WHIRLIGIG is a high-efficiency print-cooling fan duct for the i3 Plus and v2.1. It is my second cooler design, after the GUST.
WHIRLIGIG takes the excess airflow of a blower fan and intentionally vents it to cool the whole active printing area, not just the area underneath the nozzle. This results in less back-pressure, a quieter fan, and more effective 360° cooling, at least on par with the DiiiCooler based on my printing trials (see the photo gallery).
WHIRLIGIG meets six design criteria:
- Deliver specific cooling as close to the nozzle as possible. This improves the quality of short layers.
- Do not trap hot air in the plastic deposition area. Push it away so that warping is reduced.
- Vent excess airflow and use it to cool the part, instead of wasting it as back-pressure.
- Allow easy access to the nozzle for bed levelling.
- Provide a clear line of sight to the nozzle and an unobstructed view of the print-in-progress for filming time lapses (I recommend my super-compact bed-mounted Raspi cam).
- Allow easy removal of the entire shroud assembly for access to the hot-end.
Whirligig is a work-in-progress, but it's ready to use right now! I suggest you 'Watch' this thing to get notifications about new revisions.
Important compatibility info
May collide with front-mounted Z braces, so consider using rear braces instead. I use martin_au's Minimalist Z Braces for my i3 Plus. FilamentCorner's Simply Backing Z looks like an analogous kit for the i3 v2.
Known to fit:
- Wanhao i3 Plus or rebadged versions
- Stock hot-end/extruder
- Micro Swiss all-metal hot-end
- Does not fit Flexion hot-end/extruder (apparently the Flexion nozzle is too short?)
- Monoprice Maker Select V2.1
This shroud is designed for a Wanhao i3 Plus, or a rebadged version of it. It fits onto an extruder bracket that has M3 holes shaped as slots spaced around 30 mm apart, on a tab that is 45 mm long.
There is a different kind of bracket that has holes (not slots) spaced 40 mm apart, on a tab that is 50 mm long. I have provided a slotted bracket to fit these measurements, but I can't guarantee that the other bracket dimensions are the same or that the shroud will fit your bracket's height.
I have also made the assumption that your nozzle is at least 6 mm tall from the heater block to the tip, which is the case for both the Plus' stock nozzle and also for the Micro Swiss all-metal hot-end's nozzle. WHIRLIGIG cannot fit into the space around a shorter nozzle, and cannot be made to fit there; it's already nearly too thin.
If you are able to use this shroud on a non-Plus model, could you please comment and let the community know? Info about your bracket and nozzle would be good.
Bill of Materials
Note: Always use the latest revision of each STL (e.g. use Rev 2 instead of Rev 1). The newest files are always listed first, and they are always compatible with each other; you can use the Rev 2 duct with the Rev 1 shroud, for example, as long as they are the latest revisions of those objects. The old files remain 'below the fold' in case you want to explore them.
Duct.stl. There is also a version with Meshmixer supports included, for those who don't have a slicer that can do custom supports.
Bracket.stl. The slotted bracket can fit on brackets with both 30 and 40 mm screw hole distances, and allows you to adjust the shroud along the X axis.
10 mm shim.stl to adjust the vertical position of the duct. To make shims of different thicknesses, tell your slicer to scale the shim to a different size along Z only.
- 1× 50×50×15 mm blower fan. 24 V for Plus machines, 12 V for standard machines.
- 1× M4 screw (25 mm), washer, and nut.
- 2× M3 screw (12 mm), washers, and nuts. I bonded wingnuts to grub screws with Loctite, and I use thumb wheels to tighten them down. Tool-less shroud removal!
- Level your bed.
- Join the blower fan,
Bracket using the M4 screw. Leave it loose for now.
Bracket to the fan mounting bracket of the extruder block using the M3 screws. Leave these loose for now. You can place a heat-resistant washer between the heating block and the duct nozzle to insulate it.
- Looking from the side, align the nozzle with the opening of the shroud by moving the
Bracket forwards or backwards. Tighten the M3 bracket screws.
- If needed, add
Shims to raise the base of the shroud about 1 mm above the tip of the nozzle.
- Zero the Z axis. Pivot the
Duct so that it is parallel to the bed. Confirm that it does not collide with the bed.
- Tighten the M4 screw.
- Suggested cooling profile: 0–20 % speed for the first layer. 100 % for all subsequent layers.
Test print settings
Want to replicate the test prints in the gallery? Here are the settings I used:
- The test object is DAISY - Print cooling comparison test. I used the settings published on that page:
- Hobby King PLA
- 0.40 mm nozzle and 0.20 mm layer height
- Base speed 100 mm/s
- Slow down for layers shorter than 1 second
- 2 perimeters 4 top and bottom layers
- Outline direction inside-out
- 0 % internal infill
- Concentric external infill (it is more difficult than rectilinear because only the outer lines anchor to the walls)
Frequently Asked Questions
Won't it melt from being so close to the nozzle?
Nope! My experience with ducts like this is that so much cold air is passing through them that they barely deform, if at all. I have printed this in PLA and even had it touching the heater block's insulation and it isn't deformed.
If you are worried about the shroud melting while printing a large first layer without the fan running, there are four ways to deal with it:
- Trust that PLA has bad thermal conductivity, and the design of the shroud means that only an island on the top surface of the shroud is being heated up, and the heat will find it difficult to spread to the rest of the shroud to cause a structural failure.
- Increase the air gap between shroud and block.
- Put extra insulation between the shroud and heating block, like a fibre washer.
- Run the fan at a very low speed for the first layer (10-20 %) to keep air moving through it. Make sure to actually check that the fan turns at the speed you've selected; my fan won't turn for anything less than 20 % speed.
This was the best way to design the shroud as far as I could see, in order to meet the design requirement of getting right up against the nozzle. The nozzle is only 6 mm tall, so space is limited:
| Heater block |
1 mm | | Insulating air gap
2 mm | | ===========
3 mm | | Air passage
4 mm | | Air passage
5 mm | | ===========
6 mm \_____/ Clearance from print
There's no room, in short, and reducing the air passage just makes the fan louder and makes backflow worse.
What kind of blower fan should I use?
The strongest one you can find with the highest static pressure rating. You can always turn it down if it's too powerful. I've had good times with Shenzhen Gdstime Technology Co. Ltd fans. I've also heard good things about YYQ fans, although I have never used one. But caveat emptor: CFM specs from random sellers are probably untrue.
Can I use a 12 V fan in a 24 V system?
Yes, but you shouldn't. Aside from the possibility of the fans sparking because they're over-volted, they will eventually fail and start making these horrible grinding/rattling sounds.