Multicolor 3D Printing: Where Is It Heading Next?

[Image: Hackaday]
There’s been a lot of talk recently about multicolor and full color 3D printing. As 3D printing technology advances, the things that can be done with plastic materials are becoming more sophisticated. Gone are the days in which 3D prints necessarily have to be printed in one color and then painted. Although some people find painting prints enjoyable, it’s time-consuming and can be difficult, especially when prints have fine details. Multicolor 3D printing is now becoming more and more accessible and advanced. As of now, there are three different ways that FFF 3D printer users can print in multiple colors: manual filament change, CMYK color mixing, and colorizing.

Manual filament changing is exactly what it sounds like – beginning a print in one color, then stopping the 3D printer at a certain point, changing the filament to another color, and continuing the print. This is still the most popular means of printing in multiple colors. It’s easy to do either between or within layers, and there is also automatic filament switching devices that can be added to any 3D printer to make it easier. Multi-extruder 3D printers are also becoming more common and affordable so that filament doesn’t have to be changed out manually; many slicers have the capability to change from one color to another during a print so that the process is fully automated. The only downside is that color mixing is not possible; you’re limited to whatever filament colors are available for your 3D printer. With some 3D printers, that’s not a lot – although if you have a 3D printer with an open filament system, your choices are greater but still limited.

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