At the “Inside 3D Printing” Conference held on April 16-17 2014, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, one of the conferences showed the results of several months of development at Kikai Labs for a prototype of a new method of coloring FDM objetcts.
Kikai Labs, a desktop 3D printer manufacturer based in Argentina, has developed a new accessory that allows a 3D printer to paint multiple colors of your choice, while printing, using magic markers.
The current desktop 3D printers rely on multiple printheads with different spools of pre-dyed filament, so users can only switch colors per layer and they are likely stuck printing in two or three colors. And full-color printers are really expensive. Two students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have come up with a sub-$100 device called Spectrom that adds dye to the plastic as it melts, allowing printers to print in a full colors, but apparently only whole layers at a time, as is the case with BotObjects as well.
Kikai Labs’ approach involves a combination of self-developed hardware and software. The method allows for very precise painting, including lettering and even photographic reproductions, at a very low cost.
Integrated into the hot end head, this system includes precision servo motors and 3D printed parts that hold more than three markers. Kikai Labs developed their own colored-object slicer which works with Slic3r and run independently of each other.
This approach is still limited in detail and in number of colors it can apply. But the technique will be refined further and eventually the part will be offered as an accessory on their new line of FDM printers, says Marcelo Ruiz-Camauër, the president of Kikai Labs.
The Hardware in Action
In the media
A number of websites are reporting about our invention, here are links to just a few of these articles:
- “Kikai Labs lets you 3D print and paint object simultaneously” by 3ders.org.
- “I Guess That’s One Way to 3D Print in Colour!” by 3D Printing Industry.