One of the most frequent problems that new owners face is difficulty when leveling the bed. Given the low price point, 3D Printer companies often cut corners in manufacturing that can affect the overall quality of parts. The Y-Carriage plate is an essential piece of these machines, yet it is no exception to such issues, often times being flawed right from the factory.
The Y-Carriage Plate is an H-shaped piece of metal that sits below the build platform, where it is responsible for the movement on the Y-axis. The heated bed mounts to this plate in each of the four corners, using screws and springs that contract or expand as needed to achieve a level surface. If this plate is bent or warped, it can make it nearly impossible to level the bed since that relies on both surfaces being completely flat.
Fortunately aftermarket upgrades are available, offering a flat, rigid plate that is a drop-in replacement for the original. These are made from tempered aluminum and machined with tight tolerances, meaning they are durable and designed to eliminate such problems.
Purchased Parts List:Aluminum Y-Carriage Plate - $21.73
Printed Parts List:
Y-Belt Clamp (Optional)
Before we can access the Y-Carriage Plate, we must first remove the heated bed. To do so, turn the wing nuts in each of the four corners clockwise, where they will loosen until they fall off. As an alternative, you can also hold the wing nut with one hand and unscrew the Phillips head screw from the top instead.
When finished, go ahead and lift the heated bed and carefully set it aside. Keep in mind that the springs will be loose, where you should make sure to place all of the hardware somewhere safe. We will be reusing both the springs and wing nuts during reassembly so don’t lose them!
With the Y-Carriage Plate now exposed, we can go ahead and remove the 16 screws that hold it in place. There are four Phillips head screws in each of the corners, where it mounts to the bearing blocks underneath. These will need to be unscrewed and set aside, leaving only the three screws on each end of the crossbeam attached.
Turn the printer on its side to access the bottom, then remove the 4 screws that clamp the belt to the Y-Carriage Plate. Once the belt has been detached, the original Y-Carriage Plate can be tossed from your window like a Chinesium boomerang as it is no longer needed.
Note: If you are still using the original belts included with the Anet A8, I would recommend upgrading to GT2 Timing Belt as they are much higher quality than those on the machine.
Temporarily place the Anet A8 back in the upright position, then align the new Y-Carriage Plate with the bearing block screw holes. When viewed from the front, the side of the plate with more holes should be on the left and the open end facing towards the rear of the machine. Go ahead and secure this in place using the 16 screws we took out of the original.
Now flip the printer back on its side and clamp one end of the belt to the center screws (make sure the teeth face downwards). Run the belt along the same path as before, around the rear motor and front tensioner pulleys, then clamp it as tight as possible to the remaining 2 center holes. As the original plastic clamps are weak and crack under pressure, you may wish to print out a better Y-Belt Clamp instead, where both of mine split into pieces when tightened down.
Once you have double checked that the belt and screws are tight, all that is left is to reinstall the heated bed. Slide the springs back on to the bed screws in each corner, then align and insert these into the Y-Carriage Plate. Pressing down on the corner will compress the spring, making it easier to thread the wing nuts back on from the bottom. After these have been tightened down, you can embrace the absolute ease of leveling the bed.
If you run into any questions or just want to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment below!