Dual extrusion has the potential to offer double the fun of single extrusion in 3D printing — but anyone who’s tried it can also attest that there’s also the potential for double the headaches. Often, in order to avoid common problems including color blending and blemishes and to encourage a clean print, users turn to ‘wipe towers’, where filament can be wiped off from the extruder in order to forestall accidental color blending or other messy issues. This hasn’t been a perfect solution — and it hasn’t been universal. Now, though, Amsterdam-based Printr is offering a new technology that can clean up prints using dual extrusion.
Their solution seems to be as intuitive to use as its name is fun to say, as Printr calls its solution a ‘Donut wipe tower’. While many wipe towers in use from other slicers are solid, Printr’s solution is, just as it sounds, donut-shaped. That is, a hollow structure, which is faster and more efficient to produce while still wiping excess filament from the extruder. Printr’s Formide platform, which integrates its Katana cloud slicing software, is said to be the first to enable this particular structure, which Printr assures us leads to “exceptionally clean dual prints.”
“Due to its shape, the Donut wipe tower is much more efficient in time and material. As the extruder skips the middle part of the wipe tower and only prints the outline of the donut, it does not use as much filament compared to a regular wipe tower and thus, saves printing time. As the Donut wipe tower has a bigger base on the print bed, it is also much more stable than regular wipe towers and is thus less likely to accidentally tip over during printing,” the company explains in its latest press release.
Printr’s Donut wipe tower is additionally set to allow for additional customization and optimization in prints. Aware of the fact that extruders can begin to release filament prior to hitting the target temperature and beginning to print, Printr took inspiration from BCN’s Independent Dual Extruder (IDEX) trays for material leakage, ensuring that the Donut wipe tower’s hollow part is the setting for extruders to heat up — any filament released thus stays off the print bed and away from the desired print, keeping any unexpected messes in the Donut wipe tower. Further keeping the print bed safe from stray filament, the Donut wipe towers are designed to use a wider base than many users may have seen before. No tipping over here!
Settings for the Donut wipe tower — such as infill percentage — can also be user-specified, based on time and material considerations. Additionally, if a user is printing with two not-totally-compatible materials (Printr gives the example of PVA and PLA), two separate wipe towers can be set down, keeping each tower dedicated to one material.
On top of the user-generated settings, Katana is, as Printr reminds us, “designed to be smart” and so it will detect “whether the 3D model requires a complete wipe tower at the whole model or just part of it.”
“For example,” the company states, if you have a dual extrusion model and only need to print the bottom 40% of the model in dual colors, Katana will automatically detect this and stop the Donut wipe tower after the dual colored part has been printed. Moreover, if a 3D model contains a single color at the bottom and dual colors at the top, Katana will also automatically detect this and create the bottom of the wipe tower in a single color. This way no unnecessary extruder switching, and thus heating, is done.”
Printr has been keeping up with its mission of enhancing the 3D printing process since it was founded in 2014. With The Element, Katana, Formide, and now the Donut Wipe Towers, this Dutch company has certainly been busy ensuring that those at any stage of expertise in 3D printing have the tools they need to design and print successfully.
The company has also been working on tutorials, such as this one, to introduce users just getting started on their first print job. Discuss further in the Printr Cleans Up 3D Printing with Dual Extruders forum over at 3DPB.com.
[All images supplied to 3DPrint.com by Printr]