3D Systems recently made a couple of announcements regarding their full-color 3D printers, releasing the new ProJet 4500 and the CubeJet. Both 3D printers are capable of producing full-RGB color solid objects.
They’re both evolutions of the technology 3D Systems obtained when they acquired ZCorp some years ago. ZCorp offered various models that printed color objects, but each required finishing with an “infiltrate”. That’s a fancy word for dipping it in something that makes it harder. In fact, ZCorp prints can be incredibly fragile when first emerging from the printer. They’re made much more rigid (and colorful) by soaking them in various solutions, such as salt water, wax or glue-like liquids.
The new ProJet 4500 does away with this. It’s new print heads and liquid binder actually perform the “infiltration” while printing, so the printed color objects emerge from the printer ready to go – although they still require a two hour “bake” to solidify them after printing. That alone should reduce the time required to produce full color objects. It’s also less expensive to use because the increased rigidity means you need less material to make equivalently strong objects.
If you don’t happen to have the USD$69,000 for a ProJet 4500, you might consider the other color 3D printer announced by 3D Systems: the CubeJet. It’s a somewhat smaller, tabletop device that uses the original ZCorp process (which requires infiltration). But the advantage here is the price: under USD$5,000 for a full-RGB color 3D printer.
That makes it the first color 3D printer affordable by consumers.