My i3 Plus mods (Copperhead all-metal hotend, bed/levelling mods, braces, etc.)

Hi all,

I’ve just finished the first round of mods on my Wanhao i3 Plus, and thought it’d be useful to document them, as I don’t think many of these have been done before:

Hotend/extruder:

  • Slice Engineering Copperhead hotend (mk10 variant)
  • TCMUK 40W 6mm dia. heater cartridge (as the standard Wanhao one is 6.35mm, incompatible with the Copperhead)
  • TCMUK B3950 brass thermistor cartridge
  • E3D 0.6mm brass nozzle
  • Extruder PCB modified to place thermistor connector on the bottom, and replace heater connector with a Molex Micro-Fit 3.0, for plug-&-play with the above components
  • Lower extruder PCB bracket modified to accomodate above changes. Top cover ommitted.
  • Boron nitride paste used on hot side
  • Arctic silver Ceramique thermal paste used on cold side (heat break and heatsink)

Bed:

  • Lightly lapped build plate with 600-grit paper (revealing quite some unevenness)
  • Countersunk bores in build plate, to allow another plate (eg. glass) to be placed on top without worrying about the corners
  • Levelling springs replaced with stronger (8.92N/mm) and slightly longer (22mm) ones, to prevent the bed moving while printing, and allow a greater range of adjustment
  • 35mm high-tensile steel bolts to suit above mods, with 5mm POM spacers placed inside the springs to help with alignment.
  • Locking nuts omitted – the springs on their own provide enough friction!

Other

  • M6 minimalist rear Z braces (martin_au on Thingiverse), with grade 8.8 high-tensile threaded rod
  • Replaced all accessible cap-head screws with self-colour high-tensile button-head ones

The hotend makes a massive difference over stock. Extrusion is much smoother, and it warms up instantly.

After completing the hotend and bed mods, I printed the cross-brace brackets in ABS at 0.3mm layer height, 0.9mm line width, and 70mm/s with a 0.6mm nozzle, and the results were impressive to say the least.

I’m yet to tune retractions, so that’s next on the list. Longer term, I’d like to:

  • Design a custom cooling fan shroud
  • Replace the extruder fan with something that’s less disruptive of surrounding air
  • Replace the stepper drivers for quieter/smoother ones

I have a twitter thread with a more detailed runthrough of what I’ve done and how, but I’m not sure if posting a link to that is allowed?

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3 Likes

That’s an interesting looking block and hot end. How does it handle PLA? I have the Micro Swiss on my printer, and while it’s great for most materials, it jams pretty regularly with PLA.

Also, what’s so special about that block that you would want to run it without any sort of insulation? is it just that it’s a weird shape and hard to wrap or is there some fancy mutli-metal/gap design that minimizes heat loss without any additional insulation?

I haven’t tried PLA yet; have a couple of other mods to do before I use the printer again, and then I can update with PLA results.

I don’t think there’s anything special about the hot-block, it’s made of copper (seemingly sintered and nickel-plated); I haven’t felt a need for insulation, and I like the way it looks without (+ the ability to scrape off any stray plastic)