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Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...

Posted by DjDemonD 
Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 11, 2017 11:51PM
So, someone asked me to do a review/opinion of the Trianglelab titan extruder.

So I got two of these units last week, also a y-splitter which I haven't tried yet. It comes in a plastic tub, with a card referring you to the genuine e3d on-line documentation.

Mine was supplied with a 40mm nema 17 1.8 deg stepper motor with 42BYGH40 1.7A on the side. And a heatsink for the motor, although with a 40mm motor I wouldnt expect it to overheat (they are useful with a 20mm motor). You also get a printed bracket one of which was warped too badly to use the other looks like it will work (the holes line up).

On the front of the extruder it says "Designed by E3D". Assembly was the same as the genuine titan, everything fits together. The supplied cap head hex bolts are not the same quality as the genuine e3d titan, but they do up and I didn't strip the heads using the supplied allen key/hex wrench. The front panel fits marginally less convincingly than the original but it does fit.

The bowden adaptor and the guide tube don't quite line up when both are pushed fully into the unit (they do with the genuine version), so when you come to insert your bowden tube it won't go in. To get it to go in, you have to pull the guide tube out by about 1.5mm. There is room to do this, it doesn't get pushed back in when you do up the front panel so its not too annoying but took a few minutes fiddling to figure out.

The drive gear has less sharp teeth than the the genuine titan. So far this hasn't proven to be a problem feeding filament (I have my idler wheel set to 50% tension). There is even an argument that the less sharp teeth might clog less easily, but I haven't been using it for long enough to know. As for what it can extrude; taking brittle PLA as a test it will extrude up to 30mm/s at 220 deg C, before the motor started to click (I am using my 20mm pancake stepper not the supplied stepper) which is more than enough for anything I need it to do.

The bowden coupler seems to be holding up.

The drive gear (hobbed bolt) is 7.35mm compared to 8mm for the genuine e3d, so you need 10% higher steps/mm to get correct extrusion. I have not counted the teeth but I believe the gearing from motor to the hobbed bolt is 3:1 as in the original.

Objects printed have no extruder related artefacts or issues.

Cost at time of writing without stepper motor its £25 delivered to UK for the clone, instead of £60 delivered for the genuine titan. The genuine unit has overall better build quality and higher quality parts. Plus the genuine unit arrives in 3 days not 28. I strongly suspect longevity and reliability will be the issue with the clone, although it goes together and functions in the short term exactly the same as the genuine unit, and its a fairly close copy.

In conclusion If Trianglelab is licensing the design from E3D I'd recommend their unit without reservation, its around 60% less expensive and if it lasts at least 40% of the lifespan of the genuine e3d unit then it will be of equal value for money, but I suspect they are not, and they do splash the E3D name over the unit and supplied documents.

I often conclude that a cloned hotend is okay, if you're on a tight budget or when starting out 3d printing (I am talking about whether the product works not the ethics of cloning products - I'll leave that to the discussion) if you are willing to accept you need to do some modification to make it work, and it will jam more than a genuine one. In comparison the extruder seems to be a better clone (its not as cheap as a cloned hotend relative to the original, it is clearly much more difficult to copy, it has more parts and they are more varied in materials) and it works without modification. If it has good longevity then its hard not to conclude that this is case where the clone is a viable alternative to the genuine product in terms of function and value.

Full disclosure - I have no ties to E3D or Trianglelab and I did not receive either product for free, this is entirely my own independent opinion.




I was using these cubes to adjust the extrusion rate so they do seem to "swell" as the z increases.

Edit I also found these thumb wheels for the idler adjuster instead of using an Allen key, not a bad idea that!

Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 03/13/2017 05:31AM by DjDemonD.

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Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 12, 2017 05:56AM
To bad they don't sell it with 20mm pancakes, that would save on postage too. It's definitely worth thinking about cost savings, when you want to drive a diamond hotend.
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 12, 2017 08:39AM
If we want open source we get clones, in this case the clone is clearly made to e3d drawings and whilst they've cheaped out on bolts, the rest seems decent enough. Be interested to see how the large plastic gear holds up against the metal gear on the motor shaft, in either this or the genuine e3d although I'm sure trianglelab will have used lower quality polymer than e3d.

You probably can buy one with a pancake stepper from aliexpress somewhere.


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Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 12, 2017 08:31PM
Already have the stepper, had seen these on ali xpress was tempted but I would probably use it as a bowden drive anyway, but my cheap metal feeder is performing great.
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 14, 2017 12:27PM
Thanks for the review, I was among the ones who asked for it...
But 30mm/s seems a bit low to me, I assume 0.4mm nozzle and 0.2mm layers?
My direct drive can go up to 60mm/s easily (with ABS) and a 1m Bowden setup...
But using anything larger than a 20mm stepper makes no sense with it, to my opinion...
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 14, 2017 12:48PM
You're welcome.

It might have gone faster with a higher temperature. The issue was the motor was clicking so it might also have gone faster with a larger motor. The real limiting factor is the hotend's ability to melt the filament, which is a combination of heater power and thermal transfer to the filament.

However as I said above its not 60mm/s print speed its 30mm filament input to the hotend in 1 second, which is a lot... I am lead to believe getting much more than 15mm3/sec through a v6 is difficult so perhaps this was not a very accurate result, or the filament slipped partially, before the motor clicked.

I'll repeat it, and measure how much filament I extrude.


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Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 14, 2017 01:08PM
Okay so I tried a few more with interesting results.
Feedrate mm/min (mm/s)-extruded filament
100(2) - 30cm
200(3) - 20cm
500(8) - 15cm

So clearly 30mm/s was not realistic. It extrudes less filament as the speed increases this is because the hot end cant melt it fast enough so either the drive gear slips, or if its tight enough the motor clicks/skips steps.

In theory if 15mm3 is the maximum for a v6 this means a feedrate of only 1.5mm/s or 90mm/min. But this should still extrude (in free air, with 0.4 mm nozzle) around 28cm of filament which, in theory means laying down filament at 280mm/sec print speed maximum, which almost no printers can really do. I know people set this speed in slic3r and then youtube it claiming 300mm/sec but their printers acceleration/size limits nozzle speed to way lower than this, which is just as well as their v6 would run out of heating power at 280mm/sec, even if their nozzle could move that fast.

So the cloned titan extruder as best I can determine, with a 20mm 1.8deg pancake nema 17 at 12v can push filament as fast as a v6 hotend can melt it. Which in anyone's book is fast enough.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/2017 04:13AM by DjDemonD.

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Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 14, 2017 01:18PM
Can you try these for me Teilchen?

Heat extruder to normal (or slightly higher) print temp.

send G1 E30 F100
see what happens this is 2mm/s filament input?

Have a play with some other settings see what happens if you go much higher, see if the amount of filament extruded is right relative to the feedrate.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/14/2017 01:50PM by DjDemonD.

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Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 14, 2017 01:46PM
I will do, but clearly misunderstood you, since I was assuming a 30mm/s printing speed, and not the extrusion.
I doubt my directdrive will be able to do as good. But more on this tomorrow (EU time)
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 14, 2017 01:51PM
Thats okay I figured that but it still got me thinking that my figure couldn't be right as 30mm/s is 288 mm3/s which is 19 times the melting capability of a v6. I'm UK so EU time is good with me (I voted remain smiling smiley).


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Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 15, 2017 01:44AM
[OT]
@DjDemonD
Quote

I voted remain

Hurry up and move to Scotland, before they start building a wall. I lived in Berlin and know what that meant... winking smiley ( just kidding, the Scots won't stay EU member too sad smiley )
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 15, 2017 03:44AM
No the trick is to get an Irish passport, around 1/3 of UK citizens are entitled to one. I'm not.


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Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 16, 2017 01:25PM
I actually have a similar setup with 2 Titans (1 is original, 1 is a clone) and the Y splitter. I also use a Prometheus 2.0 hotend. I am actually having difficulties with my setup:

I can easliy manually extrude plastic. I can start printing (single or dual filament) without a problem. However I have a hard time finishing prints, as most of them stop due to an extrusion problem. The problem is as follows:

- The extruder works perfectly for a period of 40 minutes - 2 hours (random), then suddenly there is a clicking sound coming from it.
- When I check I can see that the filament is not advancing, and there is a small kink at the level of the gears.At this point I suspect the nozzle to be clogged but if I pause the print, manually remove the filament, cut it at the level of the kink and reinsert it, and unpause the print, it continues to extrude perfectly, so there is no "static" clog but a "dynamic" one.
- This could be a problem of Prometheus not being able to cope with the filament flow but I doubt it, as I can feed it manually without a problem. Also, as the Prometheus is configurable, I have increased the hot zone's length, so that I can extrude plastic more easily, but it doesn't seem to prevent it. Also, I am printing at 25-30 mm/sec, which isn't fast at all, so feeding speed shouldn't be the real problem.
- Maybe retractions are the reason, but I retract only 2 mm with 40 mm/sec , so this isn't really an extreme retraction.
- Another possiblilty could be the 3/1 gear ratio of the Titan. Maybe it isn't powerful enough for a Bowden setup with the Y splitter (the original creator of Prometheus, Distech Automation, who also created the Y splitter, advises using a 5/1 gear ratio for the Y splitter)
- Another possible culprit could be the design of Titan. Its filament path has an unsupported area just where the filament goes past the gears. This is obvious when printing with flexible materials, as they seem to kink at this level.

Any recommendations?
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 16, 2017 01:45PM
Might be worth reading this [www.duet3d.com]


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Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 16, 2017 01:56PM
Quote
DjDemonD
Might be worth reading this [www.duet3d.com]

Thanks DjDemonD, very nice summary and would be very useful for dual printing. "Ramming" the filament seems to be the way to go to prevent stringing.

However, I doubt this is the reason for my problem, as I am only using single filament printing for now, until I can be sure that I can extrude reliably for the entire duration of the print. The problems related to filament change wouldn't be applicable here, as there is no filament change involved.
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 16, 2017 03:05PM
I know I haven't done a long term test so maybe these things have a problem on a long print. How hot is your motor getting? If you're using a pancake stepper like I am I had to put a heatsink on the back of it.

I've got one of those splitters that's why I bought some extra extruders but I haven't had chance to set it up yet.


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Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 16, 2017 07:27PM
Quote
drmaestro
I actually have a similar setup with 2 Titans (1 is original, 1 is a clone) and the Y splitter. I also use a Prometheus 2.0 hotend. I am actually having difficulties with my setup:

I can easliy manually extrude plastic. I can start printing (single or dual filament) without a problem. However I have a hard time finishing prints, as most of them stop due to an extrusion problem. The problem is as follows:

- The extruder works perfectly for a period of 40 minutes - 2 hours (random), then suddenly there is a clicking sound coming from it.
- When I check I can see that the filament is not advancing, and there is a small kink at the level of the gears.At this point I suspect the nozzle to be clogged but if I pause the print, manually remove the filament, cut it at the level of the kink and reinsert it, and unpause the print, it continues to extrude perfectly, so there is no "static" clog but a "dynamic" one.
- This could be a problem of Prometheus not being able to cope with the filament flow but I doubt it, as I can feed it manually without a problem. Also, as the Prometheus is configurable, I have increased the hot zone's length, so that I can extrude plastic more easily, but it doesn't seem to prevent it. Also, I am printing at 25-30 mm/sec, which isn't fast at all, so feeding speed shouldn't be the real problem.
- Maybe retractions are the reason, but I retract only 2 mm with 40 mm/sec , so this isn't really an extreme retraction.
- Another possiblilty could be the 3/1 gear ratio of the Titan. Maybe it isn't powerful enough for a Bowden setup with the Y splitter (the original creator of Prometheus, Distech Automation, who also created the Y splitter, advises using a 5/1 gear ratio for the Y splitter)
- Another possible culprit could be the design of Titan. Its filament path has an unsupported area just where the filament goes past the gears. This is obvious when printing with flexible materials, as they seem to kink at this level.

Any recommendations?

I've had similar issues. Looking at this closely, it seems to be due to using a flat idler bearing, instead of one with a fillet. The flat idler bearing squishes the filament out of round, which then gets stuck partway down the hotend. This is especially visible with PETG, not so much with PLA or ABS.

Try this: Take some filament, insert it a couple of cm past the gears. Release the lever so that the idler is pushing hard on the filament. Roll the gear back and forth a couple of times so that the same spot on the filament goes past the idler a few times. Now release the filament and inspect. Chances are that you'll see a large flat spot on the filament, opposite the tooth marks.

To fix this issue, release the tension screw a lot (I back it off completely, then go forward one turn on the tension adjuster). Try the above test again. In my tests the filament is a lot less squashed. After many failed prints, I eventually discovered this, and got a completed print with much reduced tension.

I'm going to see how easy it is to replace that idler pulley with a grooved one.
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 16, 2017 07:30PM
Also, I had to reduce my retraction acceleration to 1000 mm/s (down from 5000). The 3:1 gear ratio means that the extruder stepper is accelerating a lot faster than the filament, and high accelerations mean missed steps.
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 17, 2017 12:14AM
Excuse me for the late reply - I have been busy at work...
Just now I have tried the test you asked me for...

My direct drive extruder can only reliably push the filament at 10mm/s with ABS @ 250C (tested with 50mm Filament feed using the DWC). I have no PLA at the moment, so could not perform these tests with PLA.
At 15mm/s the stepper will skip steps already.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/17/2017 12:54AM by Teilchen.
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 17, 2017 03:23AM
Thanks for helping out, you sound very busy, so it is appreciated. So 10mm/s of filament entering the hotend, roughly how much comes out, and what nozzle size? The only reason I ask is that if in theory the v6 heater block with a normal 30w heater can actually melt 15mm3 per second (and this needs to be verified), then you are managing to get yours to perform around 60% better than this as 10mm of 1.75mm filament has a volume of 24mm3.

Its possible the heater block can melt this for a short amount of filament before cooling so it would be interesting to see what happens when you command 20mm or 30mm or 50mm at this rate and see how that relates to what you actually get out.

There is also the issue of heater dead time, so as the block cools the PWM is increased to the heater but it can't heat any quicker than its dead time which might be 3-7 seconds. So I'd expect at 10mm/s the first 10mm to be fine then the second and third and fourth to be more difficult to feed,perhaps at that point the heater temp increases. As far as I am aware no firmware looks ahead far enough to boost a heater in time for an area of high rate of extrusion when printing.

I was just very surprised that my extruder would appear to feed at these higher rates without the motor clicking, but clearly it wasn't actually doing it effectively as the amount extruded got less and less as the input rate went up.

I realise in some of my calculations above I used the diameter not the radius when calculating the volume so please accept these corrections:
Where I said "30mm/s is 288 mm3/s which is 19 times the melting capability of a v6" what it should read is "30mm/s is 72mm3/s which is 4.8 times the melting capability of a v6".


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Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 17, 2017 03:46AM
Quote
nebbian

I've had similar issues. Looking at this closely, it seems to be due to using a flat idler bearing, instead of one with a fillet. The flat idler bearing squishes the filament out of round, which then gets stuck partway down the hotend. This is especially visible with PETG, not so much with PLA or ABS.

Try this: Take some filament, insert it a couple of cm past the gears. Release the lever so that the idler is pushing hard on the filament. Roll the gear back and forth a couple of times so that the same spot on the filament goes past the idler a few times. Now release the filament and inspect. Chances are that you'll see a large flat spot on the filament, opposite the tooth marks.

To fix this issue, release the tension screw a lot (I back it off completely, then go forward one turn on the tension adjuster). Try the above test again. In my tests the filament is a lot less squashed. After many failed prints, I eventually discovered this, and got a completed print with much reduced tension.

I'm going to see how easy it is to replace that idler pulley with a grooved one.

I set my titans to around 50%-60% tension on the flat idler (I'd like a grooved one for sure it makes sense), but I don't get jams. I have resorted to 1 drop of peanut oil if I change filaments, and whilst I didn't want to accept that this helps, it certainly seems to do something to reduce jams.

With a light idler setting do you get filament grinding rather than motor skipping and if so what do you think about that?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/17/2017 04:19AM by DjDemonD.

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Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 17, 2017 07:49AM
Ok, I have repeated the tests just now.
0.4mm Nozzle, E3D v6 with a 40W heater!
Tried to extrude 50mm of filament:
- 5mm/s all is good
- 7.5mm/s got my stepper skipping about 2/3 along the way
- 10mm/s the stepper is skipping about 1/2 of the way...
All times the temperature of the Hotend seems to drop about 1 to 1.5C during this short test.
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 17, 2017 08:19AM
The 40w heater maybe makes a difference. I've seen 50w heaters on aliexpress even one company will make a mains heater for a hotend, probably need to be careful with that one. Thanks for trying that.


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Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 17, 2017 09:00AM
Modern Stratasys systems use a mains powered heater, with 40-50mm of heated zone... even longer then a Volcano. Since I saw that I was wondering why RepRap doesn't use such a long heater...
But that is a different topic I guess...

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/17/2017 09:31AM by Teilchen.
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 17, 2017 01:06PM
Quote


I've had similar issues. Looking at this closely, it seems to be due to using a flat idler bearing, instead of one with a fillet. The flat idler bearing squishes the filament out of round, which then gets stuck partway down the hotend. This is especially visible with PETG, not so much with PLA or ABS.

Try this: Take some filament, insert it a couple of cm past the gears. Release the lever so that the idler is pushing hard on the filament. Roll the gear back and forth a couple of times so that the same spot on the filament goes past the idler a few times. Now release the filament and inspect. Chances are that you'll see a large flat spot on the filament, opposite the tooth marks.

To fix this issue, release the tension screw a lot (I back it off completely, then go forward one turn on the tension adjuster). Try the above test again. In my tests the filament is a lot less squashed. After many failed prints, I eventually discovered this, and got a completed print with much reduced tension.

I'm going to see how easy it is to replace that idler pulley with a grooved one.

Thanks.I'll try your suggestion. Meanwhile I've made some modifications and I am actually testing them to see if they work:

1) I've replaced the original Titan gear with the gear from a clone. This might seem illogical, however I've seen a forum post in e3d's site, mentioning that some of the early Titans had a faulty hobbed gear (it is too narrow, compared to the larger hobbed area in the new ones). I was an early adopter, so I checked to see if I had that gear and it seems that I do. The clone came with what seems to be the correct gear, so we'll see if this is a reason. Maybe the narrow version applies too much presssure on the filament.

2) I had some 2 mmID, 3 mmOD teflon tubes. So they are basically narrower with the same internal diameter. I cut a small piece and inserted it inside the conical plastic part that comes just after the gears. As it is thinner, it can go until the tip of the cone, so it decreases the possibility of a kink (hopefully). I only used 1-2 cm of this tube, followed by the normal 4 mm OD tube as the 3 mm wouldn't be a good match for the Y splitter entry points. This could be an additional problem, as I am introducing a discontinuity to the tube, however it is happening inside the conical tube, so it should provide some structural support.

3) I have printed a few pushfit clips. These ensure that the Bowden tubes are locked in properly and don't move during retractions.

4) I have also bought a tensioning ring instead of the bolt. It is easier to manually adjust the tension compared to using a screwdriver.

Let's see what happens.....

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/17/2017 01:09PM by drmaestro.
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 17, 2017 08:25PM
Nice work DrMaestro!

Last night I attacked the filament flattening problem and came up with this solution:


More info is here:
[www.thingiverse.com]


Running the same test as before, just driving the filament back and forth a few times with lots of tension, resulted in a perfectly round filament with no squashing.

I immediately noticed an improvement in print quality. I think it's a very worthwhile change to make. You probably have all the parts lying around right now.
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 17, 2017 11:41PM
Congratulations nebbian, excellent modification. I don't have a grooved bearing. Would the following be ok: Link

The part needs to be quite strong so your suggestion on using PETG is very sound. Do yo think 20% infill is enough?

And a follow-up to my modifications: Yesterday I have printed an object for 4 hours. No clogs or clicking sound, so it probably works. I will test with a flexible filament and also try a longer print and a little bit more retractions (I am down to 1.5 mm which definitely isn't enough for Colorfabb nGen in my setup)
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 18, 2017 12:01AM
Nice mod, I've got some mk8 idlers somewhere. I'd print them at 100% infill that is a load bearing part.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/18/2017 12:09AM by DjDemonD.

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Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 18, 2017 12:42AM
Quote
drmaestro
Congratulations nebbian, excellent modification. I don't have a grooved bearing. Would the following be ok: Link

The part needs to be quite strong so your suggestion on using PETG is very sound. Do yo think 20% infill is enough?

And a follow-up to my modifications: Yesterday I have printed an object for 4 hours. No clogs or clicking sound, so it probably works. I will test with a flexible filament and also try a longer print and a little bit more retractions (I am down to 1.5 mm which definitely isn't enough for Colorfabb nGen in my setup)

Thanks mate. Yep that's the right part. 4x13x4mm.

Well done on your modifications, it's a great feeling when it all works. I'd been going backwards on my printer for the last week, everything I did seemed to make things worse, but now it's singing away nicely.

I used 30% infill on mine, with 2 perimeters. It seems plenty strong enough. Anything over 30% would be fine. There are lots of areas where it's effectively 100% infill due to it being a top/bottom surface, or a perimeter.

Just finished a part that was problematic before (lots of retractions), and it worked absolutely flawlessly. I'm super happy with this modification.


I can see why E3Dused a flat bearing, that means they don't have to have separate stock for 1.75 and 3mm versions of the extruder. However I think it performs better with the grooved bearing.


Next up: a flexible fllament test smiling smiley I'd been having loads of trouble with this previously.
Re: Cloned titan extruder review/opinion...
March 18, 2017 05:12AM
Quote
nebbian

Next up: a flexible fllament test smiling smiley I'd been having loads of trouble with this previously.

Well There's your problem. eye rolling smiley



No wonder it was jamming occasionally.
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