3D Printing School: Dual Extrusion Confusion

17 Feb


I’ve had my dual extruder printer (Makerbot Replicator 2X) for about two years now and I’ve come to realize that there are not very many two (or more!) color models out there to print with it. I imagine this is caused by 3 things:

1. They’re more difficult to model.
2. They’re more difficult to print.
3. There isn’t much demand.

I know personally I was held back by #1 for quite awhile. I had printed Makerbot’s pre-built demo models, as well as maybe one or two other models I found on Thingiverse but that’s about as far as I got. With the exception of text labeling, and small accents, my (mostly) utilitarian prints don’t always lend themselves that well to multi-extruder printing. I hadn’t really put much thought into my second extruder other than it being a “back up extruder”. That is until I attended the Thingiverse Make-a-thon in November 2014.

At the Make-a-thon there were several really interesting panels and presentations on 3D modeling and 3D printing. But the one that really stuck out to me was the 30 minute session on MeshMixer.

MeshMixer is a free program from Autodesk that I often describe as “Photoshop for 3D models”. It allows you to combine models, make repairs, generate support material, and even send the models directly to a printing service like Shapeways. During the presentation some more advanced features I’d never experimented with were demonstrated and really got me interested in learning this program inside and out.

Over the course of the past few months I’ve learned a lot about the program. Unfortunately much of my journey was self taught, mostly because there seems to be a lack of good instructional material for the program. I can’t complain too much (the program is free after all), but it inspired me to generate some of my own training material for the program.

So linked below is my first instructional video. This one shows how I used MeshMixer to take an existing model (Left Shark Monochrome by cerberus333) and turned it into a dual extruder two color print. As I said, this is my first attempt at a training video so feel free to leave comments on what I’ve missed or could be explained better either on the video itself or here on my blog.

Hopefully this might lead to more makers out there creating some awesome dual extruder models that I can print!

I’ve uploaded “Sharkie Dual Extrusion” to Thingivese for those of you with dual extruder printers out there. If you have a chance to print it upload a photo! I’d love to see it.

  • I hope AMF adoption makes this easier in the future.