World’s first multi-material colour 3D printer launched

US-based 3D printing company Stratasys today announced the launch of the first and only 3D printer to combine colours with multi-material 3D printing.

The Objet500 Connex3 Colour Multi-material 3D Printer features technology that combines droplets of three base materials to produce parts with virtually unlimited combinations of rigid, flexible, and transparent colour materials as well as colour digital materials – all in a single print run.

The ability to achieve the characteristics of an assembled part without assembly or painting could potentially save large amounts of time for manufacturers.

A vibrantly coloured American football helmet printed with the new technology.

The printer’s designers say the new technology could help product manufacturers validate designs and make good decisions earlier before committing to manufacturing, and bring products to market faster.

“Stratasys’ goal is to help our customers revolutionize their design and manufacturing processes,” says StratasysCEO David Reis. “I believe our new (printer) will transform the way our customers design, engineer and manufacture new products. In general and with the Connex technology in particular, we will continue to push the envelope of what’s possible in a 3D world.”

Engineers at beta user Trek Bicycle in Waterloo, Wisconsin, USA are using the new printer for assessment and testing of accessories such as bike chain stay guards and handlebar grips prior to actual production.

“The printer changed the way we manufacture at Trek, augmenting our traditional, time-consuming CNC processes with fast, iterative and realistic prototyping and functional testing,” says Mike Zeigle, manager of Trek’s prototype development group.

“Now we produce bicycle parts that look and feel like production parts. We are particularly excited about 3D printing our models directly in colour. This gives our designers the ability to graphically display colour contact pressure map data on rider contact parts like seats and grips. We are also working on doing the same with FEA & CFD stress data on structural bike components.”