26/07/2020

PROJECT: Just How Multi-Material Is The MMU2S?

TL;DR: The "Multi-Material Upgrade" should really be called the "Multi-Colour Upgrade", as printing with different materials requires crazy amounts of purging (>2500mm³) between swaps. If you want true multi-material capability then you need a printer with at least two separate hotends

Following on from my previous post on the MMU2S, I decided to test out just how multi-material it actually is. I did this by printing some PLA & PETG samples, and testing their layer adhesion strength. The reason for this somewhat strange combo is that both PLA & PETG stick reasonably well to each other when being printed, however once the part cools the two plastics are easy to separate. Making them an ideal combo to print 0mm interface supports 


The Setup

Filament used for tests:

Believe it or not but the stock PrusaSlicer (as of v2.2.0) does not have the capability to smoothly transition between different material temperatures. For example, say you want to print PLA at 200°C and PETG at 225°C. With the stock slicer when you change from: 
  • PLA → PETG, the PLA will be unloaded at 225°C, leading to stringy tips
  • PETG → PLA, the old PETG will be purged at 200°C, making it impossible to purge old material
To get around this I recommend using PrusaSlicer 2.2.0 DRIBBLING by antimix, as it allows you to control the load/unload temperature


Below is how the 10 samples were configured in PrusaSlicer, as well as what they looked like when printed:


Finally, to test the layer adhesion strength I made up a simple three-point bending flexural test jig:


The Results

Before we get to the data, I need to first raise a few points:
  1. For the single material layer strength (Single Mode) I manually purged ~2500mm³ of PLA/PETG before starting the print by feeding ~1m of filament though the hotend. This will be considered as the maximum possible layer adhesion strength for each material
  2. The 500mm³ Purge has two data points, one for a purge temperature of 235°C and the other for 260°C. As you would expect purging old PETG at 260°C (loading PLA) helps with PLA layer strength as it's easier for the old PETG to exit the hotend. Interestingly purging old PLA at 260°C (loading PETG) has the opposite effect, I suspect this is due to old PLA carbonising in the hotend
  3. To get the break weight of each sample I recorded the scales display at 1080p 60fps and then played the video back at half speed on my PC
  4. The largest purge volume I did when using the MMU2S is 1250mm³. I decided to stop things here and extrapolate the data I had with an exponential relationship 
  5. Lastly, you might say that PETG is quite a "sticky" material and that it's difficult to fully purge it from the hotend. Turns out that same is true for PLA (and I suspect other materials), as in both cases you need crazy purge volumes (>2500mm³) to fully clear the hotend
With that out of the way, here is all the data I collected:



Outcome & Tips

Basically there is no easy way out when printing different materials on the MMU2S. You need to purge at least 2500mm³ if you want to have any chance of removing the old material (same is true for both PLA & PETG). Turns out the same holds true in the injection moulding world, "General-purpose nozzles have a dead spot in the nose and take about 50 shots to purge clean"

To give you an idea, here is how a 2500mm³ block looks like in PrusaSlicer:


With all that said, if you do decide to use the MMU2S for multi-material prints then I highly recommend getting an E3D v6 Pro Sock. As earlier on I found that swapping between PLA/PETG creates little beads which if left for long enough merge and grow in size, eventually making a big blob on the nozzle that knocks anything in it's path. Swapping the normal silicone sock to the Pro solved this for me:

So looks like I won't be having 0mm interface supports with my Half-Life 2 AR2 project D:

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