From design to powder to product — how color 3D printing really works

printing with a Zcorp 3D printer

As many of the masses were introduced to 3D printing recently in a National Geographic video highlight featuring David Kaplan (and many questions were raised prompting this response video), I thought I’d share some info from this spec-rich outline of color 3D printing from

It uses a colorful robot design as the model and gets into things like how many layers it takes to build, how thick the layers are, how long it takes to print, and even the amounts of ink and binder.

A summary of the process plus some specification numbers are after the jump. (Shout out to Joseph Flaherty at Replicator for the link.)

So here’s your colorful robot design (designed by Spaceclaim):

And here’s the robot being printed in the bed of powder, layer by layer. 910 layers to be exact, and each layer is .004″ thick. The 3D printer uses cyan, magenta, and yellow ink just like an inkjet printer.

After approximately 1.5ml of ink and 93ml of binder extruded over 5 hours and 22 minutes, you’ve got your colorful robot. But he’s all covered in powder and needs to be cleaned up.

The last step is to dip this guy into the infiltrant, a chemical agent that brightens and strengthens the printed object.

And there ya have it. One 3D design file + one ZPrinter® 450 + 910 layers of (powder + ink + binder) + 322 minutes = a colorful, 3D printed robot.
P.S. Ponoko uses ZCorp printers for 3D printing your designs in rainbow ceramic, so this is exactly how it’s done. And now that you know how it all works, try getting your own design 3D printed in color.

Just sign up for your Personal Factory (it’s free), upload a file, pick a material, and hit the Make It button. Ponoko will send your file to a ZCorp 3D printer and then send your printed design, all infiltrated and everything, right to your door.

Colossally Kewl!

Guy Blashki

Is it just me, or does it look like the colourful finished robot has made a little “accident” on the table!?!
Maybe he has stagefright…

Where can i get the Design, i want one!

Kristen Turner

Hi Nils, the design is by Spaceclaim: It’s a long-shot, but no harm in asking if they could share the file?

And approximately how much would it cost to make such a cool little figurine at Ponoko?

910 layers * 0.004 inches/layer = 3.64 inches deep (printed on its back)

Dan Emery

The volume is 230cc and the rainbow ceramic is less than $1/cc so should come in just under $230.

Comments are closed.