Full-color 3D printing at home has long been a wild-eyed dream of consumers and hobbyists alike. Thus far it’s been fun to print out little trinkets in a single color, but to create something more akin to a painted action figure would be a game-changer. And, thanks to inkjet technology, we just might have reached that milestone.
XYZprinting, the maker of the popular Da Vinci line of printers – including a printer-scanner that launched in 2014 – has announced the $3,000 Da Vinci Color, a printer that uses inkjet technology to inject color directly into the filament as its printed. Previous full-color solutions required the use of nylon powder or multiple filaments for mixing enough colors to simulate full-color printing. The Da Vinci Color simply sprays that color into the hot PLA filament it uses to print plastic objects, resulting in full-color objects. Spools of filament cost $35 and the ink costs $65.
The best thing? The system offers almost unlimited colors. From the release:
The industry’s ultimate full-color 3D printer, XYZprinting’s 3DColorJet solution enables the da Vinci Color to mix and fire CMYK color droplets onto PLA filament for accuracy and precision. The printer’s technology achieves the full-color spectrum of 16 million color possibilities across printed layers in finished 3D products. The proprietary technology combines color detail, which has been perfected in inkjet printing, with advanced, professional 3D printing technology.
Manufacturers have explored this technology in the past but it looks like XYZ has finally reduced the complexity and cost enough to sell for about the price of a better single-color printer. What can you expect out of this machine? As you can see from the samples below, this printer can actively color small parts of a print, unlike other color printers that print bands of color by swapping filaments. This means you can print some pretty garish things but the limitations of the technology will tend to wash out the colors in general. That said, you can definitely see this as a step up from standard filament printing.
The printer is available for pre-order new for $2,999.95 and will cost $3,500 when it ships.
I’m excited to see this happening. It won’t quite save home 3D printing yet – adding color to comparatively useless plastic parts just makes them prettier, not more usable. However, as the technology improves I can imagine a time when designers print their own color models of products, buildings, and even toys. If standard 3D printers were the dot matrix printers of the 2000s then this one is the inkjet of this new century – a clever hack that could open things up considerably in the next few years.