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If you are new to the world of 3D printing and are shopping around for the best printers, you may wonder what is an all-metal hot end. The best 3D printers use a hot end to melt the filament before it is assembled into a 3D model, but an all-metal hot end allows for the use of specialized filament types, as these tools excel with higher-than-average temperatures. All-metal hot ends are a significant improvement over the standard hot ends that ship with most 3D printers if you are learning how to fix thermal runaway on a 3D printer, among other issues.
Keep reading to learn more.
The standard hot end consists of a heating block right above the nozzle, a heat sink for drawing away the excess heat, and a coupling that connects to the extruder, along with a line of PTFE tubing to transport the filament, which is useful to know when learning how to calibrate a 3D printer. An all-metal hot end is a similar design, but all of the components are metal, even if you are comparing the Dragonfly vs Micro Swiss.
Not all printers can swap out hot ends, so read the replacement instructions before making a purchase.
The other major design difference is the PTFE tubing is moved a bit, as this tubing cannot handle the same temperatures as the metal components of the hot end, so that is something worth considering when troubleshooting a printer that stops extruding mid-print.
There are some big reasons why all-metal hot ends are such popular accessories for modern 3D printers, particularly printers that ship with standard hot ends.
This is the big one. These hot ends are made entirely out of metal, so they can handle extreme temperatures that go above and beyond what standard hot ends can accomplish. Why does this matter? Many 3D design schematic blueprints require specific temperatures, especially when interacting with certain filament types.
There are a lot of filament types out there, and many are simply too difficult to melt adequately with a regular hot end. They require an all-metal version and the associated higher temperatures. If your filament has metal specks running throughout for aesthetic diversity, there is a good chance it requires a high-end hot end that’s all metal.
If your filament is heated to high temperatures and these temperatures are adequately regulated, the maintenance requirements of your printer will decrease. In other words, you won’t have to clean away debris and filament chunks quite as often, though results will vary.
STAT: In a standard hot end, a PTFE tube is present all the way down to the heat block. And because this tube starts degrading at temperatures over 250 °C, it’s not feasible to print materials at such high temperatures. (source)