Boots V2.5 Printer Repairs and Upgrades

Making the Boots Industries V2.5 3D printer usable.

Similar projects worth following
Years ago, I saw this really cool looking large format delta printer from Boots Industries. It was really close to what I was thinking of building from scratch, in my 3D printing fantasy world. So I ordered one, and thus began an odyssey...

As delivered, the Boots Industries V2.5 delta-style 3D printer was barely usable; more problems than can be listed here.

This project page describes how I got this fractious beast to make some pretty darn good prints.

As delivered, the Boots Industries V2.5 delta-style 3D printer was barely usable:

  • The glass build plate was warped.
  • The wire based axis drive system was doomed to failure; the wire either broke over time or ran off the spool.
  • The hot end was so-so; printing ABS was probably beyond it's capability.
  • The heated bed was totally underpowered.
  • The heated bed lives on a sheet of wood.  Good grief.
  • The bed alignment gadgets are plastic, and deforming over time.
  • The extruder was both underpowered and tended towards slippage.
  • The axis drive circuits were underpowered.
  • The top deck was made of some sort of brittle acrylic sheet, which was very prone to breakage.
  • The axis sliders were apparently intended to do a dry slide, which was only marginally functional.

Why keep on with something with so many things messed up?  Well:

  • To build the machine I had in mind originally, it would have taken me at least a year of flailing about to build a prototype that worked as well as the V2.5 out of the box.
  • There are many things that they did right with this machine.
  • Everything I fixed was part of an education on how 3D printers work.

For starters, I'll concentrate on the 3D printed parts that I designed and built to repair and upgrade.  If there's any interest I'll write up the rest of the work I've done, and am contemplating.  I think it'll work to do this as log entries - haven't done this before so we'll see. :)

About the pictures and illustrations at the top - the first pic is of the machine as shipped.  The illustrations are of the various designs I printed to do the upgrades and fixes.

  • Frankencarriage Install - FTF Edition

    Nyles03/08/2018 at 02:28 0 comments

     FTF = File To Fit.  Yeah, V1.0 of everything seems to have problems.  :)

    Anyway, good news.  The beast is up and running with the Frankencarriage install - after extensive fiddling and cracking and patching and filing.

    Here are some pics:

    This is the original carriage - note the lack of wheels or anything that won't eventually wear away the plating of the aluminum rail

    Both types of carriage... and my foot.

    To change out the carriages, you have to remove the head while carefully unthreading the cables that run through the corners.

    Look Ma, no head!

    After this it's relatively simple to tease the cables through the carriages.

    First Frankencarriage in place, with the two-headed adjustment wrench.  Little did I know the fun and games to come...

    They look good!  At least to me; it's been a fair bit of work to get this far.  Still, lurking in the shadows are a couple of problems.

    Look closely - the prototype fix for the first problem is the wart on top of the top belt clip - it's there to move the belt over a couple mm.  Seems the designer put the belt holder in the <cough sputter> wrong place.  Now what - I don't want to bodge any more of these up; just doing one was a real pain.

    Luckily my old, tired and battered M3D printer was willing to come back to life - printed the hack in PLA.

    The printer was sufficiently functional at this point that I printed a set of clips in the same material as the carriage.

    Oh but the second problem, which had manifested as difficulty moving the end effector towards the edges of the build platform, became clear.  Look at what's happened to the printed part of the carriage that holds the rod bearings - they're cracked!  What happened?  Turns out the prints have a habit of over-extruding, up to 0.2mm, which caused the inner radius of the arms that hold the rod bearings to shrink.  The U-joint part of the arm was banging against this inner radius, which caused this cracking.

    Turns out a soldering iron and filament make for a good patch; which I wound up doing several times.  My soldering iron doesn't like me any more.

    After patching, extensive use of a rattail file and many test fits resulted in free movement for all the arms.  All is well.

    Another trick was to squirt some teflon lube into a cup, and paint some on all the bearing surfaces that were exposed in the process.  This has resulted in much smoother action.

  • Frankencarriage V1.0

    Nyles03/04/2018 at 22:16 0 comments

    After lots of fooling around getting the printed dimensions just so, here's the first real revision of the carriage replacement.  The old ones have worn the plating off the 2020 rail in places - a really bad thing. :)

    The flag might get shorter, if there's room in the chassis for the carriage to go higher.

    The print is in carbon fiber nylon, from 3DXTech.  Only one nozzle clog so far... :)

  • Brain Surgery Pic

    Nyles03/04/2018 at 22:10 0 comments

    I had the printer tilted over, so here's a pic of the Duet WiFi with PT100 4-wire interface.  Luckily there were was a convenient 4-pin connectorized portion of the ribbon cables going to the top end, so I was able to hack in the four wires cleanly all the way to the hot end.  The wiring is a bit of a mess, due to length limitations from the original (RAMPS) controller.

    Note the solid state relay is actually bolted to the case.  :)

  • Brain Surgery - It's Alive!

    Nyles02/15/2018 at 01:28 0 comments

    OMG what a difference the Duet WiFi, after much re-connectoring and configuration, runs beautifully.  Somehow though, in the middle of it all, the extruder numbers wound up at 200% of where they were before.  Talk about a mess figuring that out. :)  Adding the Panel Due makes for a really nice control interface right out of the box.  The web server UI provided by the Duet is excellent, and does everything that Octoprint did, except for the webcam.  It even makes manual machine calibration reasonably easy.

    Anyway, after years of listening to the steppers whine and moan, the loudest thing is the fans.  Plus, all those weird aliasing marks on the surface of my prints have disappeared - seems that having a more capable processor and local file storage has really helped a lot.

    Also got sick of the original (plastic!) bed locators, which over time had really badly deformed due to the heated bed.  Turns out a trio of hex standoffs, with one of those springs they use to hold together cheap picture frames does the trick very nicely.  Looks a whole lot cleaner too.

    Stoopid heated bed has developed a nasty hot spot over the last I don't know how long, to the point that it's scorching the heater's high temperature covering.  Going straight to 90C bed temperature results in the scary 'where's that smoke coming from' situation.  Until the replacement arrives a few weeks hence, I'll have to baby it by only raising the setting 10C at a time, resting, repeating until close enough to the target temperature  that I can kick of a print.

    Also, one of the axes is starting to leave black streaks on it's vertical rail - guess it's time to look into using rollers rather that a simple sliding contact.  Sigh  :)

  • Brain Surgery Time

    Nyles01/29/2018 at 16:23 2 comments

    OMG - I've been using Octoprint on a Pi for the longest time, and just lately figured out that the source of this 'globbing' problem on complex parts seems to be the communication link between the Pi and the Ramps controller board.  On tight curves, the hot end would hesitate slightly - great genius that I am, it took me this long to get the idea that with a Bowden extruder that's likely to cause at least some level of glob.  I sort of proved this by putting the same .gcode file on an SD card, and the resulting print looks noticeably smoother.  This could also explain why some of the more delicate prints would get knocked over, as a collision between the hot end and the part is a bad thing.

    I could probably live with using the SD card and the Ramps controller, but I've become very fond of the remote control aspect of Octoprint.  So a Duet WiFi controller and associated Panel Due are on the way.  Time for brain surgery.  Apparently this is a fairly painless process, as others have done this retrofit successfully.  The hot trick seems to be knowing to modify the resistors in the optical end stop boards in order to interface with the Duet properly.

  • Top End Bracketry

    Nyles01/18/2018 at 05:02 0 comments

    This was a real repair mission, as the top deck had disintegrated.  The extruder wants to live near the center of action, so that became a serious problem.

    I solved this with some additional 2020 extrusion and adapter plates.  I still needed to hold my spool holder in place, as well as the extruder cooling fan.  As a bonus, I made some wire ways to keep things a bit less messy.  The design looks like:

    and the top end of the printer looks like:


    for the wire ways.  Note that the extruder is just velcro'ed to the brackets, as it makes it a lot easier to fool with the filament path.

    The spool holder is something I came up with that I call a Dessicase, as it keep the filament sealed and dry while it's in storage, and pretty darn dry in use because of the long PTFE tube and dessicant packs inside the bag.  Note that the fittings are printed.

  • Belt Drive Conversion

    Nyles01/18/2018 at 04:45 0 comments

    This was the most messed up thing on the printer - it started out looking like this:

    and wound up looking like this:

    at the base, and:

    at the top, where the belt idler is.  Note that the body is printed, with a pulley, skateboard bearings and central ground steel shaft.  The belt is a pretty standard 6mm GT2.  Here's an exploded view:

    On the axis slider is a printed adapter that fits over the original wire termination:

    Note that the top flag is for the optical Z-stop.

    This made a huge difference to the reliability of the printer - at the time of this writing it's been running almost continuously for days churning out large chess pieces.  :)

  • What the beast looks like today

    Nyles01/18/2018 at 01:20 0 comments

    Here's a pic of the machine as it stands today:

    There are some upgrades and repairs - belt drive being the most important, then things like:

    • 1/4" aluminum bed.
    • Heavy duty bed heater.
    • Buildtak style build surface.
    • EZstruder extruder upgrade, with burly motor.
    • After several tries, settled on the E3D V6 hot end.
    • Designed and printed cooling nozzles for hot end fans.
    • 2020 extrusion to replace cracked/destroyed acrylic top deck.
    • Printed brackets to hold extruder cooling fan, wiring combs, and filament holder.

    Details of the printed stuff will be in subsequent log files.

View all 8 project logs

Enjoy this project?



shadowxt wrote 12/01/2023 at 19:16 point

I went through a similar journey with my printer.  I saw someone locally advertise it for a couple of hundred bucks.  First thing I noticed was how badly mangled the extruder was due to crashing down on the print plate.  It was a miracle that I even got it to run somewhat.  It was a start to a long journey with my printer.

Long story short, other than the frame, everything has been modified.  These are the changes I made to the system.

1)  Replaced drive wires with a belt drive system using high quality steel core GT2 6mm belts.

2) Replaced the side carriage multiple times and finally ended up with a magnetic rod system with roller wheels.

3) Updated the electronics to a DuetWifi and PanelDue.  Moved all the electronics from under the printer to mount on top frame so its more accessible.

4) Moved the motors to be on the top frame instead of under the unit.

5) Added a berd air system for direct cooling

6) Replaced extruder with a zesty nimble drive and a pancake motor.

7) Replaced the heater with a Keenovo mains heater using a SSR

8) Designed my own effector with E3D extruder

9) Added a Precision Piezo sensor to use nozzle as probe tip (went through many other types prior like the BL touch and even the IR sensor

10) Changed temp sensors to PT100

Like I said, other than the frame, there isn't much that is original anymore.  It has been a long journey and many times I wanted to toss it into the trash.  However, it has survived my rage long enough to get a couple of okay prints.  Quality wise, its not the best, but it works.

The machine was actually broken down for a few years and I finally just fixed it last night.  The PT100 sensor board had a cracked connector and gave bad temp data.  Finally figured that out since it was cracked in a spot that was not visible.  The update to Rep Rap Firmware 3 also added some headaches due to config changes.  The panel due had issues with a firmware update but that was also fixed.   The air hose nipple also broke off the Berd Air system, so had to McGuyer a fix for it.  

Once I patched the problems, she came right back up and the print was just fine.  I would say the mere mention of a BI2.5 printer bring a love hate relationship.  Its a never ending battle with this printer.   She has been with me for a long time and through a lot of struggles.  I can see why some older BI owners moved on to Core-XY printers.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Nyles wrote 12/01/2023 at 19:55 point

Very cool story, and I feel your pain.  I think the most important thing I didn't do was figure out a direct drive extruder; the bowden setup with the long PTFE lines make quality prints nearly impossible.  I retrofitted an Artillery printer with a E3D Hemera, and get really nice prints.

Funny thing, I just retired my BI2.5 a couple days back and am awaiting a Bambu Lab X1C.

I learned a ton about 3D printing, but the aggro and time spent are more than I want to deal with going forward.

  Are you sure? yes | no

shadowxt wrote 12/01/2023 at 20:20 point

It's true, but the 3D printer industry was in its infancy when we started.  It was either you get a crowdsourcing special or make your own.  Unless you had a lot of money to get a Stratasys, those are the only choices back then.  Now, you can get decent printers without a lot of the aggravation.

The Zesty Nimble is basically a direct drive extruder using a flex shaft.  It has given men good prints, however, the 3D printer itself does have some issues with the mechanics slightly.  If I slow it down, the prints are great, but takes forever.  If I speed it up, I get a little ringing here and there.  The extruder is perfect and no more Bowden jams.

One thing about the delta printers is the mechanism is very cool.  Its unique to see it in action.  The generic cartesian printers are more reliable but it doesn't have the "cool" factor.

I think learning to deal with all the issues with 3D printers help to understand them better.  If you had a printer that just simply works all the time, it wouldn't be as challenging.  It would just be like buying an ink jet printer from Staples or Office Depot.

I haven't gotten to the point of retiring her yet, but I have abandoned her for a long time due to the love hate relationship.

  Are you sure? yes | no

jriva wrote 08/28/2019 at 18:23 point

Hey, I've run into some of the same issues I think you ran into, and am wanting to look into getting some parts for the tank parts for it?

I'd love tweak mine so it actually worked!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Similar Projects

Does this project spark your interest?

Become a member to follow this project and never miss any updates