Extruder in 3D Printer Explained With Its Types & Benefits

The extruder in a 3D printer is a critical component that performs the function of pushing the filament (the material used for printing) toward the hot end where it is melted and deposited layer by layer to create the 3D object.

Extruder in 3D Printer

In the above picture, you can see the extruder component in FDM 3D printer. It not only helps with melted filament extrusion through the nozzle but also helps in providing highly precision 3D printing through its movement.

Extruder Types in 3D Printer: 

There are two main types of extruders used in FDM printers: Direct Drive and Bowden. A direct drive extruder is mounted directly on the print head and is generally more precise. A Bowden extruder, on the other hand, is mounted on the frame of the printer, and it pushes the filament through a tube to the hot end. This type of extruder allows for a lighter print head, which can lead to faster and smoother movements.

There are two main types of extruders:

1. Direct Drive Extruder: A direct drive extruder is located directly on top of the hot end. It pushes the filament directly into the nozzle, which can provide better control and allows for more precise prints. It’s also capable of handling flexible materials better.

Direct Drive Extruder in 3D Printer

2. Bowden extruder: A Bowden extruder is located away from the hot end, and it pushes the filament through a tube to the nozzle. This design can make the print head lighter, potentially allowing for faster printing speeds, but it might struggle with flexible materials.

Bowden Extruder in 3D Printer

Role of Extruder in 3D Printer:

The extruder is key to the printing operation. It guides the filament to the hot end where liquefied and layered to form the 3D item. The extruder maintains the correct speed and consistency of the filament, which is essential for the print’s accuracy and quality. Let’s look at the role of an extruder in 3D printing.

1. Filament Loading: The first step involves loading the filament into the extruder. The filament is the material that will be used to create the 3D object.

2. Heating: Once the filament is loaded, the extruder heats up to a specific temperature. This temperature depends on the type of filament being used. For example, PLA (Polylactic Acid) usually requires a temperature between 180 and 220 degrees Celsius.

3. Extrusion: After reaching the desired temperature, the extruder pushes the filament through a nozzle. The heat from the extruder melts the filament, turning it into a liquid state.

4. Layering: The melted filament is then deposited layer by layer onto the build platform. The extruder moves in specific patterns determined by the 3D model data, creating the object.

5. Finishing: Once the printing is complete, the extruder retracts any remaining filament to prevent it from oozing out.

Benefits Extruder Provides in 3D Printer: 

The extruder in a 3D printer feeds the filament to the hot end for melting and deposition, ensuring the right speed and consistency for quality and precision in the print. It offers several benefits. Let’s check out one by one.

Benefits Extruder Provides in 3D Printer

1. Precision:

The extruder allows for precise control over the amount of filament that is pushed through the printer. This precision is crucial for creating detailed and accurate prints.

2. Versatility:

Different types of extruders can handle different types of filament. This means that with the right extruder, you can print with a wide variety of materials, including PLA, ABS, PETG, and more.

3. Material Control:

The extruder also controls the speed at which the filament is pushed through the printer. This allows you to adjust the print speed to suit your needs, whether you need a fast print or a slow, detailed print.

4. Maintenance and Upgrades:

Extruders are typically easy to disassemble and clean, which is important for maintaining the performance and longevity of your 3D printer.

5. Multi-Material Printing:

Dual extruder 3D printers allow for multi-material and multi-color printing. This means you can print an object with different materials or colors in a single print job.

When To Change the Speed of Extruder in 3D Printer:

When To Change the Speed of Excluder in 3D Printer

The speed of the extruder in a 3D printer, also known as the print speed can be adjusted from your 3D slicer like Cura. Here I will discuss a few scenarios when you should consider changing print speed.

1. Identify your 3D Printer Model: Different 3D printer models have different optimal extruder speeds. Check your printer’s manual or manufacturer’s recommendations.

2. Start with a Baseline: A common starting point for print speed is around 50-60mm/s. I will recommend starting with 50mm/s and then increasing it as per your requirement and supported by your 3D printer.

3. Adjust Based on Material: Different materials require different print speeds. For example, PLA can usually be printed faster than ABS or PETG.

 Adjust Based on Material in 3D Printer

4. Test and Adjust: Print a test object and observe the results. If the print quality is poor, you may need to reduce the speed. If the printer seems to be handling the current speed well, you can try increasing it slightly.

5. Consider Layer Height: Higher print speeds may be possible with larger layer heights, while lower layer heights may require slower speeds.

6. Adjust for Detail: If your print has a lot of small details, you may need to reduce the speed to ensure these are printed accurately.

Next, you might be interested in reading nozzle article.

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