Single Vs Dual Extruder 3D Printer – Which One to Choose?


Stepping into the sphere of 3D printing, you’ll shortly be facing a situation where you have to choose between a single extruder and a dual extruder 3D printer.

This dilemma can be confusing, but fret not, because this article will guide you in making the best choice that suits your printing needs.

A single extruder 3D printer is simplicity at its best. There are no complications involved and beginners will quickly get used to this type of a 3D printer.

A dual extruder, on the other hand, is complex yet offers a ton of functionality and provides you with versatile options. However, it all boils down to personal preference in the end.

We’re now going to further the topic in detail from top to bottom, so keep on reading for a more comprehensive answer.

From the pros and cons to the best single and dual extruder 3D printer, what follows will assist you in making the perfect decision when purchasing.

Single Extruder vs Dual Extruder 3D Printer

Many people start simple with 3D printing, and get a printer that has a single extruder.

What does this mean?

With a single extruder 3D printer, you’re going to print with one filament at a time.

This is convenient, swift, and gets the job done in an efficient manner. There are no additional messes, and cleaning is minimal, unlike dual extruder 3D printers.

The ease of use is one of the major reasons why single extruder printers are flourishing in the industry today.

However, if a dual extruder is interesting you more, do realize that this decision will cost you extra, and can seem overly complicated at first. Despite the downsides, printers with a dual extruder offer some of the best creative options, and extensive capabilities to date.

To the core, a second extruder along with a first one means that you have a whole new space for another filament, may that be a support or purely a thermoplastic.

A separate slot for the filament gives rise to diversity here. Multiple features are now available at your disposal. This refers to the fact that you can use two different colours for your object, giving it a charming look like no other.

Moreover, you could print using one filament, but use another stronger filament to reinforce your printed object. There’s also the prospecting of using a support filament like PVA along with a material like ABS.

This combination gives you an advantage that determines the overall look of the object. To begin with, you won’t notice any unpleasant support marks left on the print after you’re finished.

This, in turn, is highly unlike single extruder 3D printing, where using support items like rafts and skirts are necessary at times, but require hefty post-processing to maintain quality.

Nevertheless, 3D printers that offer dual extrusion are a cut above single extruder printers in terms of pricing. Furthermore, when you think of cleaning up after the print, a dual extruder printer is double the trouble.

Single Extruder 3D Printers

We’re going to take a brief look at what printers with single extrusion have to offer, and where they fall prey to dissatisfaction.

The Pros

Single extrusion 3D printers aren’t thoroughly praised for nothing. Let’s break down where they typically excel.

Print Easy

Single extruder printers are beginner-friendly, owing their facile practicality to a single nozzle.

These types of printers are highly recommended for people who have just started out with printing since you’re always going to find your way with them.

Calibrating Single Extruder Printers

The Z-alignment of such printers are effortless to establish, and is set up in no time. Since there is only going to be a single nozzle that you’ll have to worry about, things are going to be a lot easier.

Calibrating pressure settings of the printer is also easy to achieve, and users have reported the process being a breeze. However, slight variations in difficulty might occur from printer to printer.

Simplicity

A single extruder 3D printer is perfect for those wanting to print with only one colour.

Of course, there are people out there who wouldn’t want messing around with complicated stuff, and just want to print away and get the job done.

These printers shine in such situations, being free of hassles found in a dual extruder printer, and offer the user a smooth printing experience.

The Cost

You can get great single extruder 3D printers for cheap prices on the market. As the printing industries are evolving day by day, the race for developing the cheapest and most efficient printers continues as the days go by.

You’re easily going to find a single extruder printer that works for you, and isn’t going to cost that much either.

As single extruders work with a single filament, there’s no need to buy a second one which you would have been doing otherwise if working with a dual extruder.

Therefore, 3D printing expenses are significantly cut back as filament costs are something to consider too when buying a printer.

The Cons

Single extruder 3D printers make quite an impression, but there are some aspects to them where many would disagree to make the purchase.

Oversimplification

While you can get to considerable heights printing with a single extruder 3D printer, you’re still going to be very far from what dual extruders have to offer.

Single extrusion 3D printing has its limitations, therefore, and the foremost being that you can’t use multiple filaments at once. You’re bound to a single colour scheme, only one nozzle diameter to work with, and furthermore, a single filament.

This basically holds you back from achieving the true potential of 3D printing, where you could form world-class prints of the highest quality.

The bottom line?

This mode of printing is truly simple and does not leave room for innovation on the next level.

Support Filaments

Filaments are of several different types. One of them is a support filament that accompanies you drastically when making complex prints.

You cannot use a support filament with single extruders because there’s just no space for it.

Instead, you use support items like rafts, brims, and skirts. Although helpful, there are certain downsides to using them. Support items applied to objects in single extrusion will demand extra finishing while leaving traces of the support on the print.

This can sometimes ruin your object if things go wrong. Support items are only recommended when they are absolutely needed, hence.

Dual Extruder 3D Printers

Labelled as a very effective method to fulfil your 3D printing tasks, dual extruder printers have positives and negatives both. You’re going to get a descriptive idea below.

The Pros

Dual extrusion type of printing is known for the quality it produces. Let’s affirm the advantages of owning a dual extruder 3D printer.

An Open-World of Diverse Options

Dual extrusion printing opens the door to a plethora of possibilities, increasing range and dynamism.

It gives you the ability to switch between printing materials on the go, leaving any labour-intensive process out.

Dual extruder 3D printers come especially handy when you need to make a part with multiple colours. The second nozzle is there to do just that, along with a few more great functions.

These printers provide you with the broad range of options you need, if you’re a critical thinker with hopes of achieving truly commendable objects.

For instance, with the help of a dual extruder, you can form prints that incorporate many materials of different essences.

You could make wearable items that are flexible in some areas, and compact in others. In other words, dual extruders let you make different blends of materials that have varying properties.

Great Support Usage

With a highly specialized second extruder at your disposal, the possibilities on how to use it skyrocket.

One important feature of dual extruder 3D printers is how you can seamlessly use support filaments accompanied with another thermoplastic to make prints.

There are water-dissolvable support filaments, like PVA, out there that deliver profoundly per their function, and do not leave their marks or any smudges after their removal.

Let’s see how they do that.

Normally, support items like brims and skirts used on an object is really troubling. Even before you begin, you have to look out for certain settings like layer height, etc., and after you’re done, removing the support leaves your print in ruin.

To compensate for that, you usually have to do some extra post-processing to make the print look presentable and professional. Talking in terms of dual extrusion, support items or filaments being a struggle is a thing of the past.

You just have to slot in a second, support filament in the other extruder of the printer, and see how it manages from there.

For instance, PVA is a thermoplastic material that dissolves in water and is actively used as a support filament in dual extrusion. The fact that it’s water-soluble, and efficiently works with the dual extruder 3D printer, is what takes the cake.

PVA isn’t removed from the printed object. Instead, it’s broken down while submerged in a pool of water heated to about 60°C. The support filament on the print deteriorates within half an hour and leaves you in admiration.

What you’re going to see afterward is a fresh, immaculate print that excludes any distortions or overhangs usually observed when printed with single extruders.

Multi-Colours, Stronger Prints, and More

This ability of dual extruder 3D printers that let allows them to print in two different colours at the same time has gained immense popularity in anatomical and vehicular domains.

When you need some distinct parts of your printed object to be highlighted more, dual extrusion comes in and steals the show.

There’s also a physical convenience assorted here, as normally you would have had to change colours in the middle of the print manually, which can be quite bothersome.

With the addition of another extruder, you can begin your print with two colours, making the process streamlined for you.

Another quality feature you’re going to admire is toughening your print with a variation of materials. For example, a print made out of a flexible material like HIPS, and a sturdy thermoplastic, mainly a polycarbonate, offers you unprecedented creativity, and diversity in your prints.

To top it off as a bonus advantage, dual extrusion lets you print two identical objects at the same time- one with each extruder.

This process is called Ditto Printing, but be sure there is an appropriate distance between the dimensions of the two nozzles.

The Cons

There’s a possibility that a dual extruder 3D printer might not be the one for you. Let’s see how.

You May Not Need It

There are some amazing single extruder 3D printers out there that many people prefer, and think them fit to be the machine for the job. In turns out, you might never need the capabilities and the extensive functionality of a dual extruder 3D printer.

Since we know how effective single extruders can be, dual extrusion printing offers its own touch of brilliance, but if you’re trying to keep it simple, a dual extruder may not be worth your money.

The Additional Expense

It’s great that the printer you’re thinking of going to buy is a dual extruder. But did you know that these machines cost a lot more?

With a second extruder nozzle equipped, it’s apparent that you’ll have to get a second filament as well. This added expense can sometimes be a lot to handle.

Single extruders, on the other hand, can be bought for as low as $200, and pack a lot more punch than their price. Dual extruders, however, will cost considerably more if you’re looking for a good one.

Maintenance

It’s fairly known how extruders of a printer require care and maintenance once in a while. The nozzle could end up getting clogged, or multiple problems with the hot end could arise.

Printers with a dual extruder, therefore, are prone to twice the issues. You have two hot ends and two nozzles that need to be taken care of after every other week or so.

Should You Choose A Single or A Dual Extruder 3D Printer?

The answer to this conundrum lies in personal preference. The facts are there for you to comprehend, and to take the decision consequently.

If you’re a simple person looking to make simple prints, an affordable single extruder 3D printer can set you up for good.

These are more popular as well. Their fame roots from positive feedback from beginners and hobbyists.

If I was just starting out with 3D printing, I’d go for a single extruder with my eyes closed. It’s just that simple.

However, if you’re an experienced fellow closely knowing the ins and outs of 3D printing, your practical knowledge and a dual extruder 3D printer will flow together quite cordially.

Moreover, if you’re working on a project that requires a multi-coloured product and a blend of different thermoplastics, a dual extruder will fit perfectly here as well.

In the end, it’s only sensible to advise that if you’re a newcomer to this business, put your faith in a single extruder 3D printer.

Best Single Extruder 3D Printers

Creality Ender 3 V2 (Amazon)

The Creality Ender 3 V2 is an overhaul of the Creality Ender 3. Packed with exciting and efficient new features, this machine is one of the best budget 3D printers you can buy.

The series of enhancements involve improving the performance and giving the design a fresh new look.

Equipped with a single extruder, the Ender 3 is comfortable in making prints of top quality, and give you a sublime printing experience.

A coloured LCD screen, a coated glass print bed, and a chipset that allows quieter printing, the updated Ender 3 is sure to satisfy you.

Specifications

  • Filament diameter: 1.75 mm
  • 3rd party filaments: Yes
  • Compatible materials: PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU
  • Bed leveling: Manual
  • Print bed: Heated
  • Display: LCD colour screen
  • Connectivity: MicroSD card, USB
  • Built-in camera: No
  • Resume print: Yes

Original Prusa i3 MK3S ($999)

The standard that the Prusa i3 MKS has maintained in budget and quality 3D printing is below no other.You’re not going to find a printer that performs better in this price range, other than the i3 MKS.

You can order it to arrive preassembled at your doorstep, or you can just purchase the kit and assemble it yourself. Anyway, what makes this printer so good is the supreme quality of prints that dictate its greatness.

You get features like filament sensor and auto filament loading to help you crucially on your 3D printing journey as well. The design is tough and looks intimidatingly compact. Furthermore, there’s also the autocalibration of the print bed that saves you from any extra worries.

Specifications

  • Build Volume: 250 x 210 x 200mm
  • Print Bed: Heated, Removable, PEI Coating
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm
  • Third-Party Filament: Yes
  • Max. Extruder Temperature: 300°C
  • Max. Print Bed Temperature: 120°C
  • Connectivity: SD Card, USB
  • Onboard Controls: Yes

MakerGear M2 (Amazon)

The MakerGear M2 is a printer that boasts supremacy. It’s a machine that screams quality. Many call it the best 3D printers made in 2019.

One of the printer’s major plus point is its nonpareil reliability. Alongside that, you’re going to get amazing value with the M2.

This innovation from MakerGear has been thoroughly introduced to the printing world to compete at an industrial-level, and it does so quite vehemently.

It comes ready to use out of the box, requires little to none effort to start using it, and supports a wide range of filament compatibility. However, the M2 filament is highly recommended.

Specifications

  • Build Volume: 254 x 203 x 203mm
  • Min Layer Height: 25 microns
  • Extruder Head: 1
  • Printing Speed: 80-200 mm/s
  • Heated Platform: Yes
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75mm
  • On-Printer Controls: Optional
  • Printing Material: ABS or PLA

Best Dual Extruder 3D Printers

Geeetech A20M (Amazon)

The Geeetech A20M is a dual extruder printer that boasts a sizeable print volume.

This printer has the unique ability to form a print that shows a blend of different filaments in alternating angles. This can be very cool to look at when the print has been made right.

Users are known to successfully produce the “spectrum effect” on the objects with the A20M.

Additionally, you get the filament sensor, auto bed leveling, and a ventilation mechanism as the extra features.

Specifications

  • Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm
  • 3rd Party Filaments: Yes
  • Compatible Materials: PLA, PETG, PVA, HIPS
  • Accuracy: X & Y axes 11 Micron, Z axis 2.5 Micron
  • Layer Height: 100 – 400 Microns
  • Feeder System: Bowden
  • Extruder Type: Dual Extruder with a Single Nozzle
  • Nozzle Size: 0.4 mm
  • Max. Extruder Temperature: 250 °C
  • Max. Heated Bed Temperature: 100 °C
  • Max. Print Speed: 180 mm/s
  • Frame: Aluminium

FlashForge Creator Pro (Amazon)

FlashForge is a 3D printing manufacturing company that has stuck around long enough to make a name for itself.

The Creator Pro is one fine addition to the retailer’s printer line-up. Its capabilities are well known, and it’s one of the most affordable and efficient dual extruder 3D printers out there.

It arrives with an enclosed print chamber that negates warping and curling, and manages the airflow within the printer.

The Creator Pro is held on a rigid frame made out of metal, and prints truly conveniently out of the box.

The interface is user-friendly, and beginners get used to the whole process in no time.

The print bed of the Creator Pro also heats up when required, adding more value to your purchase.

To top it off, the Creator Pro is based on an open-source tech that allows several slicing software to operate consistently.

Specifications

  • Build volume: 227 x 148 x 150mm
  • Layer height: 100 microns
  • Extruder type: Dual
  • Nozzle size: 0.4 mm
  • Max. extruder temperature: 260°C
  • Max. heated bed temperature: 120°C
  • Positioning accuracy: XY: 11 microns; Z: 2.5 microns
  • Printing Speed: 100 mm/s
  • Print chamber: Enclosed
  • Bed leveling: Manual

Ultimaker 3

You’re going to go very far if you intend to with the Ultimaker 3. Don’t feel overwhelmed with that price tag, since the printer lives up to every single dollar that takes to get it.

Harnessing the great dual extrusion technology, the Ultimaker 3 performs spectacularly.

The design looks as if it’s going to last a lifetime, with such content and heart going into developing the magic machine.

With two nozzles surrounding the printhead and cartridge-style print cores of the Ultimaker 3, the process is picture-perfect and filament switching works really well.

Everything from performance, print quality, and the build of the printer is top-notch, and the Ultimaker 3 is definitely worth the money.

Specifications

  • Build Volume: 215 x 215 x 200 mm
  • Layer Resolution: Up to 20 Microns
  • Extruder Type: Dual
  • Max. Print Temperature: 280°C
  • Materials: ABS, PETG, PLA, PVA, CPE
  • Layer Thickness: 20 – 200 Microns
  • Connectivity: Ethernet, USB cable, Wi-Fi
  • Diameter: 2.85 mm
  • Camera: Yes
  • Print Bed Type: Heated, Removable, and With A Borosilicate Glass

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