I'm probably going to answer my own question because I ordered a set of ball bearings to repair the extruder and then walked passed my lathe and realised all I had to do was turn some brass bushes the same 10 mm OD and 6 mm ID to replace the ball bearings. Thirty minutes later the printer was back online.

Now thinking about it, I wonder why ball bearings are used. There is no critical clearance between the filament and the drive cog as the filament is spring-loaded against the drive. Thus as the bearing wears a little over time it's only a matter of increasing the tension. There would be no sudden collapse in the middle of a print job. Of course, there might be good reason to once every 100 operational hours to re-grease the bearings. There would be plenty of warning of impending drive failure and plenty of time to figure in a new bearing. I expect however the brass bush to last the lifetime of the printer.

Has anyone been down this path with any sort of success?


1 Answer 1


Standard parts.

The idler wheels of an extruder are all standard parts. While a bushing is a suitable replacement for a ball bearing in the specific application, the bearing has some benefits over it:

  • Mass availability. Buying them in bulk is cheap for the manufacturer.
  • Harder to seize up the mechanism. A ball bearing that is slightly out of spec (e.g. too tall central boss) will not block up the mechanism for the inside and outside of the bearing are decoupled.
  • More compatible with screws. Unless the bearing is seized up, the screw that goes through the part does not need to be smooth but can be threaded everywhere - so the bolt is a cheaper standard part than one with a straight shaft for a bushing.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .