direct extrusion vs. Bowden: Which is better?

One of the most important aspects to consider when choosing a 3D printer is the type of extruder it will use, direct extrusion or Bowden.

In this article, I want to explore the differences between the two options and which one is best for your 3D printer.

What is direct extrusion

Direct extrusion is an extrusion system that is mounted directly on the print head (Hotend). The filament is fed directly from the extruder to the print head, where it is melted and deposited on the build platform layer by layer.

Ender 3 Extrusión directa
Ender 3 Direct Extrusion

This type of extruder is commonly used in high-end desktop 3D printers and high-end 3D printers.

Advantages of direct extrusion

  • Mismatches or mismatches are avoided in the pneumatic connectors.
  • Ability to print flexible and abrasive materials.
  • Easier to change filament

Disadvantages of direct extrusion

  • Increased weight on the print head, which can decrease print speed
  • Higher cost (of 3D printers) compared to Bowden extruders.

What is the bowden extruder

The Bowden extruder is characterized by having the motor and the extruder separated from the print head. The filament is fed from the extruder through a Teflon tube and deposited in the print head.

Extrusión directa vs. Bowden
Bowden type extrusion system

This type of extruder is commonly used in low-cost desktop 3D printers and mid-range 3D printers.

Bowden Extruder Advantages

  • Less weight on the print head, which increases print speed.
  • Lower cost compared to direct extrusion 3D printers.

Bowden Extruder Disadvantages

  • Limitations in printing flexible and abrasive materials.
  • Difficult to change the filament.
  • Possible errors when loosening the bowden tubes from the couplings.

Which system is best for your 3D printer?

If you are looking for greater precision in printing and the ability to print flexible and abrasive materials, direct extrusion is the best option.

Direct extrusion comes factory installed for high-end, high-end desktop 3D printers (although there are exceptions), while the Bowden extruder is already installed by default in low-cost and mid-range 3D printers.

The fact that this extrusion system has some advantages does not mean that the quality of 3D prints will be bad with a Bowden system. Still the advantages of a direct extruder are considerable.

If what you want is to upgrade your bowden system printer to a direct extrusion system then you should analyze which one is compatible with your 3D printer.

Typically when purchasing a direct extruder for an Ender 3, you will need to include a new spool with the motor already mounted, ready to go.

Change Ender 3 to direct extrusion

If you cannot or do not want to buy a direct extrusion system for your Ender 3, what you can do is try a Thingiverse design that allows you to do this adaptation with the same extruder motor.

I recommend printing it in Petg for longer life and getting the extension cords.

Video channel: Fotorius

Direct Extruders Catalog

Here you can see some of the best-selling direct extruders on Amazon, always remember before buying that you must verify which one is appropriate for your 3D printer.


The choice between direct extrusion and Bowden extruder will depend on the type of 3D printer you have, (or the one you want to buy), the type of projects you want to do and your skills and experience as a user.

Both options have advantages and disadvantages, but if I had to recommend an option I would choose direct extrusion, either to buy a new 3D printer or to make the change with the one you already have.

If you already have experience and want to make improvements to your 3D printer, I recommend making that change., with the aim of experimenting with new types of filaments and reducing the possible problems of a Bowden system (Tubes that get rid of pneumatic couplings for example).

If you are NOT very experienced yet then I do not recommend changing the extruder of your 3D printer. I would tell you to wait until you gain a bit of experience printing and learning about retractions.

Remember that if you change your 3D printer to a direct extrusion system you must necessarily experiment with retractions.

Frequent questions

  1. Is the direct extrusion more precise than the Bowden extruder?

Yes, generally more accurate than the Bowden extruder due to its configuration and design.

  1. Can I print flexible materials with the Bowden extruder?

Yes, it is possible to print flexible materials with the Bowden extruder, but it is more difficult than direct extrusion and requires some changes to the extruder.

  1. Which is easier to use, direct extrusion or Bowden extruder?

The Bowden extruder is generally easier to use and maintain.

Thank you for your visitI recommend you see the post: No filament coming out of the extruder an article that might interest you.

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