Interested in color 3D printing? Who isn’t? Now there’s another way you can do so.
The Diamond Hotend, created by RepRap.me, a source for 3D printers, kits, parts and supplies, is actually like three hotends in one. The idea is that you feed it three separate filaments and the Diamond Hotend switches them on the fly. You could, for example, load it with Black and White filaments and print alternating layers of these colors.
Or mix them to produce gray.
Yes, this hotend can dynamically mix colors, so long as they have the same heating requirements. Here we see an example of mixing green and blue filaments at a 50% ratio to produce a very nice cyan color. With red, green and blue filaments loaded, you’ll be able to produce a great many different shades by simply picking the correct mixing ratio.
RepRap.me’s Kenneth Weiss explains:
The Diamond Hotend is capable of printing with 3 different colors or materials at the same time and can therefore print all colors you can make with Red, Green and Blue through the same nozzle. The design of the Diamond nozzle ensures a minimum of waste and calibrations and it’s relatively easy to upgrade almost all 3d printers on the market to use this new hotend.
Here you can see an example of three filaments being mixed. In this case they’ve created brown filament by mixing red, green and blue at 33% each.
There is a catch, however. Mixing colors apparently works best with semi-translucent materials and is less effective with solid colors.
This hotend is also capable of switching colors within a layer. Apparently it quickly purges out the previous color from the hotend to prepare it for a new color. This operation will slow down your print speed somewhat, but it means you can actually print properly colored objects, where specific areas contain unique, but solid colors. Here you can see a colored version of the Marvin Advanced 3D model. Don’t believe it? Watch the video of this actual print here:
Here we can see an example of a dual color print from a single Diamond hotend, done by a beta tester. It looks a little rough, but nothing that could not be cleaned up with some printing parameter tweaks.
The company has also posted a 3D model mockup of the hotend on Thingiverse that you may want to examine to learn more about how the product works.
Currently you can order one of these amazing hotends from the company’s Kickstarter page, where they’re listed as low as DKK1,260 (USD$180), with more expensive options including more features. There seems to be little risk with this project, as they’ve already far exceeded their fundraising goal. Another incentive to get this now: the company’s online store lists the item for USD$250, so anticipate a price rise as soon as the launch period ends.