Tuesday, March 10, 2015

E3D v6 Hotend on a Printrbot Simple Metal (Introduction)

Welcome True Believers

Congratulations, you typed some worthwhile keywords into a search engine or had somebody recommend this great link. I'm going to assume you've got a working Printrbot Simple Metal and you are looking to upgrade your hotend and you smartly decided to pick the mostly highly regarded hotend on the market, the E3D v6.


I decided to start this journey because I noticed my thermistor seems to change it's mind over time (20 degree difference depending on the day). Did you know the standard Ubis hotend has the thermistor held in place with teflon tape? That's not even real tape, there's nothing to keep it from moving around.
Ubis Hotend Dismantled
You can see in the photo there is a little notch for the thermistor to sit in. It works well enough, but I want something more predicable with true user serviceable parts. I'm keeping my Ubis around because it still works, it's just not great.

Pain Points

The E3D v6 is a great replacement for the Ubis with 3 pain points.
  1.  The hotend is too efficient. It's shorter than the Printrbot was designed for. You'll need an adapter.
  2. The Ubis hotend has some Molex connectors that don't match the raw ends of the E3D v6.
  3. The hotend, like all good modern hotends needs a fan to be running at all times.
  4. The firmware on your board will need to be updated.
The adapter is easy enough to print out as long as you have a working printer. The hotend fan can be hardwired to the main power of your Printrbot and the firmware customization has been documented a thousand times. Don't be afraid. I'm here for you.


  1. Printrbot Simple Metal (with USB cable)
  2. E3D v6 1.75mm Universal (I bought mine from Filastruder.com)
  3. A printed hotend adapter (see Step 1)
  4. A bunch of little bits and bobs for a Molex connection
  5. Needle-nose pliers.
  6. Soldering iron and solder.
  7. A computer (I used OS X, but you can work it out)
  8. (Optional) Scrap of wire and bits of aluminum foil


  1. Print your adapter
  2. Assembling your hotend
  3. Wire your hotend
  4. Test your hotend
  5. Wire your fan
  6. Replace original hotend
  7. Firmware
  8. Autotune 
  9. Final hotend assembly
  10. Adjust your auto leveler
  11. Tweak your slicer
  12. Apply the sticker 


  1. I just printed out the adaptor. With the size of the adaptor, there really isn't much holding the hot end in place. Looks like it is only going to be 2-3mm instead of 10mm with the Ubis hot end. I have noticed a couple of posts (dattanchu) commenting that the hot end did come detached.

    Is this an issue? are people epoxying the adaptor to the top of the E3V ?

    1. That 2-3mm is more than enough to keep my E3D held in place. I haven't had any issues. I'm guessing if somebody's adaptor wasn't printed to spec, but was a little wider than necessary, there wouldn't be adequate pressure on the 2-3 mm but instead most of the pressure would be on the adapter.

  2. Hey.

    Just wanted to say thanks for the great guide! Did the swap yesterday and it went pretty smooth. I reused the molex connections from my (broken) ubis instead of buying new ones, no problem. The most difficult part for me (my patience i.e.) was to get the wire harness neatly bundled etc in the end, wires are so boring..

    I have only printed two test parts yet, but WOW! The quality has definitely increased. Like a lot.

    My only problem is that when turning on my fan (the one on the printrbot that is, the printer head temperature decreases like 30 degrees. Haven't figured out wether it just needs a shrooud (it now directs air straight on the thermal block/heater) or if it has to do with some weird disturbance on the thermistor wires when turned on. Should be easy enough to test..

    Ths became a long comment, but I just wanted to say thank you for writing this up.


    1. Glad things worked out for you.
      I don't monitor the comments here, just check in occasionally and I kept my original fan shroud and it seems to work. Something custom would probably work better, but I've got things to print.

  3. Thank you so much for this guide!

    I had trouble flashing the new firmware (it keeps complaining that there was an error while trying to erase the old firmware), so I ended up reusing the thermistor from my broken ubis hotend. Doesn't fit in the little hole for it so I could either drill it bigger or just stick it on the outside and insulate it. I opted for just covering the whole aluminium block including the thermistor with kapton tape, so hopefully the temperature is close enough. Seems like it so far. I figure I might have to print a few degrees lower than usual - I'll keep an eye on it in the meantime.

    Will also try and get hold of a windows machine so I can try different ways of flashing the firmware and maybe get into contact with printrbot support as I see a few other people also had the same issue on the internet.

    I soldered the heater wires to the old connector I cut off from the ubis. Just the one that sticks into the printrboard, so I'm not reusing that molex connector for now. This way I didn't have to cut the heater block's wires.

    Now that I ran the pid autotuning the temperature is much more consistent than the ubis ever was. I see much less ripple in octoprint than before.

  4. hii,Very informative info like these segregated at one place is rare to find on net. A very focused and upto the point article. Nicely authored.

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  5. Thanks very much for this guide. It worked great for me!