Among the many characteristics that distinguish FDM 3D printers is the number of extruders, they are equipped with. Some FDM printers can have multiple printing heads. The 3D printers that come with a single extruder have certain limitations. Unless the filament is changed in the middle of the print, one cannot make objects using different filament types and colors. Double-extrusion, or dual extruder 3D printers, allow the user to print a single object using multiple materials and colors. Generally speaking, the idea of multicolored objects sounds much better as compared to monotonous plastic blocks. Double extruder 3D printing devices really start to shine when you include different filaments in the same 3D print.
Dual Extruder 3D Printers
Most printers with FDM 3D printing technology have a similar basic design. The filaments are fed into an extruder; the material is heated until it reaches the melting point, which is then extruded through a nozzle. Without a doubt, the extruder performs an important function in converting the filament spool into a finished product.
In any 3D printer, the extruders play such a crucial role. The dual extruder printers improve on the basic design through the introduction of a secondary nozzle. In fact, they can print from two reels of filament at the same time. While this might seem superficial, it has many advantages when printing models with more complex designs.
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The Benefits of Dual Extruder 3D Printers
The basic advantage of the 3D-printer with double extruders is the flexibility of printing with several materials. Many consider that such printers can carry out the tasks faster than the devices with a single extruder. This is not the only advantage of using a multi extruder, as they offer other advantages as well. A dual extruder 3D printer works faster because it does not require the long process of replacing one type of filament with another. It reduces the printing complexity of figures being created. Furthermore, they also allow the users to create different objects and models using the functional properties of both filaments.
Ease of Swapping Filament
Replacing the filament, whether of a different color or type, can be quite tricky, while a print is in process. Before swapping it, all remnants of the first filament must be removed and cleared out from the nozzle. When using a twin extruder, these steps are not required at all. The types of materials required for the print are available from the beginning.
To better grasp the benefits of solid infill, it is also important to understand that single extruder models print items and supports with the same filament. In other words, support can adhere and fuse with the basic structure. As a result, it will be difficult to remove in post-processing. In addition, whether they are open infill or the support columns; the type of support for the model also has an impact. They limit the type of structure as well as the quality of the final print once they are removed.
Multi-color models are one of the reasons for swapping the materials. However, the more common one is printing items that require support. These structures are printed to support the model, take its shape, and are discarded at the end of the print. Since they are going to be simply discarded, it is better to print with more economical material.
For dual extruder 3D printers, water-soluble filaments such as PVA can be used. Using them as a substitute for printing support structures has many advantages. It is easier to remove them in post-processing, as they can be removed with water. The printing of model supports using PVA increases the efficiency and provides a high quality end product. Since PVA can be removed quickly and with ease, the model remains safe. You will not have to worry about accidental damage while trying to scrape away the support structures.
How to Operate Double Extruder Models
Printing on a 3D printer with two extruders is slightly more complicated than printing on one extruder. In order to use the dual extruder 3D printer, you will need to modify the STL file. As the printer will be working with two types of filaments; it is necessary to divide an STL file into two Individual parts. This way, they will be separately printed from each extruder.
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To specify which nozzle will print which sections, follow the guidelines that are mentioned in the device-specific software. By and large, you can easily determine this in the selection drop-down list. To find models that can be made using dual extruders 3D printers, you can visit online repositories such as Thingiverse. You will be able to easily find a wide collection of models that are ready to be printed with a dual extruder machine.
Creating Your Own Models
If you want to create your own models that are compatible with printing with multi extruder devices, the process is fairly straightforward. The easiest way to do that is to create a common model. It will be used to make a support model that contains your model. Then create a large simple block that will be used to make an intersection or cut off your model from the supports. What is left behind is a solid that that will fill the gaps in the main model.
In other words, you will not need supports where they are not required; such as on top of the main model. Once the files necessary for the two solids have been created, you can export each collection separately as an STL file. These files will work with dual extruder 3D printers. For multicolored and composite models, part of the design process is to create individual components that need to be printed with different colors and materials.
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