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  1. #1

    Student Creates New Multiple Color 3D Printer

    Michael Hebda is a University of Bradford student who has come up with a design for a unique multi-color 3D printer. It currently has the ability to print with 3 different strands of ABS filament through one nozzle. The nozzle has a mechanism for switching quickly between these filament, allowing for multi-color printing on individual layers. Read and see more on this at:

    Check out a picture of what this machine is capable of doing below:

  2. #2
    That's an Arduino uno and three stepper motors sitting at the print head - that thing's going to be really, really heavy. I wonder why he went that route instead of bowden?

    At a guess, I'd say he's using the railroad-switching method where the three separate filaments are fed at an angle into the same channel. You need to overcome a lot of friction with that approach, which is probably why the stepper motors are where they are (although putting the Arduino there is a bit odd).

    I messed around with a design that used a stepper and a single hot end to switch between filaments, but had a fundamental problem with retraction leaving strings in the filament path that caused too many blockages. I think these two approaches are basically dead ends and we'll all end up using something more like the diamond hot end, with multiple feeds at an angle down into a common melting chamber.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    actually we'll end up using natural colour filament thats colured with ink before it enters the hotend.

    It's a much more elegant solution, there are several companies developing it, it has the potential for much greater precison, print speed and it's probably cheaper to run.
    It's also a method capable of using pretty small coloured voxels and uses existing ink mixing technology.
    And it can be bolted on to existing printers.

    This is clever, and there are a few companies already selling machines with single nozzle multiple feed printheads - so it's not a new principle.

    Good luck to him :-)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by curious aardvark View Post
    actually we'll end up using natural colour filament thats colured with ink before it enters the hotend.
    This is EXACTLY what I have been thinking about. I really don't understand why everyone is making all these 2,3,4+ filament printers that can mix different filaments for different colors. Or devices like that $800 Palette filament splicer to get different colors.

    At first i wondered if maybe it was very difficult to color it before it's extruded or if the temperature would burn or discolor the ink... but then I heard that it's so simple to do people have been able to color their filament with sharpies of all things and it worked out fine... so why are we making printers that mix different filaments and hope they mix right when we could just colorize a "blank" filament? Then you would only need a single filament and an "ink cartridge" to have every color.... at most maybe a solid "blank" and a translucent "blank" if you want to count both solid and transparent colors.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    well one reason is that the ink machines aren't available yet - at least two in latter stages of development.
    spectrom is the one with the most promise. The filament basically passes through an inkjet printer and is coloured in accordance to instructions the slicer gives it.
    Simple, cheap, effective and can be added on to almost any existing 3d printer.

    And with existing technology you can 'knock up' a multi - extruder system fairly easily, and to one degree or another - it will work.
    Last edited by curious aardvark; 06-09-2015 at 10:24 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Pleasanton, CA
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    Our Titan 1 can also be stopped during printing to exchange resin color and create multiple colored prints. This is a photo resin printed as opposed to a filament printer that this student has created.

    Check it out: (scroll to the bottom)

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