MakerGear M2 Ducted Fan Mount

by profhankd, published

MakerGear M2 Ducted Fan Mount by profhankd Mar 7, 2015
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There are a lot of alternative hot-end fan mounts for the MakerGear M2 that try to increase airflow where it counts, but most of them require a modified mounting assembly for the hot end. This one goes on just like the standard mount -- in front, and is still able to pivot out of the way for access.

As of May 12, 2015, there's now a second, more aggressive, version with a rectangular output. You can see the difference in the third image. The more aggressive version tends to cause uneven cooling on larger objects, so I don't recommend it unless you're printing things with very thin structures.

As of March 7, 2016, there's now a third version that aims the air flow just about perfectly. It's got an oval opening like the first version, but it points more directly where we want the air, and that works -- even better than the second version, which appears to suffer pressure loss from using a rectangular opening. The catch is that this 3rd version still doesn't produce perfectly even flow because the air is all coming from one side. Still, it is better than the other two versions....


The duct looks scary thin, but is quite strong and prints easily on an M2. In PLA 25% filled, it only uses 10g. It mounts using the same screws and nuts that came with the M2. The more aggressive version works even better, but gets close enough to the hot end that I recommend using ABS. It is also a little thicker to resist heat deformation. No problems with either one. The second one delivers air more precisely where it is needed, but can result in more of a quality difference between front and back of the printed object due to uneven cooling, so I prefer the less-aggressive model. Either one is much better than the raw mounting of the fan as MakerGear does it.

Incidentally, yup, that is it being used to print a copy of itself in the seventh image. Why? Well, I printed the first one before I had the attachment and the second one (as you can see) after. The second one is a much nicer print... which was the whole point of doing this. I actually have two M2s, so neither copy of this mount will go to waste. ;-)

The last photo is of http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:690176 , printed on my MakerGear M2 after installing the ducted fan mount. This is a tiny wine glass, with a long stem that's around 2.25mm diameter -- which would have sagged and probably caused a print failure with the standard fan mount. Printed in white PLA at 0.25mm, 8% fill (there's fill in the base, stem, and lower portion of the cup), 50mm/s.

BTW, the third (latest) version is the one shown in the second photo.

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Is it normal for a lot of the air to escape out the back of the fan instead of pushing through the opening near the hotend? Does that just mean the fan is running too fast causing a backwards flow from pressure?

Yes, there is a back pressure... and yes, it's normal. It's the price for having a narrowly-focused air stream.

Actually, we just upgraded one of our M2 to an e3d hot end with the excellent cold end and fan shroud designed by Neo_Usagi. That shroud wraps around the hot end and is scary close to it, but we printed it in high-temp PLA, and it's fine. It has a much larger opening, so less back pressure. We figured it would give better prints than my shroud here... but it doesn't seem to.

Anyway, that has caused me to think some more about the fan shroud. In particular, I've now realized that channeling the air this way actually allows more heat to migrate up the tube to the cold end, because without a shroud a lot of air blew at that tube. I have not seen a clear problem with shrounds I posted here, but I am thinking about potentially redesigning to split airflow between the tube and the hot end tip. Such a split also would reduce the back pressure. If I figure-out something better, I'll post it here.

Makes sense! Since I printed this, I've been looking for more info.


This article/study I found on Google recommends using a blower fan like in a laptop. Apparently that helps better direct the airflow through the opening of the shroud.

Excellent info there! Of course, blowers are much noisier than fans and there are two things that matter more (at least on an M2) than what that measured:

  1. Excessive diffuse airflow seems to increase the probability of the object detaching from the heated glass bed by locally cooling the glass bed. This is a huge problem on the M2, because the Y axis is on the bed, so taller objects get whipped back and forth, really stressing bed adhesion. This is probably the biggest benefit in using a focused air jet on an M2. Not an issue if you print on cold blue tape.

  2. Airflow that is too directional can cause the back edge of prints to have different (slightly worse) artifacts from the front. My designs here have a bit of this problem, but so does the wrap-around shroud on our M2 with the e3d hot end, so...?

I've also noticed that excessive airflow directly on the hot end seems to impact hot end temperature control in subtle and complex ways. I've seen as much as a +/-10C difference in how I should set the hot end temp depending on cooling fan arrangement.

Anyway, I think the article you cite is generically right: first-order effects are that ANY type of more focused airflow pretty much brings print overhang/span quality up a notch for typical PLA. Other materials differ; for example, T-GLASE and some metal-loaded PLA barely want any fan.

You are the man!!!

Thank you for this update, it's a highly worthy addition to the printer I will definitely be using now.

I made one, the rounded hole latest version. Indeed, it looks great on my M2!

However, I have a request for that design that you may want to address. The angle at which the nozzle is beveled actually causes airflow to leave almost straight down. I could tell with my finger below the extruder--not feeling any air, ran a rough simulation in Inventor and it's fairly clear how the air flows from any conical shape. It simply flows almost perpendicular to the hole bevel. So, if the rear of the exit hole stays in the same place, almost a 45° is needed raised on the side closest the extruder to get air near the tip. That will also open the hole up quite a bit, which may not be desirable. My suggestion would be to push the back of the hole (closest to fan side) forward about 15mm, then apply the hole bevel parallel to the fan plane. It would be almost perfect that way, blowing right under the extruder. (Don't want to blow air on the extruder.)


I took your advice for the new 3rd version. Basically, the rectangular opening version should have been dead on , but it generates a lot less airflow than an oval opening, and this now clearly directly the airflow at/below the printer's hot end tip.

OK, here is what I did with your March/10/2016 addition. First, to anyone reading this, some of you may have the stock M2 fan(s), while some are probably going to have aftermarket higher-output fans. With respect to that, this comment is about my experience with the fairly low-output factory M2 fan.

I printed this revision and installed it today. This might sound a little over-the-top what I say next, but I decided to use a fog machine to blow fog through and see what was happening with the airflow actually near the bed. The reason being: I felt a back spray of reverse air leaving the top-right sides of the fan's intake slots. The duct seems to be pressurizing (of course some pressure is the design intention), but pressurizing a bit too much for the factory fan power, meaning lower CFM leaving the nozzle of the duct than expected.

The fix for this (and probably about any fan type) is simple though with this latest STL. What I did is merely set the print to finish on a height about 10mm short of the duct's design, and that seemed to help a good deal. This way, the exit hole is parallel to the fan plane, and the nozzle hole is larger, allowing more air to leave the duct even with a lower power fan. One can use this method to fine-tune the duct to their own fan's power level. The higher the fan's design power, the smaller the hole can be, in theory--until a point of diminishing return.

This may be helpful for others to test out themselves if trying to maximize fan cooling.

Thanks again ProfHankd for posting this great design. :)

That is true, back pressure is a very real issue, but with a much larger hole the air is blowing a bit too much at the hot end. There really isn't a perfect generic solution. BTW, keeping the hole rounded definitely gives better flow than when I shaped it rectangular.

The real problem is that the MakerGear fan choice is not great. I don't think these are even ball bearing fans, and I can tell you from decades of experience with cluster supercomputers that you really don't want sleeve-bearings on your fans. The fan on my home M2 is fine with the new hood, but the older M2 in my lab takes forever to get the fan up to speed... unless you tap the side of the fan a couple of times, in which case it usually revs-up very quickly. In other words, it's got the classic symptom of a marginal sleeve bearing, and that makes it very sensitive to back pressure. I actually bought two replacement fans from MakerGear for my home M2 just last week because the fan on the controller died, but I temporarily hacked-in a fan from my lab's stockpile, and it actually seems notably smoother than the MakerGear ones. BTW, I now have the fan on my controller box blowing up (out) instead of down (in)... which effectively reduces back pressure and avoids sucking-in air warmed by the bed heater.

It's about $6-$8 for a suitable top-of-the-line ball-bearing fan from Digikey, and you'll see there is quite a range of CFM from these little fans, but they don't come with the connector for the M2. To MakerGear's credit, at least they sell their cheap fans very cheap. ;-)

I completely agree with the above post. The fans should be upgraded right out of the box, as a matter of fact. 2 of 3 fans on the M2 printer itself (extruder and control unit fans) have about bit the dust over the last few weeks; started hesitating and stopping. I just got around to it and ordered new ones, finally.

I installed mine today, it works great! I love this design since it uses the stock set up and hardware and also it clears my bed mounts. The extruder I use is aftermarket (for ninjaflex), but the same dimensions as the original.


Unlike many other shrouds this one does not require a specific extruder.

M2-Extruder tighened up throat for Flexible materials