After buying my first printer I was thrilled! I learned how to increase print quality and I’ve seen that affordable DIY printers can print perfectly and be very reliable! Learning to enhance your printer based on the imperfections you get is important! After you resolve all those errors you can go for more qualitative upgrades and increase the value of the printer. Since I’ve got my Tarantula Pro I’ve wanted to install the genuine E3D V6 hotend. I’ve always used the clone version and needed to see with my eyes if it is really worth the extra money.
E3DV6 installation on Tevo Tarantula Pro
The installation process is fairly easy and can be done in a couple of hours, I’ve prepared a Thingiverse project with all the files required to install it on the Tarantula. I will use this printer as an example. Now let’s see how straightforward it is to install the new hotend.
The process involves the physical installation of the hotend, but also the firmware modification.
The hotend will arrive unassembled so you will have to put it together.My advice here is to go to the official site and follow their tutorial on how to assembly the hotend and after that, I will cover the next part regarding the installation on the printer.
When the hotend is assembled you will have something like this:
Remove the layer fans from the original fan shroud and install them on the printed shroud.
After that, we will need to eliminate the old cables and replace them with the E3D V6 cables. We will need to unsolder the pins from the black connector cable that goes into the printer.
You will see that the pins are numbered, remove all of them except for the numbers 5 and 6 which are the layer fans. When you unsolder the connection do it cable by cable because you will need to remember where the new cables are going to be installed. So after removing the cables remind yourself to tag the connectors to make your life easier afterward.
After unsoldering the cables, remove them gently by pulling the old hotend and the fan and proceed with the installation of the new part.
Start with the hotend fan and the blue bracket. After you secure them properly with the nuts, find a position for the cables and start inserting them in the black cable so you can solder them later.
Secure the hotend and once you’re done installing the new cables in place, solder them correctly and do a test to see if everything works.
Check for a reading from the thermistor and do a quick warm-up test to see if the heater cartridge works.
Now that we have our cables in place and the extruder assembled, we need to install the bracket.
After that, we will just need to secure the fan shroud to the bracket with 2 screws and we are ready to go!
Once everything is in position and works properly, we need to do some firmware adjustments to ensure that our thermister performs well.
So download the marlin firmware from here and open it with Arduino IDE. Search inside configuration.h for the string:
Once you find the parameter change the default value to 5, which is the value that matches our thermistor.
Once we set the correct thermistor ,hit the compile button connect the printer to the USB port and upload the new firmware.
Why should you choose a genuine E3D v6 over a budget clone?
Well, there are some benefits to print quality but the most important aspect here is reliability and maintenance.
Thinks I like
The first obvious thing I like is the build quality. You can feel the strong materials and how well they fit. The cables are strong and rigid making it easier to assembly and without the fear of breaking it. The biggest issue I had with clones is that there is always something that breaks, usually the thermistor or the heat source, also jamming is a common issue. Another thing I like it’s that it doesn’t relly on small screws to hold it in place, this is a common issue for the clones as the heat block usually gets damaged from unthreading the screws very often.
The heat source is a 30W Heater Cartridge that heats exponentially faster than anything I’ve used. Just remember to get the right voltage. I’m using the 24v one and it’s great. Also, the cables are thick and sturdy. The end is coated with fiberglass to avoid any short circuits.
It’s one of the things I like the most. It is known how easily heat thermistors break, and I’ve gone mad changing them every time. Also avoiding temperature fluctuations is important to maintain good print quality.
On the latest model of the E3D V6, they’ve upgraded to a 100K Semitec 104GT2 NTC thermistor with 100mm x Silicone Fibreglass Sleeving. This thermistor passes all the way through the hotend block which ensures an accurate reading.
The thermistor has a clamp that permits to disconnect it fastly and easily for any kind of task.
The hotend is very low maintenance and the silicone cover helps a lot as it’s harder for plastic to stick on the heat block. Nozzles can be changed very fast without too much hassle or needing to disassembly the whole hotend.
The best part of this extruder is that after months of printing I didn’t have to do any maintenance other than changing the nozzle once every 3 kg of plastic. There weren’t any particular issues and my prints always come out great. With those cheap replicas, I had to change something at least once a month.
What I don’t like
This was my only issue. I learned the hard way that this sort of extruder doesn’t stand high retraction lengths as it jams easily, and because Cura has a predefined value of 6 mm this caused me some problems. After some trials and errors, I’ve found that the perfect value for me was a retraction length of 1.8 and a retraction speed of 35mm/s.
With this value, I’ve eliminated stringing and avoided clogging the hotend
I don’t really like how the PTFE tube is secured inside the hotend, the black collet on the top is held in place by a little clip. It works great for me, but this can lead to some movements during retraction and can favor clogging if it has a little bit of movement.
They only give you one nozzle with a dimension of 0.4, and the fact that the nozzle is made from brass, it ruins pretty fast. I’ve expected at least a stainless steel nozzle or some other replacements.
In terms of print quality, which is the most important aspect here, the E3D v6 extruder performs very well. For a nontrained eye, it can be hard to see that difference but it is very clear that that the flow is more consistent and it extrudes perfectly. All of this makes prints look better and more solid. The layers are less noticeable as I feel that the extruded line has more roundness to it making the parts more uniform.
Another thing that I’ve noticed is that with higher speeds it maintains good performance. With proper retraction settings, I can push my printer twice as fast and I haven’t had any problems with stringing and delamination.
No problems with flexible filaments whatsoever, it’s rather easy to print them with a Bowden set up. In general, the printing speed has to be lower to avoid tangling the filament inside the tube, but in comparison with my replicas, the original V6 can stand faster speeds.
When I’ve purchased the new hotend I’ve got what I wanted! A reliable and easy to use hotend that can be serviced without the fear of breaking it and that delivers good printing quality. After using it for some months I have to say that I’m very pleased.
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