3D printing in full-color is one of the most sought after developments in the 3D printing industry – if you can do it on paper, why not in 3D? If only things were so simple. A new patent from Taiwan’s XYZprinting, manufacturers of the Da Vinci series of 3D printers, describes a method of spraying color during 3D printing with powdered materials.

Related art schematic of the powder bed 3D printer.

Related art schematic of the powder bed 3D printer.

Jetting of color

In XYZprinting’s current range, the Da Vinci series covers fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printing. The da Vinci Jr. 2.0 Mix, previewed at CES 2017, is capable of mixing two colors of PLA to create vibrant 3D prints.

A selection of Colorful 3D prints from the da Vinci Jr. 2.0 Mix

A selection of colorful 3D prints from the da Vinci Jr. 2.0 Mix

At the professional level of 3D printers, the company has the Nobel 1.0 and 1.0A. These are SLA machines, 3D printing using vat-polymerization of resins.

The patent, published in February 2017, covers a first for the company in powder-bed fusion. The document details a three part process for ink jetting color into a 3D print.

Quality assurance

In practice, a layer is sintered from powdered materials. Ink is then jetted onto the layer to change the color, and an adhesive is added to ensure binding of the substances.

The method described in the patent goes on to detail how the company hopes to assure the quality control of the 3D prints.

After a 3D model is sliced, XYZprinting’s technology will create a color image and an adhesive image for each layer of the object. In the second step, color ink and adhesive levels are adjusted to ensure the correct balance. Finally, an overall image of the finished 3D print is generated taking these adjustments into account.

Schematic of the process.

Schematic of the process.

According to the document,

The method prevents the 3D printing from jetting adhesive that may overlap with jetted colored ink by using the final printing image, so as to avoid the jetted color-ink being diluted by the adhesive, and powders being moist because of the overlap of the colored ink and the adhesive.

The full XYZprinting patent can be viewed online.

Patents in the 3D Printing Industry

In February 2017, California’s Made in Space 3D printing program published a patent for additive manufacturing devices to be used for assembling spacecraft and satellites. In a high profile story from the beginning of March 2017, Ultimaker also filed its first defensive patents for the Ultimaker 3’s bed leveling system.

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Featured image shows 3D printing in two colors on the da Vinci Jr. Mix 2.0 Image via XYZprinting.com

All images featured in this article via XYZprinting

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