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Posts Tagged ‘dual extruder’

Living on the Cutting Edge with Dualstrusion

Hopefully by now you’ve heard about MakerBot’s newest 3D printer, the Replicator 2X.  While 3D printing opens up a new world of possibilities, being able to print with a second plastic extruder at the same time takes it to another level entirely.  There are a lot of things that become possible with a dual extruding 3D printer that are simply not feasible by any other means.

  • Colors
    • The most obvious, and by far the simplest, use of dual extruders is to enable two color printing.  Although a single-color object could be painted, there are times when painting a particular object would require a great deal skill or be very time consuming.  While printing a plastic sushi set for my daughter I used dualstrusion to add black plastic “soy sauce” to white plastic dishes.  Sometimes, painting an object might even be impossible.  Imagine an object such as a bottle, vase, or an egg where you want to have an image or design inside.  While it might be impossible to paint inside such an object, the interior image could be printed inside the object as it is being created.
  • Dissolvable Support
    • Dual extruders allow for printing with a dissolvable support material like PVA.  Being able to print with a water soluable material means your robot could print entire mechanical devices complete with moving pieces.  PVA is still very experimental and fussy as an extruded material and at the extreme forefront of dual material printing.
  • Varying Densities
    • With two extruders it would be possible to create an entirely solid plastic object with a customizable density.  This could be used to make trick dice, a balancing toy, a toy that can’t be knocked down, a toy that can’t be stood up, or maybe a boat that is difficult to sink.
  • Mechanical Properties
    • Different extruded materials, such as ABS and PLA plastics, tend to have different physical and mechanical properties.  ABS tends to be more flexible and PLA tends to be more rigid.  A 3D printer with dualstrusion can combine the two plastics into a single object that is both flexible and rigid.
  • Simultaneous Dual Printing
    • One of the more exciting developments with dual extruder printing was a recent contribution by Thingiverse user thorstadg.  Thorstadg created a method for operating both extruders simultaneously – allowing the printer to print two objects, one with each extruder, at the same time.
  • Variable Resolution
    • Two extruders means you have two nozzles at your disposal.  However, there is no particular reason for both extruders to have the same size nozzle aperture.  With one very fine nozzle aperture and one relatively large nozzle aperture, a single object could be printed with quick printing coarse features and very high resolution features that take more time.
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The Possibilities of Dual Extrusion

Two Color World by m6mafia, ecohen, JonMonaghan, and Skimbal

Two Color World by m6mafia, ecohen, JonMonaghan, and Skimbal

With the launch of the brand spanking new MakerBot Stepstruder MK7 the citizens of Thingiverse have already started to upload designs that take advantage of the ability to print in two materials during the same build.  Whether it is printing in two-tones, such as the “Two Color World” above, or by using a dissolving support material like PVA, there’s no denying the coolness that is a dual extrusion build.

So, what would you do with a second extruder in your 3D printer? 1  A single print chessboard?  A single print zebra?

Oh!  I know!  How about a gangsta that dissolves in water and leaves behind a slouching skeleton? 234  Or, how about a surprise box that you can only see inside once you dissolve the cube in water?

  1. Thanks to Geo for spotting a typo here! []
  2. Skelesta? []
  3. Solusta? []
  4. Dissolvesta? []
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PLA Support Structure Dissolving Solution from iFeelBeta

BetaSolution

BetaSolution

If you’ve got a dual extruder in your 3D printer, you’re not far off from printing with support material.  A few months ago our friends at iFeelBeta published the details on their newly developed formula for a solution that would dissolve PLA and leave ABS intact.  As these chemicals are no joke, it’s no wonder that it’s taken several months for them to get the legal clearances to be able to ship this solution throughout Europe.  (It’s basically the equivalent of a heavy duty drain cleaner)  However, they now have BetaSolution up for sale on their website!

Once again, thanks to these guys for being amazing open source innovators and blazing this trail for everyone.  Now that they’ve launched their shop, be sure and buy the solution from them!

Also, be sure and read their safety data sheet and manual before using it!

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