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Removing and Reinstalling The Gigabot X Extruder Screw

If the GBX is underextruding and you suspect something may be stuck in the extrusion screw, one option is removing the extrusion screw. However, removing the extrusion screw should be a last resort after all other methods have been tried, including:

 

  • Adjusting printing temperatures
  • Adjusting extrusion settings
  • Confirming material flow into the extruder block
  • Flushing out the extrusion screw with a different material
    • This purge material will depend on what material was previously in the extruder. We can advise using a purge material formulated for the temperature range and material type of what you had been printing with.
       
      We can recommend Dyna-Purge F2 as a good purge material with a large operating temperature range, which is great for GBX since it works with a lot of different materials.
  • Removing and inspecting the nozzle for clogs

 

There are two methods to removing and installing the extrusion screw: through the bottom (recommended), and through the top. The benefit of going through the bottom is avoiding any plastic contamination in the top of the extruder block. The benefit of going through the top is avoiding removing the nozzle.

 

Removing the Extrusion Screw (Bottom)

  1. Heat up the extruders (either via the Viki or USB) to the printing temperatures of the last material loaded into the extrusion screw. Warning: Do not attempt to remove the extrusion screw without first heating it to melt any solidified plastic.
  2. Insert the sliding stop into the feed attachment to block the flow of material into the extruder block.
  3. To purge as much material as possible from the extrusion screw, run the motor until no more material comes out the nozzle.
    1. This can be done over USB through Simplify3D’s Machine Control Panel, or through the Viki in "Prepare">"Move Axis"
    2. Note: this will not purge all the plastic around the extrusion screw, and the extruders must still be heated for the rest of the extrusion screw removal process.
  4. With an 8mm wrench, loosen the 4 screws that hold the motor spacer to the thrust bearing plate beneath it. Once loose, the entire motor assembly, including the motor, motor spacer, and top shaft collar of the shaft coupler assembly can be lifted away. A photo depicting this step is shown below:

 

Removing the Extrusion Screw (Top)

  1. Heat up the extruders to the printing temperatures of the last material loaded into the extrusion screw. Warning: Do not attempt to remove the extrusion screw without first heating it to melt any solidified plastic.
  2. Insert the sliding stop into the feed attachment to block the flow of material into the extruder block.
  3. To purge as much material as possible from the extrusion screw, run the motor until no more material comes out the nozzle. This can be done over USB through Simplify3D’s Machine Control Panel, or through the Viki. Note: this will not purge all the plastic around the extrusion screw, and the extruders must still be heated for the rest of the extrusion screw removal process.
  4. With an 8mm wrench, loosen the 4 screws that hold the motor spacer to the thrust bearing plate beneath it. Once loose, the entire motor assembly, including the motor, motor spacer, and top shaft collar of the shaft coupler assembly can be lifted away. 
    • GBX_new_motor_spacer.png
  1. There are two options to deal with the motor assembly:
    1. Separate the motor spacer from the motor. While the motor is still plugged in, secure it by clamping it to the one of the GBX’s rails 
    2. Turn off the GBX and disconnect the motor wire at the connection nearest to the motor. Remove the motor assembly completely from the GBX. Turn the GBX back on and reset any temperatures necessary to keep the extruders heated. Warning: Switch off the GBX before connecting or disconnecting any electrical components.
  2. Remove the red plastic section from the shaft coupler assembly from the top of the extruder screw shaft.
  3. Use a 3mm allen wrench to loosen the set screw on the lower shaft collar of the shaft coupler assembly. Once loose, remove the shaft collar from the extruder screw shaft.
  4. Use a 3mm allen wrench to remove the 4 screws securing the thrust bearing plate to the top of the extruder block.
  1. Remove the thrust bearing plate.
  2. Beneath the thrust bearing plate is the thrust bearing assembly. Remove all 5 parts of the thrust bearing assembly. Set them aside, stacked and in order, so it’s easier to put them back in the proper configuration when later reinstalling the extrusion screw.
    1. From top to bottom, the order of the assembly is spacer, washer, cage with rolling elements, washer, spacer. The two spacers are identical to each other, as are the washers. All components are vertically symmetrical, so flipping them upside down is not an issue
  3. With a 4mm allen wrench, loosen the 2 screws on the front and side of the extruder block heat sink. These screws hold the EXTRUDER BARREL in place. If the EXTRUDER BARREL is slightly crooked, it can make removing the extrusion screw more difficult. 
  4. Put on a welding glove and begin lifting the extrusion screw up and out of the extruder block. 
    1. The top section of the extrusion screw should be cool enough to touch, but as you lift the extrusion screw out, you will expose the heated lower section. Safety warning: Use a welding glove to handle the hot section of the extrusion screw.
  5. If the extrusion screw doesn’t come out:
    1. Check that the extruders are heated to printing temperatures (step 3)
    2. Check that the thrust bearing plate has been removed (steps 8-9)
    3. Check that the 2 screws on the heat sink are loosened (step 11)
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