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3D Printer Anatomy & How it Works

Want to know how 3D printers work and what’s going on inside of one? Here we dissect a 3D printer to give you an overview of the main parts of a 3D printer. We don’t cover every single nut and bolt, just the important parts that are instrumental in printing.

1. Heat Sink
The heat sink keeps heat from traveling upward and melting the plastic prematurely.
2. Heat Sink Fan
Attached to the heat sink, the fan blows air across the heat
sink to prevent heat from creeping upward in the filament.
3. PTFE Tube
The PTFE tube prevents heat from traveling up the extruder and melting 3D printer filament prematurely.
4. Heater Cartridge/Heat Element
This heats up the plastic for extrusion. The heater cartridge is essentially a resistor.
5. Thermistor/Thermocouple/RTD
A thermisitor is the most common temperature sensor. It measures the temperature in the printer’s hot end. A thermocoupler works similarly, but can handle higher temperatures. These are usually ceramic or a polymer. A resistance temperature detector (RTD) also measures temperature in the hot end, but is metal.
6. Nozzle
This is the hold for the melted 3D printer filament to be extruded. Nozzles come in different sizes and materials to accommodate the different filaments available

3D printer hot end diagram

M. Hot End

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