Though the media is filled with 3D printed models made of full-color gypsum, often 3D printed copies of people made from realistic scans, that sandstone material is fragile and must be treated with care. At the same time, there are plenty of durable plastic prints, extruded from FFF desktop machines, but they can achieve, at most, up to three or four colors. Shapeways is in the process of combining the color range of 3D Systems ProJet printing with the properties of plastic with a new Full Color Plastic material.
Because the material is new, the company is initially releasing their full color plastic option to a select pilot group of designers from their 3D modeling community, allowing them to experiment with the material and get a grasp of its capabilities. Once it’s been approved by the company, it will be released throughout Shapeways.
Shapeways will be releasing a material specs page later this week, but the company insists that the color resolution is similar to their Full Color Sandstone, but with the added ability to print moving parts. As far as I know, the only full color plastic printer is the ProJet® 4500 from 3D Systems, announced at Euromold last year. Building on the same technology as their other ProJet machines, the 4500 uses a new material, VisiJet® C4 Spectrum™, to create full color prints by depositing CMY binder onto a bed of VisiJet powder.
It’s exciting to see Shapeways get ahold of the technology, if they’re, in fact, using the ProJet 4500. And it’ll be even more exciting to the 3D designers out there who would like to see their full-color prints feel a little less like porcelain dolls and a bit more like functional objects. If you’re one of these designers and wish to participate in the pilot program, you can sign up here.
Hat tip to the talented 3D artist, Manuel Poehlau.