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How does the world's first full-color 3D printer work? We ask its creators

Kevin Lee | May 27, 2013
We talk to botObjects co-founders Mike Duma and Martin Warner and learn more on the first-full color 3D printer.

This high resolution also allows the ProDesk3D to create objects with seamless color transitions. Mike pointed out that in addition to creating fine color gradients on objects, you can also create hard color transitions. Mike gave the example of how a 3D print of a cartoon character could have one color for its face and white for its eyes without any hues bleeding into each other.

The entire color process is taken care of by botObjects ProModel software. The program not only figures out how to mix the colors in order to achieve the desired hue, but it will also let you add colors to pre-existing 3D model files. The ProDesk3D will also be able to connect to both Macs and Windows PCs.


BOTOBJECTSThe multicolor recorder show off the multi-color capabilities of the ProDesk3D.

BotObjects says it has been working on the ProDesk3D for more than two years. Martin, a self-labeled 3D-printing enthusiast, and Mike, a builder of 3D printers, wanted to build off of the current range of filament-based 3D printers like the Solidoodle lineup and the MakerBot Replicator 2, and create a example of where the technology could be in five years.

"You need to create the professional finish; otherwise, FDM falls behind other kinds of processes like SLA, and so it was really important...for us to [not only] print 25 microns but print that at [high] speed," said Martin.

As designed, the ProDesk3D should be able to print at a rate of 175 millimeters per second. According to Martin, most commercial printers can only print as fast as 150 millimeters per second. The ProDesk3D can do this thanks to a three-fan system that allows it to cool objects more quickly, while preventing warping, curling, and other issues that arise when a 3D-printed object cools unevenly.

In addition, the ProDesk3D will have a large build area--the space that dictates how large an object you can print. With the ProDesk3D, you'll be able to fabricate items that measure up to 11.8 by 10.8 by 10.8 inches. By comparison, the MakerBot Replicator 2's build area measures 11.2 by 6 by 6.1 inches.

BotObjects expects to ship the ProDesk3D in October, but you can pre-order one now over the phone, with online ordering coming soon. The standard ProDesk3D will cost $2849, while the newly revealed blue limited edition is priced at $3349. This limited edition will come with three additional 5-color cartridge sets and three PVA support material cartridges. To put this in perspective, a MakerBot Replicator 2 costs $2199, and the Replicator 2x is $2799.

The ProDesk3D printer sounds like the next big thing for filament-based 3D printing, but we'll have to wait and see if it really works as promised when botObjects demonstrates the printers this summer and ships them this fall.

 

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