Photos courtesy of E3D
The E3D V6 has always been the hotend to turn to, with the legendary combo of design, build quality, and near flawless extrusion. Now, they're back at it again with the flashy, overwrought E3D V6 Gold, and it seems like they have really outdone themselves this time. Question is, does it work?
This is Future or Fraud.
A little bit of background
E3D has always been legendary when it comes to hotends. The newest generation, the V6, has found its home in various DIY printers, as well as some of the biggest players in the 3D printing industry, including the Prusa i3 MK2, 2s, and 3 from Prusa Research.
The new Gold takes each of the parts of the hotend -- heatsink, heaterblock, nozzle, PTFE tube and all -- and swaps them out for some pretty overkill materials.
If there's a luxury sports car in the hotend industry, this is it.
bling! bling! gold
According to E3D, the Gold "has been upgraded with some of the very best components available from E3D":
We’ve blinged up the heat sink with gold anodising, so that everyone can see from 10 yards away that you are a fancy individual who will only accept the best of the best in HotEnd technology..
We’ve switched the aluminium heater block for a plated copper-alloy block, again increasing heat transfer to the filament and reducing the chance of filament goo sticking to it. This reduces the need for a sock, so that you can show off the shiny engraving.
The standard brass nozzle has been swapped in favor of hardened steel. Whereas brass nozzles can be worn down and even ruined by abrasive materials, hardened steel will last a lifetime. If you print with carbon fibre, filled filaments, or even glow in the dark filament then these nozzles are a must.
We’ve swapped standard heaters for our upcoming high precision, quick release heater cartridges. Spot-on physical dimensions and electrical specifications guarantee perfect performance. Quick release also makes tinkering with your HotEnd a doddle.
A clear, moulded plastic fan duct shows off the beautiful golden heatsink to its very best.
We’ve upgraded the standard PTFE guide to High Tolerance Capricorn PTFE Tubing. This new bowden tubing has a tight diameter and much-reduced friction, giving smoother, more accurate extrusion.
Should we care?
I mean, of course. You wouldn't be here if you don't. But what about this deserves an entire, full-fledged analysis?
Upon first glance, the gold heatsink and clear fan duct are stunning. Performance doesn't change much: the duct is the same design, and the gold is just a thin layer anodized onto the aluminum underneath. But boy, do they shine.
The real power of this hotend is hidden in the other components: the heater cartridge, heater block, nozzle, and PTFE tube. The cartridge itself is pretty self-explanatory, being higher precision for greater temperature accuracy; what's really interesting is the rest.
The new heater block is copper with a nickel plating, allowing for greater thermal stability and better heat transfer to the filament, once again for smoother extrusion. They can also withstand higher temperatures than the classic aluminum heater block, making it suitable for really high-temp plastics. On top of that, the nickel plating is stick-resistant, keeping it clear of gunk!
What's important to note, though, is that the block does not actually allow for quicker heat-up times due to copper's density (even though it is extremely conductive). With more mass to pass energy to, it takes longer to heat up; but that shouldn't bother you. In fact, it also means that the block will hold heat better, leading to better temperature stability and less fluctuation. Thumbs up!
The nozzle is now a hardened steel nozzle (available as part of the V6 ecosystem). They allow for the printing of abrasive filaments whilst not hindering everyday, PLA printing. This is a great, versatile upgrade for those looking to test out a variety of materials. Personally, I would rather see the nickel-plated hotend for its thermal stability and non-stick properties, but that's because I generally don't print abrasive plastics.
And now, finally, my favorite of the lot: the Capricorn PTFE tube. This is just amazing. It is lubricated PTFE, made to extremely tight tolerances, for dream-come-true extrusion, especially for bowden machines. E3D has announced that they will be selling it individually, so I'm looking forward to getting one for my Ultimaker Original+ 🙂
The Verdict: Future
All in all, this hotend carries with it quite an impressive repertoire of parts to show off. It offers superior temperature control and smoother extrusion than the already famed V6, with an added touch of bling.
However, though the claims E3D makes are perfectly valid, the changes they bring may be subtle at times. To the untrained eye, they might even pass unnoticed. The most obvious performance difference you'll see is probably with the Capricorn PTFE tube, especially on bowden systems. The hardened nozzle really only makes a difference with abrasive materials and the rest of the upgrades with high-temp plastics.
My biggest question is: where are the E3D titanium heatbreaks? Yes, they're more than the average user needs and serves to ramp up the price, but the Gold is already pretty expensive. Seeing how well it fits the theme, it's strange that it's not included.
And as a note, there is no 2.85mm version... yet. 🙁 Our Ultimaker, Lulzbot, and BCN3D friends will have to wait.
As for me, I'll have to hold back on buying the E3D V6 Gold, considering the pretty penny it costs (a whopping £74.50 pre-VAT). It would be great to get my hands on one to see if it lives up to all that I've said, but as of now, chances look slim.
But disregarding the price point, this is where hotend technology is headed: with breakthrough materials coming in at lower and lower costs.
For some, the Gold and its price may seem a bit of a stretch. But it has a future.
As always, thanks for coming! Let me know what you think in the comments, and subscribe if you liked this!