What is Material Extrusion 3D Printing?

Posted on Apr 05, 2020 by Cullen Hikene

What is Material Extrusion 3D Printing?

Extrusion 3D Printing is the additive process involving extrusion of material from a precisely controlled print head to form each layer of the model. After a layer is completed, the print head will rise or the build tray will descend one layer thickness so the print head can extrude the next layer, which creates visible stepping. Considering there is no supporting powder or surrounding media, extrusion prints will always require support structures for stalactites and overhangs with a large minimum overhang. Despite the support structures, extrusion processes are typically fast and affordable.



What are the Different Types of Material Extrusion 3D Printing?

  1. Material Extrusion (Plastic, Filament)
  2. Material Extrusion (Silicone, Cartridge)

What are the Advantages of Material Extrusion?

  • Material Selection. Choose from over 15 materials with a wide range of properties.
  • Relatively Affordable. Thermoplastic filaments are relatively inexpensive, making extrusion a cost-effective option, especially for larger prints.
  • Short Lead Times. Extrusion parts will typically ship in 1 – 5 business days.
  • Large Build Volume. Our largest printer can handle prints 10′ x 12′ x 20′. Those measurements are in feet!

What are the Limitations of Material Extrusion?

  • Low Durability. To successfully be jetted from an ink head, fairly low viscosity—and thus typically less durable—materials are also required. Further, as a general rule, photopolymers weaken over time, especially when exposed to light.
  • Downward-facingsurfaces. Support structures are required, the removal of which can impact surface finish and post-processing speed FDM, FFF, many FDM options. 3Diligent offers a tremendous range of extrusion printing materials, from basic ABS to aerospace-grade thermoplastics such as Ultem 9085.


Key Metrics

Standard Tolerance
+/-.005″ for the first inch, +/- .002″ each additional inch (.127mm +/- .50mm/25mm)

Stock Surface Finish
~80 µin Ra

Lead Time
1 – 5 Business Days

Maximum Size
10′ x 12′ x 25′ (3000mm x 3600mm x 7500mm)

Minimum Layer Thickness
0.005″ (0.125mm)

Minimum Feature Size
0.005″ (0.125mm)

Minimum Wall Thickness
0.04″ (1mm)


Material extrusion is an emerging technology in the 3D Printing space gaining popularity due to its fast prints with small layers thicknesses, especially in the newest machine models. Consider submitting an RFQ through manufacturing services such as ProdEX to get started today.

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