Volcano: Print bigger, faster, and stronger

Volcano: Print bigger, faster, and stronger

There’s no getting around the fact that 3D printing is a slow process. Even with extremely fast motion systems of modern machines like delta robots we’re still stuck waiting hours for even simple parts to come off the machine.

We’re also seeing increasingly large machines which have the ability to create huge objects that push the limits of what we are capable of printing. However printing these huge parts is incredibly slow and waiting for literally days to print these large objects is simply impractical in many cases.

Prints are also often delicate and lacking in inter-layer adhesion limiting their practical applications. If we want to be printing objects like shelving brackets, furniture, and parts for large RepRap printers then we need to be able to print much faster and much stronger than we can at present. 

Volcano is another addition to the E3D Ecosystem of HotEnds, compatible with the E3D-v6 as well as Chimera, Kraken, Titan Aero, and v5/4. Volcano brings a huge boost in the speed that the HotEnd melt and extrude filament. This enables the practical use of larger nozzle diameters and the printing of thicker layer heights. Volcano nozzles come in 0.6mm, 0.8mm, 1.0mm, 1.2mm diameters so you can choose the exact configuration to suit your needs.

By simultaneously increasing the amount of plastic the HotEnd can process per second and also increasing the maximum layer height we can gain drastic reductions in print time.

Another big positive is that these large traces of hot molten plastic are able to retain much more latent heat. This additional energy gives a large boost in inter-layer adhesion and means that prints are considerably stronger in the Z axis direction. Furthermore, the large flat contact area of wide traces provides considerable area for adhesion to take place, increasing strength even more.

Although using these larger nozzles and layer heights certainly reduces the resolution of prints and means that you cannot print super small details this does not mean that the prints are ugly or not dimensionally accurate. To the contrary these big chunky layers with their glossy rounded appearance actually have a really nice aesthetic to them. To quote the renowned wordsmith Meghan Trainor - “Yeah, my momma she told me don't worry about your size, every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top."

To achieve this increased melt rate in the HotEnd we extended the melt zone to almost double that of its previous length in a standard E3D-v6. This increases the residency time of plastic in the hotend, allowing it more time to take on more heat during its passage through the heated zone. The efficiency of heat transfer from the heater cartridge to the molten filament is also boosted by rotating the heater cartridge so it is parallel to the axis of the hotend and much closer to the nozzle. This increases the heat flux from the cartridge through the block and into the nozzle and thus further increasing the melt-rate. 

A common misconception about printing with high flow rates is that 3mm filament is going to be better than 1.75mm. This makes intuitive sense, larger prints so use larger filament. However in reality 1.75mm filament can be melted significantly faster than 3mm filament, giving it a decisive advantage in flow rate. This is because 1.75mm filament has a much higher surface area per unit volume. As we increase filament diameter the surface area increases linearly, but the volume increases by a power of 2. This means that we can melt thinner filament much more quickly than thicker filament.

We’ve obviously increased the nozzle diameter for the Volcano nozzles, but in doing so we’ve also made the appropriate changes to the nozzle tip flat diameters to ensure that you can still flatten down big wide printed traces properly. We’ve also ensured that the internal geometry that controls how the fluid filament flows through the nozzle has been optimised for each diameter.

Volcano borrows from the standard E3D-v6 heater block and uses the same neat and easy clamped thermistor mounting and insulation system, as well as the wrap around clamp for the heater cartridge that ensures maximum thermal contact.

We’re selling Volcano in easy to get started packs, which contain everything you need to start printing big strong stuff, fast. Volcano packs will contain the new Volcano heater block, an array of Volcano nozzles in many sizes, as well as a new heater cartridge and thermistor with cables. We also include the fixings and all the little trimmings you’ll need to get going. We want to make switching these parts out as easy as possible, and with the Volcano pack you should be able to just unplug your cabling, unscrew the old block, screw on the new one, and start printing!

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