DIY Nozzle Socks For Your 3D Printer

If you have a 3D printer, your nozzle and heater block are invariably covered in a weird goo consisting of decomposed and burnt plastic. There’s only one way around this – a nozzle sock, or a silicone boot that wraps around the heater block and stops all that goo from accumulating.

Right now, E3D sells silicone nozzle socks for their normal-sized heater blocks, with a release for their maxi-sized Volcano blocks coming shortly. [Ubermeisters] couldn’t wait, so he designed a 3D printed mold to cast as many Volcano nozzle socks as he could ever need.

The mold itself is taken from the mechanical drawings of the E3D Volcano hotend, printed in Proto Pasta HTPLA. To create the nozzle sock, this mold is filled with a goo made from GE Silicone I, mineral spirits, plaster of Paris, carbon powder, aluminum powder, titanium microspheres, and bronze powder colorant from Alumalite.

The mold is sprayed with release, filled with silicone goo, and slowly brought together. After a few hours, the silicone has cured, can be removed from the mold, and the flash can be cut away from the finished part. The end result is great — it fits the Volcano hotend well, and shouldn’t be covered in melted, burnt plastic in a week’s time.

All the files for the Volcano nozzle sock mold can be found on YouMagine. Alternatively, you could wait another month or two for E3D to release their ‘official’ Volcano nozzle sock.

37 thoughts on “DIY Nozzle Socks For Your 3D Printer

    1. I am not sure if acetic acid reacts at all with plaster of paris (calcium sulfate), as sulfuric acid is a very strong acid. Unlike a reaction with (sodium)carbonate or -bicarbonate.

  1. Ive been making these for my hotends for a while, heres one with about 3 months wear on it.

    Very handy little covers, before the mold stl’s where out I was making mine with rtv and fiberglass tape, those sucked the fiber glass would wear out and the whole cover would crumble. The pure RTV castings last until they get ripped apart.

    1. For reference, I print my mold in ABS then pack it with RTV add the postive pack some more RTV and let it cure for a day, then I pull the mold apart and cut the Cover, no mixing a bunch of extra crap into it.

      1. This was a test of a casting silicone for other low temp applications (author added all of my previous ingredient trails into this article, but many were not in this mix). This model is thin enough in all areas for almost any RTV to cure, however, thicker pours of any 1-part silicone will result in partial exterior only curing. The Plaster of Paris holds ambient moisture, which cures the silcone from within. The mineral spirits are to thin it, and compensate for the thickness of the plaster. The only other ingredient in this was Bronze powder, for colorant.

    1. with it I can run my Fan at 100% with out having issues with it cooling down the hotblock, Before marlin would go into heating failed mode if i had my fan over 30%. Also if you look at temp history its alot smoother of a line.

  2. Some things to consider:

    One: the E3D sock has a really odd design. It barely manages to hold on to the heatblock, and covers most of the nozzle. This makes it very easy for the sock to shift slightly, and for the nozzle to start extruding plastic into the sock, which is typically not a desirable outcome, since it tends to gunk up the heatblock. If you use the E3D sock, you probably want to securely attach it to the heatblock with some additional mechanism.

    Two: after installing a sock, you need to go through some PID tuning.

    Three: you probably also need to adjust your filament cooling fan, since there will be less room between hotend and your printed part. If you’re currently using one cooling fan blowing from one side, you might have to switch to a two-fan setup.

    Four: socks you’ve made yourself tend to inherit the line texture from the printed mold, which means that plastic will stick to them. Not as well as to your heatblock, but it will stick. So if your main goal is to make your life easier by avoiding filament stuck to the hotend, you might want to go with a professionally produced sock, instead of making your own.

    Five: the recipe above for how the silicone sock is created sounds interesting, but mostly unnecessary. Just use heat-resistant silicone, and you should be okay.

    1. 1) yeah it sucks, the mold I used is 100% wrapped, mine stays on just fine
      2) PID tune anytime you touch the hotblock lol
      3) Clearance wasnt a issue with any of my printers.
      4) Only silcone sticks to slicone
      5) I have made mine from Black or Blue RTV, the tube kind, the 2 part stuff is probably better tho. Im not sure if I would trust this guys use of GE Silcone

      1. Hot plastic sticks to anything that has the right texture (i.e. texture that allows the hot plastic to flow into crevices). The texture created by the print layers and transferred from the mold to the silicone happen to match this requirement in many cases (including mine). Unless you’re telling me that I’m on drugs and hallucinating this, there is definitely plastic sticking to my silicone socks :-)

      2. This was a fitment test only, while concurrently testing DIT casting silicone methods. Be like me, buy some Smooth-on Mold-max 60 if you intend to use my mold please. I’m patiently awaiting my “trial size” order to make this permanent, and safe.

    2. Thanks for the great comments!

      1. you are correct, the e3d design is a testament to having cheap mold engineering. the limitations of a standard 2-plate injection mold are easily identified as the cutouts that people seem to hate so much. My design eliminates the need for cutouts, and hold VERY SECURELY.

      4. I’m much more interested in the insulating nature of the sleeve. I dont generally have boogers on my print head anyway, as a function of proper calibration and slicer settings.

      5. (the kicker). The Author failed to mention that this was purely a fitment test, while also testing a DIY casting silicone mix, for other projects. Buy some Smooth-on Mold-max 60 if you intend to use my mold please, or a similarly rated product.

        1. Yes,m but do you know what chemicals outgas when the silicone is heated? i dont, and i prefer to know everything i’m breathing in, whenever possible. Ill be using Smooth-on Mold Max 60 for the actual sleeve, as tyhis was a fitment test only, to validate mold design.

    1. Realistically, the problem isn’t so much plastic sticking to the nozzle (that’s pretty easy to clean well enough that it won’t affect your prints). Instead, it’s plastic getting into all of the little nooks, and making everything either sticky when it’s hot, or impossible to disassemble when it’s cold.

  3. Ubermeisters here, this particular mix was actually GE Silicone I, Plaster of Paris, Mineral Oil, and bronze powder (from Alumilite). The other colorant and filler media were part of the previous preliminary trials.

    Thanks for the write-up!

  4. Also worth mentioning, I’ve since uploaded a REV 2 which includes a slightly better fit (slightly increased grip on the block), and now has Native CAD files available. I also switched from the horridly small text on the bottom, to a side logo.

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