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dualparkingWe have seen an increasing popularity of dual extruder FFF/FDM 3D printers as of late. These machines provide many benefits over their single extruder counterparts, including the ability to print in multiple colors and/or materials during a continuous print job. This creates a simple method of building support material, especially when you use HIPS or PVA as the support material, as these can easily be dissolved in either warm water or Limonene. Dual extruder 3D printers, while they have tremendous benefits, also present a few problems.

Some frequently experienced problems when using dual extruder systems are that these extruders generally move together, meaning they have the potential of causing each other some significant problems. The two most common issues are scratching, and oozing. It’s never good to have a hot nozzle that isn’t extruding, pass by a printed object, scratching it and potentially causing it damage. Oozing is a problem that can be extremely frustrating as well. Usually a little residue filament is left in an extruder nozzle and even while it isn’t supposed to be printing, a little bit can, and often does, “ooze” out. Even the slightest bit of “ooze” on a printed object can cause a perfect print to become a disaster.

To try and conquer these problems, a company called 3D-Proto is working on an extruder that they call a Dual “Parking” Extruder. As you can see in the video below, it utilizes a magnet to move and “park” an extruder to the side of the print area when it is not in use.

Using two extruders, and an X-carriage in the middle with two magnets mounted to it, which are driven by relays, they show that the system is certainly feasible, and could go a long way in providing a method of preventing both scratching and oozing during dual extruder printing. The solenoids for this system may be driven by the M42 command using Marlin Firmware, but custom g-code is needed as well.

While test prints have not yet been shown, the concept behind this new extruder model seems to be pretty solid. We look forward to seeing these extruders in action sometime in the near future. This demonstration was done on a Prusa i3 RepRap 3D printer, and if you wish to try and build this system yourself, it can be done quite affordably. 3D-Proto says that all you need are the following products:

  • 2 complete extruders with stepper motor and drive ~ 25EUR
  • 4-channel relay board (5VDC) ~ 4EUR
  • X-axis idler, magnet holder, Power Holder (STL files for 3D printable models can be found here)
  • 2 electromagnets ~ 5EUR

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One of the drawbacks of this system is the reduction of print area caused by the additional X-carriage. What do you think? Do you like the idea presented here by 3D-Proto? Would you consider using an Dual “Parking” Extruder in the future? Discuss in the Dual Parking Extruder forum thread on 3DPB.com.





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