Dual extrusion printers that can print in two colors or two materials are still considered experimental. Printing with a single extruder/nozzle means that it’s always working; the filament is only not moving through the nozzle for brief moments of non-printing travel, so the filament is set and primed to flow for the entire object. With two nozzles, there will be times when only one of them is actively printing, and when the inactive nozzle is supposed to start printing again there arise priming issues. Most prints begin with some free extrusion and/or unattached skirt loops to get the filament flowing correctly, but doing that mid-print is more difficult. But engineers smarter and more educated than me develop brilliant solutions to these problems and make dual extrusion work.
Because 3D printing is advancing at such a fast pace, those engineers are developing 5 nozzle printers. One of those printers is expected to be in users’ hands before the end of the year, and I’m not referring to the mysterious ProDesk3D. No, the first batch of the five nozzle MH3000 from Canada’s ORD Solutions is scheduled to go out mid-December. Of course, we know how many Kickstarter campaigns keep to their schedules, though it is worth mentioning that Ord Solutions already produces and sells a 3D printer, so they’ve already got suppliers and manufacturing experience.
The MH3000 beats the Hyrel by one nozzle. By moving the extruders to the frame, there’s more room for the hot ends, and their weight is reduced. Having five nozzles obviously allows for five color prints, but it also opens the door to multimaterial prints and specialized extrusion types. Fitting a .7mm nozzle makes infill faster, and exotic filaments like Laywoo-d3 and Laybrick require larger nozzles to print well. ORD invites backers to specify what nozzle combination they’d like; current options are .35 and .7 but I have a feeling backers will ask for another size. The standard specs are as follows:
Filament size: 1.75mm
Filament type: PLA, ABS, polycarbonate, nylon
Machine size: 15” x 10.75” x 17.5”
Build volume: 11.1” x 10.65” x 6.5”
Max print speed: 250mm/s(?)
XY precision: N/A
Minimum layer thickness: 50 microns
Software: open source chain
Other features: up to five heads, bed that heats in under a minute
Price: from $1614 for single nozzle to $2314 for five nozzles
Those are prices for US backers and that includes shipping and a spool of filament for every nozzle. That’s an amazing deal. And the retail price will be higher, but for a $100 deposit backers can lock in the Kickstarter price until November 2014.