We’ve recently been commissioned to deliver several 3D printing projects in full colour. Although not new to the market, the advantages of this method of additive manufacturing is just starting to open up lots of doors for a vast range of markets from retail and visual merchandising to branding and mass parts.
The capabilities of full colour 3D printing mean that whether using acrylic or polyjet methods, achieving a high-quality print in full CYMK colour is now accessible and provides a cheaper and quicker alternative to traditional scenic finishing. Some machines are even able to print with multiple materials, such as the Stratasys J750, this machine is able to print large forms, matching to any colour and can use multiple materials in the same print, so if you need a solid plastic handle and a rubberised full colour end, the J750 can do the lot!
The Mimaki 3D Printer, which launched last year also has a great offering. Printing in layers, this machine with its build volume of 508 × 508 × 305 mm prints in vibrant colours and impressive detail. Their system uses UV rays to cure the acrylic material ensuring the finished print is durable.
All3DP state, “There are advantages and disadvantages to these methods of direct colour 3D printing. The main advantage is that it is easy to achieve large areas of saturated colour.” That brings up something synonymous with additive manufacturing; it is constantly compared to traditional methods of manufacture and within that full colour printing will now be compared to traditional scenic methods of finishing. We have a huge wealth of scenic and high-quality finishing capabilities at our disposal, however there are advantages to using full colour printing instead of these traditional methods. First of all, it’s quicker. Machines are generally quicker than humans, meaning your project can be drawn, printed and delivered in full colour within a week, this isn’t a guarantee with traditional scenic treatments. Secondly, it’s cheaper. In the same vein as the first point, machines are cheaper to run, meaning your print may be cheaper to produce in full colour than it would be if a person was to paint it by hand.
But all this doesn’t mean that full colour printing can achieve everything.
Some of our projects rely on a highly detailed and often textured scenic finish, this is where traditional methods win over the full colour print. Some of our projects could not have been achieved using 3D printing alone, such as the Lithic Signal Rock, which was heavily textured with a gradient finish, or the Black Sea Shipwreck, with it’s chrome dipped effect.
What we can say for sure is that printing in full colour has and will continue to expand, evolve and develop, and as it does it will continue to make waves across many markets. It’s perfect for retail, visual merchandising and anything that uses an IP or specific brand, due to the possibilities of matching CYMK and Pantone colours. Not only that, producing moulds, prototypes and models can be achieved with speed and ease and the whole process is far more economical than traditional methods.
Just like every other means of manufacture full colour printing has its place in the market, and we’re excited to see how the technology develops!
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Image Source: Mcor Technologies