Ultimaker 3 FDM 3D Printer

The Ultimaker 3 is a dual-extruder 3D printer that offers some of the highest definition around for a fused-filament fabricator.

What is Dual Extrusion?

Most fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printers share the same basic design: Filament is fed into the extruder, which heats the material to its melting point and pushes it out through the nozzle to create the print. Understandably, the extruder plays a significant role in turning the spools of filament into completed projects.

At its most basic level, a dual extruder printer improves on this design by adding a second extruder to the mix. Essentially, this allows the printer to simultaneously print from two spools of filament. This may seem like a superficial feature, but it offers a number of advantages when it comes to printing more complex projects. 

[Source: Redstack]

Benefits of Dual Extruder Printing

Many people think that a dual extruder printer finishes jobs faster than those with just one. That can definitely be the case, but there's much more to it. A dual extruder printer is faster because it eliminates the lengthy process of swapping out one filament for another.

Changing filaments, whether for a different colour or material, can be a labour-intensive process when done in the middle of a job. The user has to ensure that all traces of the first filament are cleared out of the extruder and nozzle before switching over to the second. A dual extruder completely eliminates these steps, as both filaments needed in a job are in place from the start.

A multicolour print job is one reason for changing filaments, but a more common one is a project that requires supports. These are printed structures that hold up parts of the main work, discarded after printing is complete. As supports are just going to be thrown away, it makes sense to use the second extruder to print them out of a lower-cost filament.

Dual extruder printers allow you to use water soluble PVA filaments for support structure, meaning they can just be washed away with water once an item is fully printed. Printing supports with PVA is much more efficient and provides a high quality finish, as they can be removed in one quick and easy step without the hassle of scraping away your difficult to remove support structure.

[Source: Redstack]

Why Use Dual Extrusion?

Whether or not you should use two extruders depends on the type of project you wish to carry out. Printing simple, basic blocks of objects can be done with a single extruder. On the other hand, if the project requires you to build a model with many parts of different colors, or if the model is going to take a long time to make, using a dual extruder can do the job much better.

[Source: 3D Insider]

What is Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)?

FDM is a filament-based technology where a temperature-controlled head extrudes a thermoplastic material layer by layer onto a build platform. A support structure is created where needed and built in a water-soluble material.

Ideal Applications for FDM

  • Low-volume production of complex end-use parts
  • Prototypes for form, fit and function testing
  • Prototypes directly constructed in production materials

[Source: Materialise]

Examples of Objects Made on the Ultimaker 3

Coming soon!