If you read the fine print you’ll see that the Hardened extruder is recommended for abrasive filaments such as Nylon, Carbon Fiber and other composites such as wood fill. Again, if you read the fine print on the A1 is an open-air printer. The filaments that require hardened gears are specifically mentioned as not-recommended for the A1 precisely because they require and enclosed printer to provide warm temps for those abrasive filaments.
So in short, the A1 was really designed primarily for PLA which is much softer. A hardened extruder would be overkill and waste of money. But nothing is stopping you from installing one.
However, from the looks of the two parts, they do not look interchangable. In the photo below is a side by side. The A1 extruder is on the left and the hardened extruder for the P1 and C1 is on the right. So it may be moot.
I think @espariz may have been referring to buying the whole A1 extruder which does mention “hardened steel” several times in the description.
The Extruder Unit features dual gears made of hardened steel to feed filament into the hotend. The hardened steel gears provide increased extrusion force, prevent slippage, and enhance abrasion resistance. These gears enable the extruder unit to handle tough engineering filaments such as carbon fiber nylon and glass fiber nylon.
But… when you look at the X1C extruder description it is eerily similar so perhaps the A1 description might be a copying error?
The hardened steel extruder unit is equipped with double gears made of hardened steel, which provides increased extrusion force, prevents slippage, and enhances abrasion resistance. These gears enable the extruder unit to handle tough engineering filaments such as carbon fiber nylon and glass fiber nylon .
Also, considering the cost difference it would make in the printer price, I’ve never understood why they don’t make the hardened extruder the default in all printers. Well, other than as a way to make more money when selling the P1P and P1S.
It does make one wonder what goes on in the minds of Product Managers.
When I worked in a tech company that has since merged with others, I often faced criticism for certain bundle decisions I made. Although the criticism was usually valid, in the corporate world, you often have to please multiple bosses. This leads to bundling decisions driven more by inventory issues than by what’s logical. For example, if hardened extruders were scarce, then it makes sense to bundle available items. Conversely, excess inventory would lead to different decisions. Outsiders might see this as disorganized, but insiders understand it’s about balancing finances and pleasing stakeholders, rather than just satisfying salespeople or customers.
It’s helpful to understand these nuances in product marketing if you want to be able to distinguish a deal vs a ripoff. I’ll give a great example I think we all missed last year. When the A1-mini came out before the A1. Many A1-mini customers felt ripped off. However, if we had been thinking it through, shouldn’t the name “A1-mini” have tipped us off? I know I missed it. But in my own defense, I wasn’t in the buy-mode at the time. Perhaps if I were, I would have posted something here for folks to wait.
In my other systems-builder hobby, we see this happening with Graphics cards. NVIDIA has trained us to know that anything they release will typically have a 70, 80 or 90 at the end of the model number. They used to also have a 50 and 60. But we also know to wait for the -TI suffix if we want the version with faster or larger memory. Lately NVIDIA has been breaking their own modeling scheme and some postulate this is to throw off the tech media whereas others accuse them of incompetency.