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Essential Mods to Upgrade Your 3D Printer (Maker Select v2)

When I first purchased my Maker Select, I already had a hefty list of mods planned before it even arrived. I spent weeks researching every ounce of information available, prepared to replace or upgrade any parts that would help improve my prints. While these machines have fantastic results right out of the box, a few changes can create even better prints that rival machines several times their cost.

In a nutshell, the Maker Select is essentially a low cost foundation that can be further improved over time. A quick trip to the hardware store is often all that it takes, where much of what you will need can be printed off that very machine! There is a wide range of part designs readily available, including everything from belt tensioners to cooling fan shrouds. We will look at the most important mods that every new owner should be made aware of, explain the reasoning for it and where to find more information.

MOSFET Board

The MOSFET Board is hands down the absolute most important upgrade for your 3D Printer. The electrical connectors which power the heated bed are not rated for the amount of electricity it consumes, where they will eventually melt and burn out. To remedy this issue, we use a MOSFET Board to bypass the underrated connectors and draw power directly from the power supply instead.

While you may be second guessing your purchase at this point, let me assure you that it is far from complicated and actually quite simple to do. My very first guide on this website covered the entire process, where I had absolutely no electrical wiring experience going into it. After having it completed, it was far from the intimidating ordeal I had pictured in my head. It costs less than $20 in parts from Amazon, can be completed in under 30 minutes and will ensure safe and happy printing in the future.

Guide: Installing a MOSFET Board (Maker Select V2)

Z-Brace Mods

The Maker Select and Wanhao Duplicator have an i3 frame design, resembling an upside down T shape. While this is widely used among many budget printers, the problem is that the vertical (Z) axis is not well supported and wobbles during print. As implied by the names, this results in backlash called “Z-wobble” and artifacts referred to as “Z-banding” which create visible lines in 3D printed objects.

The Z-Brace Mods are the answer to this problem, designed to stabilize the frame and make it more rigid. While several variations are available, the fundamental idea is to place brackets on both the vertical axis and the base of the 3D printer, affixing them together using metal rods. In doing so, the upper part of the printer cannot move freely and eliminates defects in prints.

Thingiverse: Original Z-Brace Mod
Thingiverse: Modified Z-Brace Mod
Amazon: Z-Brace Mod Kit

Dii Cooler

Unless you are printing exclusively in ABS filament, you will see drastic improvements from better cooling. The 30mm fan included with the Maker Select is the bare minimum, only blowing enough air for relatively basic prints. When you have complex designs that require bridges or overhangs, the limitations of that little fan will quickly become apparent.

Using the Dii Cooler or a similar design, in combination with a large blower style fan, we can vastly improve the parts cooling. The differences are night and day, making this not only the cheapest but also the most effective upgrade to the overall print quality. Where the stock fan only blows air from a single side, the Dii Cooler has a 360 degree field of cooling that will ensure the plastic hardens almost immediately.

Thingiverse: Dii Cooler
Thingiverse: Thorped Cooler
Thingiverse: Cobra Cooler

Glass Bed

The Maker Select includes two sheets of Build Tak for surface adhesion. In my initial rush of excitement and confusion, I actually stuck the spare sheet on top of the one which was already installed from the factory. While Build Tak does a relatively good job, it does start to experience wear and tear from repeat usage. Since my spare was no longer available due to beginner’s negligence, it was not long before it needed to be replaced.

There is no better option than glass when it comes to a build surface for 3D printers. It can be removed as needed, convenient when prints are stuck and difficult to break free. A wide variety of adhesives can be used on glass, eliminating problems with bed adhesion and warped prints. It also provides a solid, flat surface that can cover any potential defects in the heated bed.

Guide: Installing a Glass Bed

Belt Tensioners

These 3D printers rely entirely on belts to move both the extruder assembly and the heated bed, constantly going back and fourth with immense precision. From the factory, these belts are kept tight using small metal springs, however they do start to wear out and stretch over time. As this happens, the belts can become loose and are no longer capable of the precise movements required.

Using 3D printed belt tensioners, we can replace these weakened springs and keep the belts tight to ensure accurate transitions. While a quick fix is to simply zip tie the belts, the adjustable belt tensioners will allow for variable tension using a set screw, becoming more taut as it is tightened.

Thingiverse: Simple Belt Tensioner

Y-Carriage Plate

The Y-Carriage Plate is the square metal base which is below your heated bed. The original plate is stamped metal which actually weakens the structural integrity and results in warping over time. Many owners begin to notice trouble leveling their beds after continuous usage, only to find that the Y-Carriage Plate has deformed and is no longer flat. When replacing mine several months after purchasing the 3D printer, I noticed the original plate was starting to bow upwards in one of the corners.

Several companies have created superior replacements, machined from materials such as aluminum, carbon fiber and laminates. These are flat, thick sheets of rigid material, built to withstand the pressure created by the bed leveling screws. Designed to be a direct swap, they are simple to install and will make bed leveling much easier.

Guide: Replacing the Y-Carriage Plate (Maker Select V2)

Z-Extensions

The Maker Select and Wanhao Duplicator i3 are advertised as having a vertical build volume of 180mm. While they are capable of such, they are actually only able to print 143mm without modification. The wires on top of the extruder assembly will hit the printer frame, preventing it from reaching full volume and potentially causing damage in the process.

One option is to rotate the extruder motor, where the wires will be facing the rear of the printer as opposed to the top. This does however require extending the wires to increase the length, where the Z-Extensions are generally the better alternative. They can be 3D printed and installed with ease, raising the crossbeam by 37mm to accommodate the full build volume.

Thingiverse: Z-Extensions

Micro Swiss All-Metal Hotend

While the Micro Swiss All-Metal Hotend is not essential, it is a massive upgrade in terms of printing capabilities. The stock nozzle is lined with plastic PTFE tubing which prevents heat from prematurely melting the filament and causing clogs. The downside is that this tubing begins to deteriorate and can even become toxic at higher temperatures (exceeding 245° Celsius). While this is not a problem for basic materials such as PLA and ABS, more exotic filaments such as PETG and Nylon often print at 250° Celsius or more.

The Micro Swiss All-Metal Hotend replaces the MK10 nozzle, thermal barrier tube and cooling block (optional) with steel and aluminum components. In doing so, the plastic PTFE tubing is no longer needed, allowing for higher temperatures and more abrasive materials to be used. With a variety of exciting filaments available, the Micro Swiss All-Metal Hotend is a fantastic upgrade which opens a lot of doors for your 3D printer!

Guide: Installing the Micro Swiss All-Metal Hotend (Maker Select V2)

21 thoughts on “Essential Mods to Upgrade Your 3D Printer (Maker Select v2)

  1. Hi Brett,

    Thanks for this list! I printed the original z-brace mod a few days ago and noticed that some of the screw holes didn’t line up on my maker select v2. The modified z-brace mod looks like it will work better, so I’ll give that a shot.

    I’ve had pretty good luck with the included build tak with the exception of having the nozzle too low and scraping the surface (won’t do that again).

    1. Hi Eric,

      No problem, I hope it helped! I never actually used the original Z-Brace so I am not sure about fit, I started with the Modified Z-Brace and then switched to the kit later on. Were the rods already attached to the brackets or did you try mounting just the brackets themselves?

      I liked the Build Tak and kept using it as long as I could. Unfortunately since I stuck both of my sheets together, I only had the one which did eventually wear out. Glass is a great replacement when you reach that point, however there isn’t really any need to switch until the Build Tak is in bad condition.

      1. I assume you’ve read that the Maker Select Plus (24v Electrical System) does not need the MOSFET, which is indeed true. However, simply installing a 24V PSU into the Maker Select will not resolve the problem. You would have to do quite a bit more work to make the system work with 24V, not just replacing the PSU.

    1. All models of the Maker Select require the MOSFET Board to be installed. I have the 2.1 model as well and while they have upgraded the connectors, they are still not rated where they need to be and will melt.

  2. Great info, thanx!
    Question:
    I keep having problems w/my Maker Select v2 printing holes.
    Most of ht eholes I do are small (for #6 – #8 screws).
    They never start right on the first layer, even though the main body of the print works good.
    The nozzle just doesn’t deposit enough plastic to make a good circle for the hole i.d. and so forth.
    What could be the problem?
    Thanx … Chris

    1. When it first begins printing, does it start with the hole outlines or does it print elsewhere first? If it starts with the hole outlines, you may want to prime the hotend so it has plastic ready to extrude. You could either do this by having it draw 1-2 skirts or use g-code to have it draw a line before it begins the print.

  3. TL;DR — Stepper Dampers on X and Y drastically cut down on noise:
    Thanks so much for creating this list and the helpful instructions. I spent a lot of time here in the first few weeks after getting my printer.

    I wanted to mention another mod I made recently that is so amazing I feel it qualifies as “essential”! I added stepper dampers to the X and Y axes, and the reduction in the printer noise was worth the effort. I have yet to see if it has other impacts, like improved print quality. I printed a Marvin and honestly didn’t notice much difference.

    I wish I had done a before/after comparison with either video or a dB meter. It’s just not intuitive that a little rubber gasket would have so much effect, but it really does. The Y-axis stepper is relatively easy to access. The X stepper is NOT easy – in fact, I was very worried I may not be able to get it re-assembled. If you are not mechanically inclined, think twice before diving in. This will give you a sense of what’s involved: https://makerware.thingiverse.com/groups/i3/forums/general/topic:26540
    If you haven’t installed cable tensioners, this is a good opportunity to do that as well.

    I bought a 5-pack of “NEMA 17 Steel & Rubber Dampers” (from eBay for $13). I thought I’d put them on the z-axes as well, but turns out they are already installed. I don’t plan to add one to the extruder, as the sound from that is minimal, and the flexible coupling may actually negatively impact performance. So I’ve got 3 extras, but no regrets.

    While I’m at it, I’ll mention that I’ve also done some initial stepper tuning, and that has also made an obvious change in the sound.

    1. I’m glad you found the list to be helpful, it is one of those articles I felt was important considering the number of mods for these 3D printers. The Maker Select was my first and I bought it knowing I wanted to upgrade it for the best possible results. While there are still some little things I would like to add, I have been extremely impressed with print quality since completing everything mentioned here.

      I do have a 3 pack of Stepper Dampers I bought in December, although they are still sitting in the packaging on my desk right now. These have been extremely popular additions on the CR-10 as of late, where I wanted to try them out soon. I held off though because further investigation suggested that these may impact print quality for the sake of quieter sound. There have been numerous reports of increased ringing after these were installed, where that would make sense. As I often print at 60 mm/s or higher, I have a feeling I would see those effects more so than someone printing at slower speeds.

      I’ve been a bit busy this month but I think my next article(s) will likely cover installing these, followed by a review to compare before and after results. I can test the dB and print demo prints, then install them separately on the X and Y axis and test dB and demo prints again each time. Thanks for bringing this up though, definitely want to look more into them soon!

  4. Hi Brett,

    This guide is fantastic – thanks for putting it together!!

    If I get a maker select plus, which upgrades would you recommend? It sounds like I wouldn’t need the mosfet board, and I might need to find different z-brace mods?

    1. Hi Dan,

      No problem, glad it helps! Many of the upgrades listed here would be applicable to the Plus model as well. You don’t need the MOSFET as you have a 24V electrical system and I am not sure the Z-Extensions would fit your frame. Otherwise, the rest of the mods would be recommended.

      I believe there are several Z-Brace designs for the Plus model, usually they are rear mounted if I remember correctly. Check out Thingiverse and you should be able to find a couple that fit your machine.

  5. Brett,

    I’m having a really hard time with keeping the bed level for a good first layer on my print. Also, the housing for the fan attached to the hotend droops and tends to rub against the print bed, thus ruining my prints. Any tips or upgrades that you know of to help with these problems?

    Thanks,
    Hector

    1. Hi Hector,

      As for keeping the bed level, there are quite a few things you can do. The most important is the upgraded Y-Carriage Plate though, where this makes a world of difference in keeping the bed level. I rarely have to level more than once every dozen prints or so. If the problem persists, you can also add additional hardware to the springs on each corner although I haven’t done this. I believe most people add a nylock nut and additional washers in between the bed and the carriage plate, right above the spring.

      Is the fan housing stock or are you using one like Dii Cooler? (And if so, is it printed in PLA or a different material?) You may just need to bend the metal tab a bit to bring it into alignment, but if you have printed a housing/duct in PLA, it could be drooping from exposure to heat. It’s generally recommended to print fan ducts in PETG or ABS if possible since they are closely exposed to a great deal of heat.

      1. Brett,
        Thanks for the quick response! The fan housing is actually metal and came with the printer. It kind of focuses the fans air to a small opening right next to the opening of the hotend. The bracket that is used to attach it to the block where the hotend comes out from is also metal. I’ve tried bending it by hand with no luck so i ended up taking it off to see if i can apply heat to the bracket to bend it. Is there any other fan housings you would recommend that are retailed? I have 0 experience with PETG or ABS, haha!

        Thanks Again,
        Hector A

        1. Hi Hector,

          If the slump isn’t too bad, you may be able to just unscrew it and re-position it. The screw slots in the bracket are elongated, where you may be able to adjust it a bit. Otherwise, bending the bracket would be my recommendation, although you said that didn’t really work in your case.

          Unfortunately all of the upgraded coolers are printed models, no retailers actually sell these. If you can print one or have access to another 3D Printer, check out the Dii Cooler on Thingiverse. I have used this for quite some time with success, but you would need to print it out. Even PLA would work short term, it may just not hold up near the heat for an extended period of time. As an alternative, there are sites like Reddit’s 3Dprintmything, 3DHubs and Shapeways where you can get stuff printed. Most libraries, UPS and other places have 3D Printers available as well.

          Hope that helps!

        2. I had the same problem. There are two rails that the print head moves across. I had a problem with the top one. It’s held in place by two collars. One was loose and came out the mount. This caused the print head to droop. When I tore it down and inspected both mounts, one of the set screws was installed at an angle from the factory and destroyed. So, I had to drill/tap another hole and add a new set screw. After learning a few new curse words, I got it all reassembled and working.

    1. They are a blast! Excellent balance of capabilities and user friendliness. It will perform great right out of the box but you can upgrade it indefinitely with these mods, bringing the quality to exceptional levels. Feel free to ask if you have any questions!

        1. I am glad to hear it! The MOSFET board gives a significant peace of mind (no one wants to burn out their electronics) and the Dii Cooler is a huge improvement over the stock fan shroud. Get some Z-Braces on there and you can print PLA at 60 mm/s with fantastic quality.

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