Add the Printermods.com direct drive kit to the Ender 3 V2

This post is another in a series of posts about modding my Ender 3 V2. The last thing I did to this printer was enclosing it in the Creality tent and removing all electronics. Now I converted the printer to Direct Drive via the kit from Printermods.com. Originally I planned to put the direct drive kit from MicroSwiss on this machine, but I thought this kit was interesting and wanted to check it out.

I also installed the Creality silver all-metal extruder kit and a different extruder stepper motor simultaneously. Usually, I don’t do so many changes all at once, but in this case, I figured it made sense to do since it was all part of the same printer sub-system. And really, I think Creality should drop the plastic extruder handle and go all-metal in the future. I know they are keeping the printer’s cost down, but that is the wrong place to do it.

Hardware I installed

The picture below shows the PrinterMods.com Direct Drive Extruder Kit contents on the left and the Creality silver all-metal extruder kit on the right. Both of them I ordered from Amazon. The springs that came with the Creality kit are not pictured since I had previously put the yellow springs on this printer. Also not displayed is the blue Capricorn PFTE tube, which I used instead of the stock white Bowden PFTE tube.

Parts to upgrade the printer to direct drive.

At the same time, I installed a smaller stepper motor from Twotrees. Functionally this is the same as the stock stepper motor but in a much smaller package. I wanted to do this to lessen the weight I am adding to the x-gantry. I forgot to take a picture of the stepper motor before installing it, but it can be seen later in this past after it is completed.

Finally, I had to 3D print a new fan shroud and fan clip to go with the new direct drive mount. I will say the fan shroud was probably one of the more challenging things I have tried to print. I am going to try reprinting it again soon to get a better print. The files are available from the PrinterMods.com website.

Followed the instructions

The PrinterMods.com instructions are pretty good. There are pictures for each step. The particular kit I got is MDD v1.3. The instructions I got in the kit were not for the Ender3 v2. Instead of following the printed instructions that came with the kit, I downloaded the proper PDF from the PrinterMods.com website.

For the most part, doing the metal extruder arm and smaller stepper motor didn’t impact the instructions much. The only place it caused an issue was with a spacer in step 13. The shape of the metal extruder housing is different from the stock plastic housing. That meant a spacer provided in the kit did not work correctly. I wish I had known ahead of time I needed another spacer, but it was no problem downloading one off Thingiverse provided by Panda Props. Luckily I had another printer available to print the spacer.

Printing out that spacer solved one problem but left me with another. There is a screw head that is in the way of the spacer. It is the screw on the extruder housing that holds the spring in place. The spacer leaves no room for that screw, but the screw is necessary to keep the spring in the proper position and provide the appropriate tension. What I did was take an M4 screw (I believe a 10mm one) and cut the head off it with my rotary tool. The headless screw allowed me to hold the spring in place and adjust the tension correctly. The picture below shows the screw in question.

I cut the head off of an M4 screw and inserted it from the spring side.

I also had to slightly modify the step where the cable management anchor connected to the extruder stepper motor. Not only is my stepper motor shorter, but I put a heat sink on the stepper motor. The screw provided that would have gone with the original stepper worked out well for me. I put a nut on the screw, which happens to have threading going only partway through the screw. That meant the nut worked as a stop for the screw. Enough of the screw was left sticking out of the motor to hold the zip tie anchor. I also had to use my rotary tool to cut out the heatsink corner to allow this screw to go in.

Extruder motor has a heatsink and a screw in for the zip tie anchor.

All assembled

Below is what the setup looks like fully assembled. I like that PrinterMods.com included cable management with the kit. While I like the Ender series of printers (mostly for the low price), I can’t say I like the cable management provided by Creality for these printers.

Direct Drive assembled!

Test print

At this point, I should have done some calibrating. But I wanted to test the basic functionality of the printer at this point. So I printed a temp tower. Here is how the tower looks:

Temp tower after the DD mod.

Technically the above is a failed print, but I am delighted with it! The burnt filament and strings can be worked out through calibration. What I was worried about was the basic structure of the temp tower. It appears to be quite strong, and the shape is correct. That is a win.

Next steps

For my next steps I will do the following calibrations to the printer:

  • Ensure the X&Y belts are correctly tensioned.
  • PID Autotune.
  • Calibrate the extruders e-steps
  • Calibrate the flow rate

I believe the above steps should fix what little issues I’m seeing in the temp tower. If not, I will continue to other calibrations.

After all of that I will go through playing with retraction settings to get rid of stringing. The temp tower printed above has the retraction set to 1mm.

I’ll post the results of my calibrations sometime later this week. I will also post my thoughts about whether the PrinterMods.com kit was worth the price I paid or if I should have gone MicroSwiss.

Song of the Day: Turn of the Screw

I’ll go back to an 80s hair band for today’s song; too few people have heard of Dirty Looks. This song was going through my head as I tried to get the headless screw into the extruder housing.

Bonus Song: Last Cigarette

Another great track from Dirty Looks. Which reminds me, it’s time for a smoke…

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