There’s a new full color 3D printer option available, just announced by XYZprinting.
The Taiwan-based company has been perhaps the most prolific we’ve seen in the industry, announcing machine after machine for several years. Their equipment spans many different 3D printing processes and all equipment is budget-priced. The new da Vinci Color mini is no exception.
There are several full color 3D printers on the market, and have been for years, but the breakthrough here is that the da Vinci Color mini has a price point vastly less than previous options.
How do they achieve this? Through an ingenious combination of technologies.
At its core, the da Vinci Color mini is a normal filament extrusion 3D printer, and in fact it can even 3D print standard PLA and PETG materials. It heats filament and extrudes it precisely through a nozzle, much like many other machines.
But the difference is how it introduces color.
There are two aspects.
First, the machine must be loaded with a special “Color PLA” filament. This appears to be normal PLA that is naturally uncolored. Secondly, the extruder is equipped with three colored ink reservoirs, one for each of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow, the three base colors from which any possible unique color can be generated through precise mixing.
And that’s exactly what the da Vinci Color mini does: as voxels of PLA material are extruded, a small amount of coloration is added on the fly. This coloration can vary from moment to moment, and thus any color can be generated.
A rudimentary form of this approach has been previously attempted by hobbyists, who would use ink markers to add coloration by hand to clear filament just before it entered the extruder. This method sort-of worked, but it seems that XYZprinting has made industrial-level refinements to this rough process.
It’s actually quite impressive, because normally color changes are a bit difficult in an extruder. Typically color swaps done by single extruder setups require a brief “purge” of material to ensure the purity of the new extruded color. However, it seems that the da Vinci Color mini doesn’t need to do this, at least as often as in other systems. Perhaps they’ve done something interesting in the nozzle to minimize the mixed reservoir of material, thus speeding up color switches.
Aside from the “3DColorJet technology”, the machine does sport several useful convenience features, such as automated bed leveling, removable print surface, WiFi networking, color touch screen and more. There’s even a laser engraving option available for those interested. It’s a nicely equipped machine, even without the full color capability.
One thing to note, however, is that the build volume is not particularly large at only 130 x 130 x 130mm.
In looking at the sample prints, the color is evident but is not quite as solid as some may like. This is likely due to the clear nature of the special filament. The printed objects seem to have a slightly transparent nature. So it’s not the best full color prints, but they are indeed full color.
But the big feature on this full color unit is its price. Initial units will be available for only USD$1,000 – far, far less than the next least expensive full color printer. After launch the normal price of the da Vinci Color mini will be still low at only USD$1,600.
The machine is set to be shipped to customers starting in September.