Category Archives: multicolor

PostNord adds on demand 3D printing delivery service with Stratasys

On demand 3D printing services from Stratasys has a new partner in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. In collaboration with the 3D printing giant, Swedish communications and logistics company PostNord Strålfors will be offering 3D printing bureau services and delivery to customers in the Nordic region. Amidst a growing list of logistics companies getting in on […]

How 3D Printing in Multiple Colors Works

Multicolor printing is a fascinating 3D printing technique, as it allows you to make your 3D file truly come alive in full color. Today we will take a more detailed look at this technology and see how the 3D printer manages to “paint” the model during the printing process. Our Multicolor material is perfect for visual models that need more than just one color. Typically, these are models you put on your desk or on a shelf such as architectural scale models, figurines, sculptors and awards. Many users have asked us if these models were hand-painted after the printing process, and were surprised to hear that the 3D printer itself did all of the coloring. That’s why we want to shed some light on the 3D printing process of this extraordinary material. The Technology: ColorJet Printing The technology behind our Multicolor material is known as ColorJet 3D printing. This technique builds up the model from a granular powder that is glued together – layer by layer, bottom to top. The technology was first developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1993 and was known as ZPrinting. In 1995, Z Corporation obtained an exclusive license for the technology. Materialise has been using this technology since 2007. The Base Material: Sandstone Powder Unlike with most home printers, ColorJet printers do not use filament. In fact, the 3D-printed parts are constructed from a very fine, granular sandstone powder. It is important to note that the powder used by 3D printers cannot be just any kind of powder. Since it will be used for ultra-thin printing layers, the powder must be perfectly shaped in order to even out. Consider rocks and marbles: you could easily put rocks on top of each other to build a pyramid. However, building a pyramid with marbles would be way more difficult, as the perfectly shaped spheres would fail to stay in place and your pyramid wouldn’t stand a chance. Similar to the marbles, the sandstone powder needs to have the perfect shape since each and every printing layer needs to have exactly the same height – even if we’re talking about microns here. The Printing Process To create your 3D print, the printer glues the powder together. So here’s how it works: a super-thin layer of sandstone powder is spread out by a roller. And then the magic happens: a print head places tiny drops of glue on the areas of the layer that are part of your design. The 3D printer will continue to spread out one layer of powder after another, and the print head will systematically glue the correct spots of each layer together. But… where is the color? The Coloring Process: 4 Types of Colored Glue The coloring of your model is done by combining four different pre-colored glues to match the colors that have been requested. These glues will only be placed on the surfaces of the model, while the interior parts will be glued together with clear glue. The colored glue can of course print in more than four colors. They can be mixed and printed in up to 16.7 million different colors to be precise. Just like a regular 2D printer, the four base colors are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black), or CMYK for short. CMYK works pretty much like the box of paints you used back in school. If you don’t have the color of paint you’re looking for, you need to mix two existing colors together. Adding colors together usually means that the new color will be slightly darker (when you mix yellow and black, it follows that the resulting color simply cannot be brighter than yellow). That’s why this system is called a ‘subtractive color model’. After the Printing: the Finishing Process One the printing is done, your model still isn’t ready to be shipped right away. First, we need to dig out the glued model from the box of un-glued powder and clean it carefully. Since it is still quite brittle it needs to be put in a bath of superglue to gain some strength. Next, it will be sprayed with a UV coating to prevent de-coloration by sunlight. That’s what we call our ‘matte’ finish. You can also go for a ‘gloss’ finish which is achieved by applying a thicker UV coating. This option will give your model a shinier surface. In general, a gloss finish creates an object with more vivid colors, while the colors of a matte object won’t be as shiny. Take a look at the following prints to get a better understanding of the difference between these two finishes: How to Get a High-Quality Multicolor 3D Print Consumers can simply order their multicolor 3D prints with our online 3D printing service. This brings entirely new possibilities to designers, sculptors, architects, makers and entrepreneurs; and it also opens new doors to individualized manufacturing. At i.materialise we’re committed to letting you make the future. If you would like to print your design in Multicolor or one of our 100+ other materials and finishes, upload your 3D file here and see the price of your model within seconds. If you want to learn more about this material first, take a look at our blog post “How to Get the Perfect Multicolor 3D Print”.

3D Printing and 3D Modeling with Photoshop CC

Great news for Photoshop users: you can now use the powerful editing tools of Photoshop to bring 3D models and prints to life! Photoshop CC now fully supports 3D printing with i.materialise in 100+ materials and finishes – all that’s left for you to do is to take a look at our new tutorial video on how to create 3D models in Photoshop. 3D printing tutorial for Photoshop CC We’ve created a hands-on tutorial and info website to take you step-by-step through the process of creating 3D models in Photoshop CC. This tutorial will teach you how to use different views, how to edit both in 3D space and on the UV skin, and how to 3D print your model. You’ll see how to suit up a little piguin (yes, that’s a penguin and a pig mixed together) in minutes for a black tie event. Check out our new Photoshop 3D printing tutorial and follow the tutorial text in this blog post.   Step 1: Learn to import a 3D file to Photoshop Photoshop lets you import the most popular 3D file formats such as STL, IGS, PLY, or OBJ. In our tutorial video, we chose to import the STL file of a piguin. If you don’t have a 3D file yet, you can find objects to start from on these 10 popular 3D model databases. Step 2: Get familiar with the basic controls The next part of our video tutorial is all about familiarizing yourself with the 3D environment in Photoshop CC. Learn how to use basic controls to manipulate and rotate the view, zoom in and out, and to switch between several predefined views (i.e. how to switch between the main and secondary view). Step 3: Investigate the 3D model in Photoshop Now it’s time to investigate the model in more detail. Photoshop lets you change the layer characteristics of your 3D object. With the segmented view, for instance, you can virtually cut open your model on the X, Y, and Z axis to take a look inside your model. You can also display the design as a point cloud wireframe structure and switch other effects such as shadows off or on. Step 4: Paint your model in a 3D space The ability to paint your 3D model is one of the biggest benefits of Photoshop. Which other 3D modeling or design software can offer editing tools as powerful as those that Photoshop has to offer? If you want to, you can directly start painting the design in a 3D space. Step 5: Switch from 3D to 2D and paint the 2D skin If you prefer to paint and edit in 2D you can simply switch from the 3D view to a classic 2D view. This means that the UV skin of the model will be unwrapped and easy to edit. You can change the UV overlay capacity, select the brush size and hardness of your choice, and use any of the Photoshop editing tools you have in mind. For example, you can add effects and filters such as noise, distortion, pixelation and much more. Step 6: Import Photoshop files and images into your 3D model Of course, you can also add images to your 3D model. It makes the most sense to start importing them in the 2D view and then navigating them to the right place. Of course, you can also work with several layers, use textures, and modify and manipulate the important images with the Photoshop editing operation of your choice. Step 7: 3D print your design Once your design is ready, it’s time to hit the ‘print’ button, select i.materialise, and choose the material and finish of your choice from the drop-down menu. You can also double-check if the dimensions of your 3D model are correct. Click ‘prepare to print’ and save your 3D file by selecting ‘export’. You will then be directed to the i.materialise upload page. Upload the 3D file that you just saved on your computer and you will instantly see the price for your high-quality 3D print. And that’s it. Editing your 3D files with Photoshop will make them look better than ever! This is especially useful if you were thinking about printing in our multicolor material. Visit our dedicated Photoshop CC site for some more info and images. To get a general overview of all 3D printing materials, check out our materials page.

How to Choose the Perfect Wall Thickness for 3D Printing

Since each 3D printing material and 3D model is different, choosing the right wall thickness can be confusing. Yet, keeping these simple tips in mind will ensure that you won’t receive an unpleasant surprise and the walls of your object will have just the minimum (and maximum) thickness they need. Assign wall thicknesses to your 3D model First things first: it’s very important that every surface of your 3D model has been assigned a wall thickness. When using your 3D modeling software it is possible to design a surface without a wall thickness. However, our printers need the information about how thick you intend the wall of your object to be. Thus, when turning a 3D model into a real 3D print, wall thickness is needed. Wall thickness is simply the distance between one surface of your model and its opposite sheer surface. Many printing problems can be traced back to wall thickness issues. The minimum printable wall thickness primarily depends on the material you choose. However, other factors, such as the alignment, size, and overall design of your 3D model, can also influence the recommended minimum wall thickness. Before you decide to 3D print (and ideally before you start to design your model), you should know the basic guidelines for your printing material of choice. You can find specific information about the required wall thickness for each material in our design guides. Now, let’s have a look at some examples. Choosing the right minimum wall thickness If you decide to print in strong materials such as High Detailed Stainless Steel (0.3 mm) or Titanium (0.4 mm), your minimal wall thickness can be quite thin. However, we always recommend you to be on the safe side and make the walls a bit thicker. As said before, the minimum wall thickness can depend heavily on the structure and design of your 3D model. If you want to print in high detailed stainless steel, a vertical wall with a surface of 5 mm² only needs a wall thickness of 0.3 mm, whereas a vertical wall with a surface of 100 mm² needs to be at least 1 mm thick. A horizontal wall with an area of 100 mm² would need a 2 mm thickness. In this case, the size of the surface and the alignment (vertically or horizontally) are important when defining your minimum wall thickness (find out more about this in our design guide for High Detailed Stainless Steel). When printing in a more fragile material like Ceramics, the general rule that larger models need to be stronger holds true. While a small object of approx. 50 mm x 50 mm x 50 mm can survive with a minimum wall thickness of 3 mm, a ceramic object of 100 mm x 100 mm x 100 mm would need a thickness of 6 mm. For even bigger objects we recommend bigger than 6 mm thick walls. The same models printed in Gray Resin or Mammoth Resin would need walls with a thickness of 1 mm, 2 mm, and 3 mm (find out more about this in our design guides for Ceramics, Gray Resin and our different Resin options). Also keep the maximum wall thickness in mind After having mainly focused on walls that are too thin, you might encounter problems with walls that are too thick as well: for materials such as Ceramics and Metals, it is especially important to respect maximum wall thicknesses (i.e. 15 mm for Ceramics, 10 mm for (High Detailed) Stainless Steel), as thicker sections will generate too much internal stress and could cause the item to crack or even break. Too thick walls can be a reason why we cannot print some of your orders. The best solution is to make your model hollow and foresee holes to let the powder flow out: Once again you need to check the individual guidelines on how big these holes need to be: While 3 mm for small models (less than 10 x 10 x 10 mm) and 5 mm for larger models in fine for High Detail Stainless Steel, the openings for a ceramics object need to be at least 10 mm in diameter. Recommended wall thicknesses for 3D printing Our printers can print quite thin in Multicolor, but that doesn’t mean that printing very fine walls is a good idea. During shipping and finishing, parts of your object with a thickness below 1.5 mm are likely to break. Again, we recommend that you add extra wall thickness: 5 mm will make your model more solid and safer to handle. For some materials (such as multicolor), long, heavy items that hang in midair might break off when they are designed too thinly. If your model includes some more fragile parts (like outstretched arms of a figurine), try to add support structures as part of the design. Don’t ignore gravity when designing your model. Instead, we recommend using bent arms or arms holding an item that touches the ground (e.g. a shovel). Find out more about this in our design guide for Multicolor. Let’s take a look at one last example where maximum wall thickness plays an important role again: If you want to print a somewhat flexible object in Polyamide (like an iPhone case that needs to be clipped onto a phone), walls that are too thick might turn a flexible object into an item that is too bulky. In this case, a thickness of 1.5 to 2.5 mm would be ideal for creating a somewhat flexible product. Getting the perfect wall thickness in a nutshell Firstly, you need to know how to assign a wall thickness to every surface of your 3D model. This step might be a bit different in each 3D modeling software, but it is crucial for preparing a 3D print. The recommended thickness of the wall depends heavily on the printing material. Carefully read the design guides for the material of your choice. Do not forget that in some cases maximum wall thickness can also cause problems. Analyze and think