Creality has certainly been making waves in the 3D printing scene. It’s impressive to note that they have produced some of the best 3D printers available, catering to all different budgets. The Ender 3 is a firm favourite among print enthusiasts due to its features and affordability, while even more features are packed into the Ender 3 V2, giving it a title as one of the best printers under $300. That isn’t all from Creality either: the Ender 3 Pro provides users with even more tech for an incredibly reasonable price – creality came out guns blazing with their bold choice of name for this one.
While part of this is due to the company’s focus on simplicity in design and parts, Creality’s use of consistent, interchangeable components across its machines may have had an even greater impact. The hot end assembly is a prime example; this component constitutes the primary connection point between the printer electronics, motors and heating elements, and plays an integral role in defining both print quality and overall machine performance.
The stock hot end from Creality is great for a range of tasks, with its simple design and functionality. However, when the complexity and heat need become more demanding, it is important to consider upgrading your hot end for maximum performance.
Let’s start by analyzing the Ender 3s’ hot ends, and then think about various alternatives that would serve as great enhancements. There’s good news, too: they’re all compatible with the Ender 3, as well as the Pro and V2 versions.
The Default Choice
If you’ve been looking to upgrade your 3D printer, the default Ender 3 hot end will give you the heat and performance you need. Just a few simple parts make up this powerful part– a Teflon (PTFE) tube, metal heat break, metal heatsink, and aluminium heater block all combine together to take 1.75-mm filament to its maximum temperature capacity of 260 °C. It might be a small piece of equipment with a modest cost of $20, but these minute details make it a great choice when it comes to replacing your stock Ender 3 hot end.
- Easy to replace and install
- Teflon tube resists clogging
- Low maximum temperature
- Non-metal components require more frequent maintenance
- Loose connections between components can easily cause leakage and clogs
The need for a true upgrade to hot ends is paramount since current models exhibit many unfavourable characteristics. Higher maximum temperatures, fewer required maintenance steps and a secure design are the hallmarks of an improved hot end. With enhanced features, modern hot-end designs provide greater reliability and stability in critical applications.
However, simply having a hot end that can reach these high temperatures is insufficient. In order to actually be able to print with materials that require temperatures of 260 °C or above, it is necessary to edit the restrictions of your Ender 3’s firmware and also upgrade your thermistor.
Now that we are aware of how the standard option can be enhanced, let’s look at some Ender 3 hot-end modifications!
The Creality Spider is a great choice for those looking to upgrade from the stock hot end their Ender 3 came with. It can reach impressively high temperatures and handle unprecedented print speeds, making it suitable for even the most intricate prints. Despite its advanced specs, the Creality Spider comes in at around $50 – a far cry compared to some of the more expensive hot ends available on the market today.
The Creality Spider certainly makes a unique statement, with its unique and impressive heating capabilities making it a standout amongst comparable yet less capable hot ends on the market. However, for all intents and purposes, beyond the notable heater and thermistor features, there is not much differentiating the Spider from a standard stock hot end.
- Maximum Temperature? With the Creality Spider, you get the ability to print with a nozzle temperature of up to 500°C. This degree of thermal control is one of the highest affordably available on any 3D printer today, allowing you the speed and flexibility that comes with printing with traditional materials such as PLA as well as higher-temperature materials like PC and Nylon
- Less Maintenance? The Spider hot end offers significant improvements over traditional stock options, but it hasn’t undergone much of a structural change since its inception. The easy installation is one of the things that people have mentioned in their reviews, but it is worth noting that compared to the stock option, it is larger and requires additional modifications on the 3D printer for installation.
- Anti-leak & anti-clog? Despite the Spider’s lack of physical innovation in regard to hot ends, many reviewers have given rave reviews. However, some have observed that the Spider is generally anti-clog unless a user prints with TPU filament, which can cause issues. Additionally, other reviewers report having had issues with heat creep and filament leaking from the hot end assembly during use, leading to frustrating clogs.
E3D V6 All-Metal
One of the leading names in 3D printing is E3D, a British company at the forefront of both innovation and reliability when it comes to 3D parts. Praised for their high-quality materials and durable engineering, E3D parts have become a must-have feature on many 3D printing machines.
But does the E3D V6 all-metal hot end actually replace the Ender 3’s stock hot end? Certainly, it is. Also, it costs about $60, which is just a little bit more than the Creality Spider.
Altogether, The E3D V6 All-Metal Hot End is the ultimate choice for upgrading your Ender 3 hot end. This fantastic device is incredibly durable and includes advanced technology that allows for silent operation, which makes it a pleasure to use. It is also easy it is to install thanks to clear tutorials available online and 3D printable mount files.
- Maximum temperature? By using the V6 hotend system and a thermistor, engineers can easily attain workable temperatures of 285°C. According to the engineers at E3D, an even greater range of materials are possible if a thermocouple or PT100 temperature sensor is used. With this broadened temperature range of 400°C, materials including polycarbonate, nylon, and PEEK are now within reach.
- Less Maintenance? The PTFE tube is distanced from the heater block by a stainless steel heat break, eliminating both PTFE degradation and the need to replace components in the hot end.
- Anti-leak & anti-clog? Without the protection of a PTFE tube, the heat break is highly susceptible to heat and can cause temperatures at the filament to skyrocket, much faster than normal. Unfortunately, when this happens in conjunction with an inadequately cooled heatsink, the filament can easily melt – creating a serious clog in the entire system. To ensure smooth operation and reduce the chances of blockages occurring, it is imperative that both the heat break and heatsink are cooled effectively through means such as intelligent component design and fan-powered cooling units.
The E3D Revo hot ends are taking 3D printing to the next level. With a redesigned, compact assembly featuring RapidChange technology for hassle-free nozzle swapping, these hot ends minimize your printer’s downtime and keep you printing faster. The Revo series is just as reliable as its predecessor, the V6 hot end, but provides an even more efficient experience with its superior design and user-friendly features.
The E3D Revo is a 3d printer hot end line that was released in three versions. The Revo Six has the same size and shape as the previously released E3D V6, so it can be very easily swapped in. However, the Revo Micro offers even more convenience- weighing only 30 grams with a smaller fan at 20 x 20 mm- all at an affordable price of around $90. Lastly, the expensive but most upgraded version of the Revo is the Hemera; which puts the Revo hot end in place of a regular V6 for extra power and speed. Despite its $170 retail cost, this is certainly an upgrade worth considering if you want to get more out of your 3d printer.
Recently, The Revo CR gives Creality 3D printer owners a unique and convenient way to upgrade their technology. Requiring only a few quick and easy steps without the need for additional mounts or firmware updates, users can enjoy an increased performance in as little as 10 minutes of work. The wide range of heatsinks, thermal pastes, and other related components available within the Revo ecosystem at prices ranging from $75 to $125 make upgrading with this product an excellent value-for-money purchase.
The RapidChange system simplifies nozzle swaps even further – within seconds you can switch out your nozzle to accommodate a different type of filament or resume printing after a clog. But the icing on the cake has to be the Revo CR, which features an all-metal design for increased accuracy and improved performance.
- Maximum temperature? Like its comparison, the E3D V6, the Revo has the capability to reach a maximum temperature of 300 °C, making it ideal for working with the most commonly used filament materials. Whether you’re looking to print with PLA, ABS, PETG or nylon, this hot end has the capacity to handle it all.
- Less maintenance? The E3D Revo hot ends have been lauded for their reliability and dependability, even when printing with difficult materials, such as TPU. In the event of a malfunction, the RapidChange system is there to get you operational again in no time: allowing for fast and easy nozzle swapping that is almost effortless. What’s more, the different parts, like the fans, are a cinch to remount and remove from the assembly; this means that they’re both cost-effective and can be swapped out quickly if necessary.
- Anti-leak & anti-clog? The E3D Revo products are specifically engineered to make sure printing is frustration free. With high-quality components, the hot ends are designed to be anti-leak and anti-clog, so you don’t have to worry about costly repairs. To further enhance their performance, the Revo hot ends feature a circular heatsink that helps dissipate heat quickly, thus preventing heat creep from compromising print quality.
Micro Swiss All-Metal
If you’re looking to upgrade your printer but don’t want something overly complicated, the Micro Swiss all-metal hot end for Ender 3 printers is just what you need. Installing this souped-up upgrade will only set you back about $65 and requires no extra brackets—and that’s where Let’s Print 3D comes in.
Their tutorial makes it super simple to get this worthwhile upgrade up and running in no time at all. Don’t feel intimidated – the hot end was made with an intuitive design that makes installation easy!
- Maximum temperature? While the Micro Swiss keeps it simple in its name, there is complex engineering behind this all-metal hot end. Its ability to heat up to higher temperatures than other hot ends makes it perfect for more challenging 3D printing jobs. Of course, any upgrades you make will be wasted if your printer’s firmware isn’t also able to handle it. That’s why it’s essential to see that the rest of your device is compatible with the features of the Micro Swiss before you make any changes.
- Less maintenance? The titanium heat break used in this hot-end design shields the fragile PTFE tube from direct contact with the heater block, thereby preventing any PTFE degradation. The innovative wear-resistant nozzle, which is built from a non-corrosive material, is also designed to have a much longer usage time compared to traditional brass nozzles. By combining these features, this hot-end model allows for an extended lifespan even when printing with abrasive materials such as carbon fibre and metal-filled filaments.
- Anti-leak & anti-clog? The titanium heat break ensures that no melted filament seeps past it and cools into a solidified lump within the cold zone, which would otherwise become a major inconvenience to clear out. This prevents downtime for users and saves them from having to spend extra time on manual maintenance for something that could have been easily avoided.
Creality Sprite (Direct Extruder)
Next, The Creality Sprite is a two-in-one hot end and extruder upgrade option that provides an easy way to make your Ender 3 printer direct drive. The 3.5:1 gear ratio with dual drive gears ensures strong extrusion power and efficient filament feeding, while the release lever enables quick changes when swapping filaments. If you are looking to take the plunge with direct drive, the Sprite is an ideal upgrade that is not only pre-installed on the Ender S1 but also available separately for installation onto other models.
This upgrade greatly increases the capabilities of your printer, from extrusion power and temperature range to the ability to print flexible materials with ease. The kit costs roughly $120, but if you consider what it brings to the machine in terms of increased performance, it is well worth the cost.
- Maximum temperature? Printing with the Sprite is a breeze thanks to its all-metal hot end, which allows for a maximum nozzle temperature of 300 °C. This level of heat makes the machine suitable for printing a wide range of filament materials from PLA to nylon and PC.
- Less maintenance? With not one but two drive gears, it provides an extra-tight path for the filament to move through, making sure that even the most flexible kind of filament won’t get caught in the extruder assembly and cause unnecessary maintenance to be done. The best part is that the extruder pieces and hot end are both made out of metal, so there’s no risk of wearing or burning up.
- Anti-leak & anti-clog? One great feature is how its assembly allows very little room for the filament to escape from the hot end. Coupled with its powerful extruder, it is almost guaranteed that the filament will have no difficulty exiting through the nozzle. Furthermore, a custom-made heatsink and fan keep the melt zone cool, ensuring that the filament does not prematurely melt within the hot end so as to reduce any chances of clogging.
E3D Hemera (Direct Extruder)
The E3D Hemera is another excellent two-in-one option. This extruder and the hot end come in around $120, making it a much more cost-effective option than purchasing a completely new 3D printer. More importantly, the quality of this combination is top-notch – you can expect fast printing speeds and greater precision! Installing this pack on your Ender 3 can be daunting but luckily Dan Rock has put together step-by-step tutorials tailored to each model of the Ender 3.
- Maximum temperature? It enables you to print more efficiently and consistently, reaching temperatures up to 285 °C. To reach such a level of performance, however, firmware and nozzle upgrades may be necessary for optimal operation. Considering that most nozzles will begin to corrode at or below this temperature, it’s vital that you make sure that your machine is properly upgraded.
- Less maintenance? The all-metal hot end and extruder assembly is a great feature for anyone who needs precise filaments that require consistent extrusion. Not only will you likely never have to worry about clogs, but you also won’t ever need to replace your PTFE tube again. This hot end provides unbeatable protection against degradation associated with regular use.
- Anti-leak & anti-clog? The E3D hot end with its incredible dual drive extruder attachment soundly addresses the mainstream 3D printing problem of heat creep, allowing for smooth and uninterrupted 3D printing even with 10-kg spools. This unique heatsink keeps the temperature consistent and even any irregular increase in heat is prevented from creeping up to the extruder.
I am Bheema Shankar. I have worked on SLS, CJP, DLP, SLA and FDM technologies at Think3D. Currently working as Process and application engineer at VEER-O-METALS PRIVATE LIMITED. I am always fascinated by the process of creating things layer by layer. This fascination led me to pursue a career in 3D printing technology. I am passionate about how 3D works and enjoy exploring new ways to improve the 3D printing process.