The broken Zen Drive wheel
My Makibox 3D printer was doing very well up to early this month. But then suddenly, it decided to stop pushing the plastic filament into the extruder. After some manual pushing, it worked again for a while, but then it'd stop yet again. Looking at the filament, I saw some grinding, so I initially suspected a clogged nozzle. But if I disengage the filament from the feeder and push the filament in by hand, the nozzle had no problem putting out the material. So I took the filament feeder apart.
Now, Makibox's filament feeder is called "Zen Drive". It consists of a stepping motor with toothed axis and a tension wheel. The teeth "bites into" the filament to make it move, while the wheel allows the filament to catch onto the teeth in a consistent manner. When I disassembled the Zen Drive assembly, I noticed that two of the wheel's spokes had snapped. Snapped spoke meant that a consistent pressure couldn't be applied to the filament. This was the cause of the inconsistent filament feed I experienced. It was time for a repair.
The broken (and glue-gunned) wheel, and its replacement in the Zen Drive assembly
I did some emergency fix with a glue gun to hold the spokes in place. Unfortunately, it didn't help all that much. I explained the Makibox customer support of the situation and I was promised a free replacement wheel in two weeks. It arrived on Monday, and I put it into the Zen Drive yesterday night to see if this solved the problem.
Zen Drive reassembled
The Zen Drive was fully reassembled, and was fed a pink-coloured filament this time. The black one that I had been using was okay, but as far as kids' toys go, it wasn't an ideal colour.
One pink kitty coming up
The little kitty statue was again used as a quick test to see if things were working out. When the wheel was broken, the printer couldn't print more than about three layers before the feeding stopped. Seeing that it was printing past that without issues, I was relieved.
The pink and black kitty
And after a bit of waiting, the printing was complete and a fully formed pink kitty was in my hands. My Makibox was back in working order again.