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3D printer Parts

I will show you the printer parts and the characteristics of our FDM 
large 3d printing machine.

FFF / FDM 3D Printer parts


Some manufacturers just call it an extruder, some call it a tool head and others call it an extruder block. Fact is that all FFF / FDM large 3D printer have an extruder and they all consist of multiple parts.
When we’re talking about a direct drive extruder, the extruder contains a motor which makes it bigger and more like a ‘block’. If the printer has a bowden type extruder, the motor that moves the filament is placed somewhere in the back of the printer’s frame.

Extruder parts

  • Fan
  • Thermistor / thermocouple
  • Heater block / hot end
  • Nozzle

Extruder Fan
A fan is necessary to gradually cool down the melted filament. Optimizing the air flow is an underestimated aspect of 3D printing and is needed to achieve great 3D prints.

Thermistor / thermocouple
Thermistors and thermocouples are temperature sensors. A thermistor is usually more accurate than a thermocouple, but thermocouples can handle higher temperatures. An FFF / FDM 3D printer only uses one of these in the extruder – not both – and most desktop 3D printers nowadays use a thermistor instead of a thermocouple. Measuring an exact temperature is important because a difference of a few degrees can already have a great impact on your print results.

Hot end / Heater block
The heater block or the hot end are the parts of the extruder that get hot enough to melt plastic. When you are wondering what materials a certain 3D printer can print, you look at the maximum hot end temperature. A 3D printer with a max hot end temperature of 200°C can not print nylon because nylon has a melting point of 214°C.

At the end of the extruder you will find the nozzle. Nozzle sizes typically range from 0.15 mm to 1 mm. The most commonly used size is 0.4 mm. And yes, a smaller nozzle gives smaller details.


The bed is the platform the object is printed on. Both the surface and the temperature of a bed determine whether a printer is able to print specialty materials or not. Most of the time a bed is made from borosilicate glass, aluminium or acrylic.

Heated bed

For some 3D printing materials, a heated bed is recommended / required. ABSand Polycarbonate require a bed temperature of at least 90°C. When you buy a 3D printer with a heated bed and safety is an important aspect, it is best to limit your search to 3D printers with a closed printing environment.

Print surface

Besides a certain temperature, the print surface of a bed can make a lot of difference in both getting a print to stick and removing a print from the bed. Popular print surfaces are PEI and BuildTak.

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