Earlier this year, I installed the Printermods.com direct drive kit to my Ender 3 V2. After about four months of using this setup, I am changing over to a Micro Swiss direct drive kit, including the all-metal hotend. I will go over my reasons for doing this in another post. But basically, the Printermods.com setup didn’t suit my needs.
In this post, I will go through the steps I took to install and test the Micro Swiss setup. I have some experience with the Micro Swiss all-metal hotend, as my Ender 5 Plus has one. This is my first experience with their direct drive setup.
Printing the new fan shroud
Before installing the new kit, I did have to print out a new fan shroud. This was only necessary because I have an Ender 3 V2. The other Ender’s would have worked just fine without a new shroud being printed.
I downloaded the SATSANA Ender 3 Remix for Micro-Swiss Direct Drive from Thingiverse as it was the one recommended by Micro Swiss. I printed it using black PETG from Duramic 3D. I printed it at .2mm layer height. I sliced it with Prusa Slicer and chose supports only from the bed.
I printed it in PETG because this will be in an enclosure. Hopefully, it won’t warp at all while I’m printing certain hot plastics.
Installing the Direct Drive setup
I followed the instructions that came with the kit; therefore, I won’t repost them all here. I’ll only call out some areas I had to watch out for or do differently due to moving from a Printermods.com direct drive to this Micro Swiss setup.
Taking off the old direct drive, hotend, and extruder stepper motor was simple. If you have a heat sink on the extruder, it will have to come off before installing the Micro Swiss direct drive kit. If you don’t, the heat sink will knock into the printer when the Y-axis is homing, and you will hear that nasty grinding sound!
I have some spare wheels and planned to put new wheels on this kit. However, I noticed there was almost no noticeable wear on the wheels already installed. So I just cleaned them up and moved them over to the Micro Swiss setup.
I did have problems getting the extruder gear off of my extruder. The grub screw would not unscrew. I heated the grub screw for a few seconds with my cigarette lighter, and I could get it off with no problems.
Also, notice below I have a heat sink on the back of my extruder. I hadn’t discovered at this point that it was a bad idea to have it there.
I used a short lenght of PETG to align the extruder handle gear with the main gear.
When setting up the Micro Swiss hotend (or any hotend, really), make sure the thermal break is fully tightened into the heater block. Any movement here will cause massive issues on prints! When I’ve helped people with problems on their Micro Swiss all-metal hotend, a loose connection here has almost always been the problem.
Up next is to hook up the wiring to the hotend. At this point, make sure all wires feed back to the rear of the printer. The Printermods.com setup I had did the opposite and had the cables going in front of the printer. I missed doing this and had to go back and reroute my wiring.
I then heated the hotend. This was partly to make sure the heater cartridge and thermistor are working correctly. But it also allows the nozzle to seat fully into the heater block. Make sure to use a wrench of some type to hold the heater block when installing the nozzle!
Installing this fan shroud is more accessible than the one that comes stock with the V2. The two screws can both be accessed from the front of the shroud. The hotend cooling fan cannot be mounted until these screws are in place!
The screw that sits behind the fan is best put into the shroud before installing it. I used tweezers to hold the screw in place, then screwed it partway in via my hex wrench. There is a hole right behind where the fan mounts that allows access to the screw head.
With the one screw already started, both screws will go in quite easily when mounting the shroud. I think I used two M3x16 hex pan head screws.
Both fans were easily mounted. The previous shroud did not use screws for the parts cooling fan. So I did have to grab four M2x5 screws to mount the fan. I cannot remember if the original V2 shroud needed screws or not.
I don’t plan to use the filament guide. Instead, I plan to keep my spool mounted on top of the printer and let the filament go straight down to the extruder. But, even if I don’t use this as a filament guide, it has a nice wire management feature included with it.
After installing the kit, the first thing I did was to do a PID tuning via the terminal in Octoprint. Anytime a significant change is done to a hotend, a PID tuning needs to be done.
Here are the commands I used to do the PID tuning. I also include a brief explanation of each command.
This shows the current configuration. The current PID was shown as:
M301 P28.72 I2.62 D78.81
- M303 E0 S240 C10
Most of my printing is done around the 240C range. So I chose to PID tune 10 times at a temp of 240C. Here is what the results looked like:
Recv: #define DEFAULT_Kp 29.30
Recv: #define DEFAULT_Ki 3.45
Recv: #define DEFAULT_Kd 62.24
- M301 P29.30 I3.45 D62.24
I then passed back the results of the PID tuning back to the printer.
This command actually writes the new settings to memory.
Finally, I look at the configuration again to ensure my new values were saved correctly.
Gcode to adjust the origin offsets
The direct drive setup from Micro Swiss does mess with the X-axis and Y-axis origin points. They provide the following GCODE to use with slicers to adjust for this.
G28 ; home all axes G92 X-5.0 Y-10.0 ; set home offsets G1 X0 Y0 Z0.2 F3000 ; get ready to prime G92 E0 ; reset extrusion distance G1 X160 E15 F600 ; prime nozzle G1 X180 F5000 ; quick wipe
Currently, I am using a mixture of Prusa Slicer and Cura for all my slicing. I changed my start GCODE for this printer in both programs to the GCODE above.
Changing the e-steps
The extruder steps need to be changed to 130. To make this easy, Micro Swiss has provided a bit of GCODE to do this for you. Here is what the terminal in Octoprint showed going on when I ran the script.
Changing monitoring state from "Operational" to "Starting" Send: N0 M110 N0*125 Recv: ok Changing monitoring state from "Starting" to "Printing" Send: N1 M92 E130*78 Recv: ok Send: N2 M500*36 Recv: ok Changing monitoring state from "Printing" to "Finishing" Send: N3 M400*36 Recv: ok Changing monitoring state from "Finishing" to "Operational"
Now to look at a few prints I did immediately after the Micro Swiss direct-drive installation. Up first is a temp tower. I did the temp tower using Duramic 3D black PETG. I printed this in a temp range from 230C-250c.
I was pretty happy with how the temp tower printed. There were a few strings. But overall, the towers were solid and smooth. The bridges were strong. I might have to play with retraction settings a little bit. But at 1mm, the retraction settings seem pretty good.
Up next, I wanted to test a lower temp filament. The below tower is black PLA+ from IIID Max.
This also printed quite nicely. There was some very slight stringing in a couple of parts of the tower. But overall, the tower looked great and was quite solid and smooth.
The real test for me, though, is TPU. Printing TPU is one of the main reasons I wanted direct drive. Below is a temp tower and a couple of speaker parts I’m printing for an Alien3D post. They all turned out perfectly! I did loosen the extruder spring a little bit. These were printed using clear TPU from Zyltech.
I’m only a few prints into using the Micro Swiss direct drive setup. But I can already say that I love this setup. I’ve never had such good TPU prints without a lot of tweaking and mucking about. Soon I’ll do a post about the differences I’ve seen between the Printermods.com setup and the Micro Swiss setup.
Timelapse of the day
I did do one print with the IIID Max PLA+ before moving on to the TPU. Here is a small Child in Carbonite print designed by Hex3D. Watching this video reminds me that I now need to change where my camera is mounted.