I've built the mechanics of my 3d printer myself, because I need to print parts that are really huge, (and for budget reasons). So, I already have the 3d movement functionality.
But what I need now, is the printing mechanism itself. I've been reading a lot, but it became clear to me that things are more complicated than I thought.
Let's skip mechanics and software, I'm just interested in how the print head works. Can somebody explain me that?
To be honest, I was so naive that I thought that I just had to buy 1 part with 1 data wire (print/noprint) and the 5v/gnd wires. But it came to my intension that things are way more complicated.
For example, these RepRap printers have some kind of air tube attached to the print head. Not sure what that's all about, is it cooling ?
Perhaps I'm always reading the wrong manuals (i.e. the more advanced ones). Can somebody enlighten me or point me to a good starting point ?
The first point to start would be the reprap wiki entry for extruders: http://reprap.org/wiki/Category:Extruders
I am not going to sum this up, just because of its sheer mass. You can also google for extruder and/or hotend in combination with 3d printing for a first starting point.