Another Multi-Color 3D Printing Accessory: Co Print

By on September 25th, 2020 in Hardware

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Another Multi-Color 3D Printing Accessory: Co Print
The Co Print multi-color 3D printer accessory [Source: Arkiovani]

There’s another multi-color 3D printer accessory launching: the Co Print.

The project is created by Istanbul-based Fatih Kazim Duymaz and Hüseyin Özen, who are launching the product using a crowdfunding model.

The Co Print is able to control up to four different filaments during a single 3D print job, thus creating the ability to print multi-color models.

There are a couple of other alternatives in the market for this type of functionality, namely the Prusa Research MMU2S, which works only on certain Prusa Research 3D printers, and the more universal Mosaic Manufacturing Palette.

The Palette and the Co Print are visually similar in that they are an external box into which multiple filament spools are loaded, with a single filament line heading to the 3D printer. Internally, though, they are quite different. The Palette actually cuts and splices different input filaments together to create a single, multi-color filament that the printer dutifully prints. Because of the Palette’s smarts the composite filament changes color just at the right moment when it enters the hot end.

Co Print Multi-Color

Multi-color 3D prints made with the Co Print [Source: Arkiovani]

However, it appears the Co Print does not work like this at all, and it seems to be much more like the Prusa Research MMU2S. That machine, and the Co Print, will automatically pull filaments out of the hot end and re-insert another in mid-print to effect a color change. They say:

“The exact location and how much of each filament should be used is determined by the software and It automatically advances to the 3D printer according to the needs of the print and the color in the sequence is retracted to be sent.”

Both approaches do work, so I have expect the Co Print could definitely work well. However, having personal experience with the Prusa MMU2S, I know there are plenty of potential issues that must be resolved.

The Co Print is said to work with common 3D print materials, including PLA, PETG, ABS, Wood and even TPU. I’m a bit suspicious of the TPU claim, as it is always difficult to push TPU through tubes unless done slowly. One thing to note is that you should probably have the entire set of four input spools made from the same thermoplastic material. This is to allow the hot end to maintain a constant temperature for extrusion.

Co Print Jamming Solution

One issue that commonly occurs with the Prusa MMU2S before tuning is filament jams caused by blobs at the end of the retracted filament. Co Print accounts for this, explaining:

“When you withdraw the filament, a melting residue is formed at the end of the filament. The resulting residue creates a jam problem at the next entry. To solve this problem, we designed a cutting mechanism. In the cutting system, the melting residue at the end of the retracted filament is cut off and thrown out of the discharge chamber. In this way, a seamless filament replacement process is performed.”

The Prusa MMU2S also has a cutting blade for this same purpose, but it has not been properly usable until recently as a result of a software update.

There’s a big advantage over the Prusa MMU2S as the Co Print can be theoretically used with any desktop filament 3D printer. The Co Print simply feeds the normal single filament input on the 3D printer and pauses and restarts printing as required. This makes it a solution that, for example, could be moved from one 3D printer to another if multi-color functionality is required.

The key to success here is to ensure the withdrawal and re-insertion process is as reliable as possible, as even a seemingly straightforward multi-color 3D print job might involve over 1,000 filament changes. You don’t want to find that your print failed after 19 hours of printing.

Co Print Availability

Multi-color 3D prints made with the Co Print [Source: Arkiovani]

The Co Print has been launched on Arkiovani, which is a Turkish equivalent of Kickstarter or IndieGoGo. Pricing for the Co Print is notably low, as you can order one for only US$288.

This price is comparable to the price of the Prusa MMU2S, but it enables use on any filament-based 3D printer, Prusas included.

One more thing: this is a crowdfunding launch and that poses some risk. This venture is clearly a startup, and while we love to support such initiatives, they do sometimes fail. As always, be prepared to lose your investment, should things go sideways. You might also consider reading our post, “Avoiding Crowdfunding Fizzles: A Checklist”.

Via Arkiovani

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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