Half-Stepper weight reduction Mod

Half-Stepper weight reduction Mod

Half Stepper cooling nozzle

Half Stepper cooling nozzle

When I tell people we don’t make use of our second extruder on our FlashForge machines the response usually goes:

“But Why not?  Think of all of the cool things you could do with two extruders!  Don’t you like lot’s of colors, and dissolvable support material?”

My response is usually an astounding:


The reason for this is two fold:

1.  The case of a print that lifts off of the bed, or thin flat features that bend upward from lack of cooling time (nearly unavoidable in some cases). The second nozzle has a tendency to drag across that raised portion and break the print, and or detach it from the build bed completely.  The latter results in a sort of stalactite piggy back ride, in which the extruder Keeps on extrudin’, the head keeps on movin’ and the part keeps on growin’.  Usually up into the extruder assembly, creating a huge mess.

2. With the shear volume of printing we do (much of it overnight, and un-attended), and the many students setting up and printing with the machines, it doesn’t make sense for us as a shop to make things any more complex than they need to be. To quote a great mind:

“Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Albert Einstein

So with that as a goal, many hours of measuring, modeling, and a few iterations,

Design Progression

Design Progression

have resulted in a mod I have dubbed

“The Half Stepper”

A bushing  was added to help support the guide tube.

A bushing was added to help support the guide tube (red).

the coling duct wraps around two sides of the nozzle.

The cooling duct wraps around two sides of the nozzle (blue). It is held in by an o-ring in the now un-used left nozzle port.

the fan shroud/air guide made a significant difference in efficiency.

The fan for the left extruder (grey) is re-purposed as the cooling fan for the right nozzle. The fan shroud/air guide made a significant difference in the fan’s efficiency (pink). And now the fan won’t cut your fingers open!  Yay!

an attempt was made to create a ducted fan to maintain air velocity.

An attempt was made to create a duct of consistent volume to maintain air velocity.

I have been running versions of this mod on all of our PLA printers with excellent results.  I have yet to measure the amount of weight it dropped off of the extruder assembly, but it’s minus one stepper motor, extruder mechanism, heater block, heater, and thermistor.

Want your own? You can find the STL Files Here:


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5 Comments on Flashforge Creator-X: Reducing mass, improving build quality

  1. Great Article and great work. I am in a similar situation where i don’t use both nozzles very often. How difficult is it to remove the secondary extruder? I see the Stepper will unplug but how about the thermo couple? or do I have to pull the wire all the way back to the board?

    • Eamon McQuaide says:

      Thanks for the support! Dis-assembly is really easy with these machines, as long as you are organized. Take notes and label parts during dis-assembly if you can’t remember how to put them back together. There are only two (maybe three?) sizes of hex wrench necessary to completely dis-assemble these machines. The only major hardware change is the right heater block assembly needs to be turned around 180 degrees. Then the sensor and heater need to be moved to the other side of the block. There are already holes on both sides, so this is a pretty straight forward process. Be careful when removing the sensor. Instead of twisting the sensor wire when removing it, hold the sensor stationary, and turn the whole assembly instead.
      The new assembly puts the heater furthest to the outside and the thermocouple to the inside. (Check the pics and compare with your setup, and it should make sense).
      As far as rest of the electrical/electronics are concerned, I just un-plugged them at the board that is mounted under the machine, and save them as spare parts to supplement the right side. Upon boot-up you will get a warning that says that your left heater temp is not working, but you just hit the enter button, and the firmware ignores that side from then on.
      When hooking the left fan up for cooling, you can modify your start/end g-code to turn on the secondary fan (I haven’t gotten around to doing this yet, but it’s probably the best option for more control) or you can move the leads from that port to port for the control board cooling fan. In this case, the left fan will run as long as the machine is turned on. I was initially worried that this would be too much load for that circuit, but I have been running an accessory fan on this circuit since we first bought these machines with no ill effects. Modify at your own risk!

  2. Thanks for the update. I installed the half stepper main body and am printing the other pieces now. My FFCPro has the Fet and connection for the EXTRA socket so I just moved the secondary fan over to that socket and am controlling it with the software. Thanks for the great work.

    • Eamon McQuaide says:

      That’s great news. If you get a chance if you could post what you did to modify your g-code, it would be much appreciated! After looking at the boards on our FFC-X, I’m pretty sure we have the same output option. I would love to implement it. Especially if there is a way to control the fan speed. I was actually able to slightly over-power our heater nozzles with this setup, and they can just barely maintain extrusion temp. I may post a slight change to the nozzle shape to try to deflect the air down away from the tip a little bit, but it shouldn’t take much to get it just right.

  3. Andy says:

    I believe the only gcode that does fan control is through simplify3d or manually by connecting to the printer either via usb or something like octaprint. Good work I ended doing a blowerfan setup… you can also enlarge your print dimension due to the single setup, to maximize this a singlE carriage would be optimal.

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