Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The hot end

This is just going to be a quick post on what hot end I used on my Prusa. I wasn't very good about keeping track of its progress, and didn't take a single picture during assembly, unfortunately. What follows is just some basic info about the hotend I chose, and what I would do differently next time.

I used the MakerGear Hot End Kit for 3mm filament from UltiMachine.com. I chose to have the nichrome pre-wrapped and covered for a bit extra because it was my first hot end, and I wasn't very confident in my ability to construct it well. The hot end arrived, and the pre-cover of the ceramic was absolutely beautiful.

The instructions on MakerGear's website were a little less beautiful. I ended up watching a series of YouTube videos of the hot end assembly, the first of which you can find here.

The hot end went together pretty easily, and worked (and still works) great! I did have some hiccups, though. My crimping skills are pretty bad, and I unknowingly ruined the connectors of the heating element. This made them not fit into the provided plastic housing, and so I would sometimes have my heating element become unplugged mid-print! I was getting pretty frustrated with it, so I just soldered the connections. It works just fine, but now it will be very difficult to remove the extruder if I ever want to (which I do...).

But I digress. This post is about the extruder from MakerGear. It really is a good extruder. With a nozzle of only .35mm, I can get some awesome resolution, even without rigorous calibration.

Would I buy it again? Unfortunately, the answer is no. There are other designs that use ceramic resistors and alumuninum blocks, and they go together quite easily. The MakerGear hot end is very reliable, but pretty difficult to build if you didn't buy a kit.

Next post will probably be about belts, why they suck, and what I'm trying to make them suck less.