Most 3D printers produce objects that are only a single color, and usually it’s awful. A few higher-end 3D printers can produce color objects (ZCorp), but most model makers end up painting their objects by hand after they come out of the build chamber.
We ran across an interesting alternative to painting: Electroplating. RapidToday posted a detailed report on RePliForm’s pioneering use of electroplating to improve “strength, sealing and appearance.” Evidently this approach is so successful that RePliForm now has competitors emerging.
The 2-3 day electroplating process involves a couple of metal baths and polishing, so it’s not quite as quick as pulling an baked object out of the printer. It also adds 30-40% to the cost of the item.
There are problems, however, as certain shapes (thin) are not really suitable for the process, and parts produced by certain printers must be treated in various ways to enable the electroplating process.
We’re wondering when a major 3D printer manufacturer will include an electroplating option to their devices? And we’re also wondering how much it will weigh.