RepRap Multi-Color & Multi-Material Toolheads #3dthursday

Picking up on popular interest in two-color printing from the desktop 3D printer world in general, RepRap projects such as RepRap Pro are now offering multi-color print heads, with an emphasis on expanding to multi-material as new feedstock options become available.

Check out the video from RepRap originator Adrian Bowyer above to learn more about how to plan for multi-color model design and examine the photo below for a sneak preview of their unique approach to routing filament to the multi-nozzle extruder.

From RepRap Pro:

The RepRapPro Colour Mendel 3D printer will allow you to print objects in three colours or three different plastics.  It has three small and efficient extruder drives that are mounted on the top bars of the machine’s frame, and three extrude heads mounted on the machine’s X carriage.

One extruder drive and hot end is driven by the standard Mendel controller electronics, and the second two are driven by a separate slave controller that plugs into the master control electronics. 

Multi-colour or multi-material 3D models are made by using the CAD software to create a separate object for each colour/material.  This is usually just a case of defining a master object using the CAD system in the regular way and using that for the first colour you want.  You then subtract one or two other shapes from that, those shapes being made from the second and third materials or colours.  Thus you have an object with holes where the different coloured bits go, and definitions of those coloured shapes too.  You read all three objects into the slicer program (which gets them all in the right relative places automatically), then slice your model to make a G Code file.  The slicing program automatically adds a small hollow structure called a shield to one side of your print which it builds as the print progresses.  It purges each colour head and wipes any excess in the interior of the shield’s hollow.

The G Code file is then printed in the usual way.  On each layer each colour is printed in turn, with a pause between the colours over the shield’s hollow to let the current head cool to a standby temperature (to prevent it from oozing and spoiling the next colour) and to let the new head warm up.

The print volume available with colour/multi-materials is about 30mm less in X and Y than with monochrome prints, as all the heads have to be able to reach every part of the print.

The instructions for building and using the new RepRapPro Colour Mendel are integrated into the online build instructions on the RepRap Wiki here.

Read more.


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