Here’s what i think about the very affordable Aluhotend!
I’m Tom and this is my review of the AluHotend. Before we start, as always, this is 100% # my personal opinion, and even though this hotend, or in fact, two of these hotends were provided to me free of charge by the Jollygrimreaper of 3D Industries, who makes these, that has absolutely no influence on my opinion of the product. So let’s get started!
Now, my first though when i saw this hotend, was, # well it’s another bad try at an all-metal hotend, but that’s not what it is. Starting with the fact that it is # not an all-metal hotend, and frankly, it would be a pretty bad design for that. Instead, it’s more similar to a Jhead # without the PEEK insulator, which can degrade or deform over time and cause some nasty issues on its own. The Aluhotend still uses the Teflon or PTFE liner all the way from the heatsink up to about the center of the heater block, and i know that’s something that some users are still looking for, especially as the early all-metal hotends had some jamming issues with PLA. I personally don’t like the PTFE tube that much since it severly limits the temperatures you can use the hotend at – 245°C should be the absolute limit, as that’s about the temperature where the PTFE tube starts giving off toxic fumes and also gets quite soft and might develop kinks that block your filament path. However, the liner also compensates for the fact that the thermal transition from the hot to the cold end on the Aluhotend is not as sharp as on something like the E3D. The longer transition zone also means that there is only about half as much heating power creeping up to the heatsink. On the other hand, there is also very little surface area on the Aluhotend’s heat sink, so you will still need to use it with a fan or with one of the aluminum extruders with a heatsink attached to that. The full kit includes a fan, but no way of mounting it, so you will need to figure out a way to attach it to your carriage yourself without cooling the heater block too much.
Overall, the # machining on the Aluhotend is / usable, it’s not spectacular in any way, but it’s absolutely good enough. The one i got had a bit of gunk or swarf in the threaded part of the heater block, which made screwing the heat break and nozzle in and out a bit more difficult than it needed to be.
Since i got the “metal parts only” kit, i grabbed some glass fiber sleeving, you can also use PTFE sleeving, a thermistor and a standard heater cartridge. Insulate the thermistor’s legs, slide it in, bend it over, / done. The heater cartridge is held in by a grub screw, and the hole for that is oversized by a good bit. This is meant to also accommodate the cheaper heater cartridges, which can be oval or oversized, and i know that the 6.1mm bore on the older E3Ds can have trouble fitting low-priced, Chinese / heater cartridges. The 6.5mm bore on the Aluhotend seems like a bit too much, though, as it means that the heater cartridge makes pretty poor contact with the heater block overall. It won’t cause any real issues as these heater cartridges are pretty robust, but it does mean that the heat up times will be a bit longer than you’d expect.
Now, for mounting it to a printer, it uses the industry-standard 16mm groovemount, which fits practically every printer out there. Size and length aren’t going to be an issue, since it has a very normal length of 62.62mm and isn’t particularly bulky in other spots. However, you should plan ahead where you’re going to mount the fan, because, for me, that was the biggest annoyance when mounting it. I ended up drilling a hole in my hotend adapter and screwed the fan in right there. By the way, if you’re planning on mounting the AluHotend directly in your extruder, make sure there is some space for the fan’s airflow to actually reach the cooling fins.
Now, for the actual printing quality, well, it works! The top end never really got warm, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re printing ABS or PLA. However, when directly compared to a print made with my E3Dv6, you’ll first of all notice that the AluHotend produces somewhat rougher surfaces, and that is due to the fact that it has a much pointier nozzle than most other hotends. Which means that the extruded plastic won’t get squeezed down as much, # especially on the first layer, when you’re using an extra wide extrusion width. On these prints, the AluHotend was actually a bit lower on the first layer, but got less adhesion to the bed. On the other hand, the pointy nozzle makes for a bit cleaner bridges in some spots.
I used the exact same gcode for both hotends, one set of parts was printed at a 0.25mm layer height, the other at 0.1mm. Same filament, same thermistor, same temperatures, same tension on the extruder.
Now, when looking at this test part, keep in mind that i designed it to be challenging to print. Every printer, every hotend will be able to print a decent-looking 10mm test cube, but that’s not the only thing you’re ever going to be printing, right? So this test part will highlight flaws that occur in # difficult prints, and regular, # not so challenging prints will look a bit better overall.
So let’s go through the individual disciplines on this part. I’ll be showing the 0.25mm parts first, with the Aluhotend’s print on the left and the E3D print to the right, then the 0.1mm part.
Vertical surfaces: Again, the Aluhotend was a bit lower on the first layer, so the first couple of layers look less nice there. However, it also starts degrading towards the top layers. Retraction blobs were slightly more visible on the Aluhotend. On the 0.1mm part, there was no real difference, they both delivered a solid performance.
Round things: Pretty much a tie. Even the smallest pins came out nicely on all prints.
Top surfaces: The fatter tip on the E3D makes for smoother surfaces on every print.
Bridges: The Aluhotend prints nicer on 0.25mm layers, while the E3D delivers better bridges at 0.1mm. The top surface above the bridge was virtually identical on the 0.25mm part, including the T / printed exclusively on top of the bridge. The 0.1mm part printed nicer in # this spot on the E3D.
Sloped surfaces: Overall win for the E3D – after all, they’re a bunch of horizontal surfaces stacked on top of each other and the E3D also does better there.The 0.1mm slopes on the Aluhotend looked particularly bad.
Overhangs: I’d call it a tie, especially on the 0.1mm parts.
Overall, the print quality on the Aluhotend, while not quite matching the E3D, is good and certainly usable as long as you don’t push it too much.
Now, there’s one thing that we haven’t talked about yet, and that is price. The Aluhotend is available from 3D industries in bowden and direct-drive versions for both 1.75 and 3mm filament, with a .4 or .3mm nozzle. I have the .4mm one here. It costs the equivalent of about 40 US dollars including a thermistor, heater cartridge, some insulation, a fan and shipping. Plus local tax or imports, as usual. The E3D v6, which i compared it to, clocks in at 70 US dollars, plus shipping and tax and imports, so it costs almost twice as much all things considered. But it includes a decent way to mount the fan. Now, if you want the absolute best hotend money can buy, by all means, go for the E3D, i still love how flexible and downright good that thing is. But if the E3D is too large for your printer or you simply want to save some money, the Aluhotend might be worth looking into. Especially when compared to the Chinese Jhead knockoffs, the Aluhotend is a much sturdier alternative since it doesn’t use a PEEK insulator that can melt down. I’m not a huge fan of the pointy nozzle of the Aluhotend, which probably contributed a large part to the print quality issues i’ve seen, but if it bothers you, you can replace it with most M6 threaded nozzles. Even the ones from E3D.
So yeah, while i wouldn’t # recommend cheaping out on your hotend, if that’s what you want to do and don’t mind investing a little extra time for setup and fine-tuning, the Aluhotend might # just be the one for you.
So as always, thanks for watching! If you want to purchase an Aluhotend with your hard-earned monies, please do so through the links in the description below.
Also, share and like this video and subs…
You know what, that’s boring. I say that every time. How about i make it a giveaway this week. I have two of the Aluhotends, a V5B and a V5C. If you want one of these, pick one of my videos, share it, and leave a link to that in the Youtube comments below and also include if you have a preference for the V5B or the V5C. I’ll be choosing two winners at random on October 12th and will ship them to you wherever you are in the world. By the way, i know there’s not too many people watching the very last part of my videos, so your chances here are pretty good!
Again, thanks for watching, see you next week!
Download the TomTest and stress-test your own printer
Buy an Aluhotend
You can support me without spending a single penny!