3D Printing 101: Using the Zebra Plate with a Craftbot

In a few posts now I’ve raved about how much I love the Zebra Plate build surface and the Craftbot Plus 3D printer. However, the Craftbot comes with its own build plate, so I had to make a few (very) minor modifications to get the Craftbot to work with the Zebra Plate. But I wanted to post the information here for you Craftbot owners who are interested in using a build surface other than the provided aluminum bed with Kapton tape.

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First, and this may sound obvious, I removed the aluminum bed with Kapton tap provided by Craftbot. I just wanted to make it clear that I am printing with the Zebra plate directly on the heated build platform. I do not print with the Zebra Plate on top of Craftbot’s provided aluminum build plate. Actually, if I remember correctly, the guys at Print-in-Z do not recommend putting the Zebra Plate directly on a heated build plate…but I could be making that up, and I personally haven’t had any issues with the Zebra Plate warping.

The Craftbot’s heated build surface is about 10-inches by 8.5-inches. The build volume is actually 10-inches by 8-inches, but like all printers the heated bed / build surface has to be a larger than the listed build volume to give the extruder some clearance. One option is to order a custom-size Zebra Plate for your Craftbot. As I’ve mentioned Print-in-Z’s customer service is amazing, and you’ll get a prompt response.

If you have an extra Zebra Plate, like I did from our Raise3D N2, you can simply cut it down to the right size. We used our miter saw and had no problem cutting right through it. I know it goes without saying…but I’ll say it: safety first. Wear eye protection and a face mask (I don’t mean a full up respirator or anything, just one of those fabric ones that covers your nose and mouth).

Now you need to clip the Zebra Plate to the heated bed. The front two corners are easy: just use normal binder clips like always. But, you’ll need to clip the back two corners as well. With just clips on the front two corners, the back end of the Zebra Plate raises up slightly and the Zebra Plate will never be level.

It was difficult to find the correct clips for the back corners, because they need to be large enough to go over the Zebra Plate, the heated bed, the foam, and the metal bracket that attaches to the leveling screws. Extra large black binder clips will fit, but they are too strong and compress the leveling spring, making bed leveling impossible. I use these clips . They are large enough to go over the back corners, but not so strong that they compress the leveling spring – so the bed can still be leveled.

The Zebra Plate is thicker than the aluminum build plate provided by Craftbot, so you’ll need to adjust the height of the Z-axis stop. You can manually do this by loosening the two small bolts that attach the Z-axis stop to the Craftbot and raising the stop by the thickness of the Zebra Plate. I didn’t want to do this, because I wanted to be able to quickly switch back to the aluminum build plate if I ever needed to do that for some reason.

So I designed a clip to go over the existing Z-axis stop to use with the Zebra Plate (I actually modified another clip I found on thingiverse for a different printer – I’ll try to find it again to give credit to that designer). You can download it here . The “thinner” side faces up as shown in the pictures below. It just slips over the existing Z-axis stop. I know it’s not fancy, but I haven’t had any issues with it falling off.

So that’s everything! To summarize:

  1. Order the Zebra Plate from Print-in-Z or if you have an extra one cut it down to size with a miter saw;
  2. remove the existing Craftbot buildplate, and clip on the Zebra Plate to the front corners with normal binder clips;
  3. use these larger binder clips to for the back corners to go over the Zebra Plate, heated bed, foam, and metal bracket; and finally,
  4. either adjust the Z-axis stop manually, or use this clip to slide over the stop so you can quickly switch between the Zebra Plate and aluminum build plate if needed.

I hope this post was helpful! Please leave a comment below and let us know about your own experiences with the different printers and build surfaces. We always appreciate your feedback!

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