Print Multicolor - With One Extruder!

Even with all the advancements that have been made in recent years, dual extrusion printing is still considered an experimental practice. Dual extrusion printing provides many interesting possibilities including multicolor printing, simultaneous printing of models with different physical properties and printing models with removable supports. At Arfona we've been working hard to perfect our new dual extrusion printer, the r.Pod, which can be used for all of the aforementioned applications. I will cover dual extrusion printing in future posts but today I want to discuss a technique for printing multicolor parts using a single extruder printer.

Multicolor parts can be obtained with single extruder printers by pausing the printer in the middle of a build, unloading the current filament, loading a new one and resuming the build exactly where you left off. Of course, your multicolor options are strictly limited to the Z axis, but from time to time you will come across models where this technique is applicable. The advantage to using a single extruder printer with multiple colors of filament is that it is a time saver. This type of print does not require ooze shields or prime pillars, which as anyone with dual extrusion experience can tell you, will significantly increase the build time.

Take this birthday cake for example (www.thingiverse.com/thing:944996 created by Superfish1000) which creates a perfect opportunity to change colors along the Z axis as the model is built. The part was downloaded from Thingiverse, sliced with Simplify3D and printed in PLA (www.arfona.com/shop) on the r.Pod Desktop Printer. The print was monitored and when we wanted to switch colors we simply pushed the option button, selected pause and changed filaments the way we normally would before starting a new build. A nice feature of the r.Pod is that when the pause button is pushed in the middle of a print, the extruder will move to the right side of the build plate so that filaments can be changed without affecting the 3D model being printed.

The filament was changed a total of five times, and six total colors were used to complete the model. This technique of course would not have worked if a model required two separate colors on the X or Y axis (say on the left, right, front or back sides of a model) because it requires an entire layer to be completed in a single color. However, it can be useful given the right model.

Happy printing! (and happy birthday to yours truly!)

Justin Marks, CDT

CEO - Arfona

Justin Marks