3D Printer HardwareReviews

Bi-Metal Heat Break Review – No More Clogs!

In the 3D printing world, heat break designs have gone trough a lot of changes. From the plain threaded tube in the past we reached the bi-metal heat break. This is a new design which improves thermal performance, and allows the use of lowered powered fans for less noise.

Why use a Bi-Metal heat break ?

Usually when you think about upgrading the heat break, it’s because you want to print higher temperature filaments. Most of the heat breaks used on regular printers are made from metal with a PTFE tube inside. This tube thermally insulates the filament before it reaches the nozzle.

Bi-Metalic Heat Break

Print higher temperature filaments

The PTFE lined heat break is fine for PLA prints because you don’t really need to go over 210C. But if you plan to print PETG or ABS it’s important to have a all-metal heat break to avoid any PTFE degradation and dangerous fumes.
An all-metal heat brake will allow you to reach up to 300C without any concerns, but there’s a downside. PLA is a bit harder to print with all-metal heat break.

Better heat transfer

Because the bi-metal heat break uses a better design, the temperature from the heatblock is not transferred to the cold end of the heat break. This means that you don’t need a lot of cooling surface if there’s not much heat to remove.
By upgrading to a bi-metal heat break, temperatures will be lower inside the cold zone and PLA prints with an all-metal heat break will be clog free.

The bi-metal heat break can be a great upgrade for the Artillery Sidewinder X1 and Genius. The stock heat break has PTFE lining, and the heatsink doesn’t have the best cooling available. By upgrading to a bi-metal heat break, you will be able to print hotter and have less heat going up the heat break.

Less noise

If you have less heat on the heat break cold zone, then you don’t need powerful fans for cooling that heatsink. I still recommend using a good quality fan with enough airflow. But if you are considering using quiet Noctua fans, now you can do it without the risk of clogs.
Noctua fans are still not recommended with a regular heat break.

Who came up with the Bi-Metal idea ?

Don’t quote me on this, but from what I know, Slice Engineering was the first company who came up with the idea of a bi-metallic heat break. The whole idea was introduced with the Slice Engineering Copperhead hotend. They took the great thermal design from the Mosquito Hotend, and adapted it to a heat break.

The whole concept is to use a thin metallic tube between the hot zone and cold zone of the heat break. The thermal transfer is bad trough that thin metallic tube, and this translates in much improved performance in cooling.

Currently, there are Copperhead Heat Breaks on their website for $24.99 (preorder). Considering the Trianglelab version is around 20$, I recommend you spend some extra money for the Slice variant to support their work, and also to get a guaranteed quality product. They also have more options, so you will probably find a heat break compatible with any kind of printer.

Trianglelab Bi-Metal heat break

Trianglelab took the idea from Slice Engineering and manufactured this bi-metal heat break. It’s made from copper and it has a thin stainless steel tube running trough the heat break.
I got the Trianglelab Bi-Metal Heat Break from Aliexpress and had it delivered in less than 1 month.

When installing the new bi-metal heat break, make sure you don’t overtighten it. The stainless steel tube is thin. If too much pressure is added, the tube can be bent and your precious bi-metal heat break will need to be replaced.

Trianglelab Bi-metal heat break and Volcano heatblock

Testing procedure for the Bi-Metal heat break

In order to properly test the bi-metal heat break, I made a test rig from old parts after the SKR 1.3 upgrade for Sidewinder X1. I used the MKS Gen L clone to power everything, a Volcano heatblock with 40W heater cartridge and a regular 100k thermistor.

The temperature inside the heat break was checked using a multimeter with a temperature probe. The probe was inserted in the heat break just above the transition zone and the end was touching the inside metal wall.

The ambient temperature was 22C. For each test, the hotend temperature was set then I waited 10 minutes for the temperature to stabilize. After 10 minutes, I checked the temperature from the multimeter probe.

Temperature Probe

Please note that I tried to keep all variables the same in order to have good results. These are ideal setups, with no airflow constrains or other parts which may influence the temperature (ex: heatbed temperature). Real life temperatures can be a few degrees higher.

Regular All-Metal heat break with Titan Aero heatsink

First test was done using a regular all-metal heat break with the Titan Aero heatsink. I installed a quality 40mm fan, and started the tests. The temperatures are too much for PLA prints, but still ok for printing PETG or ABS low risk of clogging.

Hotend TemperatureSetupDurationHeatbreak Temperature
180CRegular Metal + Titan Aero10 minutes38C
210CRegular Metal + Titan Aero10 minutes42C
250CRegular Metal + Titan Aero10 minutes47C
280CRegular Metal + Titan Aero10 minutes50C

Trianglelab Bi-Metal heat break with Titan Aero heatsink

After replacing the regular all-metal heat break with the bi-metal, things have changed. As you can see, temperatures are much better and printing PLA is now possible without any concerns.

Hotend TemperatureSetupDurationHeatbreak Temperature
180CTrianglelab Bi-Metal + Titan Aero10 minutes31C
210CTrianglelab Bi-Metal + Titan Aero10 minutes33C
250CTrianglelab Bi-Metal + Titan Aero10 minutes35C
280CTrianglelab Bi-Metal + Titan Aero10 minutes36C

Chart for comparison

Titan Aero chart
Bi-Metal Heat Break Review - No More Clogs! 1

Regular All-Metal heat break with V6 heatsink

I was not expecting this, but it seems that the V6 heatsink is much better compared to the Titan Aero. With the regular all-metal heat break, any type of material should be printed without any concerns.

Hotend TemperatureSetupDurationHeatbreak Temperature
180CRegular Metal + V6 Heatsink10 minutes33C
210CRegular Metal + V6 Heatsink10 minutes37C
250CRegular Metal + V6 Heatsink10 minutes40C
280CRegular Metal + V6 Heatsink10 minutes43C

Trianglelab Bi-Metal heat break with V6 heatsink

While the temperature difference is not as big, there’s an obvious improvement with the bi-metal heat break.

Hotend TemperatureSetupDurationHeatbreak Temperature
180CTrianglelab Bi-Metal + V6 Heatsink10 minutes29C
210CTrianglelab Bi-Metal + V6 Heatsink10 minutes30C
250CTrianglelab Bi-Metal + V6 Heatsink10 minutes32C
280CTrianglelab Bi-Metal + V6 Heatsink10 minutes33C

Chart for comparison

V6 Chart
Bi-Metal Heat Break Review - No More Clogs! 2

Conclusions

After this quick test, I can safely say that bi-metal heat breaks are the future. They improve the thermal performance of any hotend and offer more flexibility in the fans we can choose for out printers. We may even see fanless hotends in the near future.

Even though I tried to measure everything as accurate as possible, there’s still the possibility I missed something. Please let me know if you find any issues with the information presented here.

I will also defer from debating if buying clones is right or wrong. I will continue to test and review 3D printers and components from various sources and share my honest opinions about them. The end user should decide where to spend the money.
More information about this, in Vector 3Ds video:

I will update this review with more heat breaks as soon as they get delivered. The NF-V6 Crazy Copper Heat Break should arrive in a few days. Also, I can’t wait to see the performance of Slice Engineering heat breaks. I am sure the machining quality will be exquisite, with excellent performance.

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David
David
11 months ago

I bought two bi-metal heat brakes (smooth version) from your link today, and I have a Microswiss plated nozzle . When i install the heat break. I don’t need the PTFE tube any more correct. I bought new parts for everything heat brake, original replacements for the thermaster, heat block & heater cartridge so i could just swap out the whole thing, and keep the original intact.

Ralf Vogler
Ralf Vogler
1 year ago

Do you have any data about suitable quiet fans?
I got the Trianglelab Bi-Metal heat break and am wondering whether I should get a Noctua NF-A4x10 or 20, or a 24V Sunon. The Noctua only has ~56% of the air flow of the stock fan and ~26% of its static pressure.
I guess for the Noctua I’d also have to put a step-down module somewhere next to it since it’s only available in 12V but the Genius fans run on 24V.
With the stock heat break and fan my Genius reaches ~32C on the heat sink. Idk how well measuring the heat sink serves as a proxy for the inside temperature, but I wanted to have at least some data before I start modifying it.
The stock setup doesn’t use thermal paste? Where should I use it? Only on the cold side of the heat break and below the heat sink?
Would a 2cm heat sink or a copper one instead of aluminum be a good idea?
I was also wondering about how the software decides the fan speed. Seems like it’s just fixed at 100% once the nozzle reaches 50C.

vtjballeng
vtjballeng
1 year ago

Great comparison. I have titanium heat breaks in my Prusa MK3S machines. I’m curious how the titanium stacks up as it’s ~2x the thermal resistance of the original stainless heat break. By comparison the bi-metal heat break will dump more temperature into the area just above the nozzle, or so TriangleLab implies.

comment image

Before moving to the titanium heat break, I’d get PLA clogs whenever transitioning from printing PC back to PLA. With the titanium heat break in place, I’m seamlessly changing from PLA to Nylon, PC, PC+PBT, etc. I usually just switch to PLA when I need something FAST for a fitment check.

Stock Stainless heat break thermal conductivity ~16 W/mK
Titanium Grade 5 (heat break material) thermal conductivity is 6.7 W/mK

William
William
6 months ago
Reply to  vtjballeng

The thinner wall thickness on these bimetal breaks also reduce the amount of heat conducted. Also the introduction of the copper parts allows the heatsink to perform better. I’d be very curious to see how it stacks up against a titanium break. Maybe the future is a bimetal break with copper threads and a titanium inner tube instead of stainless steel

Richard Falkenberg
Richard Falkenberg
1 year ago

Hello I have a stock genius that I received 3 weeks ago. Should I purchase a 1pc smoothed or 1pc threaded version? Thx!

Fernando Delfini
Fernando Delfini
1 year ago

Hi!

Amazing article, helped me a lot to understand the benefits of Bi-Metal heatbreak.

After all your testing, what do you think it’s best, v6 with bimetal or dragon hotend? Or the mosquito clone from mellow?

Thank you!

Jonathan Arthur
Jonathan Arthur
1 year ago

You mention “PLA is a bit harder to print with all-metal heat break.”

Why is that? Can you tell me a little more detail please? I’m planning on mainly using PLA but there’s a few PETG parts I want to print, and I was hoping to use the all-metal heatbreak all the time, but if it’s more difficult with PLA then maybe I will have to swap it just for PETG then put the PTFE one back

Botfiddler
Botfiddler
6 months ago

Hi, the bi-metal one doesn’t have that problem, just regular all-metal heatbreaks which is why the bi-metal one exist.

Yioti Panayi
Yioti Panayi
1 year ago

Hey, just wanted to say I love your forum here. It has made owning the Sidewinder X1 a breeze, so much good info on here. I got this Bi-metal heat break on your recommendation in the upgrades article you put out for the X1. I just wanted to let you and everyone else know that the newer versions of the X1 are not compatible with this upgrade. Would you consider putting a disclaimer in your Artillery Sidewinder X1 Upgrades article? I got my Artillery (Evnovo) Sidewinder X1 from amazon on 4/19/2020 and the heat break is not like the E3D V6’s anymore. The part that screws in to the hot end it the same but the end that goes into the cold end is different. Instead of threads, they have a cylindrical piece of metal that is inserted into the cold end and held in place by two set screws accessible by removing the cold end cooling fan.

I decided to risk destroying the bi-metal heat break and installed it anyway. I coated the threads in some thermal paste I had left over form building a PC and installed the heat break using the set screws. Not Ideal as the set screws put pressure on the copper threads and have deformed them as a result, though I bet they could be cleaned up and used in a E3D V6 if I wanted. It has been working great outside of 1 clog that required a full disassembly of the extruder assembly and hotend. I got a nozzle x as well and have printed Carbon Fiber PC successfully thanks to these upgrades.

P.S. You should really consider starting a YouTube channel. These articles are great scripts for the videos you could create and I bet you’d be very successful. I’d subscribe for sure.

Trisch
Trisch
1 year ago

This is NOT a Bimetal, it is Bimetallic. Entirely different concept! Bimetallic: 2 metals. Bimetal: strip of metal made from 2 layers of metal that expand disssimilar.

Miroslav Šustek
Miroslav Šustek
1 year ago

I noticed that in the seconds set of measurements there is:
“180C / Trianglelab Bi-Metal + V6 Heatsink / 10 minutes – 31C”
however according to the pictures it should be “Titan Aero” like in the first one.

Miroslav Šustek
Miroslav Šustek
1 year ago

Thank you for this review. I recently discovered bi-metal heat breaks and I wondered whether they are any better that other all-metal heat breaks.
Thanks to your review I see that it helps to lower the temperatures inside the heat break.

I have Creality Ender 3 printer with bowden setup. After switching to this https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32884991887.html all-metal heat break (from the original where the PTFE tube touches the nozzle https://www.aliexpress.com/item/33025767635.html ) I could lower my retractions to 1.2 – 1.5 mm.
However, while printing PLA, I still get clogs during retractions more often than I would like to.

I tried to simulate the retractions by pulling and inserting the filament by hand (by around 2-5 mm) and then visually inspecting the situation in the heat break.
I am able to clog the hotend quite reliably while doing this (it is sufficient to repeat the pull-insert around 10-15 times).

I am still not sure what is the exact mechanism why the clogs happen.
My best guess is that during the repeated retractions the melted filament gets squished to the sides of the heat break (increases its diameter) and then when it cools down it gets stuck to the walls.
This hypothesis is supported by the fact that when I do cold pull of the stuck filament, it has a “plug” on the end that has basically the same diameter as is the inner diameter of the heat break.

After “hot pull” (pulling out the filament while hot) I was able to see filament stuck to the walls of the heat break (similarly like chocolate would stick to a pot).
I am not really sure if the PLA really sticks to the titanium alloy. Maybe it is actually friction of the expanded filament that causes it to be stuck inside the heat break.
This hypothesis is supported by the fact that if I try to push the filament harder, it goes very slowly through the nozzle first but then it suddenly “comes loose”, “shoots” through nozzle and I can again freely move the filament (until I do more repeated retractions).

Also, I discovered that if I dip the tip of the filament in oil, I cannot clog the filament any more by repeated retractions.
I wonder whether it is because the oil lowers the friction between the filament and heat break or because the oil helps the filament to get cooler (or hotter) faster (or slower?) when retracting/reinserting the filament.

With the original design of the heat break I got clogs too. However I think that the mechanism of clogs was a bit different. I think that the filament also got wider when it was pushed but since PTFE tube is not as hard as metal, the tube got squished to the sides by the hot filament and when the filament cooled down it basically formed a plug that was a bit wider than the inner diameter of the PTFE tube. I could see that if I tried to cold-pull the filament out, it was hard to pull it through the whole length of the PTFE bowden tube.
Therefore the filament was not stuck because it was “glued” to the PTFE tube but because I had to overcome the force needed to deform the PTFE tube in order to move the filament.

I would be glad if I finally got rid of these clogs. It not only makes the print quality worse when it is “semi-clogged” and the filament extrusion is not precise but it also ruins my prints when it randomly under-extrudes (or totally skips) few layers.

Do you have any similar experience? Or do you have any better idea why the clogs happen?
And do you think that bi-metal heat break could solve these issues?

William
William
6 months ago

Hey, just wondering if you ever solved this issue?