How To: Successfully Assemble an E3D v6 All-Metal HotEnd
This detailed guide by the Pros at MatterHackers walks you through the steps to correctly assemble the industry's leading hotend.
E3D has an updated assembly guide available here: V6 Assembly Guide (Edition 2)
The E3D All-Metal v6 Hotend is one of the most popular and most important third-party upgrades that 3D printing enthusiasts can make to their stock 3D printer. The ubiquitous nature of the J-head mount makes it compatible with most open standard RepRap printers, and the utilitarian design helps prevent hotend maladies that include heat creep, inconsistent nozzle heating, and variable heatsink cooling airflow. With all the advantages of the E3D All-Metal v6 Hotend, many users still seem to have trouble with the correct process in the assembly and installation of the hotend. This article will cover the assembly and installation process in more detail, building upon the foundation set forth in E3D’s V6 Assembly. At completion, the user will have all the knowledge essential for a successful upgrade to their 3D printer.
We also sell the E3D All-Metal Hotend fully assembled if you are not sure you want to tackle the assembly yourself!
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Required Tools and Parts
- Hex Wrench
- Nozzle Spanner
- V6 Heatsink
- V6 Heat Break
- V6 Heater Block
- V6 Nozzles
- Thermistor Cartridge
- Heater Cartridge
- 30mm Fan
- Plastic Screws × 4
- M3 Grub Screw
- Fan Duct
- M3 Washer
- M3x10 Socket Dome Screw
- V6 Silicone Sock
- Collet Clip
Step 1: Assemble the Nozzle and the Heat Break
To assemble the nozzle and heat break, you will need the following parts: the Heater Block, the Nozzle, and the Heat Break.
Step 2: Orient Your Heater Block
Before inserting the nozzle and heat break into your heater block, make sure to insert your nozzle correctly. You should be looking for the side of the heater block with three holes.
Step 3: Screw in the Nozzle
Screw in the nozzle all the way into the bottom of the heater block. Do not worry about tightness yet. Next, unscrew the nozzle by ¼ of a turn. This will leave enough space to tighten after screwing in the heat break.
NOTE: ONLY USE A WRENCH AND A NOZZLE SPANNER TO TIGHTEN THE NOZZLE TO THE HEATER BLOCK ONCE THE HOTEND IS HEATED AND FULLY ASSEMBLED.
Step 4: Screw in the Heat Break
Screw in the heat break until it touches the nozzle. Next, tighten the nozzle against the heat break with your fingers until snug. There is no need to over tighten the nozzle to be flush with the surface of the bottom of the heat break. You will conduct full tightening later once the hotend is heated.
NOTE: MAKE SURE TO INSERT THE END OF THE HEAT BREAK WITH THE NARROW COLLAR INTO THE HEATER BLOCK.
Step 5: Check the Heat Break
Double check to make sure that your nozzle is almost flush with your heater block. If there is a significant gap between the nozzle top and the heater block you should re-adjust your nozzle and heat break to eliminate that space.
Step 6: Gather Thermistor Parts
Gather the parts that you will need to install the thermistor. These parts include the Thermistor Cartridge, the M3 Grub Screw, the 1.5mm Hex Wrench and the Heater Block.
Step 7: Slide the Thermistor Cartridge Into the Heater Block
Slide the thermistor cartridge into the heater block. Feel free to slide the cartridge in either end/direction so that the wires extend from one side or the other of your heater block. Think about how you'll be organizing your wiring harness to decide which way makes sense for your printer.
Step 8: Screw in the Grub Screw
Screw in the M3 grub screw until it just touches the thermistor. Tighten the M3 grub screw with a hex wrench only ⅛ of a turn. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN SCREW. The thermistor cartridge is soft and you may deform the cartridge if you over tighten.
Step 9: Test the Heater Cartridge
Before installing the heater cartridge, double check to see that the correct voltage cartridge was purchased and received. Cartridges are laser etched with their voltage but it is worth double checking. THIS PROCESS ENSURES THAT THERE IS NO FIRE HAZARD. For a 12v30w heater cartridge, the multimeter should read 4.8Ω. For a 24v30w heater cartridge, the multimeter should read 19.2Ω. The cartridge resistance may deviate slightly from these numbers, but the process will verify the type of cartridge.
Step 10: Gather the Heater Cartridge Parts
The parts for the installation of the heater cartridge include the Heater Block Sub-Assembly, the Heater Cartridge, the 2.5mm Hex Wrench and an M3x10 Screw and M3 Washer.
Step 11: Slide the Heater Cartridge into the Heater Block Sub-Assembly
Slide the heater cartridge into the Heater Block Sub-Assembly. Typically the wiring on the heater cartridge should come out the same side as your thermistor wires. It is acceptable if the cartridge protrudes a bit from both sides of the heater block.
Step 12: Screw in the M3 x 10 Screw to Secure the Heater Cartridge to the Heater Block Sub-Assembly
Tighten the M3 x 10 socket dome screw and associated M3 washer with a 2mm hex wrench until the clamp deforms slightly (as shown in Figure 19).
NOTE: THE KEY HERE IS “SLIGHTLY”. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN.
Step 13: The Tug Test
Before continuing, gently tug on the thermistor and heater cartridge wires. These cartridges should not be able to slip during printing.
Step 14: Gather Parts for Assembling the Heatsink
Gather the following parts to include the Heater Block Sub-Assembly, the Heatsink and the Sachet of Thermal Paste.
Step 15: Apply the Thermal Compound
Apply light amounts of thermal compound to the threading of the heat break. Next, screw in the heatsink until hand-tight. Do not use thermal paste elsewhere on the hotend.
Step 16: Install the PTFE Tubing
Gather the Collett, Collett Clip and PTFE Tubing and prepare to attach to the Hotend Sub-Assembly.
Step 17: Insert the Collett Into the Top of the Heatsink
Insert the small black Collett into the top of the heatsink. The end of the Collett with the four small legs should push into the top of the heatsink. Use gentle finger pressure when inserting the Collett. Slip the Collett clip underneath the Collett, thereby securing the Collett into the heatsink.
Step 18: Prepare the PTFE Tubing
To ensure that the end of the PTFE tubing will fit squarely and flat inside your hotend, cut off an end section of the PTFE with a very sharp knife (a craft knife with razor sharp blade is recommended).
Step 19: Insert the PTFE Tubing and Lock Into Place
Insert the PTFE tubing into the heatsink until it stops. The Collett clip should apply tension to the tubing and lock it into the hotend. Make sure that the tubing is held securely down into the heatsink without the ability to wiggle or move. To release the PTFE tubing, remove the Collett clip and push down on the Collett while pulling the tubing.
Step 20: Installing Fan and Duct Parts
Gather the Hotend Sub-Assembly, 30mm Fan, the Fan Duct and the 4 Plast-Fast Pozidriv-Head Self-Tapping Screws.
Step 21: Screw the Plast-Fast Screws Halfway Into the Fan
Ensure that the screw heads are on the non-sticker side on the fan. Screw the Plast-Fast screws partially/halfway into the fan. Ensure that the screws did not protrude out of the rear of the fan.
Step 22: Screw the Fan Into the Fan Duct
Try to understand how and where you want the fan wiring to be placed in relation to the fan duct and before placement on the hotend. The fan and fan duct may be mounted on the side of the heatsink facing either direction. Screw the fan on to the fan duct. This may require some torque so a good fitting screwdriver is essential. Do not be concerned about getting the screws 100% tightened. The screws just need to secure the fan.
Step 23: Clip the Fan and Fan Duct on to the Heatsink
Clip the fan duct on to the heatsink. Make sure that the duct covers the fin on the heatsink that is closest to the heater block. The overhang on the fan duct may face up or down depending on the setup.
Step 24: Connect Extension Wires to the Hotend
Connect the extension wires to the thermistor and fan. The other end of the extension wires will connect directly to the printer's electronics board. If replacing an older hotend, note where the previous hotend wires were connected to the board and mirror that for the new E3D All-Metal v6 Hotend. If building a new printer, consult the documentation for the new printer’s electronics board to determine where to plug in the connectors. Use the included cable tie to link the connections/wiring together for strain relief. Remember to take time to properly organize the wiring so that it does not get snagged on any corner of the printer.
Step 25: Hot Tightening the Nozzle on the Hotend
Hot tightening is the last mechanical step to get the E3D All-Metal v6 Hotend operational. Hot tightening is essential to sealing the nozzle and heatsink together to ensure that molten plastic cannot leak out of the heater block and down the nozzle while in use. Utilizing the printer's control software (or LCD screen), set the hotend temperature to 250°C. Allow the hot end to reach 250°C and wait one minute to allow all components to equalize in temperature. Gently tighten the nozzle while holding the heater block stationary with a spanner and using a smaller 7mm spanner to tighten the nozzle. This will tighten the nozzle against the heatsink and ensure that the hotend does not leak.
NOTE: DO NOT TORQUE THE NOZZLE. TIGHTEN THE NOZZLE WITH ABOUT AS MUCH PRESSURE AS CAN BE APPLIED WITH ONE FINGER AND UNTIL IT IS SNUG TO THE HEAT BREAK. APPLYING EXCESSIVE TORQUE TO THE NOZZLE WILL MAKE THE NOZZLE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE AND MAY EVEN DAMAGE/BREAK THE NOZZLE DURING REMOVAL.
Step 26: Gather Sock Parts
Along with the newly assembled Hotend, collect the Pro Sock and/or the Normal Sock in preparation for installation.
Step 27: Attaching the Pro / Normal Sock
Allow the hotend to cool before slipping the silicone sock over the heater block on the hotend. Attempt to seat the clips on the silicone sock to the top of the heater block so that the sock will remain seated during use. It may appear at first that the sock does not fit well, but when the hotend is heated the sock will expand and conform to the shape of the heater block.
Step 28: Final Adjustments
If using the pro sock make sure that the tip of the nozzle protrudes from the sock. If using the normal sock, it should appear like Figure 38 when seated.
Step 29: Configuring the Firmware
Configuring the firmware is different depending on the type of firmware the printer uses. Follow one of the links below for guides on how to update each of the most popular firmware. When completed, continue to Step 30 in this guide.
For more information on how to install/flash the firmware on the printer, please reference How To Successfully Flash Your 3D Printer's Firmware. In Marlin you will need to update the Configuration.h file with the correct thermistor value before flashing.
Step 30: PID Tuning
PID Tuning is important whenever installing a new hotend. It is best accomplished once the hotend kit is completely assembled and mounted on to the printer. PID Tuning allows the printer to adjust internal parameters so that it can learn how the hotend heats. This way, the printer can anticipate how much power is needed to get the hotend up, but not over, the set temperature.
Using a computer to connect to your printer, open MatterControl and connect to the printer. Navigate to the Terminal in MatterControl and prepare for entering the PID Tuning commands. Make sure you have your hotend mounted on the printer when it heats up.
Send the command M303 to autotune. Remember that not all firmware supports PID Tuning so the tuning may need to be done manually. The manufacturer recommends running two PID Tuning sequences for the v6: once after installation, and one later at normal printing temperatures with filament in the hotend, sock attached, and with an active cooling fan turned on. This way your printer can finely tune its settings to match the real printing environment.
Step 31: Slicer Settings
Remember to update the slicer settings. This includes setting the correct nozzle diameter (all kits ship with a 0.40mm brass nozzle) and filament retraction distance. For direct systems, the retraction setting can be anywhere from 0.5mm to 2.0mm. For Bowden systems, take into consideration the compression strain that will depend on the length of the Bowden tube. This usually adds to the length of the retraction settings.
The E3D All-Metal v6 Hotend is top of the line technology for those interested in printing correctly with multiple types of filament. However, to experience the best performance from this hotend, the E3D All-Metal v6 Hotend needs to be assembled and installed correctly. Also, do not forget to update the printer’s firmware with the correct thermistor value or the hotend will not operate effectively. Stop settling for substandard performance and upgrade to the E3D All-Metal v6 Hotend today!
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