other.
• Clicking setup new printer (Other - Other Options)
• It will want to install Drivers for the printer click YES
• Click Connect , Unplug (Dont Turn Off) the M3D USB cable
• Click Continue following the on-Screen instruction
• Plug back in and wait for connection, sometimes I have to do this 2 or 3 times.
• After connection is complete you should 'Import' the Profile you got here for the proper M3D settings.
• Under settings and control there is a Bed Level Configuration you should complete before any printing this is very important do not forget to do this.
Step 5: The Extruder Setup
I will add pictures later but it is straight forward. connect your motor to the Wade and the Push-Fit connector (I used a PopSicle stick with a hole in it to thread the connector to my GregWade (Like i said you can use a Non-Gregwade setup) and the Tube with the 2nd connector to the other end. There is a Model/STL attached you need to print that goes OVER the Plastic filament housing/guide above the nozzle. You HAVE to get a Longer Screw for this to work (Mine doesnt even fit the threads i just forced it in).
Now you will need to remove the Stepper Motor thats currently inside the M3D because the Gear has to be removed as well as the Bearing on the Left side under the Screw because the Filament WONT pass through the gap.
Here is the guide on removing the extruder core.
I SKIP steps 1-4 it's pointless removing the entire axis.
Replace the housing and nozzle without the motor and it's snug enough it won't move.
Add in the STL Piece and Thread in the Push-Fit connector from the Bowden tube (it is tight but it will go.)
Finally the wires. They most likely are not color coded to match the M3Ds if your stepper came with a 4Pin plug already attached just remember the color order and splice the wires in that order to the M3D wires. I personally CUT off the wires from the M3D stepper motor to I spliced the Plug into my Nema17 so I can connect or disconnect it easy. I'll add a photo of mine for color reference when I get a chance.
The cover won't fit back on the housing with this setup Nor will the wires and big cable out the top sit where it was. I still have to (or someone else feel free to beat me til it) make a New front cover to fit the new setup and support the wires etc.
my prints are just fine with them hanging out there at the moment so yours will too.
This concludes the setup and should be done in this order. the Last 2 things to do here is.
1. Heat the Nozzle and extrude 50mm. mark your filament to measure and make Sure it is 50mm if not let me know so we can fix it. you may have a gear ratio different from mine and I'll modify the Hex file and send you a custom firmware with correct steps_per_mm.
If you want to use a different extruder setup you will have to modify the steps per mm units and recompile the firmware for it too work. This has to be done with a hex compiler like Amtel Studio which I plan to start learning how to. Direct bugs and issues with the firmware or M3D manager need to be directed to Donovan6000 on his GitHub page posted earlier. This is HIS firmware project and he is great with responses and regular weekly updates so support and follow him. Also if you Have an M3D we have more MODs and options if you want to join our official M3D G+ community. Here is our Link. https://plus.google.com/communities/115631688751023020563
I will come back and add some more photos and when I get my new camera I'll put out some videos and time-lapse footage as well. I hope this was an easy to read and follow tutorial I am sorry if it isn't but I'll respond to every question and make adjustments where needed. Thanks.