The extruder is the most important piece of equipment in a 3D printer.
FDM printers create models by layering filaments one layer at a time. The extruder is the tool that moves, heats, and extrudes the filament out of the printer. The type of extruder and print head used will affect the quality and style of the print. For this reason, it is considered an essential component of a 3D printer.
In this article, we will discuss the basic information you need to know about extruders and print heads in 3D printers.
3D Printer Extruder Types 2022
Table of Contents
What is an extruder for a 3D printer?
The extruder is the part of the 3D printer responsible for extruding the filament, melting it, and placing it on the bed to create the model. 3D printer extruders consist of multiple tools that serve different tasks. These are the cold end and the hot end.
The parts of the 3D printer that move, melt, and deposit the filament are called the cold end and hot end assembly. We may also simply refer to the part that moves the filament as the extruder and the part that melts it as the hot end.
The cold end is responsible for moving the filament to the hot end. A motor and gears work to move the filament through the PTFE TEFLON tubing (PolyTetraFluoroEthylene) or directly to the hot end. There are two types of cold ends with slightly different mechanisms, which will be discussed in the next chapter.
The hot end heats the material, melts it, and extrudes it layer by layer through a nozzle. The two main components of a hot end are
A “heater” that heats and melts the filament. The nozzle directs the filament as it is extruded.
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Best 3D Printer Extruder | Comparison Table 2022
Top Quality | 5-Star Pick | Great Prices
|Genuine Bondtech BMG Extruder (EXT-BMG)||Bondtech||Check Price|
|Micro Swiss Direct Drive Extruder for Creality CR-10 / Ender 3 Printers||Micro-Swiss||Check Price|
|BIQU H2 Extruder Direct Drive Extruder for Creality Ender 3 H2 V2.0 Dual Gear Extruder Not Stuck Direct Extruder 1.75mm Filament 270°C High Temperature Printing New Upgraded 3D Printer Kits||BIQU||Check Price|
|Official 3D Printer Extruder, Upgraded Aluminum Drive Feed Extruders Accessories for 3D Printer 1.75mm Filament Works with Creality CR-10 Series, Ender 5 Series, Ender 3 Series||Creality 3D||Check Price|
|WINSINN Dual Gear Extruder, Ender 3 v2 Upgrade Motor Shaft>20mm, Compatible with Ender 3 Pro CR10 Series 3D Printer TPU Filament Drive Feed||WINSINN||Check Price|
Best 3D Printer Extruder | 2022 Product Overview
The Bondtech BMG extruder is a high-performance and lightweight device that is designed for both Bowden and direct drive applications. It features a 3:1 internal gearing ratio, combined with precision CNC-machined and nickel-coated hardened steel drive gears to provide powerful pushing power and fast retractions for a wide range of applications.
The BMG extruder also utilizes Bondtech’s Dual-Drive technology, which ensures uninterrupted material flow and prevents grinding or slipping, even under demanding conditions. It has been tested to work with 1.5 mm to 2.0 mm filaments and is capable of feeding a variety of materials, including slippery nylons, soft TPU/TPE filaments, and rigid and brittle carbon-filled high-strength materials.
The filament path is fully guided within the extruder body, and the housing maintains tight tolerances with the drive gears to minimize the risk of filament misfeeds. The thumbscrew tensioner allows users to fine-tune the pressure exerted by the drive gears on the filament, and the Quick-Release lever makes it easy to change materials. The BMG extruder is built with a fitting for the E3D hotend and is compatible with Nema17 stepper motors. The Bowden adapter is not included. The weight of the BMG extruder without the motor is 75 g.
The Micro Swiss Direct Drive Extruder is a high-quality upgrade for the Creality CR-10 and Ender 3 series of 3D printers. This extruder system is designed to be a plug-and-play replacement for the original extruder, requiring no modifications to install.
It is made in the USA by Micro Swiss and features a dual-drive train and CNC precision-cut gears made from hardened tool steel. The adjustable filament grip allows for easy loading, and the short, highly constrained filament path ensures that flexible filaments can be printed with high speed and accuracy.
The extruder offers outstanding extrusion control and is capable of producing high-quality prints with a nozzle size of 0.4mm and a filament size of 1.75mm. It is an excellent choice for those looking to improve the performance and reliability of their CR-10 or Ender 3 printer.
The BIQU H2 Direct extruder is a lightweight and compact 3D printer extruder that offers a range of features and benefits for users. One of its standout features is its reduced weight of only 211 grams, which allows it to keep up with even some of the faster Bowden setups.
Its compact size of 76.8 x 38 x 77.2 mm also contributes to its low weight. The BIQU H2 is designed for printing at temperatures up to 260°C, but it can be upgraded to handle temperatures as high as 500°C. It features a unique cooling system that uses an optimized heat sink structure to effectively dissipate heat and speed up the cooling process.
The extruder is compatible with a wide range of filaments, including PLA, ABS, PETG, nylon, and TPU/TPE, and it can be used with a variety of 3D printers, including the BIQU BX and the Creality Ender 3 (with the use of an adapter). The BIQU H2 comes with a range of components and accessories, including a brass V6 nozzle, a 40W heating cartridge, a 100K thermistor, a 3510 fan, fastening screws, an Allen key, and an extension cable.
The Creality Official Ender 3 Aluminum Extruder is an upgrade kit designed for use with various Creality 3D printers, including the Ender 3, Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3 X, Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Pro X, Ender 5, Ender 5 Plus, Ender 5 Pro, CR-10, CR-10 V2, CR-10 Max, CR-10 S4, CR-10 S5, CR-10 Mini, CR-10S, CR-10 Plus, CR-X, CR 20, CR 20 Pro, Everyone ER 20, LONGER LK4 Pro, LONGER LK5 Pro, and Voxelab Aquila.
It is not compatible with 3D printers that use a direct drive setup. The extruder is made of full metal aluminum alloy and is designed to be a more durable and stable replacement for the original plastic extruder that comes with these 3D printers. It is easy to install, simply requiring the removal of the old extruder and the installation of the new one with the included screws and parts.
The extruder drive has an adjustable bolt that allows you to adjust the pressure of the extruder gear as needed, improving the performance of your 3D printer. This upgraded extruder block is a high-quality, durable material and is a must-have for anyone looking to improve the performance of their Creality 3D printer.
The WINSINN Dual Gear Extruder is a high-quality, all-metal aluminum alloy extrusion system compatible with Creality 3D printers such as the CR-10, CR-10S, CR-10S Pro, Ender 3, and Tornado. It is designed to improve the stability and durability of your 3D printer's extrusion process.
This kit does not include a stepper motor, motor bracket, or instruction manual, so users will need to supply their own motor and assemble the kit themselves. It is designed for use with a 1.75mm filament. Some customers have reported gear wear issues with this product, but the manufacturer suggests adjusting the extruder e-steps from 100 to 139 to resolve this issue.
They also recommend a specific setup process to ensure proper centering of the idler drive gear. This process involves assembling the kit without locking the motor drive gear to the shaft, using paper shims to center the idler drive gear, turning the motor a few times to locate the motor drive gear, and then locking the motor drive gear to the shaft and removing the paper shims.
Types of Extruders for 3D Printers
There are two main types of extruders for commercial 3D printers: direct and Boden. Some types of 3D printers are also equipped with double extruders; let's take a look at the differences between the three.
In a direct extruder, the filament passes from the gear to the cold end and then to the hot end, all at once. In other words, the drive and gears that move the filament are mounted directly above the hot end.
Because the extruder is directly above the oven, it is heavier and slower. However, many people prefer to print flexible 3D filament using a direct extruder. Direct extruders allow the filament to travel a shorter distance before melting and settling. Therefore, problems are less likely to occur during the extrusion process.
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In a Bowden extruder, the cold end and hot end are separated by a PTFE tube through which the filament passes. Instead of placing the cold end directly on top of the hot end, the tubing separates the two parts.
Unlike direct extruders, Bowden extruders are extremely lightweight and fast because the only moving part is the hot end. The cold end, which has a drive unit, is positioned in a fixed position on the printer.
Bowden extruders can print high-quality patterns and are suitable for printing long, continuous patterns. It was once said that soft materials could not be used with Borden extruders, but that idea is now outdated. There are no gaps for filaments to move or twist, allowing them to move smoothly through the tube to the heating block.
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In addition to various styles of extruders, some printers can be equipped with two or more extruders.
Dual extruders allow you to print more than one material at a time or two models simultaneously. Dual extrusion speeds up the printing process because there are two tools to move, melt, and deposit the filament.
Dual extrusion can also be equipped with an independent dual extrusion system (IDEX). This means that each extruder operates independently. So while a typical dual extruder can run simultaneously, each IDEX extruder runs independently. This results in higher efficiency, increased productivity, and potential time savings.
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One cannot talk about extruders without mentioning hot ends. As mentioned above, the hot end is the part of the extruder that is responsible for melting the filament and pushing it onto the bed.
Depending on the nozzle installed, the hot end can be customized. Since the filament is extruded through nozzles, the size and type of nozzle you choose can have a significant impact on the style and effect of your model.
3D printers are equipped with a wide variety of nozzles, depending on the type of material and design to be printed. This subject is so vast that we could spend an entire article on it.
If you are having trouble
If you are having problems with these printer components, it is most likely due to "insufficient extrusion," the most common printing problem with 3D printers. This problem is caused by inadequate extrusion of material into the printed part and manifests itself in the form of insufficient filament extrusion, missing layers, and spongy prints. Insufficient extrusion can be caused by
- Older software
- Wrong material selection
- Bowden tube condition
- Insufficient capacity
- Hot end problems
- Extruder board problem
- The extruder motor does not push the filament correctly.
3D Printer Extruder Types 2022 | Video Explanation
3D Printer Extruder Types 2022 | Infographic
The next time you look at a 3D printer, you'll appreciate a little more all the work that goes on inside the little device called an extruder, and like many other aspects of 3D printing, understanding this tool and how it works will help you become a more efficient user and improve the quality and features of your prints.