3D Printing, Stratasys, FDM Technology, 3D Printing Materials

How to Change FDM Material Color

By Juan Carlos Gandiaga on March 15, 2017

Stratasys' PolyJet 3D printing technology is widely known for combining color and providing extreme levels of detail and realism. But what if we told you FDM materials are getting more advanced and can also provide visual appeal? In our blog, we explain how to change FDM material color and achieve that finished product appearance.

Color Availability in FDM Materials

Change FDM Material ColorFDM materials including ABS-M30, ABSi, ABSplus and ASA are available in multiple colors. These colors have the capacity to mimic the appearance of finished goods, increase visual appeal or distinguish regions of interest. By changing FDM material color, you can also make features more prominent, which is often desirable for adding text, guides and graphics to your models.

Stratasys FDM machines have several color options for materials, and with advanced software programming, you can pause to change FDM material color mid print.

How to change material color using uPrint SE Plus, Dimensions and F123 Series printers:

If you are using a Stratasys uPrint SE Plus, Dimensions or F123 Series printer, here is how to change color using the proprietary software, CatalystEX or GrabCAD:

  • Change FDM Material ColorStep 1: Schedule a pause on the desired layer. The printer will pause after the selected layer is completed.
  • Step 2: Physically unload and load the material color and perform material purges as necessary to complete the color swap, purging through material changes will eliminate the potential of mixed colors to be printed.
  • Step 3: Continue the build and repeat the same process if more color changes are required.
  • Step 4: Use this technique to highlight design changes, text and even mimic end-use parts.

How to change material color using Fortus Line printers:

If you are using a Fortus Line 3D printer, the proprietary software Insight™ will guide you through the selection of the pauses on each layer desired.

Process:

  • Change FDM Material ColorSTEP 1: Configure the modeler
  • STEP 2: Open, orient and slice the STL file.
  • STEP 3: Click the generate support tab.
  • STEP 4: Click the generate toolpaths tab.
  • STEP 5: In the Toolpaths menu drop-down, select Insert Pause.
  • STEP 6: Select the first layer where the color change will occur.
  • STEP 7: File preparation complete.

Build the part:

  • STEP 1: Ensure to load the base material you want to start with and start the build.
  • STEP 2: Allow the operation to continue until the process pauses. Note that when the build reaches the layer on which a pause was inserted, the machine will automatically enter an idle mode and wait for user action. Build progress may be monitored remotely using Control Center™ software.
  • STEP 3: Unload the material by navigating to the Unload Material menu on the FDM machine’s control panel. Once the filament is unloaded, remove canister.
  • STEP 4: Load the material for the next color by placing the canister in the machine and initiate the Load Material sequence from the control panel. Initiate purge cycles using a manual purge from the Unplug Tips function.
  • STEP 7: Resume the build.
  • STEP 8: Repeat Steps 5 and 6 for all subsequent color changes.
  • STEP 9: Build procedure complete. 

Change FDM Material ColorConclusion:

Whether it is changing colors for multi-color prints or creating good contrast for lettering on jigs and fixtures, having the capability and know how really pushes the limit of the technology and allows users to embrace new applications. 

For more about Stratasys materials, download our 3D Printing Material Guide.

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