This The best 3D printer, Even if it is like Creality Ender 3 Pro, Can make highly detailed models, but most can only output one color at a time. In this guide, we will explore several different ways that you can print parts in multiple colors using an FDM 3D printer with only one nozzle. The three techniques we will explore are the “pause and swap” method for swapping filament spools, printing objects into multiple pieces, and using rainbow filaments to create parts with satisfactory color transitions. You can also draw the model after printing, but this will be another article.
If you have never prepared a model for 3D printing before, you can read our process and familiarize yourself with the custom slicer settings A guide on how to make your first 3D print. If you are used to changing the slicer settings (such as filling, printing speed, etc.), please continue reading to learn how to create a multi-color print with a single extruder FDM 3D printer.
what do you need
- 3D printer: In this article, we will use Creality Ender 3 Pro FDM 3D printer, but almost any FDM 3D printer can (SLA (aka resin) model is another matter).
- filament: PLA is an easy-to-use, low-cost material. In this article, we will use PLA filaments from Begonova, Eryone and other companies. To create rainbow parts, we will use TTYT3D Rainbow PLA.
- Slicer application: We will use Ultimaker Cura to prepare files for Creality Ender 3 Pro, but other slicer applications such as PrusaSlicer and Simplify3D have similar workflows. The settings should be similar, but they may be in different menus.
Get multi-color 3D printing software
We will use Tinkercad to create multi-color parts, but you can use any known design program. Tinkercad is available as a free in-browser program, you can create an account by visiting their website.
Most slicer applications are able to add a “pause” command at a specific point in the print, but you may need to refer to the documentation to find the location of the command. The process of adding a pause in Ultimaker Cura is well documented. If you are not familiar with this feature, we will introduce the basics in this article to help guide you through it.
1. Create a Tinkercad account exist Tinkercad websiteIf you are interested in creating 3D models and programming pauses during printing, Tinkercad is a good place to get started because you can define the height of the model and consider multi-color printing for design.
2. Download slicer software For your 3D printer.We will use Ultimaker Kula, A free application with Creality Ender 3 Pro and other slicer applications for FDM 3D printers, such as Prusa Slicer, Simplify 3D, Flash print And others will have a similar workflow.
Method 1: Pause and exchange filament
One of the fastest ways to create multi-color 3D prints from a single extruder is to use the “pause and swap” method. This process includes pausing the printer during printing, switching the spool to a different color spool, and then continuing printing. This is an easy way to get the two-color part, and the easiest way is to pause the printer when it encounters the correct layer. If you want more control over the process, you can also program a pause at a specific level or height.
In this section, we will introduce the process of creating a model designed for multi-color printing and the process of programming a pause for Creality Ender 3 Pro using Ultimaker Cura, which is one of the best 3D printers for beginners. This process can be used for many different slicer applications (including PrusaSlicer, Simplify3D, etc.), so no matter which application you use, the principle is similar.
1. Open Tinkercad and import Twitter logo SVG. Tinkercad will automatically convert SVG vector graphics to a solid model, and we will use it as the starting point for our model.
2. Use the ruler tool Scale the model to a printable size. We will print this part of the model in a different color, so we will scale this model to 2 mm thick.
3. Use the text tool to add text to the model And set the thickness to 2mm. By keeping this thickness at 2 mm, we know that it will be printed at a consistent height on the top of the bottom of the model.
4. Create a base for your model and set the thickness to 5 mm. After creating the base, use the move tool to move the text up by 5 mm so that it can be placed directly on top of the model base.
5. Use the alignment tool to align the model Center the model on the X and Y axes, and make sure that the top of the model is offset from the platform by 5 mm. This will create a model that can easily adapt to changing filament colors.
6. Export .stl from Tinkercad and import it into Cura Prepare the model for the slicing process. Cura is able to pause the printer at the settings level, which will allow us to change the filament and change the color.
7. Choose “Extensions”-“Post Processing”-“Modify Gcode” And add “pause at height”. Since we know that the base of this model is 5mm high (25 layers, 0.2mm layer) and we want to pause and change the color before starting the next layer, we will use the 26th layer as our target.
8. Slice the model using default settings And export .gcode that can be 3D printed. At this point you can view the model and confirm that the raised text will change color by multiplying the layer height (.2mm) by the number of layers before the change (25), which is 5mm.
9. Load the first color in the 3D printer And start printing. Since we want this part to have a white base with blue text, we will start printing with the white filament loaded.
10. Take out the filament of the first color and install the second one When printing is paused. Some printers automatically retract materials during pause, while others require manual pull out and replacement of consumables. After loading the second color filament, continue printing.
11. Delete your model And check the layer exchange. The model should have swapped colors in the correct layer, and you should have two-color printing from a single extruder 3D printer. You can also make such a model by manually pausing and swapping filaments, but the disadvantage is that you need to be close to the printer to pause it when it reaches the appropriate layer.
Method 2: Use multiple parts for multi-color 3D printing
Printing a model composed of multiple parts is a simple and fun way to create color parts that cannot be printed at once.To highlight this printing method, we will use Screwless cube gear, Designer Emmet And hosted on Thingiverse. The model is designed to be printed as three separate trays, which is very suitable for making colorful, practical and fascinating 3D printing.
1. Choose the color you want to use And divide the whole model into different trays. Each tray will print a different color, so please choose a color that you think has good contrast. We will print the center block and pins of the rotating gear in blue, and then print out two sets of gears; one is white and the other is black.
2. Print each pallet, Use a different color each time. After printing the cube center and pins, we changed the filament from blue to white, and then printed out the gears.
3. Assembly model Clamp each corner of the cube gear into the center block by using a pin. PLA plastics tend to be hard, so you may need to squeeze the edges of the pins to loosen them before inserting them in the corners.
4. Rotating cube And appreciate the finished product. The gears of the cube should rotate freely around the center block; if they are hard, you can add a small amount of silicone lubricant to reduce friction.
Method 3: Use rainbow filament for multi-color 3D printing
Printing using a rainbow (or any other multi-color material) is the easiest way to create a multi-color part, but the colors printed will vary depending on the type of material you are using. If you are interested in making colorful and interesting prints, Rainbow PLA is a good material choice.
In this section, we will use TTYT3D brand rainbow PLA, Can be purchased on Amazon, and will not be much more expensive than standard PLA material spools.
1. Prepare the model for 3D printing In your slicer program. By making a large and dense model, you will get the most eye-catching color transitions, because the spools will change colors as they are printed.In this section, we will print Pete the Predator Models with high filling levels to use more materials and create faster transitions throughout the model. Export the slice file, save it to an SD card, and insert the card into your 3D printer (if your printer supports it, use Wi-Fi).
2. Load the rainbow PLA material into the printer.
3. Start printing And observe the color change as the printing progresses.
4. Remove your model from the bed After printing is complete. Since the model only uses a single roll of material to print, there is no need to pause printing, change consumables, or perform any post-processing.
Want to learn more about 3D printing?Please be sure to read our Guide to the best 3D printers Check out which machines we recommend in 2021 and learn more about the differences between printer types.If you are interested in interesting projects, you can follow our Create a 3D selfie guide By scanning your face and making a 3D printed copy.