3D Printers

Could a multicolor SLA 3D printer be coming soon? XYZPrinting files patent

A patent for an SLA 3D printer capable of producing multicolor objects has emerged. Filed by Taiwanese 3D printer manufacturer XYZPrinting in June 2018, the document details a proposed “auto-coloring technology” from the company. Designed for vat polymerization, the invention would be an industry first, though binder jetting and FDM/FFF are already streaks ahead.

Comparing SLA to color binder jet and FFF systems in the patent, XYZPrinting states that the method’s capability of only 3D printing “monochromatic 3D physical models” leaves room for “more effective solutions.”

From 0 – 15+ machines in 6 years

A division of Kinpo Electronics Inc., XYZPrinting was founded in 2013, first as a provider of desktop 3D printers. In 2017, the company rapidly expanded its 3D printer range to encompass SLS, binder jet and DLP capabilities for the industrial market. Currently, across both desktop and industrial, the company’s 3D printer range spans around 15 different machines.

In the desktop range, XYZ produces the Nobel series of SLA systems, and da Vinci 3D printers which gained a color edition in 2017. The XYZPrinting da Vinci Color 3D printer operates using FFF technology. Inside the print bed however, a inkjet head has been added which sprays plastic layers with droplets of color.

XYZ full color da Vinci 3D printer. Photo by Michael Petch.
Samples made on XYZ’s da Vinci color 3D printer. Photo by Michael Petch.

Layer-by-layer, pixel-by-pixel color

In the proposed SLA system from XYZ, color will be added by a coloring module installed alongside the light module. In this instance, it could be assumed that the resin in the system would be clear, colorless and, similar to the da Vinci Color, different tones are added via a liquid spray. It is not clear however if, or how, XYZ will fix precise pixels of color, making it possible to achieve realistic detail as in color FFF  objects. It could also be that the system achieves different shades of predetermined color.

Required colors for the object are determined on a layer-by-layer basis, considering each pixel of color within that layer. As detailed in the document, “each layer of the color print data is a 2D color image […] according to pixel value of each pixel of the object print data; the step is configured to color at the corresponding positions of the slice physical model according to the pixel value of each pixel of the color print data.”

3D printing workflow for the proposed color SLA system. Image via United States Patent Application 20190210275
3D printing workflow for the proposed color SLA system. Image via United States Patent Application 20190210275

Coming soon?

Full details of XYZPrinting’s SLA color 3D printing method are detailed in United States Patent Application 20190210275.

Peng-yang Chen is listed as the technology’s sole inventor, and has been credited with a series of other IP filing for XYZ including “Three-dimensional printer and a three-dimesnional printing module thereof” flied December 2018.

No information currently exists to suggest that XYZPrinting is planning to take this SLA project to fruition. In fact, if every patent came true we may already have flying cars by now. However, the company’s proven appetite for innovation, and its track record for producing machines should not be underestimated.

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Featured image shows a patent diagram for a proposed color SLA 3D printer from XYZPrinting. Image via United States Patent Application 20190210275