The extruder is pretty much self-explanitory. It "extrudes" a material onto the platform. Some extruders use more than one material, but they are all the same type of substance. For example, the Fab@Home syringe extruder uses all sorts of liquid stuff. Extruders are also called toolheads.

Types of Extruders

Polymer granule Extruder

There is no advantage to using granules over rods, but sometimes you can only find granules.

Support Filler Extruder

The support filler extruder allows parts to be printed with overhangs that would otherwise not be possible to print with just a plastic extruder. Pump a syringe full of putty, then you can make even more intricate objects. It adds another layer of design challenge however. But thats a software issue wink. One idea Fab@Home does like this is use Easy Squeeze frosting as a base for a sphere. This is good. This makes me wonder then, do we really need a different extruder head for this, or can we just use the syringe extruder?

Drawing / Plotting Head

This head is actually quite simple. It consists of a pen or marker as a drawing tip and a mount to hold it, It can be used to draw stuff in 2 dimensions. the third dimension becomes more of an "on the paper / off the paper" movement, and there is even no control board required for the head itself! One very useful aspect of this is that certain common art pens are etch resistant and this head can be used to make PCB masks directly on the copper board.

Milling / Drilling Head

A milling drilling head would bridge the gap between additive manufacturing and subtractive manufacturing. on early and basic versions, it would only really need to support lightweight materials such as wood (MDF) and copper clad boards (PCB milling). These two materials would allow the machine to have the best of both worlds and also the potential to vastly simplify the circuit board creation process.

Laser Etch Tool

Consisting of a later and a system of mirrors to redirect the beam, a laser etch tool could be used for a variety of purposes. With a low powered laser, the tool could simply be used to mark designs on a printed object or with a higher powered laser it could even used to do laser sintering to make objects from a high strength metal.

Solder Paste Syringe

A solder place syringe would be a very useful addition to the Fields Metal syringe and the PCB Mill head. It would allow the machine to put solder down in places ahead of time to ease soldering of components after the fact. It would even make it much easier to use surface mount parts on RepRapped? board.

Fields Metal Syringe

Similar to the extruder, a fields metal syringe would be a syringe with a heating element that would be able to melt and extrude Fields Metal, a special metal with a low melting point. This material has a wide variety of uses in making fabricated circuits.

Fab@Home Syringe

The Fab@Home project has created a very nice syringe based print head that can extrude a variety of materials.

Fab@Home Double Syringe

The same as above, It would just have two syringes instead.

Pick and Place Tool

A pick and place head would make Rapid Prototyping one step closer to hands free circuit board production. It would be a simple grabber that would grab and place components in place on the circuit board, the print head could dramatically reduce time and effort required to build circut boards, and make the RepRap one step closer to self replication.

Soldering Tool

More of a dream than a solid idea, it would be used in conjunction with the solder paste syringe and the pick and place tool, a soldering tool would be able to make the physical solder joint to join the component to the board. It would probably take the form of a heated tip of some sort.

Hot Wax Syringe

Nearly identical to the fields metal syringe, a hot was syringe would be used to produce objects with wax. These objects could then further be used in a process called lost wax casing to produce parts out of metal such as aluminum. This would allow the RepRap project to produce its own custom metal parts.

Ceramic Print Head

A ceramics extruder would be extremely useful. It could produce a variety of objects that could then be fired. These objects would have interesting and desirable properties such as hardness, insulation, non-conductivity, etc. For example the extruder barrel could be insulated with a ceramic part printed by a RepRap.

Top Secret CandyFab print head

The CandyFab Project has no pictures of there extruder, but it uses sugar, so I want to find out how they do it. Or at least no pictures that are readily availible. I have finally found one of the machine itself, on the candyfab page. It turns out their extruder is really a hot air gun that melts the sugar. Ingenious! Now that we know how this works, we created a new page on it, the solidifiers page.

Page to be included include:help can not be found!

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