If You Have One Head, It Lasts All Day...
"Bit-O-Honey goes a long, long way..."
Three dimensional printing has been a love/dislike experience for me. I love the technical and specialized skills required to be proficient. I dislike the fact that I am making nearly worthless plastic Junque.
Recently I realized, doing the 3D printing process was my enjoyment and the cheap Junque was OK if it looked good.
I ventured into multi (2-color) printing to see what that could do. I bought a Geeetech A20M, single nozzle, two filament printer. The previous posts shows what it can produce.
Been doing a lot of study on multi color printing. When I started with the A20M, I wasn't sure where I was going with it. It's got me hooked for the "artsy" printing. One color has become boring except for purely functional item printing.
I have determined the blending two or three feeds into one nozzle is the most versatile and interesting method for me because of the color blending that is possible.
The IDEX (two independent print heads) and single head dual nozzles are the best choice for soluble support and are well supported by present slicers.
IDEX is also the only way to do large dual prints if that is a desire. Dual print size is not limited by fixed nozzle separation
Multiple fixed nozzles bring their own host of challenges with alinement, nozzle drag, and oozing. Also cook-off if a nozzle sets unused at print temp for too long.
Nothing is perfect with either multiple or single nozzle multiple color FDM. There are coding and tricks to mitigate most of the known issues. That's what I have been looking at.
Wiping and proper parking of the idle print head is a must with IDEX. Except for possible print alinement issues of two independent moving heads, I like it better than two nozzles in the same head. That's only a "like", not a tested experience. Mainly because it gets the oozing nozzle away from the print area.
But... The color blending single nozzle is a huge feature for me. Nozzle purge is actually required by all types of these printers. That alone is not deal breaker. Just part of the process.
I am putting the IDEX and other dual nozzle printers in the "serious prototype" category. They are the best (only) way to do special and complex supports. Shut down one nozzle and you have a great single color printer. Another color is ready to go.
The blending single nozzle is the "artistic" system. Color blending is far from perfect as I have discovered, but it is "artsy" and the non-predictability of color blending is a feature.
I just saw the three color version of the A20M. It is the A20T (T for Three or triple color.) (See picture.) I can imagine how three colors will behave.
Push button set-up and printing is NOT yet available for triple feeds. 3 colors single nozzle are well ahead of the curve for automation. But it is entirely feasible and possible process with all major slicers. S3D, Cura and Repetier-Host can slice and run 3 nozzles. The user has to know how.
I presently have working examples of all three slicers. They will need some additional tweaking for sure. The operator person is not D.I.W. for slicers for the A20T.
Three color printing is definitely NOT for the newbie. A guy I watched on Youtube doing crappy fast printing on a A20T made me sick. He just wanted to be first with a video. No finesse or technique. It did show me that ANY schmuck can operate the printer.
Well, I guess I am sold on an A20T. Just need to fall off the edge of this cliff in front of me. It's so far down, I can't see the bottom. Maybe I'll fall forever??
What? Yet another printer???...