Using your All Metal Hotend

Got an all-metal hotend? #

All metal hotends are great additions to your 3D printers. We sell our Tough All-Metal Hotend that comes with high-quality all-metal heat breaks. Manufacturers like E3D and MicroSwiss also sell hotends that are all-metal.

No matter what brand you have there are things that you need to be aware of when printing with an all-metal hotend if you want to have high success and great-looking prints.

Why upgrade to an all-metal hotend? #

  • Printing High Temp Filament
    • Most stock hotends can only handle up to 240C before you damage the hotend.
    • All-metal hotends can handle up to 290C and even higher with aftermarket thermocouples (like a PT100)
  • Lower retractions
  • Long Life
  • More Nozzle Options when you go with a hotend like our Tough All-Metal Hotend or offerings from other companies
  • More/Different Printable Hotend Mounts

What is different from using a PTFE type hotend? #

The main thing that new users who switch over to an all-metal hotend are that they notice that they get “jamming”. This is where the filament cools in the heatbreak and sticks to the inside of the heatbreak. This is very rare with PTFE hotends that most printers come with since not much sticks to PTFE.

This occurs mainly with PLA because it is a starch-based plastic. Think of what happens if you cook food in a pan with no oil in it. The food sticks to the pan and is hard to get off. This is what happens when you get a jam.

What causes jams and how to address them #

Too much retraction #

We typically use about 2-3mm on our Bowden machines when fitted with our Tough Tube and 3-4mm when using stock PTFE tubing with the larger inside diameter.

Use the lowest amount of retraction that yields the best balance between print quality and risk of jamming. More retraction = higher chance of jamming.

No lubrication in the heatbreak (most common with PLA) #

Canola can be used to oil the filament before insertion into the printer or introduced on the filament by adding a filament oiler.

Here are our favorite filament oilers you can print: Universal Filament Filter and Lubricator & Snap-on Filament Filter/Oiler

Put some parts of a sponge or cloth in the oiler with a few drops of oil on the medium you inserted into the oiler.

Remember to put it on the filament before a print

If you can’t print we have just dipped the end of the filament in the oil before feeding into the printer about 2-3 inches into the oil container

Recommended canola oil – Organic Canola Oil

Do note that some people will say that Canola oil affects adhesion but we have not found any adverse effects and have been using this method for over 2 years on our own machines here as needed.

Dry PTFE lubricant #

This is best applied before the machine is used but if you want to go this way and you have been printing a while already on the heatbreak make sure to remove as much filament by pulling the filament out around 120C

Once the heatbreak is clear (or new) shoot some Dry PTFE lube in there and let dry for 15 mins. Then you are ready to print. This usually lasts anywhere from 2-3 months from our testing and by the time it does wear off the heatbreak is usually “seasoned” well enough that jams are no longer an issue.

Recommended Dry PTFE Lube – Dupont Dry PTFE Lube

We love our all-metal hotends and its great knowing that we can print any material we want without having to further upgrade our printer.

We hope this article has been helpful to you and wish you Happy Printing!

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