While I have installed a rather extensive list of mods on my Maker Select 3D Printer, the Micro Swiss All-Metal Hotend has been by far my favorite. Living in an apartment, my ventilation options are extremely limited, making certain toxic materials such as ABS a no-go. With the All-Metal Hotend in place, I can instead print comparable filaments like PETG.
Desiring a better cooling solution than the stock fan assembly could provide, I needed to print with a plastic that had a considerably higher melting point. The extruder included with the Maker Select is lined with a PTFE tube inside, where this gradually breaks down over time. Higher temperatures such as those required by ABS and PETG will rapidly accelerate the wear. Using an All-Metal Hotend, the PTFE tube is removed and allows you to safely print up to the maximum 260C.
Purchased Parts List:Micro Swiss All-Metal Hotend w/ Slotted Cooling Block - $49.99
Needle Nose Pliers
9mm Socket Wrench
2.5mm Allen Key
The Micro Swiss All-Metal Hotend comes with everything shown in the picture. The package includes a 0.4mm brass nozzle, steel thermal barrier tube, slotted cooling block and 2.5mm hex wrench. I do strongly suggest purchasing the optional Slotted Cooling Block, where the extra $12 will save quite a bit of hassle.
To get started, you will first need to turn on the 3D printer and raise the z-axis to provide ample working space. Somewhere around half way is optimal. Although not required, you may also wish to remove the cooling fan by unscrewing the two screws which mount it to the bracket. Doing this will provide a much more clear view of the extruder.
Afterwards, pre-heat the extruder to 250C by going to the Extruder Menu -> Temp 1 -> Turn the knob until you reach 250 degrees. The heat will loosen the nozzle, making it easier to remove.
Carefully grip the heating block with the adjustable wrench and place the 9mm socket wrench on the nozzle to loosen it. Once it comes free, it should pull the PTFE tube lining with it. This can in some cases become stuck within the heating block, at which point you can pull it out using needle nose pliers.
With the nozzle removed, we will proceed to remove the fan heat-sink assembly. Hold on to the stepper motor while doing this as it will fall on to the build plate if not supported. Unscrew the two screws at the bottom of the heatsink fan and everything will come apart. You can then set the fan, heatsink and the stepper motor to the side.
Once everything is taken off, the stock cooling block will be visible. This is held in place by two screws on the front and back which you can remove using the hex wrench.
Locate the set screw in the back of the cooling block and loosen this with several turns. This screw holds the thermal barrier tube in place, where the entire heating element should slide free from the cooling block upon doing so.
Lastly, use your fingers to unscrew the thermal barrier tube from the heating element. As we will begin installing the new nozzle, check the threads inside of the heating block for any plastic, ensuring it is clean before moving forward.
Now take the new 0.4mm nozzle from the All-Metal Hotend and screw it into the heating block. Once it has bottomed out, back it out 1/4th of a turn.
Note: While it seems to be an infrequent problem, I experienced an issue with being unable to screw in the nozzle. Against the advice of Micro-Swiss support, I did force this into place using a wrench and have not experienced any troubles using it. Several other members of the Maker Select Facebook group noted that they encountered this as well.
With the nozzle installed, screw the new thermal barrier tube in from the other side of the heating block. The nozzle and thermal barrier tube should meet inside and sit flush against one another.
With these finger tightened into place, slide the new slotted Cooling Block on to the thermal barrier tube. Make note of where the slot is within the block and ensure it is facing away from the wires. Leave around 1.8mm of the thermal barrier tube sticking out of the cooling block. Using the included allen wrench, tighten the set screw to hold it firmly in place.
Once completed, we will reassemble everything in the same order we took it apart. Secure the cooling block to the metal bracket using the original two screws and refer back to previous instructions if needed, reversing the steps when putting it back together.
While this definitely isn’t necessary if you only intend to print PLA or ABS, it’s a very useful mod for the more exotic filaments. It removes most of the limitations found with the stock extruder setup and opens up exciting new possibilities for printing.
In my particular case, I needed prints that would not melt when exposed to heat. The Micro Swiss All-Metal Hotend was reasonably priced and easy to install. Where I would spend nearly as much purchasing these prints from a website like 3DHubs.com, I opted to use the money upgrading my own printer instead.