3in1 Universal Extruder Upgrade

by DHeadrick, published

3in1 Universal Extruder Upgrade by DHeadrick Aug 20, 2013


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This extruder feeder upgrade replaces the stock mechanism on the following 3 Makerbot Printers (It also fits Wanhao/FlashForge/MagicFirm printers which are similar to the Rep1):
Replicator 1
Replicator 2
Replicator 2X
More information can be found at www.devilsinthedetails.ca
You can download and print the housings and install hardware yourself or order a kit manufactured from billet aluminum and PEEK engineering polymer for long life and durability under extreme temperature (PEEK performs well up to 480*F so it will continue to work if you choose to print ABS/Nylon which requires higher temperatures). Here are some of the features:
1) It employs a bearing to provide even force to the filament as it varies in thickness. This force applied is easily adjustable without the need to replace parts or disassemble anything.
2) It re-positions the stepper motor rearward so that the gripper wheel can engage the flat on the motor shaft. No more need to file the shaft yourself possibly damaging the stepper motor with metal filings in the bearing.
3) It allows easy access for visual inspection as well as tool access in case of a jam which might require scissors to remove the filament.
4) It's also possible to release the bearing pressure easily and quickly to allow filament changes mid-print.
5) It has clearance allowing for adjustment in the vertical height of the thermal barrier tube.

See where these extruders are now:

This upgrade began development in April 2013. Since the closure of Makerbot Operators Group, status/feedback can be found here:
You can see the full development history of this design in this discussion:
Since then, the design has logged over 2200 hours of printing combined between 2 printers.

This upgrade/hardware can be ordered here:

Here are some videos showing the upgrade in action (while still in the prototype stage).
Prototype Extruder Install:
Filament Load & Unload Process:
How easy it is to swap filament mid-print:


The printable parts can be sliced with the latest Makerware using the following settings:
20% infill
5 shells
0.1mm layer height
no rafts/supports
Place them on the build surface oriented as shown in the Makerware screenshot.
Check out the full instructions on how to install it here:

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I purchased these from you a couple years ago, when using my now dead Makerbot Replicator 1 - Dual Extruder. Only mod that actually helped that P.O.S printer. I have since modded my Wanhao i3 Duplicator that I got a little over a year ago with one of them.
This is the best extruder used so far.

Are these still being produced?

Yes... www.devilsinthedetails.ca

I have recently noticed a change in the manufacturing quality of dowel pins sourced from overseas. To compensate for this, I have modified the bearing holders to be more forgiving with respect to dowel pin radii variance.

I just bought and installed the purchased aluminum version for both extruders on a Wanhao duplicator 4S. Also upgrded to the Micro Swiss All Metal hot end. I had to adapt and print a guide for flexible filaments. The system is working flawlessly. Haven't had to tear appart the head to declog filaments since the upgrade. Accuracy and thermal stability are improved as well. Thanks to DHeadrick for the design and implementation as well as support beforehand.

Question: Why not include a flexible filament guide as an integrated part of the aluminum part or as a separate aluminum part? I realize it would reduce visibility to the filament for unclogging but the add-on 3D printed part does that anyway. Just a thought. Thanks a lot. The upgrade is well worth it!

Thanks for the kind words! I'm glad I could help.

I do offer a filament guide (it's one of the models above which can be downloaded and printed). If a non-plastic version is needed, it can be ordered in bronze from Shapeways (www.shapeways.com/shops/ditd). I recommend printing one to test it fits with your printer before ordering in bronze.

Oct 14, 2015 - Modified Oct 14, 2015

It was just brought to my attention that there is no spacer bar included in the files available for download. This spacer bar is required for Replicator 1/Replicator 2 printers and all their derivatives. If you have printed out the parts and noticed that the filament path does not line up... it is because you are missing this spacer bar. Where it is located in the assembly can be found on page 3 of the installation manual (http://www.devilsinthedetails.ca/)

I just added a printable tool for the hex key included in the kit. It makes installation of the spring / hollow set screw easier. It may also prevent the tiny set screw from getting lost during spring swapping.

I just uploaded a jig to aid people having difficulty removing the gear wheel from the stepper motor shaft. there is an image to help explain how to use it. You also need a #10 nut and bolt as well as a zip-tie.

About the filament guides, I read in the google group:
“I will shrink the hole to 1.9mm so that it must be drilled out. This will allow drilling it to make it smoother.”.
Can you please update the instructions with this. Would help getting ninja flex prints to actually work :)

And thank you for a very well working extruder mechanism!

I've updated all the guides to shrink the guide hole to 1.9mm. Printing these parts with at least 3 shells will leave enough material in the wall to allow a drill to be used to bore it out and give a smooth wall for soft filament. Use a 2mm or 5/64" drill bit. I will add this information to the manual.

Thanks for the reminder :)

I just notice that the guides I had uploaded were not oriented correctly. I replaced them so they are oriented by default so that they do not require supports.

First of all, thanks for the great design work DHeadrick! I just bought my Ninja-flex filament and can't get it to load using my using my 3FPD extruder upgrade (another great design though). Would this work well printed in Nylon 618? I going to give it try but wanted to know your thoughts on the matter. Thank You very much! Hope to buy the Aluminum modules soon too!

Give it a try... the download kit from http://www.devilsinthedetails.cawww.devilsinthedetails.ca has a list of the hardware needed. Definitely print out the guides to support the filament between the pinch wheel and the entrance to the thermal barrier tube. Also, adjust the spring force so that it grips the filament well but doesn't flatten it. If the filament gets squished into an oval, it won't fit down the pathway and will jam.

I need to clarify that I was using the 3FPD Rev3 extruder upgrade ... since my first comment I have discovered that
they have since come out with a Rev 4 for flexible filaments ...
regardless I will need to make adjustments to my Replicator 2X so that I
can print Ninja-Flex filament. So it looks like I have my work cut out
for me to run some tests ... Perhaps the Aluminum upgrade is the most robust? My comments above still stand ... Thanks
again for the great work here!

Pay the $88 and buy the Aluminum module. It rules! The beautifuly machined compact design is easy to remove disassemble and service. Tension adjustment is a snap as well as super quick filament swaps with the "de-tensioner" feature. I have the aluminum carriage and the stepper required a 0.15mm shimm to align with the filatment guide hole. I have 0 feed issues. This is how it should have been done in the 1st place. Thank you devilsinthedetails. Now how about some aluminum gantry parts.

For people trying print the filament guides with no supports/rafts, try reducing the printing speed to half. This gives more time for the layers to cool before the heated nozzle returns to an area.

The website has been updated to make it easier to determine the price of the various modules.

I re-oriented the STL files so that they can be opened and printed without the need to place them on the build surface correctly. I also added the filament guides which are required for flexible filaments such as Ninjaflex.

The MK8 extruder I have dozens of set of the production

Stop piggybacking your junk on my comment section. Publish your own thing!

I is the mechanical professional I have my own CNC machining equipment

But I don't know much about you two bearings how to adjust the elastic material

That's unfortunate.

Can't see the pictures you extruder inside?I want to get more information to optimize my extruder .Thank you!

That is part of the design process which I don't want copied. If you want to know more, all I can suggest is that you download and print the STL files as well as the manual which explains what hardware is required and where.

I have a same aluminium alloy extrusion machine lv block production now have
need can contact me

Your extruder upgrade is nothing like this one. I'm not sure what you want to contact me about? I've noticed you're commenting on many extruder upgrade pages.

Which bearing is used in this design?

It is a 4x8x3 Bearing (8mm OD x 4mm ID x 3mm THK). You can download a complete hardware list here if you wish to source parts yourself: http://www.devilsinthedetails.cawww.devilsinthedetails.ca. The hardware list is in the zip of downloadable files (along with the manual).

I just put in an order for 2 hardware modules. If you can do expedited shipping, that would be great (I have a demonstration to do on Thursday this week at a local children's museum). I'll wait until your aluminum parts come back in stock and then order those as well afterwards for the left/right extruder on my Rep1 dual.


I'll print one out in ABS, while I wait for your stock to catch back up. I'm in a bind, because the PLA parts I created for the minimalistic MK8 upgrades are warping over time. If I can fix it long enough to print in ABS, then I can run for a while as I wait for the aluminum parts to be available.

I like (on the Rep 1) the offset to use the flat on the motor arm. And it looks great, which is always nice.

One thing is weird to me, though - having to stick a tool in to push the bearing back, rather than having a lever always in place as the other extruders do. I use this often - I swap filament often to change materials, etc., so I'd think that adding another tool to the process (where you already need to hold the filament and the extruder) would be tricky. Why not a lever?

Also, will this work for both extruders in a Rep 1?

Yes this will work on both extruders of the Rep 1.

In the interest of making the part as sleek and compact as possible, a handle was not used. A handle would also require much more machining and material waste to make it economically feasible. I will keep investigating the possibility of how to add one in the future (no promises though :) )

Added a map of where kits have been shipped so far.

This looks like it would work with the QU-BD extruder,

It might... the QU-BD is very similar to the Replicator 1. You could print out the STL versions and see. The hardware kit for the Replicator 1 includes 50mm long bolts. You could verify if these would be long enough for the QU-BD.

Good job. Sorry but I didn't see the spring you use?

The spring is 155-A from Jones Spring

Check out the links to the YouTube videos in the description.

A demo video would be most helpful.