Bradford Student Invents a 3D Printer That Can Print With & Mix Multiple Colors in Single Layers

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bradfordfeaturedCollege is a time for learning, partying, and finally living our lives away from Mom and Dad. Not only do we learn about scholarly subjects, but we tend to learn about ourselves and our future goals as well. For one University of Bradford student, Michael Hebda, college has provided him with the resources needed to bring a new type of desktop 3D printer into reality.

Hebda, who is graduating this summer from his BSc in Product Design at the prestigious university, actually got the idea for his creation while working at his job.

“I came up with the idea whilst working for Denford Limited on my placement year,” Hebda tells 3DPrint.com. “I worked fixing and maintaining regular 3D printers and was often asked by customers ‘Can the machines do colour?’. I had to always answer, ‘no, not really.’ When returning to the University to complete my Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Product Design I decided that was my final project; I wanted to create a machine which designers and engineers could use to create multiple colours within a single layer of printing, in order to create their prototypes, in what is now being dubbed as ‘Full Colour 3D Printing’, within online 3D printing culture.”

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Full color 3D printing is something which many believe will revolutionize the industry. The idea of 3D printing in virtually any color you want and mixing and matching colors in single layers, would give designers so much more ability. There have been several companies working on similar technology, some of whom have been successful and some of whom have not. However, Hebda’s creation is pretty unique.

bradford5Hebda says that the main use for his machine will be for creating prototypes with more color blends and choices of materials. He wants to eventually iterate upon the 3D printer to give it the capability of printing in virtually any color possible. He hopes to do this next year as part of his Master’s research at the university.  On top of this, he wants to also experiment with adding the option of using multiple materials per layer as well.

“Different materials could potentially be used and it is something I will hopefully be looking into in the next few months,” Hebda tells us. “I do not believe full colour printing has been achieved before using this method and will be looking into patent options. The printer is controlled using an Arduino board for prototyping purposes.”

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Hebda’s printer currently can print using three different colors of ABS filament. All three filament strands are fed through a single nozzle which is able to rapidly switch between them in order to print multiple colors within a single layer. The printer is capable of a resolution of 0.15 mm and has a build volume of 300 x 300 x 300 mm. As for speed, Hebda has not exactly done any calculations but tells us that the “average sized print, about the size of your palm, can be printed within an hour”.

It will be interesting to follow Hebda’s progress as he continues to develop this 3D printer further with the help of the University of Bradford. What do you think of this unique 3D printer? Discuss in the Color Changing 3D Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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