One of the most fun parts of 3D printing, in my opinion, is how many options there now are for incorporating color into your prints, and there’s huge demand for color. There’s a whole spectrum of different colored filaments out there, and full-color 3D printing technology is starting to come to the desktop through 3D printers like XYZprinting’s da Vinci Color, which was introduced a few months ago. Other 3D printers are offering color mixing options, allowing users to create their own colors or incorporate multiple colors into one print.
Those are all in the realm of FFF 3D printing, however – when it comes to SLA, color options tend to be more limited. There are far fewer resin colors out there than there are filament colors, and full-color or multi-color SLA 3D printing isn’t seen the way it’s starting to be in FFF. But Formlabs, pioneer in desktop SLA 3D printing, is now acting as a pioneer in color SLA desktop 3D printing with the introduction of the Color Kit, the first integrated color mixing solution for SLA.
Formlabs is known, among other things, for its large library of 3D printing resins, and it’s now introducing the Color Kit as part of its Standard Resins. The colors selected for its functional materials, like its Engineering and Dental Resins, aren’t arbitrary, the company says. Instead, they’re carefully chosen in order to set them apart from each other and to best enhance their material properties. Standard Resins, however, are primarily designed to meet the visual aesthetic needs of the prototype or product being 3D printed – and that’s where it benefits the user to have more control over color.
The Color Kit doesn’t allow multi-colored 3D printing – that’s still solely in the FFF territory for desktop 3D printing. But you can print in any solid, mattte, opaque color you choose, and paint if further color is needed. The benefit to 3D printing with colored resin over painting, however, is that paint doesn’t always withstand wear and tear – and, of course, painting is a lot more work than simply printing in color.
The Color Kit comes with a color base cartridge and five bottles of color pigment in cyan, magenta, yellow, white and black. Syringes are included for measuring pigment, and a recipe book provides a guide for how to create different colors. The pigments are mixed into the color base material to create a full cartridge of color resin. Formlabs has tested 16 different colors, which are listed in the recipe book, but you’re not limited to those – you can mix a custom color using the Color Picker tool. Colors are mixed by carefully measuring the pigments with the syringe, then adding them to the cartridge and shaking it.
Because it’s a product that requires mixing rather than coming ready to use, the Color Kit is being classified as a Form X product, which is how Formlabs classifies its more experimental products, such as Ceramic Resin, for example. The Color Kit is available for purchase now, so you can start experimenting with different pigments and producing SLA prints in your own custom colors.
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