Larger work area for 500mm X-Carve: Replacing original belt clips

Inventables’ promotional material states that the 500mm X-Carve has about a 12" x 12" work area. I found the actual work area for my 500mm machine to be more like 10.5" x 10.5" because of the belt length taken up by the original belt clip and requisite (in my experience) zip ties to prevent slipping (see photo below).

I decided to design a simpler belt end clip for the X and Y axes and came up with a decent solution that now gives me a full 12" x 12" work area.


It’s a simple piece (made out of PLA here) that accepts the belt into a slot with teeth on the bottom. A 4x40 flat-head machine screw comes from the bottom with a nut on top that is used to securely fasten the belt in the slot. Then, a hex-head 6x32 machine screw is inserted through the front hole, through the frame of the X-Carve and finally tighten with a nut.

The STL file for printing this belt end clip can be found on Thingiverse:

For each belt I attach the clip to one end using and tighten it firmly to the X-Carve frame. After hand-tightening on the other end I cut the belt so that it’s about 1/4" from the end, slide the belt into the clip and tighten it down with the 4x40 flat head screw. I then insert the 6x32 hex head screw into the front and through the hole in the frame of the X-Carve. I tighten the screw and bring the belt to the appropriate tension. I’ve found this whole process much easier to do than the original clips and hex screws. I use an iPhone app (PitchPerfect) to get the tension of the belts to be roughly the same frequency. The exact frequency is a judgement call and can change with the positioning of the carriage, but it works well to “tune” the X-Carve.

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Sweeeeeeet !!!
thank for sharing !
but i think i will add an “exit” hole for the belt, that way i dont need to cut it, in case of i want to return to original clips

Please let us know what you come up with since I’m always looking for improvements.

Cool Thinking Dave, one idea what if you flipped the block to be on the outside of the plate and cut a slit for the belt through the plate?

Yes, Don, I considered that, but hesitated cutting into the metal frame with my current metal working collection of tools and skill set (pretty basic). If a slit was cut it opens up other methods for tightening the belt (e.g. ratchet-type, etc.).

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For anyone interested…I uploaded a new and improved version of the end clip. I found a YouTube video that showed how to put a hole through an irregular surface that worked for me here. Now, once printed, there is no post-production work. Here’s a photo of the new model:

The 4x40 nut on the top and the slotted 6x32 hex-head machine screw are both recessed so only a small Philips screwdriver and wrench are needed to put the end clip to work on the X-Carve.

Interesting solution. I’ve found similar size limitations on my 500mm machine, and a full 12x12" working area is a very tempting upgrade.

An earlier comment got me to thinking about how to improve this design so the belt wouldn’t have to be cut. I was inspired by the following GT2 belt clip:

https://www.youmagine.com/designs/gt2-belt-clamps

and decided to make a clip out of aluminum. This was my first attempt at milling aluminum. Anyhow, below is a picture of the resulting clip.

I used a 1.5mm end mill:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0177P24FE?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00

and simply cut out the shapes in a 1/2" x1/2" square bar of aluminum. I’ve shared the Easel file at:

Once the milling was done (I copied/pasted the single carve so I could mill 6 at once) I used the 2mm-deep groove to help guide the cutting of the bar with a jigsaw (held upside-down in a vice) holding a metal-cutting blade. The cut segments were then put into a vice and ground flat with a hand-held grinder/polisher holding a coarse grinding disc. My skills with the hand-held tools show with the less-than-square surfaces, but the clip works well in the X-Carve. It’s not easy getting the belt into the clip, but it will fit.

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I believe I’ve taken this project to a final conclusion. I’ve been carving some nice end clips out of 1/2" x 1/2" square aluminum rods using this end mill:

http://www.mscdirect.com/product/details/46871463?rItem=46871463

This end mill will cut all the way through the 1/2" rod leaving a clip that’s ready to be installed on the X-Carve. Here’s the carving in progress:

With the use of these clips I now have just over 12" x 12" of working area and I don’t have to cut the belts in case I want to expand. I plan to enlarge my X-Carve to 18" x 18" soon.

My final Easel project is here: http://easel.inventables.com/projects/WY7pqVzAH_1kEl9G8_DExA

Project not shared publicly.

My bad. I hope this link works:

BTW…the project can be flipped in Easel so you can make left- and right-handed clips.

I’m not ready to start flinging aluminum chips around my machine… Any reason this could not be made from a block of plastic of one sort or another?

I initially planned to make the clips out of some kind of plastic, but ultimately decided to go with aluminum for maximum strength. I also wanted to gain some experience milling aluminum. I milled at a slow pace and the aluminum chips were very small and were easily removed with a vacuum hose placed near the piece so there was very little mess.