E3D-Lite6 Assembly

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Assembly of the E3D-Lite6 HotEnd should be an easy process that takes no more than half an hour. Please follow the instructions on this page carefully to ensure that you assemble the HotEnd correctly.

What's in the box

Metal Parts
1 x Stainless Heatsink (Contains brass embedded bowden coupling ring pre-fitted in top)
1 x Aluminium Heater Block​
1 x Brass Nozzle (0.4mm)
Electronics
1 x 100K Semitec 104GT2 NTC thermistor
1 x 12v or 24v 25W Heater Cartridge
1 x 12v or 24v 30x30x10mm fan
1m of Thermistor wire (with 0.1" connector when available)
4 x 0.75mm Ferrules - for Solder-Free Wire Joins (You should only need 2, the other 2 are spares)
Fixings
4 x Plastfast30 3.0mm x 16mm screws to attach the fan to the fan duct. They look a bit like wood screws, but are actually super clever screws for plastic.
1 x M3x3 socket dome screw and M3 washer to clamp thermistor. This is the teeny tiny screw.
1 x M3x10 socket dome screw to clamp the heater block around the heater cartridge.
1 x Fan Duct (Injection Moulded Translucent Polycarbonate, usually red)
1 x Small Black Plastic Collet (For securing PTFE tubing into embedded bowden coupling installed in heatsink)
Bowden Versions also Include
800mm of 4mm outer diameter, 2mm inner diameter PTFE tubing.
1 x Screw in Coupler for extruder end of tubing.​

What you need

  • 16mm Spanner, or medium sized adjustable spanner capable of 16mm.
  • 7mm Spanner or Nut Driver.
  • Pozi-Drive (Cross Head) Screwdriver.
  • M2.5 Hex Wrench - we supply these in the kit when possible.
  • Needle nosed pliers.
  • Wire Cutters.
  • Razor sharp knife. 'X-acto' or 'Stanley' types are ideal.

Warnings - Please Read!

  1. The thermistor is small and fragile. Be gentle with the legs. The bead is made of glass - don't crush! It is also very small, so don't breathe it in.
  2. You are dealing with high temperatures - the HotEnd gets hot, and may be off your printer when you do the initial tightening. If you touch it, you will get burned!
  3. You are dealing with high currents, make sure you double check all your wiring and your power supply rating. It is not recommended to work on anything whilst it is plugged in. Bad wiring with improper current ratings can cause fire.
  4. Be sure you have ordered (and received!) the correct voltage heater and fan to match your 3D printer. If the heater cartridge specification is not lasered onto the cartridge, you can easily check with a multimeter, this is described in the #Heater_Cartridge section. Connecting 12v parts to 24v power can result in overheating, component damage or fire. If you are unsure, check!
  5. E3D’s heater cartridges are geared for the high performance E3D-v6 and are capable of reaching very high printing temperatures, it is recommended that you set your heater cartridge “MAX_PWM” to 150 in your firmware in order to limit the E3D’s heater to a range suitable for Lite6. This variable can usually be found in the configuration.h file of your printers firmware. You can always change it to a higher value if you find yourself needing more power, it is much more difficult to extinguish a housefire.​
  6. Any 3D printer can be a fire hazard. You are using experimental technology to heat and melt plastic, in a machine that you may have built or modified yourself, that likely does not have safety certification or significant failsafes. Fire/Smoke alarms, supervision of your printer while printing, and expertise should not be considered optional.
  7. Your HotEnd and your printer are your responsibility. We cannot be held responsible for damages caused by the use, misuse or abuse of our products.

Assembly Steps


Thermistor

We have moved away from the tedious sleeving, washer & screw arrangement for mounting our thermistors to our high-performance cartridge style sensors.


New easy insertion of thermistor cartridge

Simply slide the sensor cartridge into the heater block and use the supplied M3 grub screw to fix the cartridge into place. Tighten the grub screw until it just touches up against the cartridge, then do one more half turn.

It is important not to over-tighten the screw against the relatively soft copper cartridge, doing so can cause a range of annoying problems:

  1. Deformation of the cartridge making it hard to remove at a later date
  2. Cracking of the potting ceramic resulting in poorer thermal response or in extreme circumstances, short circuit.


Sensor inserted


Heater Cartridge

Heater inserted into block.

If you have one, grab a multimeter and check the resistance of your heater cartridge against the table below. Expect your value to deviate a little from these by up-to an ohm more or less, however if yours is significantly off or you are concerned you have the wrong cartridge please get in touch.

P\V 12v 24v
40w (Red Leads) 3.6Ω 14.4Ω
25w (Blue Leads) 5.76Ω 23.04Ω

Insert the Heater Cartridge with the leads exiting the block the same side as the thermistor.​ Centre the cartridge in it's hole in the block. The ends of the heater will poke outside of either end of the block, this is normal and intentional.

Cable tie the thermistor wires to the heater cartridge wires so that they are secured such that the more delicate thermistor wires cannot be pulled away from the block.


HeaterBlock tightened around cartridge.

Tighten the clamping portion of the heater block around the heater cartridge with the longer M3x10 screw. As in the photo below you should be able to see slight bend of the heater block clamp as it wraps around the cartridge for maximum thermal contact. This is normal and intentional.


Nozzle

Nozzle screwed into block, and unscrewed a 1/2 turn.

Screw Nozzle into the Heater Block into the end closest to the thermistor holes. Be careful you use the same orientation as in the photograph. Unscrew the Nozzle a 1/4 to a 1/2 turn - You should see a very small gap between the hexagonal portion of the nozzle and the bottom face of the heater-block.


HeatSink

Screw the threaded portion of the heatsink into the top of the heater block until it butts up against the nozzle. The heatsink only needs to be screwed in hand-tight at this point, it will be tightened hot later.

Everything correctly assembled.
How NOT to assemble your hotend.


It is important that the nozzle and heatsink are correctly positioned with regards to the block as show in the images above. The second image is an incorrectly assembled hotend where the heater block is positioned too high and against the heatsink.

Collet


Collet about to go in.
Collet inserted.

Insert the small black collet into the top of the HeatSink, the side with the four small legs should push into the brass ring in the top of the heatsink with gentle finger pressure.


PTFE Tubing, Instructions

PTFE Being cut with a sharp knife.

Cut the end of the PTFE that will be inserted into the hotend with a very sharp knife, a craft knife with razor sharp blade is recommended for this. Ensure that the cut end is square and flat after cutting.


PTFE Going in.

Insert the PTFE tubing into the top of the heatsink through the small black collet and slide it down through the heatsink as far as it will go.


PTFE Being locked into place.

The PTFE tubing must be held securely downwards without any ability to wiggle or move. To make the collet hold the tubing securely you must simultaneously push the PTFE tubing into the hotend while pulling up on the black collet, this will pre-tension the tubing and lock it into the downwards position.


PTFE Tubing, Guidance

The PTFE liner in Lite6 is an important part and crucial to the correct functioning of your hotend. Please ensure you follow the instructions below with care, instead of just shoving the tubing into the hole and blindly soldiering onwards.

  • The PTFE tubing is not optional, you must use the tubing or the HotEnd will not function properly.
  • The tubing should be inserted from the top of the now assembled hotend and pushed as far down into the hotend as possible at all times.
  • The end of the tubing that is inserted into the hotend must be cut cleanly and squarely with a razor
  • To release the tubing from the heatsink simply press down on the black collet in the top of heatsink while pulling on the tubing.


PTFE going through HeatSink.

The tubing passes right through the heatsink and butts up against the nozzle. Below is an illustration of how far down the PTFE tubing must extend. The photo below is not an assembly step, just an illustration of what should be happening inside your hotend.

The PTFE guides the filament from the cold side of the heatsink right down into the hot nozzle. For it to do so effectively it must butt up against the nozzle squarely and be positively secured in that position.


An optimal tubing configuration in a wades extruder.
  • Thought should be given to running the PTFE right up as close to the hobbed bolt/drive gear as possible as this provides the easiest loading and the best performance with all filament types. However if you do not wish to run PTFE up to the hobbed bolt or drive gear you can simply cut the tubing off flush with the top of the hotend.
  • Shown below is a cutaway illustration of how an optimal PTFE configuration might look in a wades type extruder. The PTFE tubing extends right up to the hobbed bolt.


Fan & Duct

Fan with screws inserted.

We recommend mounting the duct with the over-hang at the bottom. Please keep it clear of the heater block - although the duct is made of very heat resistant polycarbonate direct contact with the block will melt and damage the duct.

Remove the fan duct from the HeatSink. Screw the screws into the fan such that the ends are just protruding from the other side of the fan. The sticker of the fan must face the heatsink to blow air over the heatsink, therefore the screws need to enter the fan from the side opposite the sticker.


Screwing fan to duct.

Using the 4 Plastfast screws and a Number-1 sized pozi-drive screwdriver, attach the fan to the fan-duct such that the wires exit the fan in a convenient location - preferably such that it can be bundled in with the thermistor and heater cartridge cables. The screws are a tight fit, do be careful not to strip the heads of the screw.


Fan duct clipping to heatsink.

Clip the fan duct to the HeatSink.


Cable tie all wires together.
  • Cable-tie all cables together as additional strain relief. The heater cartridge wires are very sturdy and the thermistor and fan wires should be cable tied to them for protection.
  • The cables should be secured to the carriage or end effector of your machine, the motion of the machine causing the wires to repeatedly bend near the hotend will eventually fatigue and break them. Just like all wires in your system thought should be given to minimum bend radius, repetitive strain, and fatigue.
  • It is important to ensure the wires of the fan and the thermistor cable are cable-tied and strain relieved in such a way that they cannot come into contact with the heater block at any time.
  • The fan should be wired directly to a 12v or 24v power supply as appropriate and be constantly running. Do not connect to a "Fan" output of a controller board or similar, these are for fans that cool the printed object, not a hotend fan which needs to always be running.


Configure Firmware (Easy!)

In the following stages we are going to configure the HotEnd in firmware then go on to do the final hot-tighten of the HotEnd. This can be done either on or off your printer, however where practical we recommend doing it off your printer, then mounting.

Connect the heater-cartridge and thermistor to your electronics board. Please refer to the documentation specific to your electronics which is hopefully provided by your electronics manufacturer for Pin-Outs and other technical information which may be relevant to the HotEnd installation.


Marlin

Reconfigure your firmware for the Semitec 104GT2 thermistor: In configuration.h:

  • #define TEMP_SENSOR_0 5

For safety it is strongly recommended to do the following:

  • Set the minimum temperature to detect bad wiring (HEATER_0_MINTEMP 5 in configuration.h)

In newer versions of Marlin there are extra features for Thermal Runaway Protection should your thermistor come loose.

Upload the new firmware to your electronics.

Repetier

Use thermistor definition number 8:

  • #define EXT0_TEMPSENSOR_TYPE 8

Or select "ATC Semitec 104-GT2" if using the Online Configuration Tool (v091)

For safety it is strongly recommended to do the following:

  • Set the Minimum defect temperature to ensure that the thermistor shorting out is caught by the firmware.

New in Online Configuration Tool (v092) are the two options to also improve safety:

  • Decouple hold variance and Decouple min temp. rise to detect the thermistor coming loose. These must be set appropriately for your system to ensure that they work properly.

Upload the new firmware to your electronics.

Smoothieware

Use thermistor definition “Semitec”:

  • temperature_control.hotend.thermistor Semitec


Upload the new firmware to your electronics.

RepRapFirmware

Edit the M305 P1 command in file sys/config.g on the SD card (you can do this in the web interface).

- For firmware versions 1.16 and earlier, set the B parameter (beta value) to 4388. This value gives better accuracy at typical printing temperatures in the range 190 to 250C than the B value of 4267 quoted in the datasheet.

- For firmware versions 1.17 and later, set the B parameter to 4725 and the C parameter to 7.06e-8.

Restart the electronics to process the new config.g file.


PID Tuning

  • Connect to the printer
  • Run M303 to autotune your PID - check out Thomas Sanladerer's video guide for more information. Please note that not all firmwares support autotune, and you may need to tune manually.
  • Set the HotEnd temperature to 245ºC. If you did not do a PID tune, then approach this temperature slowly, exceeding 245ºC may cause your PTFE liner to degrade and exceeding 295ºC will permanently damage the thermistor.


Hot-Tightening


Doing the final tightening of the nozzle.

Hot tightening is essential to sealing the nozzle and heatsink together to ensure that molten plastic cannot leak out of the hotend in use. When done properly there is almost zero chance of leaks.

Using your host software or panel interface etc, set the hotend temperature to 245*C. Allow the hotend to reach 245*C and wait one minute to allow all components to equalise in temperature. Gently tighten the nozzle whilst holding the heater block still with a spanner and using a smaller 7mm spanner to tighten the nozzle. This will tighten the nozzle against the HeatSink and ensure that your HotEnd does not leak. You want to aim for 3Nm of torque on the hot nozzle - this is about as much pressure as you can apply with one finger on a small spanner. The nozzle does not need to be torqued down very tightly at all to form a good seal, when at lower temperatures the aluminium will contract and lock the Nozzle and HeatBreak together extremely securely.

You are now ready to mount the HotEnd to your printer. Happy Printing!

Usage Guidance

In general the E3D-Lite6 hotend is highly tolerant of most printing conditions and is designed to accept the vast majority of filaments on the market. There are however some things to be aware of:

  • Filament must be within acceptable diameter tolerance. For 1.75mm this means 1.70mm - 1.80mm.
  • Excessively long retractions will cause issues by dragging soft filament into cold areas, because of the PTFE liner however Lite6 can cope with quite aggressive retractions without sticking. For direct extrusion systems you should use anywhere from 0.5mm-2.0mm, for bowden systems you might want to go up to 6mm. Retraction beyond 8mm should never be necessary. A good starting point for direct systems is 1mm, and 5mm for bowden setups.
  • The heatsink must be cooled! Heated chambers, fan ducts that restrict flow, and not having the fan running at 100% at all times are common causes of issues. The bottom 2-3 fins of the heatsink are designed to run a little bit warm, but the rest of the heatsink should run at near-ambient temperature.
  • The maximum temperature at which you should use your Lite6 hotend is 245*C - exceeding this temperature will cause the PTFE liner to begin to fail. Should your PTFE liner fail for whatever reason it can be easily replaced by removing filament from the hotend, then removing the liner tubing by depressing the collet and pulling up the tubing out of the hotend. You can then insert a new liner by following the PTFE assembly instructions above.
  • It is worth periodically checking that the PTFE liner is secured without any ability to wiggle. This is particularly true in bowden systems where effective retractions rely on the tubing being properly secured.