3D Printing

Color XT Is Just the Beginning as ColorFabb Reserves Spotlight on New 3D Printing Materials for Upcoming Shows

The world of 3D printing materials is so broad that keeping up with all its possible evolutions sometimes seems like an impossible mission. But it is a mission that colorFabb, a leading 3D printing filament producer based in the Netherlands, is taking very seriously, having recently signed a JDA (Joing Development Agreement) with materials giant Eastman. The company is also constantly working on its own exotic products, such as woodFill and the recently introduced bronzeFill.

Before making it out to your 3D printer, all these materials pass through the office of Gijs Houdijk at colorFabb’s new headquarters in Venlo. There he tests them on nine different desktop 3D printers (including Ultimakers, MakerBot’s Replicator 2, Leapfrog’s Creatr, a Delta Tower, a BeeVeryCreative and more) to make sure that they are ready to enter the consumer and prosumer market.

“The testing process depends on how much we know already about the material,” Gijs, who I met up with at London’s 3D Printshow, told 3DPI. “Mostly we look for extruding temperatures and try to understand how necessary the heated bed is and how it handles retractions. We need to establish whether it is too brittle, too hard or too soft. We need to make sure we can standardize the material’s performance and find the exact settings, especially for exotic products such as the bronzeFill.”

bronzefill colorfabb 3d printingThe recent partnering with the Eastman group has given colorFabb a wide range of new tools to work with and the possibility of speeding up the process of developing more products in the months and years to come. Starting, of course, with the new color XT range which took the spotlight at the colorFabb stand in London.

Gijs is literally enthused by the possibilities XT has opened up. “It is a really tough material and it is stronger, more elastic and less brittle than PLA,” he says “It really offers a valid alternative to ABS for making strong, functional parts. It was great working with Eastman on its development as they are a huge producer for the injection molding and sheet forming industries but this is their first true venture into desktop 3D printing.”

Colorfabb stand 3d printing

As all 3D printing fans know, colorFabb first launched the transparent XT as a pilot project. Its success led to development of a full colour range (with nine more colors). “We used special colours from Eastman and they proved to be a perfect match as the company fully knows how to best implement them into their own products”. Development of the first material took about a year but Gijs thinks future iterations might be faster, depending on the rate of colorFabb’s other activities. In fact those are also intensifying with more metal based and more wood based materials due soon.

“We will present some very interesting new products at the upcoming TCT show as well as at the Composites Europe fair in Dusseldorf,” Gijs revealed. From what I have been able to find out, colorFabb is working on a range of at least three new metal products with the first to be present at the show in Birmingham at the end of the month, while the composite material being worked on will have a smoother and slightly darker exterior appearance than the current woodFill.

In the meantime, though, the colorFabb team is enjoying the success of XT. “It is a low odour material and most importantly it is styrene free,” Gijs added. “It is also food safe and highly recyclable”. Soon though the company’s focus will be on TCT. Can you guess which material will be the star of the show?