An interesting new 3D printer extruder aims to let you print four filaments.
Commercial filament 3D printers have been around for several years. One upgrade that people commonly desire is to increase the number of filament extruders from one to two. This is very helpful, because it allows for printing in multiple colors or even multiple materials. Imagine if you could print a complex structure supported by a material that then dissolved away in water. This would solve many issues people face when designing for this specific type of printing.
The Minnesota company Dglass 3D is trying to bring to market a design that would allow for up to four extruders in the space that two would typically take. Up until now, the most common method of adding an extruder was adding an entire extruder module right next to the first one. The simplicity is nice, but the space required could become a limiting factor.
By completely redesigning how the extruder feeds the fillament, Dglass 3D allows a single stepper motor to control two extruder heads at once. In any system, the two heads never feed at the same time, so Dglass 3D has devised a method of switching the extruder head being fed from the stepper motor. This means that four functional extrusion heads can fit in the space of a traditional dual-extruder setup.
A Kickstarter project for the printer ends Friday, Sept. 13. The pricing might be difficult for people to justify. For example, the open-source MBE Extruder, a fully assembled dual-extruder device with every upgrade possible, costs $156. The Dglass 3D printer with the complete and ready-to-install dual configuartion requires a pledge of $273. The quad configuration jumps to $503. However, I could easily see these prices coming down after some production revisions.