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How Colors are Determined in 3D Printing

In our humble opinion there are few things quite as fascinating as the multicolor 3D printing technique. Like the world we live in, projects often require more than one color. Adding multicolor materials provides visual models with a more realistic appearance. A wide range of color to designs allows the project to truly come alive with extraordinary detail. As technology continuously evolves, more than ever, we have the ability to “paint” each model throughout the process of 3D printing. Keep reading to learn more about this interesting process.

The Technology Behind the Printing

The unique technique of adding multicolor to material is a process done layer by layer. From the bottom to the top, the model is glued together from a granular powder. Of course, not just any power can be used in 3D printing. In order to get ultra-thin printing layers and to perfect the shape and even out the design, extremely fine granular sandstone is used.  One way to think about it is understanding the difference between rocks and marbles. Building a pyramid with rocks is much easier than with marbles. Similarly, sandstone powder helps each layer stay in place and holds the design together with each tiny grain. 

Holding it All Together

During the printing process the sandstone powder is held together thanks to the printer gluing everything into place. The ultra-thin layer of sandstone powder is rolled out and spread into place. From there, the printer head precisely places drops of glue onto the layer – layer by layer, of the design. This is done continuously until the design is complete. You may be wondering, where is the color? Particularly since sandstone has such a dull color.

Coloring the Model

The color within the 3D project comes to life by combining four different types of glues. These glues are pre-colored and only placed on the surface. The inside of the model is held together with clear glue. Although there are four main glue colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black), there are millions of color options that can be made. Adding colors together and mixing them, just as you once did in art class in elementary school (but with a little more precision) will create the exact color requirement for your 3D filament.

Finishing the Process

Upon completed printing, the unglued powder needs to be cleaned out carefully. The product is still brittle but essentially, we put it in a superglue bath to strengthen the bond. From there, it is sprayed with a coating that helps keep the color bright and avoid discoloration. The final finish can be matte or glossy depending on the particular project.

At GL Robotics, we are committed to producing the best 3D designs for you. Give us a call today to learn more about our process, materials, and pricing. We look forward to hearing from you!