3D Printer Extruder
Application Note
Martez Steverson
ECE 480
Design Team 8
The purpose of this paper is to instruct the reader on how to construct an extruder for a
3D printer and perform extruding. Throughout this application note, the reader will be
introduced to the process of extrusion; type of extrusion used in 3D printing, the steps in
assembling an extruder in order to perform extrusion as well as intended applications.
The extruder will be described in detail as to what specific parts and components are
necessary for assembly, the available compatible materials and finally how an extruder is
implemented into a 3D printer.
Extrusion, filament, extruder, Fused Deposition Modeling
Table of Contents
Extruder Assembly………………………………………3
Implementation in 3D Printer…………………………..6
Extrusion is a process adopted to create objects of a fixed cross-sectional profile.
A particular material is pushed or unwound through a die of the desired cross-section to
form a specific object. The two main advantages of this process as opposed to other
manufacturing processes are its ability to create very complex cross-sections, as well as
work with frail materials, because the material only encounters comprehensive and shear
stresses. It also forms finished parts with an excellent surface finish. Extrusion may be
continuous in which case it would theoretically produce an indefinitely long material or it
may be semi-continuous in which case it can produce numerous individual pieces
(Extrusion Process Basics: Aluminum Extruders Council). This process can be executed
with the material being hot or cold. Figure 1 below shows the basic extrusion process.
Figure 1. This diagram shows the basic steps involved in extruding an aluminum profile
The previously mentioned properties make this process ideal for 3D printing also
commonly referred to as additive manufacturing. Specifically, this method applies to the
type of additive manufacturing known as Fused Deposition Modeling in which case the
extrusion process is slightly modified to be implemented into 3D printers and performed
using an extruder.
Assembling the Extruder
The extruder used in the team’s 3D printer design is an EZStruder Cold End Kit
as depicted in figure 2 below. It is the newest, most compact versatile extruder yet. The
advantage of this Cold End Kit is that it is compatible with any groovemount style hotend
in either 1.75 or in the team’s case 3mm sizes (EZStruder Cold End Kit: 3dsupplyworld).
Figure 2. EZStruder Cold End Kit
The kit includes a hobbed drive roller for 5mm shafts, all screws, PTC adapter for use use
with Bowden fittings, and also an optional mount for the Rostock MAX original side
mounted spool/extruder stand (EZStruder Cold End Kit: SeeMeCNC). Additional pieces
intended for the full construction of the extruder not included in this kit is the stepper
motor and the hot end kit. A general stepper motor was used along with a MendelMax 1.5
+ Hot End Kit which include the J-Head Mk V-BV, heat resister, and Epcos thermistor to
complete the extruder. The followings steps were taken to fully assemble the extruder for
the 3D printer:
1.) Obtain the EZStruder Cold End Kit, the MendleMax 1.5 + Hot End Kit and
stepper motor.
2.) Place the hobbed drive wheel onto the bearing of the stepper motor. Then take the
allen wrench and tighten the inlet screw on the side of the wheel until the drive
wheel is nice and snug on the bearing.
3.) Take the plastic case containing the heavy duty spring and line it up with the top
two holes of the stepper motor, placing the plastic case with the hole where the
drive wheel can be inserted. Then, with a screw driver, tighten the two screws into
the stepper motor. Be sure not to over tighten, just enough where the case does
not move.
4.) Grab the black plastic hot end case and with the same screw driver, remove both
screws. Open the case and remove the Bowden adapter and replace it with the J-
Head hot end (figure 3) in the end of the case with the 3mm inlet as 3mm filament
will be used. Re-close the black plastic case, re-insert the screws and tighten.
Figure 3. J-Head Mk V-BV Hot End
5.) Orient the black plastic case so that the J-Head is pointed downward and line the
case up with the two holes at the bottom of the stepper motor. Now insert the two
shorter M5-.8 thread screws that were included in the EZStruder kit and tighten.
6.) Figure 4 shows how the extruder kit should look attached to the stepper motor
without the J-Head hot end inserted.
Figure 4. Extruder attached to stepper motor without J-Head Hot End
7.) The thermistor should then be inserted into the hole placed near the tip of the JHead hot end. Also place the thermistor along the side of the J-Head and using
electrical tape, tape both the heat resister and the thermistor firmly in place. The
completed extruder is depicted in figure 5 below.
Front View
Side View
Figure 5. Fully assembled extruder.
Implementation in 3D printer
Previously mentioned, 3D printers, as it pertains to the team’s design, utilizes the
extruder to perform the type of additive manufacturing referred to as Fused Deposition
Modeling. Fused Deposition Modeling also known as FDM begins with a software
process that includes the processing of an STL (stereolithography file format). The STL
file mathematically slices and orients the particular model for the physical build process.
The part is then produced by extruding small beads of thermoplastic material to form
layers as the material immediately hardens after extrusion from the J-Head hot end. There
is typically a worm-drive or drive wheels (powered by the stepper motor) that feed the
filament into the nozzle at a controlled rate. Inside the nozzle, the thermoplastic is then
heated past its glass transition temperature by the heated resistor and thermistor,
deposited by the extrusion head onto the build platform or base (FDM Technology:
Stratasys). If required, support structures may also be generated. In this instance, the
machine may dispense multiple materials to serve different purposes. It may dispense one
material to build the model up and another material to serve as the support structure or
base upon which the model is built. The nozzle can be moved in both horizontal and
vertical directions by a controlled mechanism which follows a tool path configured by a
computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software package. In relevance to the team’s 3D
printer design, the extruder along with the motor is placed directly onto the z-axis and the
stepper motor is plugged into an Arduino Mega 2560 microcontroller. The Arduino is
then instructed by the user through the CAM program the appropriate dimensions and
parameters upon which to build the model. The model is then built from the bottom up,
one layer at a time. Figure 6 depicts the layer sequence, while figure 7 illustrates the
Fused Deposition Modeling process.
Figure 6. Extrusion layer sequence.
Figure 7. Fused Depositon Modeling process.
In this document, an extruder for a 3D printer was constructed. The reader was
informed of the general extrusion process, as well as the necessary steps in assembling an
extruder. The implementation of the extruder into a 3D printer was also explored and
explained through a detailed description of the Fused Deposition Modeling process which
3D printers use in order to create physical models and parts.
3D Supply World. 3D Supply World. n.d. 27 March 2014
EZStruder 3D Printer Cold End Kit. n.d. 24 March 2014
Aluminum Extruders Council. Extrusion Basics. n.d. 25 March 2014
Hood-Daniel, Patrick. 3D Printer Extruder. n.d. 25 March 2014
Build Your CNC. 2006. 24 March 2014 <https://www.buildyourcnc.com/item/3DPrinter-Component-extruder>.
HotEnds. J-Head Mk V-BV. n.d. 27 March 2014
SeeMeCNC. SeeMeCNC. n.d. 24 March 2014 <http://seemecnc.com/collections/partsaccesories/products/ezstruder-cold-end-kit>.
Stratasys. FDM Technology. n.d. 25 March 2014 <http://www.stratasys.com/3dprinters/technology/fdm-technology>.