Most of the 3D printing technologies use the technique of printing in a single color. For many using 3D prints has become a new trend to shape or create various objects. In earlier days, users have to sell a fortune to create a 3D print of there choice.
But now, there are various options available. And, the technology has become less expensive too. Sorry as I cannot say that the 3D printing has become cheap. But, I can definitely say that the technique has become less expensive as compared to the past 5-10 years.
For the majority of 3D printmakers, creating a multi-colored printing job requires them to add color afterward. In the case of complex objects, painting afterward may not be a suitable option.
Therefore, the one and the only solution is to paint the 3D print partwise from the start.
Hence, in this article, I will discuss the different procedures that are used in the technology of 3D printing. Moreover, I tell you the different trends that made this technology reliable to the users.
So, proceed to the next part.
Different Categories that Come Under the Technology of 3D Color Printing
Now, have a look at the categories that I will explain to you. Hence, proceed to the following section.
Direct Color 3D Printing Technique With the Help of the Single Extruder
With the help of a single extruder, you can easily achieve many multi-colored prints. This process can be easily accomplished by providing a number of jobs within the slicing software.
Here, in this process, the G-Code will instruct the 3D printer to begin printing with a single color filament.
As the process starts, the G_Code will again instruct the printer to pause the action and then choose a new filament at some point in time. This procedure will enable anyone with a standard single extruder printer to form a multicolor object.
If swapping out the color filament sounds a time-consuming job, then you can try out the Mosiac Manufacturing the Palette 3D printer.
This device is specially developed to enable a single extruder 3D printer to print 4 or less different types of filaments simultaneously.
Moreover, in this Palette, it uses all the 4 different filaments into one single multicolored filament strand.
Here, the fusion process is governed with the help of the slicing software. On the other hand, the device uses a fixed quantity of color which can be used for a specific area of the 3D print.
Direct Color 3D Printing Procedure Through the Multiple Extruders
In the current scenario, the dual-color 3D prints have become very common. These 3D printers are regularly used to mix normal filaments with soluble support materials.
In another case, some of the complex models can be easily printed in two solid colors. This technique has been easily achieved by using two different filaments which are accumulated in a single printing section.
For instance, using the MK2/S Multi-Material Upgrade Kit on the Original Prusa i3 3D printer aims to deliver this task. Here, this device ups the ante by combining four different filaments into a single printing session.
The Possible Pros and Cons of Direct Color 3D Printing
Having so many advantages, the direct color 3D printing offers some disadvantages too. Hence, the main plus point is that the prints can easily get hold of large areas of saturated color.
On the other side, the main disadvantage is you cannot reproduce the photo-realistic textures.
Indirect Color 3D Printing
The indirect color printing processes can be best achieved by using 3D color prints that require subtle color changes. Here, the 3D printer applies the process of adding the color externally into the filament while the printing is going on.
While this Indirect process was part of the high-end 3D color printing and online services, it has now made a position in Consumer 3D printing.
Now, proceed to the next category in order to know about High-end printing and Online services.
Indirect Color 3D Printing in the High-End Printers and Online Services Section
Unlike in the previous generation, many companies nowadays offer high-end 3D printers that have the capacity to deliver full-color prints. However, these 3D printers may come at a price tag higher than the budget of an average consumer.
Therefore, these machines are mainly for industrial purposes that can produce color prints for a variety of materials in the long run.
One such company is the Stratasys. This has long been a leader in terms of making high-end 3D color printing. Moreover, the PolyJet printer of this company is also capable to form models by assembling thin layers about 16 microns of liquid photopolymer.
Also, these layers are at the same time cured with ultraviolet light.
On the other hand, HP’s Jet Fusion 3D Printer fulfills its promise to provide 3D prints in full color in a lesser time than its competitors. The main colors of HP’s Jet Fusion 3D printer use CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) pigments.
All these 4 colors are blended at fixed portions to get it at the voxel level.
Hence, this unique feature of HP’s 3D printer gives the ability to precisely print objects with color and detail. Other examples of such 3D printers are the 3DPandoras 1.0 that uses gypsum powder, a curing agent, a clear binder and CMYK inks.
Mimaki is another example that uses ultraviolet curing technology from 2D printing. In this process, a pigmented UV-curable resin is converted into solid-state by steaming it through industrial inkjet heads.
Its device can singlehandedly boasts 360,000 colors and also 6 different textures.
In case you feel like the high-end 3D printers are not your piece of cake, then you can try out the 3D printing online services. These services provide a variety of options for anyone who wants a professional 3D printing.
The Online Services Sector
In the Online service section, there are many websites that make 3D prints and then delivers it at your doorstep directly. Some of the companies like Shapeways and i.materialize are great places to fulfill all your 3D printing.
Moreover, these online 3D prints can be cost-efficient and you can easily place the order without any hassle.
In the process of online Color 3D printing, you have to upload the model and then pay the appropriate fee. As the process finishes, your full-color 3D model will be delivered back to you at your doorstep within a few days.
In the 3D printing process, the materials used are plaster or sandstone.
These materials provide the best results but in the long run, they become fragile. In some cases, plastic is used for online 3D printing. The main advantage of using plastic instead of other materials is that it is more robust and does not break easily.
Indirect Color 3D Printing Using Full Color Consumer-Based 3D Printers
In this category, you will get to know about the 3D printers that are made for a common consumer. As the 3D printing technology is becoming cheaper day by day, some companies come up to provide these services to the common man.
Hence, with this aim, MCor has come up with full-color 3D printing models with a little twist.
Here, it uses the regular printing paper inside of using plastic. The use of paper allows the 3D printers to fused the inks and the next layer of paper together. As a result, you will get a full-color 3D print.
However, the main disadvantage of this technique is that the inks can spill or spread easily.
Using a similar process like the MCor printers, the Da Vinci Color printer of XYZPrinitng has come up with a different process.
Here, its printer deposits a specially-formulated filament which can quickly absorb the CMYK inks before the next layer is applied.
Therefore, this will result in an impressive full-color print. Additionally, you will get a feel of a translucent appearance on the surface of the 3D paper print.
A major drawback of these printers is the integrity of the 3D printed surface. In case there are any problems in the printing process, it cannot be fixed easily. Because here, the color is directly pressed with the filament.
If you try to fix any issue, then it can cause blemishes on the print surface.
Embracing CMYK Color 3D Printing Technology
The common thing that applies to both the high-end and consumer-based 3D printing is the use of the ink-jet system. This will allow the user to generate millions of colors through the combination of the CMYK ink set.
However, it is hard to predict the resultant 3D print model.
The problem is not in the technology, the problem occurs by the description of the color. Some of the 3D graphics use the RGB (Red, Blue, and Green) format of coloring. Therefore, this format cannot easily translate into the CMYK color process.
The RGB is taken as an additive form of color format whereas the CMYK is taken as a subtractive color format. Hence, it forms a mismatch.
Wrapping it up
I can say that the future of color 3D printing is very bright. As with new innovations, this 3D printing technology can become cheaper soon.
In the coming years, I can expect that you can print full-color 3D prints as easily as printing normal papers.
So, this is the various categories of Color 3D printing that you should know about. Therefore, by knowing these, you will get an idea of how you can get your 3D models printed.
Hence, I hope that this article has benefited you to choose the right category of 3D printing technology for your 3D models.