Standardizing Screwy Hot Ends?

By on February 25th, 2018 in Hardware

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 A screw-top hot end for 3D printers?
A screw-top hot end for 3D printers?

An interesting post from E3D-Online proposes a new standard for mounting the heatsink for 3D printer hot ends. 

While seemingly a rather niche topic, it is actually something for consideration simply because of the enormous number of firms using interchangeable 3D printer hot ends in their machine designs. E3D-Online’s equipment is quite popular in this regard, and in fact they don’t manufacture a 3D printer themselves, but instead focus on key components such as the hot ends. 

What’s the issue? E3D-Online explains:

Here at E3D we’ve used always used groovemount on our HotEnds as the means of attachment. It’s been the standard way to mount a HotEnd on a printer since the makergear standard was introduced. When introduced, it was intended for attaching a HotEnd to a piece of laser cut wood (an application that isn’t especially common any more). It’s a method well-suited to making prototypes as it needs a minimum of skills and lathing tools, but it does have a few issues.

It seems that the older groovemount standard may be less applicable to modern desktop 3D printer designs due to its tendency to wear out when repeatedly swapped. E3D-Online also explains that the old design requires precise machining to mount properly. 

That may not have been an issue years ago when the groovemount approach was developed. What’s changed? I think it could be partly due to the increased interest in more exotic materials, some of which may demand changes in equipment, including the hot end. More people are doing upgrades. 

Another factor could be the increased interest in high quality output, where an ill-fitting mount would not be desirable. 

What do to? E3D-Online now proposes a new standard based on a screw-thread instead of groovemount. Instead of sliding the heatsink, it’s tightly screwed in, which should alleviate the issues. It should be straightforward to manufacture as well, since it simply uses a standard thread pattern. E3D-Online proposes an M12x1.5 thread, but is open to suggestions. 

All this sounds good, but a standard is only a standard if most participants make use of it. 

 An example installation of the E3D-Online screw-top hot end
An example installation of the E3D-Online screw-top hot end

Will they? While E3D-Online has a big voice in this component space due to their popular products that are used in countless desktop 3D printers, it could be challenging to convince perhaps hundreds of machine designers to switch to a different standard. 

But that’s how standards start: no one uses them until a critical mass of participants appear to do so. A good idea may get some traction, and this seems to be a good idea. E3D-Online has opened up a supply of these screwy hot ends for beta testing. 

E3D-Online has posted their proposal to the public, and now it’s up to the manufacturers to make their decisions. 

For me, I like the very blue color; Matches our logo. 

Via E3D-Online

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!