Colored Filament From a Can

On the last day of MRRF, the guys from Lulzbot were printing a vase with some clear Taulman t-glase on their TAZ 6 prototype. It was probably the third or fourth one they had printed, but I was compelled to go over there because they were painting the filament with a blue Sharpie right before it went into the extruder.

It immediately made me think of this video that hit our tips line last fall and fell through the cracks—a short one from [Angus] at Maker’s Muse about creating your own colored filament by spraying clear PLA with cheap spray paint. This is a neat alternative to painting a finished print because the color isn’t going to rub off. The pigment fuses with the PLA in the hot end, providing consistent coloring.

Disclaimer time: [Angus] ran his spray-painted PLA through a WANHAO i3, which is a cheap, modified Prusa that actually has pretty good reviews. The point is, he doesn’t care if the nozzle gets clogged. But the nozzle didn’t clog. Nothing bad happened at all, and the prints turned out great. As you can see in the video after the break, he tried silver and blue separately on short lengths of filament, and then alternated the colors to make the striped Marvin in the main image. [Angus]’ main concern is that the paint probably affects the strength of the print.

Have you tried spray painting filament? How did it go? Let us know in the comments. If you long to print in any color on the cheap but don’t want to seriously risk clogging your hot end, there’s always the drilled-out Sharpie method.

Thanks for the tip, [Steven]!

8 thoughts on “Colored Filament From a Can

    1. I was actually going to try this, but g-code complexities baffled me. The transition between colors can be made sharper by purging the nozzle, or else is always fuzzy.
      The marker method gives out strong parts and no noticeable harm, but gives washed colors on white pla.

      Sometimes i color 2-3 layers on boxes so they have a less boring look.

  1. It feels like groundhog day … i’ve seen this so many times on so many diferent websites and youtubers … it works, yes, but it may as well clog your hotend. And i’ve seen no implementation of color blending with sharpies so far, only a (successful) color gradient solution that controlled via making dots the intensity of the sharpy color applied.

    1. Alcol or water based colors can damage filament, but permanent markers do not have noticeable impact.
      I made several boxes with more filaments and breaking causes are missed steps, clogged extruders or cold joints, not color or mixing different filament together(as long as they have about the same melting pount).

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