3D Printing How To

Can I print in multiple colors?

Printing in multiple colors

Well: Yes and no.

Almost all desktop 3D printers are only capable of printing unicolor pieces, at the moment. You can only feed them filament of one color. To be able to print objects in multiple colors, you would have to pause the printing process and change the filament. That may sound simple, but it isn’t really practical.

That is why some desktop 3D printers have two nozzles that can be fed with filament of different colors. Once the printer is printing and needs to change the color, it simply switches the nozzle to accomplish its purpose. The popular Makerbot Replicator 2X is equipped with dual nozzles.

The diamond nozzle and some multicolor 3d prints that were done with its help (source: kickstarter)
The Diamond nozzle and some multicolor 3d prints that were done with its help (source: kickstarter)

Two interesting Kickstarter projects recently offered solutions to the multi-color problem:

1. The Diamond Hotend by Danish company RepRap.me is a single-nozzle hotend that allows precise timing of color changes and has three feeds for different types of filament. It costs only $180.

2. The Palette takes in four filament inputs and combines them. Your printer gets one single filament input so you do not have to mess around with the machine. The Palette automates the whole process of measuring how much of which filament is required. All you need is to include the Palette and its software in your 3D printing routine. It will cost $899.

Both Kickstarter projects have been successful. The Diamond Hotend has been announced for July 2015, The Palette will not be available before January 2016.