For anyone who has ever thought, "I can make 3D models, but I can't sculpt in the real world well enough to make basic pottery," HYREL 3D has something for you. The Georgia-based company has announced the EMO1, a new "emulsifiable" extruder for its 3D printer line capable of using air dry and Plasticine clay, Play-Doh® and silicone RTV as materials.
HYREL's printers come with an interchangeable print head system, meaning you can hot-swap extruders. There are three extruder models, the Mk2 for ABS or PLA, the Mk3 for ABS, PLA or Nylon, and the new EMO1, for clay, silicone and other materials still being tested. The benefits of employing a hot-swappable extruder system may not seem obvious unless you have experience using multiple materials in Fused Filament Fabrication printers.
There are subtle differences in texture between each spool of filament, even if the filaments being compared are the same type (both ABS, both PLA...), but especially if they come from separate manufacturers. The differences between PLA and ABS are more noticeable and can be recognized by touch. Throw in Laywoo-D3 and the new Laybrick, and the variation is extreme. The gears used to feed filament into a hot end (and nozzle) can be affected by these differences. A gear that works great for ABS may not work as well for PLA and vice versa. Some materials have a tendency to shed as the gears are driving them, resulting in gunk – gears that start to look like round tires – and a filament jam occurs.
Utilizing a different head (and thus different gears) for different types of material can reduce jamming. Therefore, it's possible to order various heads from HYREL 3D to match the materials you intend to use and save time and hassle, long term. It is also feasible that you could use the various head combinations to do things like print in ABS and employ PLA as support. If you really wanted to spend some money and you simply desired the convenience, you could theoretically order a different head for each color and never have to worry about extracting filament just to change colors.
All of HYREL's printers come with four print head attachment points. The top-of-the-line model comes with four extruders already attached (yes, that means quad-extrusion for you multi-color fans). The least expensive model comes with only one extruder and no heated bed, but it can be fully upgraded. Technically, it is accurate to refer to the system as hot-swappable, because extruders can be changed out while the printer is powered on, thanks to the electronics connecting through the CANBUS. LED lights on top of the print heads indicate a successful swap.
The new EMO1 is a very different kind of extruder, making obvious the need for an interchangeable print head system. Relatively soft materials like clay can't be acquired as a spool of filament. So, the EMO1 includes a tube where materials are tightly packed, then squeezed out during printing. The maximum amount of material the EMO1's tube can contain is 29 cc.
The are many reasons to want hot-swappable extruders, but if you have ever wished you could turn your 3D models into clay real-world objects, HYREL 3D just introduced the only reason you'll ever need.