How to Print in Multiple Materials with a Single Extruder

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How to Print in Multiple Materials with a Single Extruder
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The one disadvantage of a single nozzle machine is that you can only print in a single colour or material, or can you? Well there is a more manual way in where you can print in 2 colours or even materials with a single nozzle 3D-Printer. We can do this by setting our G-Code to pause the print and let us change the filament at certain intervals and even change the print settings. This is not as complicated as it seems either, I will do a step by guide how to print in multiple materials or colours . I will be using Cura for this as it is free but Simplfy3D can also be used.

So step one is importing your model and then set all your normal settings for your first material:

Main Settings

Main Settings

Next you want to go to the layer view and then find the layer(s) you want the material to change. Write this/these down we will need them

Finding a layer to switch filament

Finding a layer to switch filament

With this/these number(s) you want to put them through this simple equation to find the mm height at which you want the change the material.

Selected layer * layer height = mm height

So now you have you mm height(s) you want to put your plugins in Cura: Go to the plugins tab and there should be two plugins already there. Now if you want to just change the colour and use the same type of filament (eg Blue PLA to Green PLA) then import as many pause at heights as you need. If you are wanting to change the material you are printing (eg PLA to flexable PLA) then you will also need tweak at Z. This allows you to change the settings of your print. You need to select the plugin on the top then use the arrow to add them.

Adding plugins

Adding plugins

So now we will configure the plugins:

Pause at height-So now you will want to enter your mm height value into the “pause height (mm)”. Then set you X & Y parks-this is where the extruder will go to move out the way of the model; I usually set mine to 20mm on both. You can add Z move but I don’t, and I leave the retraction amount at the default but you can change this if you want.

Pause at Z Height

Pause at Z Height

Tweak at Z-So you want to set the MM height, but I recommend subtracting your layer height  from this value (eg MM height – 0.2) this will enforce your new settings before the printer pauses for you to change the filament. So if your going from PLA to ABS you want to extruder to heat up before you need to change the filament otherwise you wouldn’t be able to put the high temperature filament. You also want to select the “Tweak value and keep it for the rest”.

Tweak At Z

Tweak At Z

So with you can repeat all these plugins as much as you want to change the filament as many times as you want.

Next export your G-code and then start your print. So when it come to the layer you set, your printer will stop printing and move the nozzle and let you change the filament. After you changed the filament press the dial on your printer and it will start printing again.

The Printer will Pause Here

The Printer will Pause Here

With this simple technique I was able to print Baymax with a blue PLA base and red flexible PLA for the character. This worked very well except that my flexible filament settings were a bit too quick, however the model came out great. The PLA and flexible PLA joined very well, the flexible PLA was, well flexible and the PLA base was just like normal PLA.

Multi Material Print with a Single Extruder

Multi Material Print with a Single Extruder

So I hoped you enjoyed the article and/or found it interesting. If you have any questions or suggestions leave them in the comments and I will answer them. If you enjoyed this article consider commenting to support us or take a look at my other articles by clicking on my name.

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