Setting up a dual extruder is one of the most popular modifications around as it allows you to print more than one filament color or type at once, so I decided to write this article showing users how to do it and listing some of the best Ender 3 dual extruder kits available on the market.
Continue reading to find out more about it.
How to Make Ender 3 Dual Extruder
These are the main steps to go through when making your Ender 3 have dual extrusion:
- Buy a Dual Extruder Kit
- Replace your Motherboard
- Replace the X Axis
- Calibration and Bed Leveling
- Take Safety Precautions
Buy a Dual Extruder Kit
First, in order to make your Ender 3 have a dual extruder you need to get a dual extruder kit. There are different kinds available and we will cover the best ones later on in this article, so keep reading for that.
Users will recommend different dual extruder kits depending on your needs as each one has their own pros and cons.
One of the most recommended kits is the Ender IDEX Kit by SEN3D, which we will talk more about in another section. After getting the kit, you will need to follow a few steps that we will detail next.
Replace your Motherboard
After buying your dual extruder kit, the next step is replacing your Ender 3 motherboard with a new one, such as the one available with the Enderidex kit. They sell the BTT Octopus V1.1 motherboard with their kit.
You will need to unplug your 3D printer and remove the existing motherboard. Then you will need to place your new motherboard and connect all the necessary wires according to the connections.
Don’t forget to do a test print to make sure the new motherboard is working properly.
If you want a way to do dual extrusion without needing many modifications, then you’ll want to get something like the Mosaic Palette 3 Pro, though it is quite expensive.
The only dual extrusion modification that won’t make you buy anything else is the Mosaic Palette 3 Pro, which we will cover later on in the article.
Replace Your X Axis
The next step is to replace your X axis.
You will need to remove the existing X axis, the top bar and the spool holder and disassemble the X axis to install the one that comes with your Ender IDEX dual extrusion kit.
Be aware that if you have a X-Axis Linear Rail, then the X axis that comes with the Ender IDEX kit will not work when replaced, but the manufacturer is working on an update to fit these users as well.
For more instructions on how to replace your motherboard and X axis check out the video below.
Calibration and Bed Leveling
The final steps to get your Ender 3 to dual extrusion is calibration and bed leveling.
After replacing the motherboard and X axis you need to load the firmware that comes with the upgrade kit into your Ender 3 and then you can test if everything is working with the “auto home” function.
Final step to ensure nice prints is leveling the bed. Users recommend using the paper method, adjusting the bed leveling screws and running the “leveling square prints” file that comes with the Ender IDEX kit, for both extruders.
Check out the video linked in the section above that covers Bed Leveling and Calibration.
Take Safety Precautions
Don’t forget to take the necessary safety precautions when upgrading your Ender 3 to dual extrusion as you should be very comfortable with your printer to open it up and change parts inside of it.
Remember to take a lot of care for yourself and the machine you are working on as many of these upgrades are very DIY and anything improperly installed may ruin the whole setup.
Check out this cool video testing a long print on an Ender 3 with dual extrusion:
Best Ender 3 Dual Extruder Kits
These are the best kits available to upgrade your Ender 3 to dual extrusion:
- Ender IDEX Kit
- Dual Switching Hotend
- Mosaic Palette 3 Pro
- Chimera Project
- Cyclops Hot End
- Multimaterial Y Joiner
- The Rocker
If you are looking to make your own dual extruder to upgrade your Ender 3 then a suggested way to go is purchasing an upgrade kit such as the Ender IDEX Kit – which you can choose from getting either just the file packs to 3D print everything yourself or the full kit with physical products.
Be aware that you need to feel comfortable pulling apart your printer and changing some of its pieces. If you need any of the individual parts of the Ender IDEX Kit, they’re also available on the same page as the complete bundle.
While hobbyists do think the overall kit is a bit expensive, if you already own an Ender 3 it turns out a lot cheaper than buying a new printer that can print multiple filaments.
3DSEN has a great video all about printing the file pack of the Ender IDEX Kit and upgrading an Ender 3 to dual extrusion, check it out below.
Another good option to upgrade your Ender 3 to dual extrusion is getting a Makertech 3D Dual Switching Hotend. You will need a mainboard upgrade with five stepper motor drivers so it works fine with your Ender 3.
The dual hotends are switched by a servo, which is a kind of motor used on 3D printers. This kit also features an ooze shield, which protects your print from ooze issues with a layer shield around it, saving filament and producing less waste.
Using the dual switching hotend will make your Ender 3 have dual extrusion allowing you to print different filaments at the same time and achieving great results.
A few users recommend getting a dual switching hotend over options like the Chimera Project or the Cyclops Hot End, which I’ll cover in sections below, because this modification functions as a single nozzle with separate Z offset, avoiding the problem of making precision nozzles.
Check out Teachingtech’s video about installing a dual switching hotend on your Ender 3.
A similar one is the BIGTREETECH 3-in-1 Out Hotend that you can find on AliExpress.
If you are looking for a way to upgrade your Ender 3 to dual extrusion without having to modify your 3D printer then the Mosaic Palette 3 Pro is an option that users have implemented.
It works with automatic switches and it changes the orientation of up to eight different filaments in one print. The great thing is that the Palette 3 Pro should work on any 3D printer and some people had great results using it on their Ender 3.
A few users who really enjoy using the Palette 3 Pro stated that patience is the key as you will need to calibrate a few times to really find the perfect settings.
Others do think it may be too expensive for what it actually does as you can buy multiple filament printers for roughly the same price.
A few users really dislike the fact that you will need to use their own Canvas slicer in order to make the Palette 3 Pro to function and how noisy it can be but they are still really impressed with the results it can achieve.
Check out the video below by 3DPrintingNerd that shows the capacities of the Mosaic Palette 3 Pro.
The Chimera Project is another option if you are looking into having dual extrusion on your Ender 3. It consists of a simple DIY dual extruder that you can quickly produce and it will sit on a mount that you will need to 3D print as well.
This modification is great if you are looking to 3D print two different materials that have different melting temperatures, that way you will have dual extrusion that won’t clog when switching between filaments.
One user thinks this reason is enough to prefer the Chimera over the Cyclops Hot End, which we will cover in the next section.
The main difficulty users found out when upgrading their Ender 3 with the Chimera modification is learning how to keep both nozzles perfectly leveled as that may take a bit of testing to get it right.
While the project was designed originally for the Ender 4 it still works perfectly with the Ender 3 as well. The creator of this mod also strongly recommends 3D printing all the required parts before disassembling your printer.
There’s also this Ender 3 E3D Chimera Mount from Thingiverse that you can 3D print yourself. To mount the second stepper motor, users said they have success with 3D printing two of these Top Extruder Mounts from Thingiverse.
The video below shows you how to install dual extrusion on a Voxelab Aquila, a similar 3D printer to the Ender 3. He has the parts listed in the description.
The E3D Cyclops Hotend is another option similar to the Chimera Project and even uses the same 3D printed mount.
The Cyclops Hotend seems like it’s a single extruder but it has all the capabilities of a dual one so that’s where it gets its name. This modification also allows you to mix filaments together while only using one nozzle, which can be very useful depending on the project you’re working on.
Be aware that users don’t recommend printing with different filaments while having the Cyclops modification so if you are interested in using multi-material, they suggest the Chimera Project, which we covered in the previous section.
If you’re using the same type of filament but want to print with different colors at the same time then the Cyclops Hotend will be perfect for you.
Another problem with this modification is you will need to get the brass nozzles specifically designed for use with the Cyclops Hotend while other methods that we covered won’t necessarily require you to change your nozzle.
Overall, users consider it an easy upgrade to do and you can easily change from the Cyclops mod to the Chimera mod, as they share a lot of the same parts. Still, a few hobbyists don’t seem impressed with the Cyclops results and would rather try a different mod.
Check out this cool 3D printing time-lapse of an Ender 3 with the Cyclops modification.
Another good option to start having dual extrusion on your Ender 3 is to install a multi material Y joiner, which works by retracting the filament you are not using while fusing two PTFE tubes into one.
To make this modification, you will need a few 3D printed parts, such as the Multimaterial Y Joiner itself, the Multimaterial Y Joiner holder and a few commercially available pieces, like PTFE tubes and a pneumatic connector.
Remember that you will need to change settings on Cura, or any other slicer you’re using, so it understands it is now printing with dual extrusion.
One user seemed to find a lot of success in 3D printing with the Multi Material Y Joiner on his Ender 3 and got a multicolor result that impressed everyone.
Martin Zeman, who designed this modification, has a great video teaching how to install it to your Ender 3.
The Rocker is the nickname of the dual extrusion system designed for the Ender 3 by Proper Printing. This modification works differently than most dual extrusion methods available as it uses two ramps opposite of each other flipping from one extruder to another.
This makes it easy to implement and allows fast switches between filaments without needing a second servo. It does use two separate hotends so it makes it possible to print two different filaments that have different melting temperatures and different nozzle diameters.
This modification was even awarded by Creality, the manufacturer of the Ender 3D printers, as one of the best modifications for their machines. Users also really seem to respond well to the simple yet effective design of the mod.
Proper Printing makes the STL file for “The Rocker” available on their website for free, with an option to donate as you wish.
Check out their video talking about how they designed this mod and also how to use it.