Motorizing my Z-axis

Hi. I have Blacknose 40w Co2 from Just add Sharks. About 3 yrs old and still no problems. whilst adjusting the z-axis by hand is of course doable but I’ve often wondered would it be possible to motorize it, if possible using existing Z-axis button on control panel. Firm believer in “don’t fix it if it ain’t broken” but you know how it is people ???
Look forward to any replies. Thanks in advance. Tony

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I’m sure Smokey will have a more definitive answer than me, but you are going to need a stepper motor, stepper motor controller and all the cabling for it.

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Hello @TonyE

My honest consideration of this idea is that it isn’t worth the effort. Its been a few months since I last looked under the bed of a Blacknose, so must admit my memory of whats going on under it for bed levelling is a little hazy, maybe you could post some photos to remind me?

As best I recall, there are 4 lead screws connected with a timing belt with all 4 of the screws driven by the front left screw, which at the top, has a square head to receive the adjuster. In the old Just Add Sharks days we used to laser cut (and on very early machine 3D print) an adjuster for this screw. In addition to this adjuster, in the toolbox that belongs to your Blacknose, there should be a crank handle, looks a bit like you’d start Charlie Chaplin’s Jalopy with it. The crank was a bit clumsy as you can’t close the lid with the crank attached, hence adjuster.

Though sadly they don’t make the Blacknose anymore, the reason we did not include the motorised Z was because this machine was the entry level machine and we wanted to par the price down for the customer. Adding the Z in (as best I recall) would have added some $150 to the wholesale price, adding maybe £100 to £150 + VAT to the price for the buyer. As this machine was also the smallest tube size from JAS, it isn’t suited to cutting a wide range of material thicknesses and so adjustment at most would be around 5mm at a time, that is unless you want to put big stuff in for engraving or use a rotary tool.

The version with the motorised Z axis (as best I recall) had the motor driving the front left lead screw, and if I recall, it was a stepper motor mounted up in the front of the work area, rather than below the bed, making a very clumsy looking design.

In order to motorise your Z, you’d need to mount a motor of some sort, add in a motor driver and then wire the motor driver to the controller card (if you find that inside the machine you’ll see it has an output for Z & the appropriate DC power. The easiest (and it won’t be easy) way to do it would be to drive that same screw you currently adjust. You’d then be able to control this with the Z function on the controller.
Alternatively you could put some sort of DC motor in there, power the motor and put some switches in to turn the motor on/reverse the polarity to move the motor.

So in short, its a project, there isn’t something simple you can do. I doubt the original supplier would be able to dig out the parts to do it either as they don’t do this model. From experience, I’d say if you DID request this, they’d send the wrong parts and you’d be no closer to resolution but you would be several dollars poorer.

Let me know if you’ve any questions. Would be happy to provide some support here on the forum if you DO go ahead.

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