ACME Z-axis (SO1)

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Revision as of 21:48, 2 October 2012 by Improbable Construct (Talk | contribs) (Step 3)

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Upgrade Name: ACME Z-axis


Created by: User:Improbable Construct

Description: An upgrade that replaces the M8 threaded rod with a 3/8"-10 Acme Screw.

Status: Fully functional


  1. Increased speed, 12 TPI vs. 20.32 TPI.
  2. Increased strength, threads are broader and squarer than M8 threads.
  3. Increased accuracy, ACME screws are made to tighter tolerances than threaded rod.
  4. Better support, Z-Axis supported by the bearing blocks, not by the stepper motor and coupler.


  1. 1x 3/8-12 Acme screw 200mm of threads turned down to 8mm on both ends.
  2. 1x Delrin ACME nut
  3. 2x Bearing Blocks / Motor Mounts
  4. 2x 608 Bearings
  5. 4x M5x20 socket head cap screws
  6. 4x M5 washers
  7. 1x 8mm shim washer

Cost: $75.00 for the kit ACME screw Z-axis upgrade for Shapeoko


Discussion in the forum

Play both videos at the same time to compare threaded rod vs. ACME screw.


ACME Screw, Delrin Nut, Bering Blocks, and Hardware.

Step 1

Remove your spindle
Remove the Z-axis
Don't forget to unhook the motor wires.

Remove Z-axis.JPG

Step 2

Disassemble the Z-axis

Disassemble Z-axis.JPG

Step 3

Position the bearing blocks at either end of the Makerslide with the ACME screw captured between them.
Using the included M5x20mm screws and washers, attach the top and bottom bearing blocks to the Makerslide.
The bearings should both face the Makerslide.

Test assembly.JPG

Check to see that the ACME screw is securely captured between the bearings.
If there is any movement, add the shim washer to the longer of the turned ends and recheck.
You may not need the shim washer.

Shim washer.JPG

Remove the top bearing block from the Makerslide and remove the ACME Screw. The top block is the one with the longer of the turned ends in it.

Step 4

Remove the coupler from your stepper motor.
Measure the length of your stepper motor shaft.
If it is less than 20 mm you can move on to step 5.
If your motor shaft is 20 mm or more you are going to have to cut the ACME screw down a bit.
Use a saw with a metal cutting blade to cut 10 mm off of the longer end.
The accuracy of this cut is not critical as it just goes into the coupler.

Step 5

Attach the Delrin nut to the universal plate reusing the stock hardware.
If you are using insertion nuts to hold your spindle mounts, now would be a good time to slide them into the Makerslide.

Assembly 1.JPG

Step 6

Slide the coupler back onto your stepper motor. Attach the new top bearing block to your motor using the stock bolts and spacers.
Slide the universal plate onto the Makerslide and insert the Acme screw into the bottom bearing

Assembly 2.JPG

Step 7

Slide the bearing block and motor assembly over the ACME screw inserting the ACME screw into the coupler.
Attach the bearing block to the Makerslide using the included M5x20mm screws and washers.

Assembly 3.JPG

Fine tuning

Turn the ACME screw until the universal plate is all the way at the top.
You may have to loosen the top and bottom bearing block screws and the Delrin nut screws to get it to turn easily.
Once you have it at the top, square the top bearing block and snug the bolts down.
Turn the ACME screw until the universal plate is at the bottom. It should turn easily.
Once you are bottomed out tighten the bottom bearing block bolts.
Repeat this process until the universal plate travels easily along the Makerslide.
Connect your motor wires.


Re-install the universal plate to the X-axis motor plate.
Connect your motor wires.
Attach your spindle.

Calculate your new steps per millimeter

To calculate steps per inch you need to know:

  1. Steps per revolution of your motors (normally 200 or 400)
  2. Microstepping of you controller 1, 2, 4, 8, or 16
  3. Thread pitch: The ACME screw is 12 TPI or 2.117 pitch

So its Steps * Microsteps / Pitch = Steps per mm
Ex: 200 * 2 / 2.117 = 188.946623


Enter your new steps/mm into your control software. Enjoy your faster, smoother, and stronger Z-axis.