3D printing with a dual extruder can sound a bit complicated to a lot of users and beginners in the world of 3D printing, that’s why I wrote this article, to teach people how to use a dual extruder 3D printer.
To use a dual extruder 3D printer, first you’ll need to get one and choose the right filament to print with. Then you’ll need to get slicer software and prepare the printer. After that, you’ll have to choose a model, assign extruders and print a test. Then you’ll need to troubleshoot and keep practicing to achieve the best results possible.
This is the basic answer, keep reading for more information about how to use a dual extruder 3D printer.
How to Use a Dual Extruder 3D Printer
These are the steps to successfully use a dual extruder 3D printer:
- Get a dual extruder 3D Printer
- Choose the right filament
- Get a slicer software
- Prepare the printer
- Choose a model and assign extruders
- Print a test and troubleshoot
- Keep practicing
Get a Dual Extruder 3D Printer
The first step you’ll need to follow is to get a dual extruder 3D printer.
These printers are designed to handle multiple filaments simultaneously, allowing you to create complex and colorful prints.
The most popular ones are:
- LOTMAXX Shark V3 FDM 3D Printer
- Flashforge Creator Pro 2
- R QIDI TECHNOLOGY X-PlusⅡ 3D Printer
- Geeetech Mizar M 3D Printer Dual Extruder Printer
- Sovol SV02 Dual Extruder 3D Printer
One user suggests the LOTMAXX Shark V3 FDM , which is available on Amazon for a good price.
He stated that he got one recently to substitute his Ender 3 V2 and it works really well, which left him quite satisfied.
Another user recommends getting the FlashForge Creator Pro 2 as it is pretty easy to assemble and delivers great results.
I wrote the article called Best Dual Extruder 3D Printers Under $500 & $1,000 which may be helpful to you.
Check out the video below for more information about the best dual extruder 3D printers in the market.
Choose the Right Filament
The next step is to choose the filament you’ll be printing with. It is important to remember that in a dual extruder printer, each extruder will require its own filament spool.
These are the most popular filaments for dual extruder 3D printers:
- PLA (Polylactic Acid)
- ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
- PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol)
- TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)
- PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol) – used as a support material
- HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) – used as a support material
Besides the primary filament options, it’s important to consider support materials that enhance the capabilities of dual extruder 3D printing.
High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) is one such material that shines as a soluble support material. HIPS is often used in conjunction with other primary materials like ABS.
The magic of HIPS lies in its ability to dissolve in D-Limonene, a common solvent, leaving no trace of support structures behind.
This is especially valuable when creating complex models with intricate overhangs and internal cavities that would otherwise be challenging to remove manually.
By using HIPS as a support material in a dual extrusion setup, you can achieve cleaner, more complex designs while simplifying the post-processing steps.
That’s why it is important to remember that you can use two different materials if your printer supports it. Just make sure that the filaments are compatible with your 3D printer.
One user stated that HIPS works pretty well as a support in dual extrusion prints but it only works with ABS, with other filaments such as PLA, it won’t properly stick.
The user recommends using Polymaker Break Away Support Material if you are looking for something that works like HIPS but for PLA printing.
This support material can be found on Amazon for a great price.
Check out the video below to see how great the result of a dual extrusion print can be.
Get a Slicer Software
Getting a slicer software is the next step in order to properly use a dual extruder 3D printer.
These are the most popular slicer software out there:
If you own a Prusa printer, then it is recommended to go with the PrusaSlicer.
Owners of Flashforge printers, such as the Flashforge Creator 2 will need to use FlashPrint as their slicer software.
Check out the video below for a review of the Flashforge Creator 2 3D printer.
One user recommends using Cura as he thinks it is the slicer with the best support for dual extrusion 3D printers.
Another user recommends buying Simplify3D as it functions better than other slicers, especially for owners of dual extrusion 3D printers.
Check out the video below for more information about slicer software and dual extrusion.
Prepare the Printer
The next step is to prepare the printer so it can print models successfully.
To do that, you’ll need to:
- Level the bed
- Load filaments
- Calibrate extruders
Proper bed leveling ensures that the first layer adheres well to the print surface. Follow your printer’s manual to level the bed correctly.
I wrote an article called How to Calibrate Your 3D Printer – Extruder, Filament & More, which may be useful to you.
Load one filament into each extruder. Some printers require you to calibrate the extruders, which ensures that the two filaments are being extruded accurately.
One user stated that if you are working with a Flashforge 3D printed, then you should use their calibration wizard to help calibrate the extruder as it works pretty well. (from YouTube video)
Check out the video below for detailed instructions on how to calibrate dual extruder 3D printers.
Choose a Model and Assign Extruders
The next step is to choose a model and assign extruders. For the models, you can find a few ready-to-print options on various online platforms, like Thingiverse.
There are models that you can download for free that are made especially to be 3D printed with a machine that has dual extrusion, such as:
After deciding which model you’re going to be printing with your dual extrusion 3D printer, you’ll need to assign the extruders.
You’ll do this in the slicer software you selected to use. This is where the magic of dual extrusion happens. By assigning the extruders, you can specify which parts will be printed with which filament.
After that, you’ll be able to adjust settings like:
- Layer height
- Printing speed
- Fan speed and cooling
These settings might be different for each filament you’re using, so refer to the filament manufacturer’s recommendations.
Then you’ll need to slice the model. On Cura and most slicers, the process of slicing a model is the same in a single and dual extrusion 3D printer.
The main feature of slicing for a dual extrusion 3D printer is that you can decide which parts of your model are made with each filament, creating cool two-color or multi-material effects.
One user stated that dual extruder 3D printers are the best because having different hot ends allows you to dial in each head.
That means each hot end can have different settings such as temperature, retraction, etc.
Check out the video below for detailed instructions on how to correctly assign the extruders of a dual extruder 3D printer.
Print a Test and Troubleshoot
After assigning extruders and preparing the printer, you’ll need to print a test and troubleshoot.
To print a test, just slice your model on the slicer software of your preference and it will generate a G-code file.
Then you will need to send this file to your 3D printer, either by an SD card or via USB connection, it will depend on your machine. If you are using the SD card, go to the printer’s interface or touchscreen, and navigate to the “Print from SD Card” or similar option.
Locate the G-code file corresponding to your test model and select it for printing.
When 3D printing, if things don’t go perfectly the first time, don’t worry. As a beginner, you might encounter some of these issues:
- Extruder jams
- Bed leveling problems
If you see tiny strings between parts of your print, adjust the retraction settings in your slicing software.
But if extruder jams are a problem for you or a filament gets stuck, follow your printer’s manual to unjam it. The issue may also be with the bed not being level. Try re-leveling your bed and printing again.
One user stated that a normal cause for extruder jams is having a piece of melted filament clog the nozzle.
He recommends taking a look for any stuck filament in the nozzle if you are experiencing extruder jams with your dual extruder 3D printer.
Another user recommends checking your slicer settings if something is going wrong with your prints. He also suggests comparing the configuration for each hotend in whatever slicer you’re using.
Check out this awesome model that was 3D printed on a dual extruder 3D printer.
The final step is to keep practicing. Don’t let a few bad prints get you down.
Using a dual extruder 3D printer might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but with practice, you’ll become more comfortable with the process.
Start with simple models and gradually move on to more complex designs as you gain confidence. Don’t be afraid to experiment and learn from your mistakes.
Check out the video below to see a 3D printing hobbyist using his dual extruder 3D printer for the first time.