On April 8, 2016, E3D officially announced the release of their very own extruder design. Essentially a household name in the 3D printing world, it's easy to imagine that any new addition to E3D's product ecosystem would quickly gain traction. They are tried and true and backed by a large user base as well as sound engineering. Many 3D printing enthusiasts hopped on the chance to try out the new Titan, and I was no exception. Is it a worthy upgrade? Let's find out!
Packaging & unboxing
I really like how the Titan was packed. The cutout foam held everything nicely. The only downside was that I received no Haribos with my order :(
Almost everything you need is in the box, and in true E3D fashion, you get your own fixings kit complete with mini Allen wrenches to put it all together.
While they do include two different screw lengths for mounting the extruder to accommodate different motor geometries, there aren't any other extra parts. Be careful not to lose any of them. I had quite a time locating the spring that bounced away from me on multiple occasions.
Assembly & documentation
Assembly was pretty straightforward while following their instructions. Thankfully, a lot of it came pre-assembled, which save me most of the work. They mention the need for a 3D printed spacer, which allows the two gears to properly mesh together inside the extruder body. I made myself 2mm spacers in ABS and PETG and am currently using the ABS spacer, with the PETG as the spare.
It's important to note that the part linked above is a customizable .scad file. You'll need to get OpenSCAD, open the file, input your desired thickness value, build the part, and then save the STL.
It was a little finnicky tightening the grub screw in the pinion gear due to space limitations, but a bit of patience and Allen wrench magic does the trick.
My one gripe during the assembly process was that the extruder groove mount cavity was way wayyyy too tight. I literally had to clamp the thing together to get it seated all the way inside (unless I somehow messed up this step?).
There were visible stress marks on the extruder body after insertion as well. I was excited for the capabilities to hot swap (get it?) the hot ends and switch between printing 1.75mm and 3mm filaments, but I'm afraid that this will be too difficult given how securely the hot end is now held in place. That being said, I'm not the biggest fan of having one of the motor mounting screws covered by the hot end. This restricts the order of assembly to mounting the main body to the motor and then mounting the hot end--It would have been easier for me to mount the hot end separately from the motor, I think.
The instructions mention not to compress the spring without the lid in place--this is very sound advice. Take it from me!
The gear alignment check section of the instructions was also a very good tip. I was able to minimize the backlash between the two gears.
Another gripe was that the holes in the top of the idler are too small for a 4mm OD PTFE guide tube to easily fit through. I was only able to get mine as far as the first "level."
Set up & testing
Their instructions suggest an E step value of 456 steps/mm to start with. A good value for Scrappybot turned out to be closer to 400 after going through a few rounds of E step calibration via Triffid_Hunter's "Measure" method.
It is very easy to load and unload filament (just pull on the spring-loaded idler arm). Manually extruding or retracting filament by spinning the larger gear is also pretty easy.
The test prints I conducted were in PLA, PETG, and finally ABS. The model used was a Design for America branded bottle opener design I made. Might as well get some utility out of your test prints, right? I generally found that the Titan already performed at least as well as my previous extruder, the Printrbot Gear Head Extruder, which was great to see. I want to continue testing with flexibles and other exotics to further evaluate how the two extruders compare, pushing the Titan and seeing other areas where it truly shines.
Material: MG Chemicals Silver PLA
Temps: 195C hot end, 60C bed
Speed: 4800 mm/min
Material: Push Plastic Amber PETG
Temps: 240C hot end, 60C bed
Speed: 4800 mm/min
Material: Push Plastic Black ABS
Temps: 230C hot end, 90 bed
Speed: 4800 mm/min
I need to further assess its capabilities with printing more exotic filaments (my personal speed record for flexibles on the Printrbot Gear Head was 3000 mm/min!), as well as figure out a good process for swapping out a 3mm hot end and printing with the thicker stuff. Aside from the assembly hiccups, I think it's turning out to be a pretty solid extruder. It's easy to get it up and running and I even gained about a half inch in my Z due to differences in how I mounted the E3D v6 in the Gear Head Extruder. E3D puts out pretty great stuff, and I don't think this extruder is any exception. If you're looking for a replacement or an upgrade to something that will turn your printer into a workhorse, check out E3D's new Titan.