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  1. RamblinDan
  2. 3D Printing
  3. Friday, August 16 2019
The Myth Busters (of TV fame) had a term I liked. It was PLAUSIBLE.

I think it is the best response to the practicality of a typical hobbyist using multiple extruders. Multiple FDM extruders take an already complex and for most users, minimally understood process and doubles or event triples the complexity and the time required to produce a satisfactory print.

From the documented print examples I have seen, must owners use their multiple extruder machines primarily for single extrusion operation. Just as if they were single extruder printers.

One use often boasted is to use one extruder for printing (one color) and the second extruder to print the support material. This is still single color printing. It is the only way to use water soluble support material.

I am primarily considering multiple COLOR printing in this viewpoint.

There is a huge paranoia by some hobbyist for the perceived "waste" of filament in needing Prime Pillars and Ooze Shields for multicolor printing. Same paranoia for the waste in using a Build Raft and Support material. Every CM of filament needs to be used for the print.

But that isn't the real show stopper from making multicolor 3D printing, "The only way to go."

Time required for a print is usually double that of a single color print. That is a huge negative for many hobbyist.

There are two primary types of printheads. First is the multiple heater/nozzle, one for each color extruded. The second is the mixing extruder where multiple filaments are fed into a single nozzle. But one is not faster than the other. There are good reasons for using one or the other, so I do not imply one is a better choice than the other. I'll explore their differences in another post.

The biggest hurdle is not the printer hardware. The major obstacle in two color printing is the design creation and producing the properly aligned (common origin) files (.stl, etc.) required for the multiple color printing. A separate file is required for every separate color section. A blue body with five separate yellow spots requires six files. Those files must share a common origin with each other.

I have seen some software where a single (.stl) file can have sections designated for separate color printing, then the program creates the necessary multiple sliced separate print files.

Limited availability of ready-to-print multi color objects (compared to single extruder prints) means from my point of view that multiple color prints are plausible, but require a good bit of effort and ability, first to create the necessary print files, and then to master the complexity of the slicing and printing.

Not for the 3D print beginner or those not capable of creating the necessary complex 3D print files.
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