If you want to bring your fantasies and 2D image files to life, as well as have interesting and useful 3d printed gadgets, then we recommend using a 3D printer with a direct drive extruder.
What are 3D printing and a 3D printer?
3D printing is the creation of a three-dimensional physical object by scanning or designing in a computer program – a 3D editor.
A 3D printer is a specialized device for the layer-by-layer creation of a model pre-defined in a 3D modeling computer program.
As the popularity and number of direct drive 3D printer manufacturers grow, it is difficult to choose which printer you need.
One of the key benefits of using direct drive 3D printers is precise retraction control. This helps to minimize the distance from the filament to the focus, allowing complex, smooth and reliable output.
So let’s find out the top best direct drive extruder 3D printers.
Top 5 best direct drive extruder 3D printers
1. Prusa i3 MK3S
The best direct drive 3D printer is the Prusa i3 MK3S+
This printer has reliability, print quality, constant updates, and great support.
One of the reasons why Prusa’s complete 3D printers are so renowned for their durability and reliability is because they use high-quality parts – the direct drive extruder is designed by Prusa in-house and features an E3D V6 hot end and Bondtech parts.
You can even upgrade your Prusa with Multi Material Upgrade 2.0 and print up to 5 different threads and colors at the same time!
Pros and cons of Prusa i3 MK3S
2. Artillery Sidewinder X1 V4
Another wide-format printer with an excellent direct-drive extruder is the Artillery Sidewinder X2. With a print volume of 300 x 300 x 400 mm, you can print unlimited! Artillery, the manufacturer of the Sidewinder X2, uses dual Z-axis stepper motors to prevent the X-axis gantry from sagging.
The Sidewinder X2 has an extruder based on the E3D Titan design with a 3:1 gear ratio and two drive gears. This should help prevent filament slippage and provide increased extrusion power. Because the extruder is in a direct drive configuration, you can print with flexible filaments as they cannot stretch.
The printer is quite easy to operate and features a full-color LCD touchscreen with an excellent graphical user interface. The printer also uses a 32-bit motherboard with a fast processor, so the interface should work smoothly.
Pros and cons of Artillery Sidewinder X1 V4
3. Creality Ender 3 S1
Creality Ender 3 S1 is the ideal printer for everyone, especially beginners, with standard features, good performance, and a user-friendly interface. It may not be as advanced as its competitors, but the price is the best on the market.
With this version of the Ender 3, Creality has added an automatic CR-Touch sensor. The printer also has a filament runout sensor right below the filament spool, so you can rest easy knowing that if your filament runs out or breaks, the printer will pause until a new filament is inserted.
The Creality Ender 3 S1 has a spring steel PEI build plate that provides an excellent typing grip yet is flexible and magnetic so it’s still very easy to shoot models. Considering the Ender 3 S1’s fairly low price and all of its features, it’s safe to say that this direct drive 3D printer is a great choice for those looking for a medium-sized 3D printer.
Pros and cons of Creality Ender 3 S1
4. Qidi Tech X-Pro
If you have enough money and want to print large models, you should consider the Qidi Tech X-Max. From the labs, Qidi Technology X-Max boasts a large build volume of 300 x 250 x 300mm. With so much space, you can print all your favorite models, from a complete set of T-Rex bones to cosplay accessories.
Qidi Tech X-Pro is a professional printer. Featuring a durable heated aluminum plate, excellent micron resolution, and dual direct drive extruders. Not only does it allow multi-colored filaments to be used at the same time, but it also has slicing software, making it an ideal printer for beginners and educators.
The X-Max features a closed frame that traps heat around the build space, creating optimal conditions for printing temperature-sensitive materials such as ABS and ASA.
X-Max has an interchangeable printhead system that can be used to switch from a printhead suitable for PLA, ABS, and TPU to an additional printhead that is best suited for printing with nylon, carbon, and polycarbonate filaments.
Pros and cons of Qidi Tech X-Pro
5. Flashforge Creator Pro
FlashforgeCreator Pro is one of the most affordable, colorful, and popular direct-drive 3D printers on the market. Flashforge Creator Pro is a medium-sized printer that has not one but two direct-drive extruders!
The Creator Pro is a dual extrusion system of FDM printer with hot-end nozzles on the same print head and a direct drive extruder for each. Having two direct drive extruders allows you to print with filaments of different colors or even different materials, which can be useful in some scenarios, such as when creating a certain prototype.
The closed design with a maximum heated bed temperature of 120°C and a maximum nozzle temperature of 240°C allows the printing of ABS, ASA, carbon fiber, and other high-temperature materials. In addition, direct drive extruders make it much easier to print flexible materials such as TPU. Also, you can print using an SD card or USB flash drive.
Many of the current customers are delighted with its user-friendly interface, high performance, and high print quality, which includes a wide range of features. It is the ideal printer for many hobbyists, consumers, and small businesses.
Pros and cons of Flashforge Creator Pro
Bowden Extruder or a Direct Drive Extruder: Which is better?
Direct Extrusion System
With a direct extrusion setup, the extruder pushes the filament straight into the nozzle.
Bowden drive extruder system
Unlike direct extrusion, in the Bowden system, the extruder is mounted on the frame of the printer. It pushes and pulls the filament through the long PTFE tube connecting to the hot end. The extruder assembly consists of a stepper motor, a knurled bolt or drive gear, and an idler attached to either the gantry or frame of the printer. The extruder consists of a motor, gearbox, and idler, and the assembly adds the rest of the components to it.
Important factors when choosing the extruder systems
1. Stability of the frame and movement system
Many delta printers, for example, cannot easily handle the weight and vibration associated with a direct extruder.
2. Print speed
Speed is also a decisive factor. If fast and accurate printing with standard materials is your priority, a Bowden extruder setup will be more suitable.
Finally, you must consider the materials you would like to print. If you are interested in flexible or abrasive fibers, a direct extrusion system is likely to be the right choice for you.
What does direct drive mean 3D printer?
A direct drive 3D printer means that in a direct drive system, the extruder is mounted on a printer’s frame that pushes the material straight into the nozzle.
What is better direct drive or Bowden?
The biggest difference lies in printing flexible filaments. If you want to print fast and not use a flexible filament, you can use a Bowden extruder. However, if you want to print flexible filaments, a straight extruder is recommended.
Is Ender 3 direct drive better?
For flexible materials, direct drive is a much better option than the Bowden system due to the shorter filament path, better settings and performance of the Ender 3 direct drive, and more precise extrusion control, but for standard filaments such as PLA and ABS, Ender 3 the standard setup is more than up to the task.
Is Ender 3 v2 direct drive worth it?
The direct drive Ender 3 v2 is worth it because it will not only make it easier for you to print with flexible materials, but it will also improve your overall extrusion.
What are the main components of an extruder?
A typical extruder usually consists of seven main components, such as feed assembly, extruder barrel, extruder screw, extruder drive, extrusion discharge system or die, heating/cooling system, and safety and control facilities.
Of course, there is no single right choice when choosing direct drive 3D printers, as there are priorities that suit certain users with specific needs. If you have enough money, you can purchase Prusa I3 or FlashForge Creator Pro. For a more affordable option, Ender 3S1 will do.
The Prusa I3 has a large build volume, many compatible threads, and automatic bed leveling. If you’re willing to assemble it yourself, you can purchase a kit relatively cheaply. The firmware also has a power failure recovery function, so if the power goes out while printing, the printer will resume printing when power is restored.
However, remember that the choice of direct drive printer depends entirely on your specific needs (and budget). All of the 3D printers on this list are great choices and they all feature high-quality prints and direct drive extruders so every printer is the “best” for someone.