The folks at Shapeways have been shopping. Their purchase: a new 3D Systems ProJet 4500, capable of full color 3D printing.
Previously Shapeways offered “sandstone-style” full color 3D printing, which worked reasonably well, but had some limitations. Objects were relatively fragile and sometimes had less-than-brilliant color. But that’s about to change.
The new ProJet 4500 uses a somewhat different color process, although it still relies on color binder infiltration into a powder bed. The result is objects with better color definition and more robust structure. You can see an example of the capability in this report we made on artist Eric van Straaten’s use of the machine.
If you’re intending on using the new capability, we strongly recommend checking out their design page that details some of the considerations you must make when designing a model for this service. There are very specific limits to the smallest feature sizes.
Shapeways has for a very long time experimented with new capabilities and materials and it seems they’re continuing with that approach with this announcement.