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Inexpensive Full Color 3D Printing May Be Coming

One of the few flaws of additive manufacturing is that the ability to print in multiple colors simultaneously isn’t yet widely available. It should come as no surprise that the AM manufacturers are working on this problem. Quality 3D prints in multiple colors would be valuable for everything from rapid prototyping to end-use products.

One attempt to solve this dilemma is being undertaken by Hyrel 3D, a small company that is looking for funding via that new machine of innovation: Kickstarter. Hyrel is in the process of designing a material extrusion system with a three-color print head. The colors will be green, blue and red.

Hyrel 3D Printer

Prototype Hyrel 3D printer. The finished product aims to bring full color to the desktop. Courtesy of Hyrel 3D.

The proposed system will mix the colors, during a print, to create full-color objects. For technology literate people, mixing red, green and blue to produce different colors should sound familiar. The RGB model has been used for many years to create colors in TV screens and computer monitors.

Hyrel 3D reached (and surpassed) its Kickstarter goal, so it will be interesting to see if the company can actually produce what it has promised. Full color 3D printing is an ambitious project, particularly when you add the promise of control over opacity, texture and shading to the mix. To this point, no small company has even managed to build a multiple color AM system that operates with any amount of reliability.

It should be noted that the ZPrinter 650, from 3D Systems, is already capable of printing in full color (and was used on the set of ParaNorman), but the purchase price is prohibitive for many businesses. Hyrel says it is is looking to price its printer in the $5,000 range, making it more easily accessible to small business.

If this project succeeds, other companies are bound to take notice and follow suit. Manufacturing  3D printers is a competitive business, and it seems unlikely that bigger companies will sit back and watch potential customers spend money elsewhere without offering a similar product.

Below you’ll find the original Kickstarter video for Hyrel 3D.

Sources: Hyrel 3D, MacLife

About John Newman

John Newman is a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering magazine. He covers the rapid prototyping and manufacturing beat.

One comment

  1. Interesting article but even more Interesting to see a machine reproduce ‘full color’ with Red, Green and Blue pigments… RGB is used for additive color mixing (light) and it is impossible to create color images in print (subtractive color mixing) based on these colors.

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