Itty Bitty Double FLEX Extruder (with mount for MakerFarm Printers)

by clough42, published

Itty Bitty Double FLEX Extruder (with mount for MakerFarm Printers) by clough42 Apr 6, 2015
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There is a newer version available here: Itty Bitty Double FLEX V2 Extruder

The Itty Bitty Double FLEX is the second iteration of the Clough42 Itty Bitty Double Extruder. This new version is designed to accomodate flexible filament and E3Dv6 hot ends.

Key Features:

  • Designed for Original Hexagon (NOTE: NOT Hexagon AO) or E3Dv6 hot ends on 27mm centers
  • Short, straight filament path to accommodate flexible materials
  • Uses the same hardware kit as the original Itty Bitty Double Extruder
  • NEMA 14 motors
  • Silent GT2 belt drives with printed pulleys
  • Integrated servo Z probe
  • Cam-lock idler bearing pins
  • Uses standard hobbed bolts available here
  • Lighter than a stock Accessible Extruder
  • Integrated hot end cooling
  • Mounting hardware for Prusa i3v printers

A hardware kit is available: Itty Bitty Double Extruder Hardware Kit

See the instructions for required hardware, assembly instructions, firmware configuration and extruder calibration.


Detailed assembly, firmware setup and calibration instructions can be found here: Itty BItty Double FLEX Extruder.

In addition to the printed parts, you will need the following hardware:

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One addition I have made it adding Aluminium tape under the steppers connected to the block. I had trouble with heat slowly loosening the bolts and then slightly warping the connectors. Didnt happen until I added a passively heated cover over my Prusa. The tape, washer and lock washer so far seems to keep everything connected firmly without loosening

Got half the double flex working, (still waiting to get another Hex hot end) and I love it. It by far out performs the Bulldog Lite that I had on there previously. I will also be working to add the ABL sensor arm, currently just the servo is installed.

The one issue I am still having is Printing NinjaFlex. I can get a good flow going and turn off retraction but the flow is inconsistent and I end up with gaps and then a jam. I got the hardware kit from you and it all went together great. Any advice?

What diameter of filament? Can you tell where the problem is occurring? Is the filament slipping out of the bolt groove or folding up underneath? I'm actually working on a new version of the block that contains flexible filament better.

Im using 1.75 filament and the issue seems to be that it binds up and then pushes itself up through the center hole of the extruder block. Ive been trying different temps and such but havent gotten a full print yet. Let me know if I can help test stuff for you. I really dig what you have done here, good work!

Are you using E3d hot ends? If so, you should be using the version of the block specifically for the E3d liners. Attach the PTFE liners to the hot ends and push them up into the block, all the way to the bolt and trim flush. If you don't use the liners, there will be lots of space for the filament to fold up in the bore.

Went in and made some changes to Marlin,

E max feedrate 12
E Acceleration 800

first layer thickness, 200%
0.2 mm resolution for rest

so far so good

Im using the Hexagon hot end so no liner.

Has anyone tried to print this in PETG instead of ABS? I am thinking of trying the PETG, but would like some input from other users before I try.

Mine is in eSun PETG, works really well

Thanks. I've heard from a couple of people who really like PETG.

I print everything in PLA, would printing this extruder in PLA hold up?

PLA might work for you if you only print PLA, but I recommend ABS.

I love this design! I've been using it for about 2 months now, and its working pretty well! I'll have pictures, and a video directing people to your site soon!

Do you find that the 25mm fan isn't enough to keep the hex hot ends at a decent temp? With both of my extruders at 220C, I find that the fins get almost too hot to touch, which i think is causing jamming with my filaflex. Do you have an recommendations, or should I just go ahead and design two 40mm fan mounts for them?

I have not had any trouble with the 25mm fan. I've run a 14 hour print with NinaFlex and ABS with the hot ends at 230C and 250C and haven't had any trouble. If you're running in warmer ambient conditions or if your filament is more sensitive to jamming, you might need more cooling.

Very cool unigraphic

Hi! I'm printing this parts after buying the kit. I get a warning from slicer saying there is a hole (non manifold) on various parts, and XcarriageShelf-Hexagon only prints two small rectangles. How can I fix this?

I recommend Slic3r 1.1.7 or 1.2.9. I have printed all of the parts many times without issue. If you can't make it work for some reason, you might try repairing the files with netfabb, but I have not found this necessary.

Thanks for answering so fast! All the parts printed perfectly with the latest Slic3r. Everything is assembled and mounted to the printer at this point, but im not sure where the wires go on the RAMPS board. Could you refer me to a diagram or some sort or a guide to do all the connections properly? Im afraid to screw up and burn something... It is a beautiful design by the way.
Thank you!

You're welcome. I don't have wiring documentation; electronics vary widely. You can get basic RAMPS wiring information on the RepRap Wiki page here: http://clough42.com/instructions/extruder-troubleshooting-faq/

There's a diagram about halfway down the page that shows how to wire a basic double extruder setup.

My FAQ page answers lots of questions about servo connections, fan extenders, motor current, etc. You can find it here: http://clough42.com/instructions/extruder-troubleshooting-faq/

If you have additional questions, feel free to ask.

What retraction length and speed do we like for this extruder? I've got mine set on 1mm retraction length and 30mm/s speed. Can I push it faster/further?

It depends on your hot ends and the material you're using. With ABS and Hexagon 3mm/.4mm hot ends, I run it at 250C, 100mm/s (bridging at 120mm/s). Right now, I'm retracting 1mm.

I run NinjaFlex at 30mm/s with a much longer retract to try to combat oozing.

Hi clough42

Do you have a template for the mounting holes etc. for your extruder that will be needed to make an adapter plate for the 8mm rod Prusa i3 variants.

I want to make a version of my X-Carriage http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:926794 with an adjustable second plate that can be used with this extruder. I will include the source files so that users might change it if it does not fit the specific extruders that they are using.

The second plate will have a hinge bolt in line behind the one hot end axis. Of to the other side of the second hot end there will be a vertical bolt from the top that adjust the horizontal angle of the second plate with a final clamp bolt through to the carriage to lock the position of the second plate. The whole extruder is bolted to the second plate. This should make the levelling of the two hot ends a snap.



Prusa i3 X-Carriage for GT2 belt

I haven't developed or tested anything, but user krwynn has uploaded a model of the MakerFarm i3v backing plate here: www.thingiverse.com/thing:933443

Makerfarm X Carriage Backplate
by krwynn

Hi clough42

I can see the four mounting holes at the bottom end of the backplate for the x carriage plate and the two servo plates and their respective tab holes. Just above them are another two small holes. They line up with those of the x carriage plate. Are they also mounting holes and if so where do they bolt into the extruder?

I think you're referring to the belt attachment holes. Here's a video showing how to assemble the MakerFarm i3v X carriage that should make it clear: https://m.youtube.com/watch?list=PLRNKKaG548WrGfar-MZiVPWELAgKeEkXv&v=lJZfefZA8tY

Hey Clough42! It's been a while. So happy you updated your original design to work with "Flex" material! I'm working on a project now that involves using a flexible material. First of all your original design has been awesome for ABS, PLA, HIPS, and PVA! (That's all I've successfully tested) I've never had any luck testing NinjaFlex with the original Makerfarm i3v extruder (I think it was a wade extruder) I got some SemiFlex the other day and was testing it out on my Makerfarm 8" i3v, with your original "ittybitty dual" extruder design and I'm still getting binding issues.. I was considering buying the bulldog lite direct drive extruder to see if it would print the FLEX filament, but first I decided to see if you might have updated your design... I was extremely happy to see you had! Anyway, I'm going to download your newest models and get them printed out and do the conversion. Anxious to see if your modifications will do the trick! Thanks again for continuing to better your original design and sharing it with all of us!!!


Just curious will I need to re-print all the new models or will any of the original parts work with the updated parts?

The large pulleys are the same. The rest of the parts have changed due to the wider hot end spacing.

All updated parts are printed, and I'll be doing the assembly in the next day or two... I'm now curious about the Marlin firmware branch you are distributing. I've been using a version I "ducted taped" together a while ago that incorporates Roxy's Enhanced G29 commands. The old updates I did also fix the Z probe from retracting between probes. Does your Marlin Firmware branch also include these tweaks? If so I might just download and use it...

Thanks again!

Yes. My fork has these tweaks, specifically. Many of the changes have gone back into the main development line as well. I've been waiting for things to stabilize before pointing people back there, though.

Hey Clough42,
I've been busy the last week setting things up and testing the SemiFlex filament I have. Early on I had great success testing small prints but when I moved to something bigger like a phone case, I kept getting a lot of artifacting prints. I think a lot of has to do with the fact my print bed is a bit bowed towards the center of the bed, but I also ran into the issue of one hot end nozzle pulling across the surface of the extruded print (I'm using the dual extruder) I'm using a very old hexagon hot end with a newer hexagon hot end, so I'm sure I could solve this issue by using two new identical hexagons, but I think it would be awesome to be able to physically adjust the hot ends by hand. I've tried your method of rotating the Z axis screws/motors by hand but they always seem to self right themselves... Not sure why this keeps happening, but it does... Anyway, I just thought I'd post my issues. Let me know if you have any insights regarding this issue.
Thanks again, and I love the new design!

I just uploaded a new i3v back plate that allows you to use an additional eccentric on one of the top wheels to tilt the whole plate left and right to level the nozzles. (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:945613) There are limits to how much you can level. If you have to move it 1mm or more, you're probably going to have a lot of trouble with the traces not flattening, etc.

I have had good success with tilting the X axis on the 8". On the 12", others have reported trouble, and I'm seeing the same thing on the new 12" kit I'm building. You could try loosening the eight M5 screws that hold the extrusions to the motor and idler plates to get a little movement, then tighten down for printing. That might buy you a little, but if you have to tilt it a lot, it's not a good option.

Adjustable-Tilt X Carriage for Double Extruders on MakerFarm Prusa i3v

Awesome! That looks like it might just do the trick! I'll print it out and give it a try here in the next week or so.

Beautiful piece of work. Is there an stl file somewhere of the MakerFarm x-carriage? Or does everyone use the wood version from MakerFarm? Thanks.

I just use the wood MakerFarm part. I'm thinking about designing one with an extra eccentric on top for leveling, but that's just an idea at this point.

I have been running this now for about a month and love it. I was thinking about this though... Would you gain any strength/stability replacing the back plate with a printed one that uses 4 wheels rather then 3 and is slid on rather then using an eccentric spacer?

I think no matter what you do, you will need the eccentric spacer so you can adjust the wheels to fit to the rails. I have thought about making a new back plate that puts two eccentrics on top and a solid wheel on the bottom. This would allow you to level the nozzles with the eccentrics.

Thats not a bad idea at all! However, I dont think you really need the spacers, they are really just there for ease of taking the X-Plate off without removing a rod. You would just need to adjust the bottom holes to be smaller since they wouldnt be filled by the spacer anymore, and then potentially move the holes up ever so slightly. It may take 2 or 3 prints to pin point perfection, but I think would be a better overall plate then the original. (the Maximus that I am currently bulding, doesnt use eccentric spacers and just slides on as well)

I received my hardware very fast from your site. Thank you. I started printing the parts last night. I hope to have time to get it mounted to my 10" i3v this weekend. What a great piece of engineering! Cheers to your talent.

Thank you. I hope you enjoy it.

It's amazing! do you think I will be able to use it with two J Head (one metallic and another plastic)?

If they are EXACTLY the same length, it might be possible. You would also have to check the dimensions of the double groove mount and potentially make one to fit the J Head, since I didn't design around it specifically.

Congratulations for your collaboration, I am going to try it. Thanks

I've got everything set up and it seems to be working great on my Prusa i3v except for I can't seem to find where in the firmware or Simplify3d that I change the x-offset of the 2 Extruders. Having support printed an inch to the side probably won't work as intended. ;)

I'm sure it'll come to me in the morning after some rest, but any tips would be helpful.

In simplify 3d the offset is set under the gcode tab.

I have been using Slic3r, which has offset support. Reading a bit on the web, it looks like S3D doesn't. Maybe it's time to look into the offsets in Marlin. That's where I would start.

Do you recommend acetone polishing all the parts, some of the parts, none of the parts?

I actually did that to the main block..Made it much stronger plus nice and shiny!

Yea, that was my thought, at least do the main block. I have the parts about finished, tonight or tomorrow I plan to polish at least the main block and fan shrouds, maybe more.

Yes, correct i also acetoned the rear fan shroud. That was it.

Yea, that was my thought, at least do the main block. I have the parts about finished, tonight or tomorrow I plan to polish at least the main block and fan shrouds, maybe more.

I've never tried it. If you do, let us know how it works.

Will i need a power supply with a specific 5 volt rail? i was going to use the one suggested on the i3v page: http://openbuildspartstore.com/12v-30a-power-supply/

Will I need some kind of voltage provider?

As I mentioned in the comment below, I use a power supply with a separate 5V rail that I use to power both the RAMPS/Auduino and the servo. This solved some reliability issues I was having with the voltage regulator on the Arduino providing enough current for the servo. I actually prefer to use a supply with a large enough 5VSB bus to power the electronics along with a Raspberry Pi running Octoprint. This allows me to turn the power supply on and off programmatically, leaving only the 5v electronics running all the time.

Please forgive my incompetence with this sort of thing... i'm looking for a power supply now. Is yours an ATX? I've heard bad things about using ATX with this kit

I'm using a server power supply, an HP DPS-600PB.

Hi, Have you got a file to print back plate? My extruder is almost finished, just got to make a few more parts for the E3D-V6 hot end. It's a great design and cannot wait to try it out.
Many Thanks

The back plate is a part that comes with the MakerFarm printer. I have a mockup, but it doesn't have all the right holes to actually use it in a printer.

this is nice!!! It would be possible to redesign the NEMA 17 motor?
I have a couple NEMA 17 motor free, but no nema14

This was designed specifically around NEMA14 motors. I don't have a NEMA17 version and I'm not aware of one from the community.

What would be a safe way to print this out...I set infill to 40% and layer .2 but would you need to use support or anything special with this. I hate to get 3hrs into print and notice it needed raft or support so can anyone help with there experance of printing this out... Thank You...

All of the parts are designed to be printed unsupported. You will need good bed adhesion and a print cooling fan improves the overhang quality significantly. The main extruder block is the most critical part. If the motor mount arms peel up a little, it should still work fine, as long as the central flat portion that bolts down to the deck is still flat.

Thanks so much for your fast reply. I already started the print on the plate with the fan shrouds and all with support so will let it finish and just change the extruder set with no support.

What mainboard would you recommend for this extruder? I'm unsure whether the RAMPS 1.4 has a servo mount, or what i would do with the cooling fan

I am using a RAMPS 1.4 board, with a fan extender. The servo is connected to D11 and the fan is on D4. When running the servo on a RAMPS board, it's best not to try to use the 5V regulator on on the Arduino, because it tends to draw too much current and cause resets. I have cut D1 on the RAMPS board to separate the arduino power, removed the 5V-VCC jumper to isolate the servo power bus and I'm feeding 5V from the power supply to both the 5V and VCC pins on separate wires to reduce interference. This has been very reliable for me.

The fan extender wants to be installed so it covers D11. If you are using the RRD fan extender, just shift it up one pin. THis means you'll only get one fan channel, and it should be on D4. If you're using the Geetech fan extender, shift it up two pins, and you'll have two fans, on D4 and D5.

The extruder should work with any controller that has enough heater and motor outputs, but I haven't used them personally.

Sorry to be annoying about this, but is therea tutorial you can point me toon modifying the RAMPS? i'm a little intimidated, and these boards aren't cheap

No problem. I understand. The official documentation has a section on powering the board here: http://www.reprap.org/wiki/RAMPS_1.4#Connecting_Power

Some boards come with D1 unsoldered and you can just leave it out. I had to remove one of mine. I just grabbed the diode with needle noise pliers and gently twisted it back and forth until one if the wires snapped from metal fatigue. Then I bent each lead back and forth until it snapped off. Way easier than cutting or desoldering.

Will i need a power supply with a specific 5 volt rail? i was going to use the one suggested on the i3v page: http://openbuildspartstore.com/12v-30a-power-supply/

Will I need some kind of voltage provider?

Thanks for your feedback! I've downloaded a diagram of the RAMPS board to try and decipher what you just said, but at least i know that i don't need a more expensive board

beautifully designed. will I be able to alter this with a dremel so that I can use a e3d and a hexagon extruder? I really don't want to buy another one of either.

The E3dv6 is longer and has a different active cooling system, so I don't see how a dremel will be able to help much, but if you find a way to do it, please share it.

I was wondering if I could get the CAD files for this. I am trying to make a dual extruder setup with a v6 and a volcano, andI need to modify the hotend mounts in order to make the nozzles align in z-height.

That sounds interesting. What is the height difference between the two?

according to E3D the Volcano is 10mm longer than the v6. Could I get the cad files to modify?

Sure. I'll contact you via PM.

I am not sure yet, as they are still in the mail. My intent is to use the volcano for infill, and the v6 for perimeters to get fast printing high strength and high resolution parts.

Comments deleted.

Hello, I was thinking of building this or the itty bitty double extruder. I think I will be mostly using rigid filament but want the option to use flexible filament. Will the FLEX extruder work well with rigid filament as well, I have a maker farm I3v 10? I would also like to know if it could extrude flexible filament and rigid at the same time? I love your designs by the way. They say good technology should be beautiful!

Thank you. Yes. The FLEX extruder will work fine with rigid filaments like ABS and PLA. The only real downside of the FLEX is that it has slightly wider nozzle spacing (27mm instead of 20mm) so you can use a little less of the bed. You can definitely extrude rigid and flexible filaments at the same time. I did some testing with NinjaFlex tires mounted on ABS wheels, printed as a unit, with good results.

What's the recommended fill density of the pieces?

I get great results with 40% hexagon fill. The support bridging across the bottom of the filament channels is designed for .2mm layers, including the first. If you 're running some other first layer height and it causes you trouble, let me know.

Very,very cool. Looks like a V-12 or something. Will be part of my new i3!

You make awesome stuff man