When it comes to 3D printers, one of the most important, as well as expensive components on any FFF or FDM machine is the hotend. After all, the hotend is what transforms your filament into the molten hot plastic as it is released onto the build platform. A faulty hotend equates to terrible print results.
When it comes to hotend manufacturing, there are few companies, if any, who have garnered the respect in the industry as E3D has. The company, based in Oxfordshire, England, has proven themselves time and time again with anything from their incredibly well engineered V6 hotend to their multi-nozzle Kracken or Chimera hotends.
Typically a hotend will run anywhere from around $45 all the way up to over $175, depending on its capabilities. With the build-it-yourself 3D printing and RepRap movements expanding by the day, the market for such components is only increasing. Despite their reputation of producing only ‘all metal’ hotends, E3D has realized the market’s desire for an affordable, yet still reliable extruder, and has thus just unveiled their all new E3D Lite6 hotend.
“We designed Lite6 to be a low cost hotend for robust easy printing for everyday filaments, for temperatures up to 240 degrees C and moderate printing speeds,” explained Sanjay Mortimer, E3D Director and R&D/Community Manager.
The company likes to think of the Lite6 as the V6’s little brother, with modest capability, and an incredibly affordable price. Whereas the V6 is able to print with practically any thermoplastic, the Lite6 will only be compatible with PLA, ABS and flexible filaments which measure 1.75mm in diameter. Print speeds for this new extruder will range from 20-50mm/sec, and the company rates its ease of use very high.
Unlike the company’s other extruders, the Lite6 is not ‘all-metal’ since it uses a PTFE liner, meaning that there is a lower limit to the temperature it can achieve. For those worried about melting the liner, unlike many extruders on the market, the liner in the Lite6 can easily be replaced. In fact, a new liner will cost you under $0.50.
The Lite6 hotend is, as far as we are aware, the most affordable hotend currently on the market. The company has priced the Lite6 at just £21.50 ($31.87) for the the direct extrusion version, and £24.00 ($35.58) for the version with a Bowden add-on. Both variants come in either 12v or 24v electronics, making it compatitible with pretty much any machine on the market.
The Lite6 comes in kit form only, which provides everything you’d need to construct and attach this component to you 3D printer, and we are told that bulk discounts are available for manufacturers looking to use this hotend within an upcoming release. The kit will include the following parts:
- Embedded Bowden Coupling (Universal for Direct & Bowden)
- Heater Cartridge
- Section of PTFE liner
- Heater Block
- 1.75 x 0.4mm Nozzle (Nozzles are interchangeable)
- All the fixings and wiring you need
Provided that the extruder typically accounts for a decent portion of most 3D printer’s manufacturing costs, this new hotend may help reduce FFF and FDM printer costs even more.
Let us know if you have purchased and installed this new extruder. Discuss it in the E3D Lite6 Hotend forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below of the company introducing this new product:
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