Dual extruders are an upgrade of the simple extrusion 3D printers. In dual extrusion 3D printing, you should expect printers with two nozzles that share the same head and moving as one piece.
That is the reason the speed of dual extruder printers is not double that of printers with a single extruder.
For the 3D printer to provide double the speed, each nozzle would have to move separately without affecting the speed of the other. After imagining the logistical nightmare, you are likely to understand the key reason why the dual extrusion method has limitations.
It is not the time to get discouraged. Dual extruder printers have more to offer than the printing speed alone. Both professionals and hobbyists can appreciate the many benefits the dual extruder 3D printers offer.
Is a Dual Extruder 3D Printer Faster?
Most people think that the dual extruder printers are faster than those with a single extruder. However as we have briefly mentioned above, they are not.
They are seemingly faster because they eliminate the lengthy process associated with swapping out a filament for another one when printing. Changing the filament either for a different material or color is labour-intensive, particularly when done in the middle of printing.
Moreover, the user has to clear the first filament out of the first nozzle and extruder before mounting the second. The dual extruder eliminates the steps completely because the filaments a user needs to complete the printing are present from the start.
Most people change the filaments so that they can get multicolor results and to deposit both the main material and the support material. The support material has one purpose – to hold the parts of the main work together – and is discarded after the print is complete.
Because the printer has to throw the supports away, using low-cost filaments with the second extruder makes more sense. Dual extruder 3D printers allow the users to use water-soluble PVA filaments as the support structure. Therefore, they can wash away the support material after the printing is over.
Manufacturers produce different dual extruder 3D printers. Most of those available in the market today do not separate between the filaments properly and the result is some mixing or running of filaments when swapping between prints.
For example, the Ultimaker 3 offers an advanced switching technology to allow cleaner switching between materials. It builds a tower to remove the excess material when switching between the printing materials.
What Materials Can You Print with a Dual Extruder 3D Printer?
The dual extruder 3D printer supports many filaments, a feature that is among the most important. The user loads one of the two nozzles with the main filament and the other with PVA, HIPS or any other dissolvable filament for the support structures.
Support filaments are ideal when:
You need printing support that is the same as the material you are printing and you hate the process of making the print presentable.
You have been avoiding some prints, particularly those that require support and you want to avoid the problem above.
You are a beginner in the world of 3D printing and you need a printer that can create geometrically complex items or you want to build any model that strikes you fancy.
What Colors Can You Use in a Dual Extruder 3D Printer?
When it comes to colors, dual extruder 3D printers get fun. You can keep several filaments ready so that you can switch between colors and add, including the smallest amount of color, before you switch again.
That enables the user to print with more complexity in various colors and without stopping the print and changing the filament physically each time he/she needs a different color.
However, a dual extruder 3D printer cannot blend the colors together. At best, the user can layer the different filaments on top of each other to create gradient effects between the colors.
The quality of blending effect depends on the thinness of prints. A lower resolution print – thick layer – will appear as stripes faster if the colors fail to mix together but the layers will stack on each other.
Can You Print With Different Size Filaments on a Dual Extrusion 3D Printer?
Yes, that is possible but not every model. In a dual extruder 3D printer, you can use two print materials of different sizes. Even though the extruder heads come in numerous sizes, 3D printer filaments are only available in two sizes – 3 mm and 1.75 mm.
Some printers can accept the two sizes, but most will only use one of them. The size you select will highly depend on how you are planning to use the dual extruder 3D printer.
The fine filament is suitable for the intricate detail and small parts. It needs less torque to melt and to pass through the extruder’s nozzle. That translates to better control.
On the downside, the 1.75 mm filament is expensive and it takes a longer time to build large parts or devices. Printers that use the 3mm filament print faster but they do not provide crisp results.
When You Need a Dual 3D Printer?
For most individuals, a single extruder is a good choice. That is particularly true for the beginners because a double extruder comes with an additional layer of 3D printing complexity.
A quick example, the oozing becomes a big problem and the slicing gets more complicated.On the other hand, anyone can enjoy most of the benefits that come with dual extruder printers. A 3D printer that offers dual extrusion will allow you to make interesting gravity-defying with the support filaments.
A dual extruder will also allow you to make multi-colored prints easily. If these are some of the features you need, it is worth paying for dual extrusion.
Before purchasing a dual extrusion 3D printer, you will have to consider the complexity of the models you are planning to make. If you are planning to print something that is very simple, a single extruder will be adequate for the task.
But if you need more detailed color prints and you are also planning to finish or paint the object as a way of adding color after printing, consider separate support material.
For individuals in need of multi-colored models without using color variations or photo real gradients, a multiple extruder 3D printer will be a perfect choice.