Prior to this era, multicolour printers were out of the reach of an average customer, prosumers or even for that matter, hobbyists.

But now with the abundance and availability of the multicolour printers, 3D printing has become a thing which is eagerly pursued.

Multicolour printing is broadly divided into two streams.

  1. Direct Colour 3D Printing
  2. Indirect Colour 3D Printing

In the first option, the colour is derived from the filaments used in an FDM printer. While in the latter, colour is applied from an external source to the filament during the printing process.


Advantages & Disadvantages of Direct Colour 3D Printing:

The utmost advantage is that it's easy to attain large areas of saturated colour.

The main disadvantage is that mixing colours is impossible and, as a result, photo-realistic textures are impossible to reproduce..

Point to recollect is that prints are only nearly as good because the filaments used. Filaments from different manufacturers might cause jams or bonding issues between layers of various filament colours.

  1. Via Single Extruder

Assigning multiple tasks within your slicing software offers you success while printing multi-coloured objects.

How: The G-Code will instruct your printer to start with one colour filament then pause at a particular layer height. At that time, a new filament is swapped out and therefore the print job is resumed.

This system allows anyone with a typical single extruder printer to make a multicolour object.

The easier option is using ‘Mosaic Manufacturing’s Palette 2’.

It is constructed in a way that it permits one extruder 3D printer to simply print up to four different filaments at an equivalent time. Taking four separate filaments as input, it fuses them into one multi-coloured filament strand.

As due to the fusing process is being controlled by the slicing software, a model has the precise amount of colour required for a selected area of a 3D print

  1. Via Multiple Extruders

Dual extrusion printers are ordinarily used now. Accustomed to combining normal filaments with soluble support materials, the dual intruders do an excellent job.


3D colour prints that need subtle colour changes are best achieved using indirect colour printing processes.

The colour here is applied from an external source to the filament during the printing. These processes have previously been more common amongst high-end 3D colour printer models and online services.

However, the technology is now filtering right down to consumer 3D printers.

  1. Via High End Printers & Online Services

Stratasys has long been a pacesetter in high-end 3D colour printing, offering a variety of printers at various price points.

print. HP’s proprietary process uses CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) pigments that are mixed at the “voxel” level.

This process gives HP’s colour 3D printer, an edge over other printers to print objects with incredible precision, colour, shape and detail.

Many companies offer high-end 3D printers that produce full-colour prints. However, the worth for these printers is well above the budget of the typical consumer. These machines are industrial 3D printers that produce colour prints and a diversity of materials.

The main advantage of plastic is that it's more robust and fewer likely to break or shatter when dropped.

Companies like i.Materialize now provide full-colour printing with plastic using the CMYK inkjet process almost like a typical inkjet printer accustomed to produce coloured images on paper.

  1. Via Consumer Based 3D Printers

XYZPrinting has expanded its range of consumer FDM printers with a full-colour 3D printer called the da Vinci Colour.

Employing a similar CMYK process to the colour printers, this printer deposits a specially-formulated filament. This will absorb CMYK inkjet inks before the subsequent layer is applied, leading to a powerful full-colour print.

Like colour, the ultimate print exhibits “soft” details because the ink can seep into the filament, leading to areas where one colour bleeds into another.

Additionally, the surface of the print features a slightly translucent appearance as if the colour is trapped inside instead of being on the surface.

A major drawback of those sorts of CMYK-based 3D printing services is that the integrity of the 3D printed surface.

Any irregularities which may occur during the printing are difficult to repair because the colour is fused into the filament. this may be caused: blemishes on the surface due to sanding down or repairing a 3D print that's already full of color, which affect the ultimate appearance.

Overview of CMYK

RGB is an additive colour format. If you were to mix all three RGB colours at full strength, the result would be white.

CMYK is taken into account to be a subtractive colour format. Mixing all four CMYK colours at full strength produces a muddy black, and you can’t generate white using CMYK inks.

White is the uncoloured part. Thus, within the case of 3D colour printing, the white filament is required for CMYK inks.

Also Read : 3D Modeling For 3D Printing

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