Multicolor 3D printing : An analysis of the characteristics of multicolor 3Dprinting

University essay from KTH/Mekatronik

Abstract: 3D printing has risen in popularity due to its capabilities which enable rapid prototyping and printing structures that were impossible to produce before and partially because of technological development in recent years. Most low-cost printers, based on the fused filament fabrication process, are capable of printing a single filament at a time that limits and complicates multicolor and multi-material 3D printing. Therefore, investigating and building a multicolor 3D printer have been chosen as a degree project in order to provide an understanding for multicolor 3D printing. The project was started with an investigation of different possibilities and potential solutions. After that, a visual CAD model was created in Solid Edge, and a virtual model was constructed by using Acumen. Lastly, accumulated ideas were implemented into creating a prototype. Construction of the prototype was accomplished successfully, and several experiments were executed to determine its capabilities and limitations. The results showed that the printer has high precision in XY-plane and is less precise in Z-axis. The printer was able to print 45 different colored objects, of which only 24 were chosen as distinct colors that the human eye could distinguish. One of the main challenges with a single nozzle multicolor 3D printing compared to a single-color printing is constant heatsink clogging. Another challenge is to create a well-integrated system where hardware and software comply perfectly in a manner that desired prints are obtained. 

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