3D printing, All

Which extruder should you choose? Bowden vs Direct


Some time ago I replaced the extruder in my Ender 3, it was a replacement from the original bowden type extruder to the Titan AERO extruder, but with the replacement I could also choose whether to stay with the bowden version, and maybe change to the direct version. two versions, really just for yourself. However, I would like to share this with you. In this post, I will present the advantages and disadvantages of both versions.
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Extruder version in which both the print head and the entire filament feeding mechanism are located directly on the same trolley. It is a simple and universal solution because it does not pose any problems with printing with various plastics.


It is characterized by feeding the material (Filament) through a long and flexible Teflon tube. All elements such as the stepper motor, feed rack, etc. are attached to the printer frame from where the filament is fed to the print head placed on the trolley.

Direct vs Bowden

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  • Increased weight of the trolley by mounting a heavy stepper motor directly at the print head,
  •     It is possible for a moving cart to entangle the filament before the extruder reaches the extruder.
  •     It is possible to use a much lower retraction value which directly affects the quality of the print.
  •     With the possibility of using little or no retraction, it is possible to print rubber, which is very difficult with Bowden type extruders.
  •     It is necessary to use lower printing speeds, but these values ​​do not have a dramatic difference.
    • In this version, it is possible to easily replace all elements because it is located outside the print head.
    • Low chance of filament entanglement. This is because the material is always fed from the same place,
    • Low weight of the stroller. This affects the inertia of the entire element. This allows faster changes to the head movement, increases printing speed, increases accuracy. It is especially important for the x and y axes,
    • In this version, the filament is fed through a long Teflon tube, more friction must be overcome. Therefore, the tubes are made of PTFE, which has a low coefficient of friction.
    • The filament in the tube may also be bent, which may result in deterioration of the printouts or complete clogging of the device,
    • It is necessary to use a lot of material retraction which affects the quality of printing.

    Summary, or what to really choose?

    I believe that each version of the extruder is good in its own way, so you really need to check what interests you and what we will use the printer for. It is up to us what we require from the prints. A very wide range of extruders is available on the market. Everyone is different but they fall into these two main groups. Before the exchange, it is worth considering what will be the right one for you.

    It is very important to configure the printer properly from scratch after replacement. Printing parameters such as retraction and printing speed must be changed. I showed this during my extruder and heating block replacement. I replaced the extruder from the Bowden version with the Direct version in my printer and I am very pleased with it. I use very low retraction values ​​or not at all because my most common prints are flexible plastics.

    I will only add that in retrospect and the development of 3D printing, now I would choose a Direct solution, because many improvements in the field of electronics and stiffening of the structure allowed us to get rid of most of the disadvantages of the Direct type solution. In the case of Bowden type extruders, I still haven't found a good solution for filament wedging inside a well-fitted Teflon tube that connects the feeding mechanism to the print head.

    Image Caption

    Konrad Potiomkin

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