E3D Ultimaker 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit: Is it Better?

About Filament and the E3D Ultimaker 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit

For a few years now, ED3 have been producing a substantial range of nozzles and hotends. The company also now produces its own SpoolWorks filament range. You will also receive a small sample amount of Edge filament for testing the new systemís calibration.

E3D has produced two versions of the upgrade kit i.e. the 2.85mm and the 1.75mm. This has attract many 3D printing enthusiasts given that the traditional series of printers by Ultimaker have only been compatible with the 2.85 filament. Even better, E3D ships both the 1.75mm and the 2.85mm upgrade kit. Therefore, you can switch to the 1.75mm if you prefer.

The E3D filaments have a swappable nozzle. Therefore, you wonít be stressed when it comes to using some of the future-generation printing materials or have to worry about getting your nozzle impaired or destroyed. You will only purchase and install a new nozzle when you truly need to.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Merits of the ED3 Ultimate 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit
  • Demerits of the ED3 Ultimate 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit
  • My Final Say on the ED3 Ultimate 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit
  • Getting Acquainted With the E3D Ultimaker 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit
  • Design, Specifications and Features of the E3D Ultimaker 2 extrusion Upgrade Kit
  • E3D Ultimaker 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit Review: Packaging and Setup
  • Steps for a Successful Setting Up
  • About Filament and the E3D Ultimaker 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit
  • Performance of the E3D Ultimaker 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit
  • Reviewing the Software of the E3D Ultimaker 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit
  • Conclusion
  • Recommendation

For a long time, the Ultimaker 2 was considered the best fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printer in the market. However, the introduction of the Ultimaker 3 challenged this qualification.

Donít get me wrong though. While the design of the Ultimaker 2, (the old single head) has been overtaken by time and events, its reputation has never been shaken. It is still renowned for its quality filament support and print. Its only real limitation is the limited hardware customization options.

Technology has brought new printing materials that add fun to printing. Most artists want to experiment with these materials. However, the Ultimaker 2 cannot be swapped nozzles. This makes it hard to work with.

To modernize the Ultimaker 2, a lot of upgrading had to be done. The upgrade is referred to as the Ultimaker 2+. However, the E3D have also developed an UM2 extrusion upgrade kit for individuals not willing to part with their old machine.

The upgrade kit from Ultimaker for the Ultimaker 2 has many updates found on the E3D. It is also efficient and will promptly upgrade your Ultimaker 2 to Ultimaker 2+. This kit works for both the Standard and the extended versions. Moreover, it is less costly than purchasing a new Ultimaker 3, but enables your 3D printer to have the same qualities and functionalities.

Merits of the ED3 Ultimate 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit

  • Has an excellent extruder
  • A wide range of interchangeable sizes and nozzles
  • Kits for 2.85mm or 1.75mm filament
  • Excellent hotend temperature
  • Easily replaceable parts

Demerits of the ED3 Ultimate 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit

  • Cura software requires setup for each change in quality
  • Takes a few hours to fir and update firmware
  • Designed for only intermediate and advanced users
  • Customized profiles required for all filaments

Thoughts on the ED3 Ultimate 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit

This upgrade kit is aimed at empowering UM2 Extended owners to be able to upgrade their old machines with new extrusion system. However, it is most beneficial for intermediate to advanced users since installation on a new machine will result in significant benefits. Among the new capabilities are increased print speeds and the ability to swap and change nozzle sizes. The kit also has a new extruder that can stop filament slip.

The advantages of the upgrade kit are less pronounced for UM2 and 2+ users. In the + upgrade, the intruder is already improved and the nozzles are interchangeable. Upgrading UM2 would cost £359 plus VAT, which is twice the price of upgrading E3D. The price difference is a factor that most people will consider before settling for the kit.

Setup for the new extruder and hotend and swapping over the wiring is not difficult, especially for people with previous experience. It will take you a couple of hours to finish setting up. You can use the online Guide to confirm each setup stage, from hardware installation, to software updates and configuration.

E3Dís Ultimaker 2 Extrusion upgrade kit is better than the original even though it has very little improvement. The UM2 extrusion upgrade kit beats the original extrusion system in print quality. Moreover, it has a few extra options and comes in two versions; the 1.75mm, and the 2.85mm.

UM2 owners are likely to want to purchase this upgrade kit. However, some UM2+ owners may be reserved about getting the kit, except maybe for those who need the volcanic hotend temperatures supplied by V6.1 or those that want to switch to a 1.75mm filament system. The V6.1 produces temperatures 40 degrees Celsius higher than the original.

However, the E3D upgrade, on completion, will require more tinkering than the Ultimakerís 2+ upgrade. Therefore, this upgrade might be a frustration to people used to the quick select options for print quality settings and materials, or the plug-and-play feature of the UM2. However, if you are daring enough and decide to dismantle your Ultimaker 2, you will enjoy the benefits of your E3D Ultimate Extrusion Upgrade.

Getting Acquainted With the E3D Ultimaker 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit

ED3 was started in 2012 and has grown faster to other 3D printing companies. The pivotal point for this company was the rollout of the V5 hotend. Its success was followed by development of the E3D-V6, and the V6.1 used in the Extrusion Upgrade Kit for the ED3 Ultimaker 2.

To demonstrate how rapidly the company has grown, Prusa Research is now supplying every new MK2 machine with an E3D-V6 hotend.

Design and Features of the E3D Ultimaker 2 Kit

This kit has an impressive selection of swappable nozzles, which is the main thing that lacks in the Ultimaker 2 extrusion system. The kit contains the Titan Extruder and E3D V6.1 hotend. You can also purchase additional specialist nozzles from the E3D website.

The upgrade kit comes with everything you need for a start. This includes a standard nozzle that comes in a tin together with 6 other nozzle options; 0.25mm, 0.3mm. 0.35mm, 0.5mm, 0.6mm and 0.8mm ó and a 0.4mm nozzle thatís already installed. With this, youíve a lot of control of both the speed of printing and the quality of the prints after the installation.

The V6.1 is compatible with a wide range of filaments. This is partly as a result of its ability to swap nozzles and because it can reach temperatures of up to 300 degrees Celsius.

The 1.75mm kit instead of the 2.85mm is another factor that has intrigued many users. Some users prefer it that way but there is also the option of swapping filament diameters if you want to.

The V6.1 also comes with the Titan extruder. This is definitely a new experience for people who are used to the Ultimaker 2 extruder. With the Titan extruder, every material that you feed is gripped without you being compelled to make adjustments like was required with the Ultimaker 2 extruder.

E3D Ultimaker 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit Review: Packaging and Setup

Installing and testing this kit will take you some time. To make your work easier, watch the video below:

E3D Setup Instructions

1. The hotend replacement

This step is straightforward. Simply swap and replace the hotend by transferring the bearings and fans from the old head into the new assembly. Once the bearings and fans are securely in place, you can adjust the four long screws around the fan mount to enable perfect flow of air across the print.

You can also carry out the adjustments at any point after the installation, in case of any dissatisfaction.

2. The nozzle installation

During the nozzle installation, especially when placing the heatsink fan, pay close attention to the orientation. This part of the assembling usually may get somewhat challenging. Ensure you are working in a spacious and well-lit area.

3. Installing the Titan extruder on the back of the printer

When done with the installation of the hotend and the nozzle, the next step is to install the Titan extruder. To begin, remove the stepper casing from inside the printer. After this, slot in the new motor and extruder and tighten the bolts. Once the filaments are in place, tensioner the extruder again.

4. The final stages involve electronics and cables.

If you donít have enough experience with tinkering, this stage might be a bit of a headache. First, strip out the old wiring for the extruder and hotend and replace it with the new ones. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Flip the printer onto its side and release the protective plate over the control board
  • Next, unbolt the four screws to release the board
  • Once free, you will be able to access all the connectors
  • Follow the online instructions manual to place the connectors on the assigned locations. For instance the heatsink cable should link to the connectors that had not been used.
  • Before connecting the new wires (assuming the old ones have been disconnected), carefully re-route all the wires
  • Since the spaces becomes somewhat crowded once you begin re-installing covers, reconnect the cables well. Also, have the cable layout as neat as possible.

5. Priming the system

When everything has been installed and the machine is back together, you can now prime your new system. To start, flash the UM2 with the new firmware from E3D. Refer to the online guide for instructions on where to get the firmware and the installation process. Hereís a summary

  • Connect the Ultimaker 2 to your computer and download the firmware via an option in the Cura software.
  • Run the SpoolWorks Edge filament test sample from the printer to ensure that everything is installed and set up as required.
  • Download the Edge filament profile and quickly run it through the printer.

NOTE: Before printing, re-check the settings and ensure that they are your own rather than Curaís. This is what you should always do even with other software you use on Ultimaker.

You can then proceed with the Edge sample and when done, print whatever materials you want.

Performance of the E3D Ultimaker 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit

The upgrade kit makes a big difference with your Ultimaker. One thing you will note is the quality of the Titan Extruder.

The Titan extruder is efficient and will grip every printing material you feed in it. It does not slip the filament, shred, or shear it. The extruder performs just as expected of an extruder. If you have to make some adjustments, tensioning the bolt is easy.

The E3D V6.1 hotend works in perfect unison with the Titan extruder to produce excellent prints. You will be impressed with the print results in terms of speed, reliability and quality. There are no problems with under or over heating of the filament, build-up, or blockages.

However, while the print quality is excellent, you wonít attain any increased quality in the final print in comparison to the standard Ultimaker system. The only real advantage is the reliability and flexibility to increase the hotend temperatures past 260 degrees Celsius, and to change the nozzle diameters at free will.

E3D Ultimaker 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit Software Review

The most notable difference with the software of the Ultimaker 2 Extrusion Upgrade Kit is the availability of filament support and Cura, which make it easy to use. Although the Ultimaker ecosystem and the Cura software are wholly integrated, you have to customize the softwareís print settings a little to prop up things.

Cura will also have to be adjusted to different print quality settings. Its quick quality selection is not that excellent. After customizing Cura, the usual easy workflow will be back.

You also need to customize or adjust the printer. When loading a new filament, you have to set up each as a new filament type. This is because quick quality selection just wonít deliver the great results.

For the Ultimaker, you need to set the filament setting to Custom 1, Custom 2 and so on as opposed to the ABS and PLA quick selection. After adjusting the Cura settings, the printer will produce excellent results.

If you are using Simplfy3D, the print process will be more complex. To get a decent quality print, you will need a lot of practice and trying out different things.

Conclusion

The E3D Ultimate 2 Extrusion Upgrade kit is a ëbasicí necessity with all the right features. The Ultimaker 2, even after the UM2+ upgrade, is still one of the best performing, and bestselling 3D printers. Many Ultimaker 2 users will enjoy the upgrade kit.

In terms of hardware, the upgrade kit has quality parts. Its head block is actually 3D printed for good measure. Just like with any printer assembling, you should confirm the stability of the head by calmly moving it back and forth along each axis. This will alert you of any sticking points that should be removed.

Which one should you choose between the Ultimakerís own and the E3D upgrade? The choice is really yours to make. However, be ready to pay double the amount of E3D version if you settle for the official upgrade. However, the official upgrade is also wholly integrated with the Ultimaker ecosystem.

The E3D version is cheap and provides extra options. You have to manually set up the upgrade kit and adjust the software. But these aspects wonít really reflect in the quality of the final product.

The extruder and the hotend are of excellent quality, and definitely the reason for E3Dís huge impact in the 3D printing industry. The kit is easy to fit and the installation and configuration process doesnít take a lot of time. However, running the firmware update and setting up the filament profiles and quality settings takes some time.

After completing the fitting process, confirm that the 3D printed parts of the hardware perfectly fit together. Remember, any flash of plastic that disrupts the fits will affect the smooth motion of the head across the X/Y axis.

For the cable layout, you should be able to painlessly complete the installation process if you have some tinkering knowledge. The only slight hurdle might be caused by the odd shim and washer.

Finally, letís talk about the print quality. While you have to setup custom profiles and settings with the E3D, expect a similar print quality with that of the UM2+ upgrade. So, maybe the whole experience will just be to revamp your UM2. 

Recommendation

For half the cost of upgrading your machine to UM2+, you can get the same advantages and results with the E3D Extrusion Upgrade Kit if you have an UM2 or UM2-Extended. On the other hand, upgrading your UM2+ or 2+ will not result into more benefits, except if all you are after is a cheaper replacement, the 1.7mm filament or the extra hotend temperature.

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