3D Printers

M3D launches sub $500 color 3D printer for the desktop

U.S. 3D printer manufacturer M3D has launched the Crane Quad – a desktop FFF machine reportedly capable of mixing and printing over 50,000 colors.

According to Michael Armani, co-founder and CEO of M3D, “Our new Crane Quad desktop 3D color printer is a real breakthrough in 3D printing capability and affordability,”

“Its ability to print multiple colors and multiple materials simultaneously is a first, and it takes us one step closer to 3D printers being able to produce real-world objects that outperform traditional manufacturing, both in cost and performance.”

Color mixing on a desktop 3D printer

The colorful output of the Crane Quad is made possible by a specially designed print head, the QuadFusion, that is capable of blending four different colors (Cyan, magenta, yellow and key/CMYK) and types of 3D printer filament through a single output. The QuadFusion blends the colors/materials based on a percentage, e.g. 50% red 50% blue, giving users different color gradients.

To help facilitate color 3D printing abilities, M3D plans to make all different mixing profiles available via GitHub.

Further, the “mutimaterial” ability of the Crane Quad means that supports, walls and infill can all be made from different filaments. Chiefly made for enthusiasts, the Crane Quad offers a great deal of opportunity for experimentation.

Color mixing on the Crane Quad. Photo via M3D
Color mixing on the Crane Quad. Photo via M3D

Meeting consumer demand 

M3D entered the desktop 3D printing market in 2014 with the launch of its first machine, the Micro, followed by the M3D Pro. Recently, the company launched its first-ever industrial 3D printer the Promega, which is also open source.

“Just as M3D started the home 3D printing revolution in 2014, today we continue to drive the evolution of consumer color 3D printing with the introduction of Crane Quad,” comments Armani.

“For M3D, this launch is not just about introducing groundbreaking innovation – it represents our company’s commitment to the full-color 3D printing movement, and our dedication to providing consumers with the tools to get closer to the widespread on-demand use of 3D printed products that we know is the future.”

Demo of the QuadFusion print head. Image via M3D
Demo of the QuadFusion print head. Image via M3D

Shipping August 2018

Multi color 3D printing by extruding multiple materials through a single nozzle has been explored a number of times by industry innovators and makers.

In 2015, RepRap.me successfully funded production of the 3 color diamond extruder, there are also DIY projects available to help enthusiasts get started.

The M3D Crane Quad is available for preorder on FitForLaunch at prices starting at $399. Part of a whole Crane series of 3D printers, first shipments of the Crane Quad are expected August 2018.

M3D Crane Quad Technical Specifications

  • Cartesian-style 3D printer
  • Build volume: 214 x 214 x 230 mm
  • 214 x 214 mm heated bed (capable of reaching up to 100°C)
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.35 mm
  • Nozzle temperature: 100-270 degrees Celsius
  • Nema 17 motors for X, Y, Z
  • Print speed: 80 mm/second
  • Material diameter: 1.75 mm
  • LCD screen display
  • Untethered printing via 512 MB SD card
  • Ethernet webhost interface (Dual and Quad only)
  • Bed level sensor (Dual and Quad only)
  • File format: G-code, AML, OBJ, STL  
  • 48w cartridge heater for faster printing
  • 2020 and 2040 aluminum extrusions, coated steel V rollers
  • Host computer software: Cura
  • Compatible with 3D printing filaments: PLA, ABS, ABS-R, ABS-R3, Carbon Fiber, Tough, Tough 115A, ASA, POM, PVA, PVB, TPU, PETG
  • 24v DC Meanwell power supply
  • Fully assembled
  • Product weight: 8.5 kg
  • Package weight: 10.5 kg
  • Product size: 380 x 480 x 430 mm (15 x 19 x 17 in)
  • Package size: 450 x 550 x 500 mm (18 x 22 x 20 in)

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Featured image shows the Crane Quad 3D printer. Photo via M3D