Canada-based DisTech Automation announced the impending arrival of their new Prometheus dual-extrusion solution.
Dual extrusion is not a new phenomenon, but it can be quite troublesome. The goal is to enable printing of more than one material during a single print job. Initially this was accomplished by simply adding a second extrusion system including a hot end.
This mostly worked, but introduced a number of vexing problems, including the requirement to precisely align the two nozzles, lest materials be printed “offset” from each other. Even worse is the drip-and-drag problem where material slurps out of the unused nozzle and is caught on the print, causing inevitable disaster.
The best solution is to somehow use a single nozzle for multi materials to avoid these issues, but there are few solutions in this area.
One that could work well is the new Prometheus system from Distech Automation. It’s composed of two Bowden-style extruders that feed a single hot end.
But wait, you ask, “how can two filaments fit into one nozzle?” While some solutions actually mix the plastics in the hot end, causing agonizingly slow color transitions, Prometheus doesn’t do that.
It uses this. The “ProFeeder” is a kind of junction that allows one filament to proceed towards the hot end.
I’m not exactly sure how this works, but more than likely the filament is pulled back to past the ProFeeder, where the second filament is then pushed forward towards the hot end. Think “really long retractions”.
This approach is interesting as it minimizes the color mixing problem encountered by other concepts. In fact, DisTech Automation claims to enable very fast color changes, and their sample prints indeed show this effect.
Remember, however, that this is intended as a replacement system for your existing 3D printer:
The Prometheus System is a state-of-the-art extrusion system that is a drop-in replacement for any desktop FDM/FFF 3D printer. It plugs directly into existing motherboards (like the RAMPS, RAMBO, etc…) and can be used with both Marlin and Repetier firmware. Using the popular CURA slicing software, G-code is easily generated to automatically control filament switching and purging for multi-color and multi-material prints.
The early bird pricing for the system is attractive: we’ve heard it could be CAD$259 (USD$200) for a kit that can fit on many desktop 3D printers.
As of now the company is only showing a video of the system and images of multi-color prints, while we understand they intend on launching the official Kickstarter campaign on September 6th. For now it’s best to hit their site and sign up for launch notification.