Hotends are arguably the most critical part of your 3D printer, and how they work can significantly impact how your prints turn out. Some hotends, such as the Mosquito and Dragon, can print at higher temperatures and maintain precision at breakneck print speeds. However, since they’re both so similar, you might be wondering what sets these hotends apart.
Go with the Mosquito Hotend if you want a top-of-the-line, reliable, effective hotend for printing at high temperatures and higher speeds. Go with the Phaetus Dragon Hotend if you want a similar hotend for a lower cost with slightly less precision and simpler installation on V6 printers.
This article will compare the Phaetus Dragon Hotend and the Slice Engineering Mosquito Hotend in detail and tell you everything you need to know about them. I’ll give you all the pros and cons of each one and test them out myself to help you determine which one will be best for your 3D printer.
Basic Similarities Between Dragon and Mosquito Hotends
Resilient at High Print Temperatures
Both the Dragon and Mosquito are all-metal hotends that can maintain structural integrity when printing materials at 450° C (842° F) to 500° C (932° F). This heat resistance makes both of these hotends ideal for printing almost any material, including those that need higher print temps, such as PEEK.
However, your thermistor must be able to accommodate that temperature, which usually requires a thermocouple upgrade in most budget 3D printers. This feature also means your nozzle won’t wear down as quickly as one rated for lower temps.
Decreased Heat Creep and Faster Print Speed
The Dragon and Mosquito both have an open-air design with risers that give your heat break and heat sink some fresh air. In addition, their heat sinks and heat breaks are thinner than standard stock hotends, allowing heat to diffuse from the upper section more quickly.
This design is particularly effective at reducing heat creep, which, in turn, will allow you to create good quality prints at lower retraction rates. Both the Mosquito and Dragon claim that you can cut your retraction rate in half without sacrificing print quality.
They also generally apply pressure to your filament in more places, such as inside the heat break, resulting in a smoother filament flow. So, these hotends will prevent heat creep (and the clogs associated with it) while allowing you to achieve more accuracy while printing at higher speeds.
Similar Printer Compatibility
The Dragon and Mosquito are compatible with almost any FDM/FFM 3D printer. However, you may need to add additional parts for installation depending on your printer model and which hotend you choose. Both the Mosquito and Dragon work with Prusa Printers out of the box.
Prusa is open-source, allowing the makers of these hotends to custom-tailor their design to various Prusa models for free without signing contracts.
Still, you can use these hotends on almost any 3D printer as long as you have the proper mounting bracket, thermistor, a cartridge heater, and fans. You’ll need to purchase the heating components and fans, but you can print a custom mounting bracket.
It’s also worth noting that you can use either of these hotends with both Bowden and direct extruders.
Easy Nozzle Changes
Because the Mosquito and Dragon’s design holds the heat break and block securely, you can change your nozzle with one hand. This feature makes nozzle changes quick — it only takes about 30 seconds. So, if you’re tired of fiddling with wrenches and potential burns from changing your nozzle, this is the hotend for you.
Another feature that makes nozzle swaps simple is that you can change the nozzle out when the hotend is cold. No more burns!
Slice Engineering Mosquito Hotend Pros and Cons
The Mosquito Hotend By Slice Engineering (available on Amazon.com) is one of the best, most hyped-up hotends. This hotend offers fast flow rates, one-handed nozzle changing capabilities, extreme heat resistance, and buttery smooth extrusion. It also prevents heat creep, perhaps better than any other hotend.
So, let’s look at the facts and discuss the pros and cons of the Mosquito:
|It’s excellent at preventing heat creep.
|It does not come with a heater, thermistor, or nozzle.
|Retraction time is very short.
|Some features may be overkill for hobbyists.
|It’s easy to mount.
|You may need to upgrade your mounting parts and firmware to use it.
|It has a higher flow rate and better precision than the Dragon.
Excellent at Preventing Heat Creep
The Mosquito Hotend has vertical risers that lift the heat break and heat sink, exposing it to the air for extra cooling. These risers make the Mosquito longer than most hotends, but that additional length keeps everything nice and cool inside the heat break and sink.
It also comes with a fan to increase airflow in the hotend, keeping the air circulation constant and fast. This system is a real game-changer since it can prevent heat creep, even at extreme temperatures of 500° C (932° F).
Because of its additional length and fan, the Mosquito is much more effective at preventing heat creep than the Dragon hotend.
Retraction Time Is Very Short
Because the Mosquito excels at preventing heat creep, it also requires less retraction time. So, with this hot end, you can speed up your prints without sacrificing much quality. In my hotend market assessment, other high-flow hotends hope to be as good as the Mosquito. Some (like the Dragon) come very close to the precision, accuracy, and speed of this model, while others quickly fall into disfavor.
It’s Easy To Mount
The Mosquito comes with the screws, fan, and tools necessary for installation. The hotend comes partially assembled out of the box, so installing it will only take a few minutes if your printer fits it without additional brackets. However, another feature that makes the Mosquito fantastic is that it’s lightweight and easy to install on any printer.
Its versatility makes it much easier to use on non-Prusa and non-V6 printers, so it’s generally more universal than the Dragon hotend.
It Has a Higher Flow Rate Than the Dragon
Although both the Dragon and Mosquito have high flow-rate models, when you compare both Mosquitoes to both Dragons, the Mosquito is slightly faster with fewer blobs and strings. Since it maintains accuracy and precision better than the Dragon hotends at any speed, you’ll always get a higher-quality print with the Mosquito.
It Does Not Come With Heater, Thermistor, or Nozzle
Although the Mosquito comes with screws for mounting, Allen wrenches, and a fan, it doesn’t include any other necessary parts. To take advantage of all of the benefits of using a Mosquito hotend (and make purchasing one worth it), you’ll need to buy a hardened steel nozzle, a new thermistor, and a new heater — which can add up cost-wise. However, if you don’t purchase these, you won’t be able to use the hotend at the higher temperatures it’s ideal for.
Likewise, having a nozzle that fits your hotend is necessary, so you’ll surely need to purchase one when you get the Mosquito. If you choose the Mosquito, note that it uses RepRap nozzles with M6x1.0 thread sizing. To print at the highest recommended temperatures for this hotend, you’ll need to ensure that your nozzle consists of hardened steel.
Some Features May Be Overkill for Hobbyists
Although the Mosquito has tons of unique features and opens the door to using new, more exotic filaments, this might not be necessary for run-of-the-mill hobbyists. If you only use PLA, ABS, and a couple of other standard filaments, you’ll never need the additional heat resistance, heat-creep resilience, and fast print speeds that the Mosquito offers.
So, the Mosquito may not be the best choice if you’re a casual 3D printer. However, if you’re interested in working with more heat-resistant filaments, the Mosquito is ideal.
You May Need To Upgrade Your Mounting Parts and Firmware To Use It
Although the Mosquito works with several 3D printer models out-of-the-box, you’ll likely need to do some configuring to get it to fit correctly. However, if you have a Prusa, you’re in luck because the Mosquito works on these printers natively. Still, for other printers — even the Ender 3 and 5 — you’ll need to add a brace and mount on the gantry.
You’ll find plenty of pre-made models on the internet just for mounting the Mosquito. If you have an Ender 3, you can use this well-loved HeroMe model here on Thingiverse to print a mount that will fit almost any extrusion system. This print is fantastic for any upgrade, anyway!.
You may also need to upgrade your firmware when switching to any new hotend. If you want to see what that entails, check out this quick walkthrough for upgrading an Ender 3 with a Mosquito Hotend from Cris’s Basement on Youtube:
Last but not least, the Mosquito Hotend is pricey. It’s much more expensive than a stock hotend — usually two to three times the cost of a Prusa or Creality stock hotend. So, you’ll need to carefully consider whether the pros outweigh the cons for the Mosquito.
If you need a hotend that can print at higher temperatures with an increased flow rate, or if you want to take advantage of the Mosquito’s easy nozzle-swapping, this investment might be worth it. However, if you don’t plan to use all of these features, you might be better off going with a more basic hotend replacement.
Phaetus Dragon Hotend Pros and Cons
The Phaetus Dragon Hotend is similar to the Mosquito, claiming to do everything that the Mosquito can. While most of these claims check out, there are still some cons and benefits to this product that make it unique.
|It comes with a copper-plated nozzle and silicone sock.
|It doesn’t include a fan duct, fan, cartridge-style thermistor, or heater.
|It’s compatible with V6 and E3D hotend systems.
|It’s prone to producing stringing and blobs.
|It’s cheaper than the Mosquito or a V6 hotend.
|It’s not as versatile as the Mosquito.
|It comes in high-flow and standard flow models.
It Comes With a Copper-Plated Nozzle and Silicone Sock
All of the Phaetus Dragon hotends come with nozzles and silicone socks for the hotend included. So, you won’t have to worry about getting a new nozzle when you purchase the Phaetus, and it has a handy silicone sock to keep your hotend clean.
It’s Compatible With V6 and E3D Parts
The Dragon hotend will work natively on any 3D printer that already uses a V6 or V6 E3D hotend setup. So, if you already use V6, you won’t have to purchase new nozzles, fans, a thermistor, a heater, or a mounting bracket to use the Dragon. It’s a drop-in and print replacement, making installation a breeze.
It’s Cheaper Than the Mosquito or a V6 Hotend
The Phaetus Dragon hotend is cheaper than the Mosquito. It usually isn’t much more affordable, but if cost is a consideration, and if you already have a V6 style printer you can use this hotend with, you can save tons of money by choosing this product instead of the Mosquito.
It Comes in High-Flow and Standard Flow Models
There are three versions of the Phaetus Dragon: one high-flow for amateur printers, one standard-flow, and one high-flow model. So, there’s a Dragon hotend for you, no matter how you plan to use it. These hotends have easy-to-change nozzles, heat-creep-resistant design, and are the same size, so they’re also interchangeable.
In addition, there’s also a Dragon designed for liquid cooling systems, so if liquid cooling is what you want to use, Phaetus has an option for you.
It Doesn’t Include a Fan Duct, Fan, Cartridge-Style Thermistor, or Heater
The biggest con of this high-temp hotend is that it doesn’t come with many parts. Essentially, it only includes the hotend and doesn’t come with heating components or fans. If your printer is not a Prusa, you’ll have to purchase all of these parts separately, which can add up — and sometimes cost you more than your printer does.
It’s Prone to Producing Stringing and Blobs
Although the Dragon prevents heat creep using the same design as the Mosquito, some people still have issues with heat creep when printing at low retraction rates, even when using the high-flow models. Most of the time, this results in stringier prints with more blobs on overhangs and raw edges.
However, other users claim that this hotend is incredible at reducing heat creep.
In my experience, this hotend is effective and does an excellent job keeping the filament cool, but it doesn’t do as well as the Mosquito. When printing with PEEK at the same high speed of 300 mm/s (11.81 in/s) with both nozzles at the same layer height, the model made with the Dragon did have more artifacts and rough edges than the one made with the Mosquito.
Still, the difference wasn’t huge. So, it’s a solid hotend, but it’s not as good as the Mosquito.
It’s Not As Versatile as the Mosquito
Although the Phaetus Dragon works natively on E3D V6 systems out-of-the-box, the Mosquito’s versatile design and small size make it better for non-E3D V6 printer mods. So, if your printer doesn’t currently support the V6 system, you may have to go through some extra steps and purchase more parts to get the Dragon working on your printer.
The Final Verdict
Overall, the Slice Engineering Mosquito is better than the Phaetus Dragon Hotend, but only slightly. While the Mosquito prints with better clarity at higher flow rates, the Phaetus is marginally cheaper and is compatible with more printers (all V6 systems) without additional modding.
So, if you’re looking for ultra-fast print speeds with clean layer lines and no artifacts, go with the Mosquito. However, if you want a hotend that’s slightly cheaper and easier to install, the Phaetus Dragon is probably right for you.
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I started 3D printing since 2013 and have learned a lot since then. Because of this I want to share my knowledge of what I have learned in the past years with the community. Currently I own 2 Bambulab X1 Carbon, Prusa SL1S and a Prusa MK3S+. Hope you learn something from my blog after my years of experience in 3D printing.