There are lots of people who are deciding on which 3D printer to buy. One of the things that you should settle is the question of purchasing a single or double extruder printer. How do you decide on a printer with dual extruders, and are they worth it?
Getting a dual extruder 3D printer and whether it is worth it will depend on your personal preference. Dual extruders are ideal for those who like detailed and durable prints with one or two colors, do a lot of 3D models that fit the bill, and don’t mind the price and the more complicated setup.
In the paragraphs that follow, we’d help you go through the questions that will help you decide whether you should invest in a dual extruder 3D printer or not.
What Are Dual Extruders?
Dual extrusion allows you to use two different kinds of filaments. As the name implies, the print head has a pair of extruders instead of only one. You can load two spools of filament on each extruder.
As such, you can print objects using two colors or two materials. You no longer have to change the filaments manually, as you will do with a single extruder.
You also have an easier time printing objects that require support elements. One extruder will handle the object itself, while the other controls the support structures.
Because of this, you spend less time doing post-processing work. For instance, you can put in a thermoplastic material in the second extruder. These types of filaments dissolve in warm water.
You don’t have to pry hard support elements from your printed model and risk ruining it. You only submerge the whole thing in warm water at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius), and the filament will just break down and melt away.
Some dual extruder printers allow for ditto printing, where you can print identical 3D objects simultaneously.
How To Decide if Dual Extruders Are Worth It
Seeing the benefits of dual extruders, you might be tempted to fork over the additional cash you need to buy it. But that is actually one of the things that may make you think twice about buying a 3D printer with dual extruders. These devices are significantly more expensive than single extruder affairs.
A rundown of 13 of the best dual extruder machines shows that prices for these devices range widely from $280 to close to $6,000. The average pricing for the top dual extruder printer hovers at the $1,900 to $2,000 mark. And while it’s a bit challenging to compare two different products, it’s generally expected that a dual extruder will be significantly more expensive than its closest single extruder competitor.
So is the extra expense worth it? In some cases, it will make a lot of sense to get a dual extruder 3D printer. Here are the questions that you should ask if you’re still deciding on a dual extruder:
Do You Have the Skills for It?
Dual extruders can be more complicated than a single extruder printer. If you’re just getting into 3D printing, you might want to keep things simple and get a single extruder.
Once you learn enough about troubleshooting when the filaments do not ooze correctly, or when you are more comfortable with 3D printing, then you might consider a dual extruder.
What’s more, extruders generally need a good deal of maintenance and care. With a dual extruder printer, you will need to maintain and care for both extruders, not just one.
Do You Need It?
For the most part, single extruders do a good job when it comes to 3D printing. If you’re a hobbyist, you probably wouldn’t need to print using two colors or materials all that often. You can get away with manually replacing the filament when necessary.
However, if you do many 3D models that need two different materials or colors, then a dual extruder is definitely worth the added investment. The printer can switch between extruders automatically, so the printing is continuous. The printer will not need to pause and wait for you to change filaments.
You should know that most dual extruder printers are not faster than single extruders. That is because the extruders are using the same print head.
If you’re looking for faster printing times, you should choose an independent dual extrusion system with two print heads that work on its own, such as the HICTOP Tenlog D3 pro 3D Printer or the QIDI TECH X-Pro 3D Printer. These printers are IDEX systems and categorized as budget printers with prices ranging from $450 to $550.
These IDEX 3D printers drastically cut printing times because there are two print heads, and each one can work independently.
Do You Print Small Parts?
Another instance when a dual extruder can be faster than single extruder printers is when you print small parts. If these parts’ dimensions are smaller than the space between the two extruders, you can print both simultaneously, helping you save more time.
Do You Print Models With Two Colors?
If you print 3D models that have two colors, then a dual extruder is undoubtedly worth it. You can create more complex 3D models with two colors without the need to stop the printing process so that you can switch out filaments.
Or you don’t have to worry about printing separate parts just to achieve that two-color effect. This Matter Hackers article details how you can do individual parts printing when your printer has a single nozzle. And it can be quite complicated, takes a lot of work, and may need up to three separate prints.
It should be clear, however, that you cannot blend the filament colors together. For instance, if you use yellow and red filaments, you cannot get these filaments to print an orange part.
Do You Need To Print With Different Filament Sizes?
You can use a filament that is either smaller or larger than the other if you have a dual extruder that has this ability. Being able to print with different filament sizes can help you save time and get more detailed prints.
Smaller filament sizes are perfect for small parts and intricate details. These filaments also need less heat to melt, and they are easier to push through the nozzle. As such, fine filaments are easier to control
But fine filaments are more expensive than bigger filaments. If you print exclusively using these filaments, you’d probably spend a lot for a large model. It is here that the bigger filaments make more sense. The bigger filaments are not only more affordable, but it’s also faster to print bigger models using these products.
Combining both a fine filament and a bigger filament can help you save costs, have more detailed models, and finish printing faster.
Which Should You Choose: Dual or Single Extruder?
Dual extruders give you the flexibility to work with different filaments with multiple colors and materials. Because of that capability, you can come up with eye-catching, durable, and detailed 3D models. Compared to a single extruder printer, you can do that without too many hassles and delays.
But if you’re still starting out or if you only see yourself printing simple monochromatic models, the extra cost of dual extruders might make you turn to a single extrusion system. So while it’s not difficult to recommend a printer with dual extruders, you should be sure that you have a need for it before spending more.
There are not many downsides if you want to buy a printer with dual extruders. You can print things quickly without having to pause the process, add more intricate details, and even play with two colors for your model. Because of that flexibility and freedom, it is worth the extra dollars to get one rather than be limited with a single extruder printer.