In recent weeks, replacing the Y-Carriage Plate has become one of the most popular mods among the Maker Select and Wanhao Duplicator community. The plate included with these printers is stamped metal which tends to easily warp with usage, making it vastly more difficult to properly level the bed. After taking my Y-Carriage plate off the printer and laying it on a flat surface, I could see that one corner had become noticeably deformed.
Thankfully we have a rather extensive amount of options now, providing us with a range of variations in material, shape and so fourth. One such plate is 0.125″ thick, machined using melamine faced phenolic laminate and offers both a considerable weight savings as well as increased strength. If you are interested, it can be purchased on Reddit from the user /u/gamekorp who sells it directly for $20.00 + S&H. The most popular choice however is the Rep Rap Champions Y-Carriage plate I have linked below, where this is what I will be using for the guide. This particular plate is made of solid aluminum and has no flex, ensuring that it does not warp over time.
Purchased Parts List:Aluminum Y Carriage Plate - $
In order to access the Y-Carriage Plate, we need to remove the heated bed from the 3D Printer. If you use a glass pane or similar build platform, you will want to begin by setting that aside. From there, proceed to loosen all 4 thumb wheels until they come off, leaving the end of the M3 screws exposed.
Carefully lift the heated bed upwards and place it behind the printer, ensuring that there is no unnecessary stress in the wires. The springs will come free as well once the bed has been lifted off. I would advise placing both these and the thumb wheels into a bowl to prevent losing them.
The original Y-Carriage Plate should now be visible. There are 18 screws holding this in place, with 4 in each of the bearing housings and 2 in the middle attaching it to the belt. Using the hex keys included with the printer, remove all of these. This will free the plate, which can then be lifted off and set aside.
At this point in time, you may want to consider doing several other small mods as well.
- LM8LUU Bearings: I would highly recommend upgrading the standard linear bearings to the longer LM8LUU variants. The original bearings are short, noisy and far from optimal. While you can spray a thin layer of White Lithium Grease inside each to quiet them, the longer bearings are the recommended choice.
- Tensioner Spring Removal: Removing the metal tension spring, you will reduce the amount of unwanted play in the Y-Belt. Once the spring has been taken off, cut the zip ties holding the belt to one of the bracket screws, then zip tie it again 3 notches tighter than before.
- Y-Belt Pulley: The Y-Belt pulley on the front of the printer is not aligned with the smooth rods. While there are complete 3D Printed replacements for this assembly, such as the Y-Axis Pulley Stabilizer, the easiest method is to simply relocate the nut to the other side and bring the pulley closer to the center. Unscrew the pulley bolt, place the nut on the other side of the metal bracket and screw the bolt back through.
When you are ready to do so, you can seat the new Y-Carriage Plate on the bearing mounts, aligning the holes as needed. Lightly thread each of the screws back into the top of the plate, just enough to secure them in place, then pass back through using the hex key to tighten them down.
You can go ahead place the heated bed back into place, fitting the springs on to the screws and sliding them into the Y-Carriage Plate’s corner holes. After you have reattached the thumb wheels, I do advise tightening all 4 corners down completely before you home the Z axis. Depending on the thickness of the plate that was installed, you may need to adjust the Z end stop, raising the position to compensate. This will prevent the nozzle from smashing into the build platform and causing unexpected damage.