Extrusion in 3D Printing

Extrusion platforms range from affordable desktop units to large-format production machines and are widely used across industries due to their versatility, low-cost feedstocks and user-friendly operation. Applications include prototyping, jigs and fixtures, tooling and patterns, end-use parts and even medical implants and instruments.

What are the primary benefits of extrusion printing?

  • Extrusion finished 3D Printed part


    The printers are typically more affordable than other plastic printers, there are low-cost feedstock options, and the rapid print times help offset costs.

  • EXT MED 220 interface


    While devising 3D models can be complex, generally the printers themselves are generally user friendly and easy to operate, eliminating the need for extensive technical expertise. 

  • PPSU color swatches

    Unmatched Material Variety

    Extrusion printers can process a broad range of thermoplastic materials, enabling a wide array of applications from prototyping to functional parts production. 

  • Extrusion 3D Printer building a part

    Rapid Build Speeds

    Extrusion 3D printing enables quick turnaround times, making it an ideal technology for rapid prototyping and final part production. Post-processing is often faster, too. 

Extrusion Applications

  • Prototyping

    • Quick fit-up prototypes
    • Functional prototypes
  • Tooling and Patterns

    • Thermoforming molds and patterns 
    • Sand casting patterns 
    • Composite layup tools 
    • Investment casting patterns 
  • Jigs and Fixtures

    • Welding jigs 
    • Assembly fixtures 
    • Thermoform trim fixtures 
  • Production

    • Short-run end-use components 
    • Ducting (aerospace and automotive) 
    • Orthotics 
    • Furniture and décor 
  • Medical

    • Autoclavable medical devices 
    • Surgical implants 

Extrusion Materials

The thermoplastics used in extrusion printing are available in a wide range of formulations from commodity plastics like PLA, ABS, PETG, ASA, polycarbonate and nylon to aerospace and high-performance polymers for healthcare such as PEEK and Radel® PPSU. Elastomers and carbon-reinforced or glass-filled materials are also available. The open market for extrusion printing materials is expansive, but not every material is printable on every machine. The feedstock format, filaments or pellets, is a primary consideration, as well as maximum nozzle, bed and chamber temperatures.  

  • a person's hand scooping up black, plastic pellets


    Thermoplastic pellets are the most affordable 3D printing feedstock available. Pellets also enable high speed printing with larger nozzles, making them the preferred feedstock for large-format extrusion additive manufacturing. Pellet printing also allows the use of highly flexible elastomers as well as high-percentage carbon and glass-filled plastics that are difficult or impossible to print with filament.  

  • a roll of filament material


    Most extrusion-based 3D printers use thermoplastic filament feedstock due to its convenience and availability from various suppliers. Filament is supplied on spools, making it easy to handle and store. Filament is the preferred choice for highly detailed parts and when a clean surface finish is essential. 

  • Explore Extrusion Materials

    Explore our full catalog of pellet and filament extrusion materials for prototypes, production tooling, end-use production parts, and medical applications. 

Learn More About our Extrusion 3D Printers

3d Systems’ growing line of extrusion (EXT) 3D printers are reliable, high-performance machines designed for professional and industrial use. Functional parts printed on EXT machines can be found in factories, vehicles, art galleries, hospitals and even human bodies.  

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