Language: EN


How the FFF 3D Printer Head Works

We continue to familiarize ourselves with our FFF 3D printer in our 3D design and printing section.

We have seen the operation of an FFF 3D printer, its kinematics, the parts, and components that make it up, and in the previous post we saw the difference between a direct and bowden printer.

We agreed to take a closer look at some of these elements. Today we start with one of the most important, the printing head.

The printing head is the element that heats and deposits the filament to form the piece. Normally, depending on the printer’s kinematics, it has one or two degrees of movement.

The fundamental component of the head is the hotend (hot end), which is a metal element that is responsible for melting the filament by raising and controlling the printing temperature. We will see this element in detail and its operation in depth in the next post, but basically, it consists of a heat sink, the extrusion nozzle, a thermal resistor, and a thermal sensor.


Other fundamental elements of the head are the fans. In general, we will have two fans, with two different functions (although some models mount more than one fan for each function).

On one hand, we have the fan that is responsible for cooling the hotend. In the diagram, it is the white fan (the one that looks like a Noctua). Normally, 30mm or 40mm axial fans are used.

On the other hand, we have the fan that is responsible for cooling the deposited filament, so that it solidifies as soon as possible. Axial fans or turbofans are frequently used.

The head also must allow the circulation of air and, if necessary, provide support for any existing air ducts to channel the air to the hotend or the filament.

In addition, the head must transmit the movement by connecting to a carriage or by acting as a carriage itself. The head must provide solidity and support to the assembly, in order to minimize vibrations.

Finally, in the case of direct type printers (like the one in the image), the head must support the extruder and its components.

The head is one of the most important parts of the 3D printer, and is largely responsible for the quality and speed of printing that we will obtain.

Of course, for each printer there are a lot of modifications (mods) and improvements that can be made. Although, as a general rule, unless you are sure of what you are doing, the standard head usually performs adequately because it is designed for its own machine.

So far, we have seen in detail the printing head of an FFF 3D printer, its components, and functions. In the next post, we will see the hotend, another very important element within the head, which, as we have mentioned, carries out the fusion of the material. See you soon!