Choosing the Best E3D Extruder// Comparison Guide
E3D ' extruders are some of the best in the business. Let's take a look at what makes each one tick and improve the performance of any 3D printer.
E3D doesn’t just make hotends and their accessories, they also make components just as important: extruders! Over the years E3D has made multiple variations to their extruder lineup, each tackling a specific need, whether it was short feed paths or liquid-cooling options. By now, the latest E3D Hemera has all the bells and whistles you would come to expect from E3D, making it a formidable replacement for your 3D printer’s setup.
Let's jump into it-
E3D Hotends at a Glance
- Direct Drive or Bowden
- Every E3D extruder is capable of being a direct-drive extruder, but only the Titan and Hemera can be used in a bowden setup.
- For high temperature conditions, the Titan Aqua is your liquid-cooled option, but for optimal airflow, the E3D Hemera kicks air away from the progressing 3D print, preventing warping.
- E3D Ecosystem Compatibility
- Each extruder utilizes components from the E3D ecosystem, from as much as the entire V6 hotend or just the heater block and nozzle.
- Adjustable tension
- A small thumbscrew or bolt is used to adjust the tension on every E3D extruder
- Drive Gears
- For dual-drive grip you’ll need to use an E3D Hemera, otherwise you will find a smooth bearing as the idler for the rest of the extruders.
- Motor Compatibility
- As its tailor made to E3Ds specifications and design, the E3D Hemera will only work with the custom Nema 17 motor it comes with, but every Titan extruder can use whatever Nema 17 profile motor you have.
- Filament Size Compatibility
- Every Titan extruder is compatible with both 1.75mm and 2.85mm filament, but the Hemera can only work with 1.75mm filament
- Mounting Options
- Use Nema17 motor mounting plates to attach a Titan or Titan Aero to your 3D printer, a custom-designed bracket to attach to the Titan Aqua’s heatsink, or the captured square nuts on the Hemera motor.
Direct-Drive or Bowden
E3D has developed multiple extruders, each of which can be used in a direct-drive configuration, where the extruder is mounted to the printhead, or bowden configuration, where the extruder is mounted to the frame and connected to the printhead using a PTFE tube. Usually there will be some level of swapping-parts around to convert the extruder from one configuration to the other. The original Titan Universal Extruder can be used in direct-drive or bowden, simply by inserting an E3D groove-mount heatsink directly into the extruder body or by inserting a groove-mount bowden adapter. For those interested in a variant that makes a shorter direct-drive extruder, the Titan Aero replaces the Titan’s cover with a heatsink/cover combo that is air cooled and can be threaded with standard E3D V6 heatbreaks. The latest and greatest E3D Hemera is equally capable of being used in direct-drive or bowden configurations, simply by installing the “Bowdaptor” for bowden of the Hemera heartbreak for direct-drive.
Depending on the use-case of an individual printer, how the extruder keeps cool may or may not be an important consideration. E3D’s first extruder, the Titan Universal Extruder, doesn’t use any cooling at all, it is simply a gearbox that you connect to your hotend, which will have its own cooling setup. For the more extreme scenarios, the Titan Aqua features an internal cavity and couplings that allow it to circulate a coolant from the heatsink to a pump and radiator outside the enclosure, ensuring that the heatsink stays cool enough despite being in the hot chamber. In any case, the Hemera is air-cooled but features some pathing that the Titan Aero did not consider: the unique heatsink was designed to channel air away from the 3D print, preventing it from warping delicate materials away from the bed.
E3D Ecosystem Compatibility
Each of the E3D extruders are compatible with a variety of E3D components. In the case of the Hemera, everything below the heatbreak can be swapped around to your heart’s content, be it a plated copper Volcano heater block or a Nozzle X. For the Titan Aero, the heatbreak and everything below it can be interchanged, including a swap for the titanium V6 heatbreak for supreme temperature control. As the Titan Universal Extruder uses a groove-mount, as long as you have a groove-mount adapter on your hotend, E3D and otherwise, you can install it without issue.
Unlike other “basic” extruders, every E3D extruder features an easily accessible tensioner. In the case of the Titan, Titan Aero, and Titan Aqua, a handy thumbscrew can be tightened or loosened to adjust the idler bearing’s tension on the filament. For a more “low-profile” use, you can swap the thumbscrew for a large button head screw. Depending on whether you are working with a standard E3D extruder or one of the mirrored versions, the tension adjuster will be on the left or right, respectively. The E3D Hemera is a little bit different, in that the tensioner is located right on top, so no matter how it’s mounted you will always have access to it. Just the same, you turn a thumbscrew clockwise to increase tension and counterclockwise to decrease tension.
In order to extrude filament reliably and with repeatability, modern extruders utilize a “dual-drive” extruder gear setup, where both the idler and guide gear have teeth to grip the filament and push it from both sides. The E3D Hemera features these dual-drive gears, but every previous E3D extruder utilizes smooth bearings as their idler. For you, all this means is that the tightly constrained filament path of the Hemera can print flexible filaments almost as fast as rigid materials, whereas the older Titan extruders will need to be a little more delicate with flexibles and print at slower speeds.
The Titan extruders are all designed in such a way that you can attach whatever motor fits its faceplate, which is a standard Nema17 motor. You can use a pancake or “slimline” motor for a direct drive configuration to really bring down the weight of the carriage, or you can get a huge and powerful motor and strap it down as a bowden extruder, ensuring that any printing complications you encounter aren’t from a lack of extruder torque. Conversely, the E3D Hemera uses a unique Nema17 motor specifically to keep all of its components in a smaller footprint; square nuts insert channels for easy mounting or gears embedded in the face of the motor. While this does mean to have to use the included motor in order to use the Hemera at all, it also means that E3D has done the testing to ensure that the motor is of their quality caliber, for a more reliable extruder overall.
Of the E3D Titan lineup, every single one is compatible with both 2.85mm filament and 1.75mm filament. The original Titan includes two small injection-molded pieces that constrain the filament path after the extruder gears, one for each filament diameter. Simply by swapping these parts around you can change diameters. With the Titan Aero and Aqua, the heatsink necessitates moving some parts around, and that means these heatsinks are built for only one filament diameter, as the bottoms are threaded for either a V6 heatbreak designed for 2.85mm filament or 1.75mm filament, as they have different threadings. The base Titan extruder is unaffected, so as long as you swap the entire heatsink you retain the ability to change diameters. With the E3D Hemera however, there is only a 1.75mm version and 2.85mm is unsupported in any way.
Mounting these extruders is fairly simple, with a little forethought. The E3D Titan and Titan Aero use a mounting-plate sandwiched between the motor body and the extruder housing in order to keep everything locked together and well supported. With the Titan Aqua’s unique heatsink setup that requires the heatsink to clamp against the motor, the motor mount is left out in favor of mounting holes directly attached to the heatsink. Even simpler, the E3D Hemera using small channels cut into the sides of the motor housing to allow for M3 square nuts to be inserted and used to mount the extruder, or any additional accessories, with ease.
E3D has several extruders, each built with a specific purpose in mind while still being excellent all-around 3D printer extruders. Hopefully you have a much better understanding of the differences between each E3D extruder and have the information that you need to choose the right one for you. To learn more and to order your own E3D extruder, check out the collection here.