A hot end is one of the most important parts of any 3D printer. The small sensors regulate heat, which then allows the larger machine to create efficient prints. There are many hot ends out there, and while they all perform the same task, they do so in patently different ways.
Here, we will look at a range of different hot ends for 3D printers. Each one is extremely reliable and will help bring your creations to lifetime and time again. It doesn’t matter if you’re serious about 3D printing or just enjoy it as a hobby, you’re going to get great results with what’s listed below.
- The E3D Lite6 is a great option for those new to 3D printing. Not only is it easy to use, but it comes in at a low price and has fewer parts than other more advanced models.
- Printing flexibles is not easy, but the Flexion Extruder makes that process much easier. This versatile model comes with micro teeth to better hold tricky materials during the printing process.
- The Titan Aero is a compact hot end for users who want a lot of performance in a small package. It works quickly, increases print volume, and completely eliminates the need for an external heatsink.
Who Should Get This?
Anyone with a 3D printer needs a solid hot end. The pieces are critical to the entire operation and make sure it runs smoothly. The models outlined in the following paragraphs cover just about any material and give you great results. As such, if you plan on printing your own creations or want to build your own machine, they will work towards that end.
Best 3D Printer Hot End: What to Consider?
The first thing you need to consider when getting a hot end for your 3D printer is the materials you plan to use. Every hot end comes in at a different temperature. Some can run hot enough to melt and print any material, while others can only print PLA. Metal hot ends also tend to run hotter than PEEK ones, which makes them much more versatile. If you plan to use flexibles, you’re going to want a special model for that as well.
3D printing is an investment. However, you can control how much you want to put into it. When looking at hot ends, you have a choice. You can either get a cheaper model to save some money upfront or you can get a more expensive model for the best possible results. No matter what you pick, just remember that cheaper models may end up costing more if you have to constantly replace them. Look for ones from trusted brands to avoid that issue.
Not every hot end works for every printer. That’s incredibly important to note because if you don’t have the right model for your device it won’t do you any good. You either want to get a model that works specifically with your 3D printer or one that you can easily change to fit with your printer. The filament size also matters. Most hot ends work with 1.75 and 3mm filament, but you need to double-check to be sure.
Best 3D Printer Hot End: Our Picks
1. E3D Lite6
As fun as 3D printing can be, there’s a lot to learn. That is where models like the E3D Lite6 come in. While it’s not the most advanced hot end you can find, the device is a fantastic option for people new to the 3D printing process. This device burns at a medium temperature, which gives you the chance to learn and refine your prints before moving onto more advanced or precise options.
In addition, this has the same parts as the more advanced E3D, which means you get a stunning amount of flexibility here. No matter what material you’re printing with, this will give you the ability to carefully sculpt the design to your liking. While this is only compatible with the 1.75mm filament, the low price and strong results make it perfect for ABS and PLA. It is also easy to assemble and get going too.
What We Like:
- Excellent for beginners
- Easy to assemble
- Few moving parts
- Basic-but-intuitive design
- Good for lower temperatures
- Great for PLA and ABS
- Low price
What We Don’t Like:
- A bit too basic for advanced users
- Not customizable
If printing flexibles if your thing, look no further than the Flexion Extruder. This hot end makes our list because it takes typically difficult flexibles and makes them much easier to handle. In fact, it goes after them head-on in a way that makes them print much more quickly and effectively. That saves you time and makes everything much less stressful.
The reason this hot end can handle flexibles so well is due to the fact that it has a restricted filament path that stops them from squeezing out. In addition, it comes with micro teeth for better grip as well as a replaceable wire brush to ensure a consistent grip. You can get the extruder by itself, or you can choose between single and dual kits as well.
What We Like:
- Simple installation process
- Restricted filament path
- Micro teeth provide excellent grip
- Single and dual kits available
- E3D-compatible assembly
What We Don’t Like:
- There are better options for more traditional materials
3. Titan Aero
The Titan Aero is a hybrid model that’s specially designed to give great results in a compact space. Unlike heavier hot ends, this small device delivers high performance without adding too much mass or weight to your set up. It comes with a special extruder design that attaches a heatsink directly to it so you don’t need an external one. That then creates a shorter direct-drive assembly.
Another reason so many enjoy the Aero’s smaller size is that it greatly increases print time. Quick acceleration can cause wobble in longer extruder assemblies, but you won’t have that same problem here. In addition, this is an E3D model. That means you have access to the entire E3D line so you can change or customize the device as you need.
What We Like:
- Eliminates need for external heatsink
- Enables high-speed printing
- Good for high-volumes
- Heatsink design
- Extremely customizable
- Mounting plate with standard hole patterns
What We Don’t Like:
- Can be tricky to install
- More mass than similar models
Useful Tips and Information
While a good hot end can vastly improve your 3D printing experience, it’s far from the only way to achieve excellent results. If you want to make sure all of your prints come out in top form or without any issues, this guide is a good place to start.
The above paragraphs provide a quick look at different hot ends. However, it doesn’t quite go as in-depth on the technical side of things. For those that want a deeper look into how the devices come together, this video provides some excellent tips on assembly.
A hot end may not be the first thing you think of when putting together your 3D printer setup, but the devices are vital in ensuring you get the results you want. No matter how much you use your printer or what exactly you use it for, this guide has something for everyone.
What hot end do you use for your 3D printer? What traits does it have that you enjoy? Let us know in the comments below!
Andreas is a freelance tech writer based in California. He works on a Mac in the office and lives with a PC and many old computer electronics at home. While he is not reading or writing, you’ll probably find him playing online games with friends.