Maker Faire Multicolor and Multi Material 3D Printing

The next frontier of desktop 3D printing is multi-material and multi-color prints. Right now, you can buy a dual toolhead for a Lulzbot, and dual toolheads from other companies exist, although they are a bit rare. In the next few years, we’re going to see a lot of printers able to print dissolvable supports and full-color 3D printers.

Printing in more than one color is almost here, but that doesn’t mean we’re on the cusp of a complete revolution. Multi-material printing is lagging a little bit behind; you’ll be able to print two colors of PLA next year, but printing an object in PLA and ABS is going to be a bit tricky. Printing something in PLA and nylon will be very hard. Color mixing, likewise, will be tricky. We can do it, the tools are getting there, but think of this year as a preview of what we’ll be doing in five years.

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Diamond Hotend Opens the Color Gamut for 3D Printing

It’s safe to say we’ve hit a bit of a plateau with hobby based 3D printers using FDM technology. Print quality is pretty high, they’re about as fast as they’re going to get, and compared to commercial machines they’re a pretty good bang for your buck. So what’s next? What about printing in color?

diamondhotend-1It is possible to print in color using a regular 3D printer and a bit of patience, but it’s really not economical or efficient. We’ve seen multiple extruder heads for 3D printing as well, but there are many problems with that due to calibration and trailing plastic from one head to another. So what if you could feed multiple color filaments into a single mixing head?

Well, it turns out you can. Earlier this year RepRap ran a Kickstarter for the development of the Diamond Hotend —  a single nozzle multi-color extruder. It’s in production now and appears to work quite well. It’s also compatible with many 3D printers as long as the motherboard has triple extruder support.

However, the big question remains — how do you program a colored print? Using Repetier Host actually. You’ll need to export your 3D model in the .AMF file format, but once you do, you’ll be able to configure it for a color print job inside Repetier Host.

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