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3D printing breaking through concept, prototyping mould

Posted: 04 Oct 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:3D printing? Arduino? additive manufacturing? prototyping?

Caleb Kraft, chief community editor for EE Times, saw first-hand just how popular 3D printing has become during his visit to the Maker Faire in New York City. From a club of engineering students to veterans in the industry, 3D printing technologies for all sorts of applications are gaining traction.

3D printing with two extruders? Why not four?

Commercial filament 3D printers have been around for several years. One upgrade that people commonly desire is to increase the number of filament extruders from one to two. This is very helpful, because it allows for printing in multiple colours or even multiple materials. Imagine if you could print a complex structure supported by a material that then dissolved away in water. This would solve many issues people face when designing for this specific type of printing.

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is still in its infancy. It is mostly used by design engineers for concept modelling and prototyping. However, manufacturing engineers are tapping this new technology for various applications such as jigs, fixtures, check gauges, and even as a bridge-to-tooling and low-volume end-use parts. Learn more about how 3D printing helps engineers accelerate time to market through an active on-demand webinar presented by Stratasys. Sign up for free now!

The Minnesota company Dglass 3D is trying to bring to market a design that would allow for up to four extruders in the space that two would typically take. Up until now, the most common method of adding an extruder was adding an entire extruder module right next to the first one. The simplicity is nice, but the space required could become a limiting factor.

By completely redesigning how the extruder feeds the fillament, Dglass 3D allows a single stepper motor to control two extruder heads at once. In any system, the two heads never feed at the same time, so Dglass 3D has devised a method of switching the extruder head being fed from the stepper motor. This means that four functional extrusion heads can fit in the space of a traditional dual-extruder setup.

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